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Apr 2, 2011 04:37 AM

Coming: Kramer replicas by Henckels

Looks like Henckels is going to mass produce exact (they say) replicas of Bob Kramer's custom chef knives. Same looks, handle, 52100 steel, and presumably geometry.

It will be available (exclusively?) through Sur La Table. This year. Also, the replicas are not of his damascus pattern knives - just straight, un-patterned carbon steel.

So here are 3 questions for the knife guys to kick around:

1. How much SHOULD an 8 inch chefs knife in this line cost?

2. How much do you think it actually WILL cost?

3. And what (if anything) would you personally be willing to pay for it?

For the sake of this discussion we're going to assume that Henckels gets the manufacture of these knives right - that they're pretty decent replicas (no big problems with steel temper or edge geometry). I'll give my answers/guesses later, but I don't want to influence other people's answers.

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  1. 1. $150-$200 is the average cost of any good quality 8" European or Japanese knife.

    2. $250-$350 Adding the Kramer name to any knife will automatically bump the price plus it's a Sur La Table exclusive so....

    3 $0 I'm not a big fan of the profile of this knife. Don't get me wrong Bob Kramer makes stunning hand crafted knives and I'd love to get my hands on an original(straight from the shop,not at auction) just for bragging rights but I have no interest in purchasing a knock of,.too many other great knives out there that suit me better

    14 Replies
      1. re: petek

        They must have left out the SLT exclusive, good move!!

        1. re: Dave5440

          Agree.I wonder if SLT will sell for more?

          1. re: petek

            Looks like several people got very close to the mark for the 8" Chef knife:

            BiscuitBoy: $298

            Eiron: $299

            Petek, you said 350 quatloos. Not sure about the exchange rate between quatloo to US dollar. :)

            Still, like you said, I wonder the sale price for SLT. Yeah, I also agree a Sur La Table exclusive seems like a bad idea.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              "350 quatloos" Not a Star Trek fan eh? I think the Quatloo is on par with the U.S dollar.. :D

              1. re: petek

                :) I am not a huge Star Trek fan, but I knew "quatloos" is a Star Trek currency. Still, I didn't know the exchange rate is close to 1. :P

                1. re: petek

                  We're a lttle higher right now , 3 or 4 cents

                  1. re: petek

                    quatloo? I'll settle for the key to yeoman rand's cabin

                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      Ahh.. yeoman rand. she was quite the comely lass, wasn't she.

            2. re: petek

              Hats off to you, Petek

              Like I said elsewhere on this thread, at ~$350 this knife isn't a bad deal (assuming Henckels didn't mess up the design), IMO, though I'm not personally going to buy it.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Thanks cowboy. Just a lucky guess. So.. where do I pick up my prize?? :)

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  "... you all BID on the knife, but none of you even WANT it."

                  Hey, I said I'd buy one! And I'll say again, it'd be worth $100 to me to get a Kramer Euro replica to have in the house for my wife to use (because she LOVED the Euro model), & to remind myself why I no longer want one of his customs. After doing my shopping comparison this past holiday season, it's just not worth spending any more than that. But it is worth it to me to spend $100.

                  1. re: Eiron

                    I just realize this....

                    $100 is less than you have spent on your Kanetsune gyuto. So far, I have not heard that you regretted your Kanetsune. So... are you saying that this Henckels-Kramer knife worths less than your Kanetsune?

                    I have cornered you, haven't I?


                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      "I have cornered you, haven't I?"

                      Hardly... :-)

                      Online retailers were charging $170 for the KC-102 when I bought mine (now it looks like it's up to $240?):


                      But I paid less than $100 for each of the 210mm Kanetsune gyutos I bought.

                      No, I do NOT regret my Kanetsune purchase, even though I wasn't even considering the Kanetsune brand when I was struck with "knife fever" about 18 mos ago.

                      At the same price, the Kanetsune is by far the better purchase for me. But as I've mentioned before, tool ergonomics are important to me, & the Kramer design simply doesn't "fit" my user-interface requirements. I know it fits many, many other folks' hands, so it's definitely one of those personal questions that needs to be addressed in the decision-making process.

                      I definitely WOULDN'T spend $240 (current Kanetsune KC-102 price) on a Henckels-Kramer just to have one. (I MIGHT spend that much on the H-K as a gift for my wife, but she'd have to become a LOT more interested in kitchen knives for me to consider it.) Of course, for $240 I wouldn't buy a Kanetsune today, either. I'd much rather get a SLT-Henckels-Miyabi Birchwood gyuto, with SG2 core & 100 layer dressing, for $250.

          2. I think Pete is correct.

            I believe that a real Kramer's non-pattern 52100 Chef knife costs about $1000-1500, so it won't make any sense that these Henckels knives to be sold close to the $1000 mark. If Henckels is darning, the knives can be marketed as the Cronidur series does -- that is about $300-400 for a Chef's knife -- list for $400 and sold at $300:


            On the other hand, there is a reason why it could be cheaper because of its competition. The Shun Kramer Damascus Chef's knife at Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma are sold at $340 and $300, respectively. There will be pressure to sell at a lower price point.


            Will it be easy to convince a normal customer to spend $300 for a non-pattern Henckels Kramer knife over a Damascus Shun Kramer knife -- especially the Shun Kramer knives are sold at same type of stores: Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma? In the case of Sur La Table, the Shun Kramer will be sitting right next to Henckels Kramer, so there is a real pressure to sell at a lower price point (disregard if Henckels get the knife "right").

            Yet, I don't believe these Kramer knives will be sold at the the standard Henckels $150-200 price range, especially because Kramer's statements and keywords like "Ferrai edge". In short, I think these knives are squeezed into the $250-275 price point if Henckels does not want to directly compete with Shun Kramer. If Henckels is really daring, these knives can be sold at $300-350, but that can be risky. A customer who is pondering about the $350 Damascus pattern Shun Kramer will look at the theoretical $350 Henckels Kramer (non-pattern) and will use it as justification to buy the Shun one.

            Unfortunately, I am not drawn to Bob Kramer's design, so I won't pay very much for his design, probably no more than $150 like Hattori's design VG-10 knives. This is not to say Kramer's knives are not good.

            Edit: I am predicting this strategy will not go well for Henckels this time. Aside from the price point issue I have discussed, the most important issue is that these are carbon steel knives which can rust. Yes, knife enthusiasts like you, Pete, Dave, Kaleo, Eiron... etc won't mind a carbon steel knife and may very well love carbon steel knives more than stainless steel knives, but most knife enthusiasts do not regularly shop at Sur La Table and most people who shop at Sur La Table are not knife enthusiasts. I just don't see an average Sur La Table customer spending $300 on a carbon steel non pattern Henckels knife over a stainless steel Damascus pattern Shun knife. Yes, Bob Kramer's name is on it, but both Henckels and Shun have Kramer's name for their knives. In addition, Kramer is much more famous in the knife community than the average American population. I don't think any of my coworkers and friends know who Bob Kramer is. They have heard of Rachel Ray, Oprah, Bobby Flay... etc.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Haven't had time today to write much of a reply.

              But here's the thing that struck me about this knife - as opposed to Henckels' Cronidur/whatever super expensive lines, this actually will have some appeal to a lot of kitchen knife enthusiasts.

              As you pointed out though, making it exclusively available through SLT is odd. Almost like selling Jamaican mountain blue coffee at a starbucks - the people who shop at Starbucks usually won't know what that is, and the people who buy Jamaican mountain blue coffee don't usually shop at starbucks. Maybe even worse, because a lot of the SLT shoppers would be liable to angrily return a rusted-to-hell knife a few weeks after dropping big money on one of these.

              Still, Kramer has quite the reputation, and if the replica is accurate (and the price is right), I could see these giving Nenox a good run for their money among kitchen knife enthusiasts willing to spend a good bit on a high end mass produced knife. Personally, I find Nenox a little overpriced, but they do sell.

              The interesting thing, to me, is it would seem that the pricing strategy for that market might be in direct conflict with the pricing strategy for the general shoppers of Sur la Table. Which is why I asked the question.

              Also, I don't think we've ever discussed it - what don't you like about Bob Kramer's design?

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Too much belly for me. I like a slimmer profile and I enjoy a wa handle more than the traditional handle but that's just me.I'm sure they're great knives and maybe the price point will surprise us all.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  "this actually will have some appeal to a lot of kitchen knife enthusiasts."

                  Most knife enthusiasts pay very close to knife news. If all Henckels want is to target knife enthusiasts, they don't need to sell them exclusively in Sur La Table. So clearly Henckels are trying to target the upscale yet common markets. What Henckels is thinking, I do not know.

                  "SLT shoppers would be liable to angrily return a rusted-to-hell knife"

                  I think it is risky to sell a carbon steel knife in Sur La Table. In the grand picture, the carbon steel kitchen knife market is a smaller than the stainless steel kitchen knife market. I am very sure Henckels has done the homework, so I am aware that Henckels saw something that I haven't. Time will see if this turn out to be a good business strategy. Someone at Henckels will either get a promotion or get fired over this. I don't think the Shun Kramer knives bought in tons of money for Shun, but at least I thought they bought in a lot of good advertisements. I have read several posts here about how pretty the Shun Kramer Damascus pattern are.

                  "it would seem that the pricing strategy for that market might be in direct conflict with the pricing strategy for the general shoppers of Sur la Table"

                  What pricing strategy do you think Henckels will place on this Kramer line of knives? I think it will be between $200-400. Anything less than $200 would not be beneficial for Henckels nor Kramer. A major reason for collaborating with Kramer is to make an upscale knife and Kramer himself wouldn't want his name to be associated with a $100 mass production knife. However, anything above $400 will be too difficult to justify in the a Sur La Table environment surrounded by Damascus Shun Kramer knives (prettier and cheaper and stainless).

                  "what don't you like about Bob Kramer's design"

                  I don't know for sure because I have never actually hold one, but the handle looks too fat too me. A Kramer Chef knife looks to have a thicker blade than most Japanese gyuto. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't do much heavy works. It also has a tall blade (spine to edge), but that does not bother me. I probably shouldn't say I dislike Kramer's geometry. I probably should have written that it does not particularly going to make me pay a lot.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    "What pricing strategy do you think Henckels will place on this Kramer line of knives? I think it will be between $200-400"
                    I think they can justify charging more than that. $450-550, at least initially. Yeah, they average SLT shopper may be less impressed by this knife than the elaborate damascus pattern on the Shun Kramers, but to knife guys, the 52100 is a potential selling point, as is the 'exact replica' aspect (I never trusted that Shun got the geometry right on theirs).

                    Also, in SLT, keeping the price high might actually scare off some people who can't take care of carbon steel, though I suspect that will still be a problem, no matter how much they warn people.

                    As for what Henckels/SLT will actually do, I really don't know. I can see a rationale for selling it sub $300, and I could see a rationale for selling it for >$600 given the absurd prices of some Henckels mass production knives that are less interesting than this one. I suspect that it's less likely they'll be underpriced (by my reckoning) than that they'll be ovverpriced, but at any rate your guess is as good as mine.

                    Personally, I can't say I've tried a knife with Kramer's geometry. His edge is actually pretty straight, with the spine tapering down to it more than vice versa. Kramer has always gotten a lot of love for his tapering, which is a decent selling point for me. I've grown to like the slim profile of the Yusuke I bought a few months back, so I'm not sure how i'd like the taller Kramers. As you know, I'm not a handle guy, but I do have pretty big hands so a fat handle isn't a problem for me, and these at least look nice. If the price is in the viscinity of $200 (not bloody likely, IMO), I would give one of these serious consideration as something to save up a bit for. Even if it was going for $300-350, I'd say it was a good deal, though i wouldn't personally buy one.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I read your link again. It seems this is only the first series of the collaboration, so presumably more may come.

                      $450-550 is not high compared to other things Henckels has done. However, it is high compared to Devin Thomas KnifeForum MidTech Gyuto knife ($340) and get close to the Mizuno Tanrenjo Honyaki Gyuto ($740) and many true custom knives.



                      Yeah, I agree. I doubt the Henckels-Kramer Chef knives will be ~$200.

                      I also agree that the Kramer knife edge is not as curved as it seems because the spine taper down at the tip very fast.

                      I think we will find out Henckels pricing strategy in a month or two. It will be interesting to see. We can then even predict if it will work out for Henckels.

              2. Hi, cowboyardee:

                Uh-oh... What we have here is the second step in the *maturation* of Kramer's branding...

                First to respond to your questions:

                (1) This machine made/hand finished blade will be a sales dog if >$400 is asked. Even with the Kramer name.

                (2) Aesthetics being the issue it is, I cannot envision SLT asking more for this knife than the Shun Kramers or it won't sell.

                (3) If I were in the market for a German-style chef (I'm not), I might pay up to that $400 asking price.

                Details... 52100 is a marvelous alloy. Ever since Ed Fowler started forging 3-inch ball bearings into belt knives 40 or so years ago, 52100 has had a loyal and growing following among bladesmiths. It has been commercially available in rolled barstock since the 1990s, and is not that expensive. I do not believe that a Damascus treatment of this (or any comparable high-carbon alloy) with a higher nickel steel--which is done to bring out the visual relief of the layers--is going to be any better than a properly-treated blade of straight 52100. Probably less if the straight blade will be edge quenched. But 52100 is not trendy or "new" anymore, and if Bob's name doesn't elevate the price, the SLT clientele will just scratch, yawn and move on. Which is a pity.

                IMO, Bob's come to the point where he realizes that *maturing* his brand through licensing arrangements is the only realistic way of scaling his returns. He is somewhat notorious for being unable to keep good apprentices, and so his output has remained low. This is fine, even admirable, but there is no chef's knife on the planet that is worth the $9K his fancier finish blades are bringing.

                This maturation begs a comparison with custom-made pistols. Earlier in this life, I had a .45 ACP carry weapon made for me by a then-famous pistolsmith. It had every (for that year) conceivable top-grade aftermarket enhancement, and despite a very short barrel, could consistently group match ammo into 1" at 50 feet (JSYN, *I* could never shoot it that well). The pistol ended up costing me several thousand dollars. Within a few years, 'smiths of that echelon were offering *production* guns at about a third of the price, and that were about 95% equivalent weapons--out of the box. If I went to sell my pistol today, I probably couldn't get $1,500 for it.

                I really hope the "Kramer mystique" continues, especially since I'm going to list my hunter of his this week! But I think a little reality is settling in, and if one can get a 95% 52100 Kramer-by-Henkels for <$400 as I predict, there will be a lot more happy cooks out there, and Bob can retire with Rachael Ray and Paula Deen.

                5 Replies
                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Thanks for the perspective, Kaleo.

                  I'm still thinking that the 52100 steel could keep this knife competitive with the Shun Kramer, even without the purty damascus and at a slightly higher price point initially. Aiming for the average shopper who wandered into a SLT to buy... I dunno... a stand mixer, seems sillier and sillier to me the more I think about it. It's an uncladded carbon steel knife whose main virtues might actually be more performance than looks. If they aim this piece at more of a niche market, they may be onto something - while 52100 steel isn't trendy or new among custom makers or non-kitchen knives, I don't know of a single mass produced kitchen knife available in 52100 steel. And as you pointed out, 52100 steel seems like good stuff (in the interest of disclosure, my only experience with it was sharpening a hunting knife for a coworker).

                  I've heard it repeated that 52100 is a difficult steel for custom makers to work with (both heat treatment and shaping), and I don't know what implications that might have on a mass produced knife in that steel, either in terms of price or performance.. Have you worked with it?

                  I don't know how much longer to expect Kramer's mystique to last. Among a lot of the knife forum guys, there now seems to be a backlash against his work. On the other hand, at this point he is well known enough that he likely doesn't need word of mouth from those guys to maintain his reputation. Still, as his success has encouraged other American makers to specialize in kitchen knives, he is in a sense seeding the growth of his own competition. Guys like Devin Thomas are already looking like the Next Big Thing (with several other talented American makers who specialize in kitchen knives emerging as well), which can't be good for Kramer's asking prices in the long run.

                  At any rate, I can't imagine his prices getting much higher, so selling this week may not be a bad idea.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    "Among a lot of the knife forum guys, there now seems to be a backlash against his work"

                    I heard of backlash against his pricing.

                    "Devin Thomas are already looking like the Next Big Thing "

                    I don't keep up the knife news very much, but that is my feeling too. Still, there is one thing going for Kramer. He is probably the first knitchen knife celebrity maker, and being the First is the key. He never had to knock another person off to establish himself as the top dog. There wasn't preexisiting big shot there. All of the current knitchen knife makers have to prove they are better than Bob Kramer and that is very tough thing to do. We are not talking about building the fastest car which is easy to establish. Making the best knife is a very subjective notion and I doubt anyone can come close to knocking Kramer off. Though they will take a big bit out of his revenue.

                    "a stand mixer, seems sillier and sillier to me the more I think about it"

                    A stand mixer is not silly. Professional bakery use stand mixers and they are very useful for large quantity of works. What is silly is people who buy a stand mixer and bake once a month. Analogy. Hummers are not silly. Driving hummers in NY City is.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      "I heard of backlash against his pricing."
                      That too, but I see a lot more complaints about/objections to his profile and his handles than I used to (not that it's in any way invalid to dislike those design features - just that I rarely saw people writing about it a couple years ago).

                      "A stand mixer is not silly."
                      Either you misread me, or I've gone too long without sleep now (worked an overnight shift) and I'm not catching on that you're making a joke.

                      I picked a stand mixer as a random example - the point was just that these (hypothetical) customers weren't specifically looking for a thin, high performance carbon steel knife when they wandered into the store.

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      Hi, cowboy:

                      I have worked with 52100, ATS-34 being my other favorite. I only have done stock relief, but Bob forged the hunter I'm selling out of 52100. I also had him HT some of my blades to put in some fancy temper lines.

                      I'm not sure it's difficult to work with or treat. There's a thread here about the HT:

                      I'm kinda amused at the hype Bob has generated for himself. Not in the *making* exactly, but in the laboriously-created idea that somehow he was the first and only bladesmith to bring together knives and cooking. It really is semi-ridiculous if you think about it. His genius was mostly in lining up endorsements from NYT, Saveur, Martha Convict, etc., and applying the already-high standards of ABS level customs outside their usual, limited haunts (e.g., art knives, fantasy, hunters, swords, daggers, fancy folders and "tacticals").

                      OK, gotta list my Kramer. Dressed a lot of deer with that knife...

                  2. A henckels kramer as well as a shun? How bizzare...who else will he license to?!! Bobby, if you're listening, I would gladly accept a free knife to evaluate, and I can appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into your blades, but the "mystique" is completely lost on me, and pricing is beyond outrageous... a knock-off? Why bother.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      "who else will he license to?!"
                      Oooooh - I hope he licenses to Furi knives, so they can improve his design with the perfect trifecta of engineering, arrogance, and stupid.

                      (that is a really fun link, for any knife nerd who hasn't seen it)

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Good lord...

                        I started reading thru some of the other pages (About Us, FAQ, Sharpening & Honing Professional Knives) & was actually thinking, "OK, I can see that someone's trying to simplify the user's experience..." At the restaurant where my son works, he says they never sharpen the knives. NEVER. They buy new ones, instead. So I thought I could imagine "restaurant chefs and culinary institutions all around the world" (even if it's only a handful) using something like this purely for cost savings (although maybe not quite as cheaply as the stated "with no skill or expense" - is it really free?!). I could even overlook the frequent errors promoted on the site as marketing hyperbole.

                        But then I actually started the "NB" section, & couldn't get thru "Myth #1" w/o laughing at the "trifecta" (as you aptly put it)! I'll never understand how some people think their degree¹ makes them smarter² (than everyone else) ....

                        ¹ - yes, I have a degree

                        ² - that's not what does it

                        1. re: Eiron

                          The fascinating thing about that essay[?] is sometimes it appears credible and well researched. And then the writer goes in the next paragraph and insults much of his customer base, talks some ridiculous nonsense that anyone who's used a knife much could easily discount, and boasts shamelessly about how superior his qualifications are as though that alone was enough to prove his point.

                          Also, if you read it all the way through, you get to have a truly mind-blowing 'Holy Crap' moment at the end when you are reminded that the point of the weird debacle was to show that Furi knives (e.g. Rachel Ray's line) are the finest and best-designed kitchen knives in the history of the world.

                    2. We should play a game here. Each of us can place a predicted price and see who get the closest to the actual sale price of Sur la Table during the first week (not the sale price). Let's stick with the 8" Chef's knife since it is probably the most popular size for a Chef's knife.

                      I am guessing $275 for a 52100 Henckels-Kramer 8" Chef's knife. What about you guys?

                      P.S.: Not asking how much you will pay or how much it should be marketed for, but how much you think Henckels will charge it for.

                      11 Replies
                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Sorry Chem, just couldn't resist screwing you over in this game, Price is Right-style. Never voluntarily bid first.

                          My real guess is $449 initially, with prices falling after Christmas.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            The $276 guess would probably give you an edge over me (assuming you believe the true price will be higher), but it would put you in an disadvantage against other person.

                            Now, I take it that $449 is your real guess.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I'm guessing closer to the $300 area, $298

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I'm thinking they are going to go high off the hop, I'm going with 499$ . I was at W-S this weekend in Buffalo and the shun Ken Onion price is rock bottom now, I think the 8" was 139$

                            1. re: Dave5440

                              "the shun Ken Onion price is rock bottom now, I think the 8" was 139$"
                              Still overpriced if you ask me. But then I never did like the Shun Ken Onion.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                "Still overpriced if you ask me..."

                                So you think the Ken Onion version knives worth less than the Classic version, right?

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    350 quatloos for the Kramer knife :D

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Still overpriced if you ask me. But then I never did like the Shun Ken Onion.


                                  The point I was after, was that this was the first high priced knife I held at W-S in toronto and think it was in 400$ range , that wasen't that long ago

                                  1. re: Dave5440

                                    I'm not convinced this knife will follow suit, but if it ever winds up priced at ~$140 (and Henckels got the geometry/temper right), that would be a very nice deal. Here's hoping.