1) Sharpness: Good
2) Comfort: Good
3) Value: Great
4) Availability: Good
5) Country of Origin: India
6) Passes “First Shave Test?: Yes
7) Longevity (# of shaves): 3 or more
8) Notes: Wilkinson Sword blades were historically made in England, one of their classic shaving products. Through the years, production of these blades has moved over to Germany, and the blades became known as “Wilkinson Sword Classic”. I’ve tried them, and liked them a lot. Very nice sharpness, but still smooth. Certainly a blade that I have a lot of respect for. To my mind, they’re probably the best DE blades coming out of Germany at this time. I’ve historically had some issues with a lot of German-sourced blades. The Sword Classics, though, are a fine choice, in my opinion, and I’d be happy to buy them again, should the need arise.
I became aware of the Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade recently, and I’ve heard a lot of good things. Some shavers have indicated that they’re every bit as good as the classic blades, but tend to be somewhat less expensive. In fact, they’re sometimes offered at extraordinarly low prices. These blades are made in India. That isn’t altogether bad, as Gillette makes a whole line of Indian brands, the 7 ‘O Clock. These blades have proven to be quite good in my experience, and are also well-lauded by many other shavers. Materials and quality control have always been good, from what I can glean. India, actually, has quite a hand in the DE shaving market, since Parker safety razors are made there, as well as many “house brand” razors, such as the Maggard line. It’s a huge home market, and one would assume that the competition for that market allows for their products to reach a good level of refinement.
My first test razor for this blade was the Gillette ’58 TV Special Superspeed. The blade says “Gillette” on it, so why not feed it to an old razor of the same name. The TV Special is a favorite razor of mine, just a sweetheart that represents a nice, mild shaver. The shave came off very well, with a mild presentation and good closeness, in terms of what this razor tends to accomplish. I continued on for three shaves with the Superspeed, and had a very solid run. Good closeness, no trouble. A mild razor like the Superspeed will typically require a three pass shave for ideal closeness, and it is often easy to tell if the blade lacks that last few percentage points of sharpness, as you’ll have a tiny remainder of roughness after the shave. For me, it’ll be under the chin, and right along the far margin of the jaw. For instance, with an Astra blade, the first shave will be perfect, but the next ones will leave just a bit of stubble here and there. Still very good shaves, but not the last word in awesome. When evaluating a blade, it’s important to know how your razor acts with different blades. Without that, there’s no context. In this case, I found that the Gillette Wilkinson Sword pretty much delivered the same performance through three. Maybe one step behind an Astra SP on the first shave, but pulling even with the second, and perhaps just a shade better on the third, since it seems that this blade holds its edge a bit better than the Astra.
I tried a second blade in my Merkur Progress, running through three shaves on setting 2.5, which is a bit more aggressive than an old Gillette, but still quite comfortable for three pass shaves. Another strong effort. No complaints. Again the edge held well. I could believe that shavers who tend to “stretch” their blades might get a good week of shaves out of this blade, even if they shave every day. For me, I don’t find a compelling reason to go much beyond three shaves, especially when the blades are fairly inexpensive, but everyone has their own philosophy on this particular point. I’d rather switch the blade before the shaves get rough. They’re just not expensive enough to do otherwise, for me.
Finally, I did a run of 2 pass shaves with the Maggard V3A, which is an Edwin Jagger derivitive, but with a much greater blade gap. The first shave here was very comfortable, and got solid closeness with this methodology. Just what you’re looking for with a maintenance shave for everyday. No undue mileage on the epidermis. The subsequent shaves were equally good. With the two-pass methodology, I found no change in performance over the run of the blade, which is great.
I went on to use the last few blades in the pack, and they all performed as expected. No poor grinds or sudden dulling out. No rough shaves. Just a smooth performance, exhibiting good sharpness and consistent performance. The fourth blade, for those interested, was used in the Progress again, this time on setting 5 (maximum blade gap), and the Gillette Slim Adjustable on setting 9 (also full-tilt).
All in all, I find the Gillette Wilkinson Sword blade to be a very nice blade. Comfortable, sharp enough, and featuring good durability.
I would say that this blade is my favorite of the Indian-manufactured blades that I have used thus far, and would be a great everyday use product. I think it’s every bit as good as the Wilkinson Sword Classic, and would stand toe to toe with a lot of moderate blades on the market, like the Personna Lab Blue. Recommended.
Cheers, and happy shaving.