Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: What Are the Differences?

Wusthof Classic vs Wusthof Ikon

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Wusthof is one of the top kitchen knife brands in the world known for their superior quality, performance, and durability.

They have several different kitchen knife lines to choose from including their best selling line, the Classic, and their most elegant line that they refer to as “The Jewel of Our Collection”, the Ikon.

In this article, I provide an in-depth comparison of Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon kitchen knives and cover all aspects of each line including their:

  • Material
  • Performance
  • Design
  • Durability
  • Price
  • And much more.

By the end, you’ll know all of their similarities, differences, pros, and cons and you’ll have all the facts you need to decide which knife line is right for you.

If you’re just looking to quickly compare the price of Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives, both are available on Amazon at these links: Wusthof Classic, Wusthof Ikon.

Let’s get right into it. Click the links below to jump to a section.

Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: Quick Summary

If you only have a minute, here’s what you need to know about Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives.

The fact is, the Classic and Ikon knife lines are more similar than they are different.

From a performance perspective, they are virtually the same.

Their blades are both forged out of a single piece of high carbon stainless steel at a hardness level of 58 on the Rockwell Scale.

Their edges are sharpened at the same 28-degree angle using Wusthof’s proprietary PETec technology.

Lastly, both come with a limited lifetime warranty that protects you against defects in material and/or craftsmanship.

The biggest differences between Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives are the material of their handles, their design, and their price.

Wusthof Classic vs. Ikon vs. Ikon Classic

Wusthof Classic knives feature a distinct triple riveted handle made from a dense synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM). POM is super durable and resistant to fading and discoloration.

The Classic handles have a fully exposed tang (tang: extension of the blade throughout the handle) and a full bolster that add weight and balance. They are also curved that the butt end to prevent your hand from slipping.

Wusthof Ikon knives feature a beautifully contoured handle made out of African Blackwood (also known as Grenadill wood). African Blackwood is a great material for knife handles because it’s extremely stable, hard, and heavy. This gorgeous and natural material won’t expand or contract but is more susceptible to scratches compared to POM.

Ikon handles have smoother curves than the Classic line and don’t feature the sharp curve at the butt end to prevent slipping. They also have a fully exposed tang, but instead of a full bolster, Ikon knives have two half bolsters; one located where the blade and handle meet and the other covering the butt end of the handle.

The main downside of the Ikon line is that, due to its natural wood handles, it’s significantly more expensive than the Classic line. You can compare the current pricing of Ikon and Classic knives on Amazon at these links:

Besides Classic and Ikon, Wusthof has another knife line called the Classic Ikon.

The Classic Ikon line is exactly the same as the Ikon line except its handles are made out of Polyoxymethylene (same material as the Classic line) rather than African Blackwood and it’s significantly less expensive (see pricing on Amazon).

Side-By-Side Comparison Chart

(Swipe left and right to view the full chart)

 Wusthof ClassicWusthof IkonWusthof Classic Ikon
Handle MaterialPolyoxymethyleneAfrican Blackwood (Grenadill wood)Polyoxymethylene
Handle DesignTriple-riveted, distinct curves, matte black.Triple-riveted, smooth curves, wood grains. Triple-riveted, smooth curves, matte black.
BolsterFull bolster2 half bolsters2 half bolsters
TangFully exposedFully exposedFully exposed
Caring and CleaningHand washHand wash and periodically polish the handle.Hand wash
Number of Sets41418
Price (8-in Chef's Knife)Least Expensive (Check Amazon)Most Expensive (Check Amazon)Similar price to Classic (Check Amazon)
How They Are MadePrecision forged Precision forged Precision forged
Blade MaterialHigh carbon, rust-resistant steelHigh carbon, rust-resistant steelHigh carbon, rust-resistant steel
Edge Angle14-Degree angle per side14-Degree angle per side14-Degree angle per side
Rockwell Hardness585858
WarrantyLimited Lifetime WarrantyLimited Lifetime WarrantyLimited Lifetime Warranty

Classic vs. Ikon: What Are Their Differences?

In this section, I explore the key differences between Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives including their material, design, caring and cleaning, product options, and price.

Handle Material

One of the biggest differences between the Wusthof Classic and Wusthof ikon lines is the material of their handles.

Wusthof Classic handles are made of a synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM) and Wusthof Ikon handles are made of African Blackwood. Although Wusthof Classic Ikon handles have the same design as Ikon, they are made of POM instead of African Blackwood.

Wusthof Classic and Ikon Handle Material
Top to bottom: Classic, Ikon, Classic Ikon

POM has a tight molecular structure which makes it highly durable with excellent stability. It’s resistant to discoloration and fading and can endure frequent exposure to high temperature and water which makes it an ideal material for knife handles. Besides knife handles, several other companies take advantage of the durability of POM to make eyeglass frames, ski bindings, and small gear wheels.

The handles of Wusthof Ikon knives are made of African Blackwood, also known as Grenadill wood. African Blackwood is extremely dense with low porosity and high resin content. It’s one of the hardest and heaviest types of wood in the world. These properties make it very durable, stable and enable it to withstand exposure to moisture and without expanding, contracting or becoming damaged.

As its name suggests, African Hardwood is naturally dark (it looks black in some lighting) with straight, fine grains. Besides the handles of Wusthof Ikon knives, African Blackwood is used for musical instruments like guitars and clarinets.

The obvious advantage of African Blackwood is the beauty and elegance it adds to Wusthof Ikon handles, but there are two downsides of this material you should know. First, it requires periodic polishing to maintain its luster (Wusthof sells specific mineral oil for polishing) and second, it increases the price of the knives. Since African Blackwood is a natural material, it’s more costly to source and transform into knife handles compared to the synthetic materials uses for Classic knives.

If you like everything about Ikon knives but don’t want to deal with the extra maintenance or pay a premium for their African Blackwood handles, Classic Ikon is a great option. With Classic Ikon, you get Ikon with a sleek black handle and at a much lower price.

Handle Design

When you see Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives side-by-side, the first difference you’ll notice is the shape and design of their handles.

Wusthof Classic handles are flat on each side with an ergonomic shape on the top and bottom to comfortably fit your hand. They have a distinct curve at the butt end to rest your pinky and prevent the knife from slipping during use. They are black in color and have a matte finish which gives them a Classic, durable look.

Wusthof Classic Handle
Wusthof Classic Handle

The handles on Wusthof Ikon knives are rounded on all sides and have smooth contours. They don’t have the same distinct curve at the butt end like Classic knives but they bend slightly to help maintain grip. The dark hue and natural grains of the African Blackwood material give Ikon knives a beautiful and elegant aesthetic. Most people would agree that Ikon knives look fancier than Classic knives.

Wusthof Ikon Handle
Wusthof Ikon Handle

Both Classic and Ikon knives feature triple riveted handles and a full exposed tang.

Wusthof Classic Rivets and Tang
Wusthof Classic Rivets and Tang

The rivets are the bolts that hold the handle and blade together. The tang is the piece of steel that runs from the blade all the way through the handle. The full tang provides balance and stability. Some brands cover the rivets and tang with the handle material but Wusthof keeps them exposed to enhance the design.

Cheaper knives often have a half or partial tang which means that the metal from the blades only runs partially into the handle and doesn’t provide the weight and balance of a full tang.

Blade Design

Wusthof Classic blades feature a full bolster which is the thick, wedge-like part of the blade that is closest to the handle. The full bolster adds weight and balance to the knife, but more importantly, it prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade during intense chopping.

Wusthof Ikon blades feature a half bolster which adds less weight but still protects your hand from slipping. The advantage of the Ikon’s half bolster is that it allows you to sharpen the edge all the way from the tip of the blade to the heel.

Wusthof Classic and Ikon Bolster
Top: Classic. Bottom: Ikon.

Wusthof Ikon knives also feature a second half bolster at the butt end of their handles. If you take a close look, you’ll see that the steel spreads across the entire butt end of the handle. This half bolster adds weight, balance, and adds another unique design element to Ikon knives.

Wusthof Ikon bolster on butt end
Ikon’s second half bolster (Photo Credit: Cultery and More)

Caring and Cleaning

The wood handles of Wusthof Ikon knives need to be polished periodically to restore their luster. Over time the richness of the dark wood can fade but a quick polish will bring it right back.

Most Ikon knife sets come with restoring oil and a polishing towel but, if you only buy a single Ikon knife, you can get the oil and towel separately.

Wusthof Classic knives do not need any additional care beyond normal cleaning and sharpening.

Classic and Ikon knives both need to be hand washed and dried after use. If you put them in the dishwasher, you risk them rubbing into other items and dulling the edge.

Product Options

If you only need the basics like a chef’s knife and Santoku knife, all three lines (Classic, Ikon, Classic Ikon) have you covered. However, if you’re looking for a complete set, your options are much more limited with the Ikon line.

The Ikon line has 16 individual knives and 4 knife sets. They offer a 4 piece steak knife set, a 5 piece studio block set, a 7 piece block set, and a 9 piece block set.

Classic is Wusthof’s most popular line and also their most extensive. With the Classic line, you have a wide range of options including 87 individual knives and 41 different sets. Their sets range from 2 pieces all the way up to their Mega Block Set which has 36 pieces.

The Classic Ikon line gives you fewer options than Classic but much more than Ikon. It has 19 individuals knives and 18 sets ranging from 2 pieces to their Mega Block 22-piece Set.

Price

The last and arguably most important difference between Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives is their price.

Wusthof Classic knives are significantly less expensive than Wusthof Ikon knives. Wusthof Classic Ikon knives usually cost about the same as the Classic.

Wusthof Ikon knives are more expensive that Wusthof Classic knives because of their natural African Blackwood handles. It’s more costly for Wusthof to source, process, and transform a natural material into knife handles than it is to do the same with the synthetic material they use for Classic handles. Unfortunately, this additional cost is reflected in the price of Ikon knives.

Use the chart below to compare the current prices of the same style knives and popular sets that include the same style of knives. The links in the chart take you to Amazon where you’ll find great deals for Wusthof knives. Stores like Williams-Sonoma and Macy’s also sell Wusthof knives but, in my research, tend to be a bit more expensive than Amazon.

 Wusthof Classic Wusthof IkonWusthof Classic Ikon
8-Inch Chef's KnifeCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
7-Inch Santoku KnifeCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
5 Piece Studio Block Set
Check PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
7 Piece Block SetCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

Classic vs. Ikon: What Are Their Similarities?

As I mentioned in the beginning, Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives are more similar than they are different.

They are both manufactured the same way using the same material for their blades. They are sharpened to the exact same degree and the metal of their blades have the exact same hardness. Lastly, they come with the same limited lifetime warranty that is standard across all Wusthof forged knives.

In the following sections, I provide more detail on these similarities so you can learn even more about Wusthof knives before making the investment.

How They Are Made

Wusthof has been in business perfecting their craft of knife making in Solingen, Germany since 1814. Over the years, they’ve advanced the tools, technology, and process but still rely on over 300 highly skilled craftsmen to consistently produce a superior level of quality with every knife.

Wusthof has five lines of forged knives, including the Classic and Ikon, which go through a 40-step process in which they are heat-molded from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel. This process results in the highest level of quality, durability, and performance. The manufacturing process for Classic and Ikon knives is exactly the same.

Check out this video to learn more about Wusthof’s manufacturing process.

Wusthof also makes two lines of stamped knives, the Gourmet and Pro, that are laser cut out of a large sheet of steel. Producing stamped knives requires fewer steps and results in a lower cost but a less durable knife. If the prices of Classic and Ikon forged knives give you sticker shock, you can learn more about Wusthof’s less expensive stamped knives in our recent article: Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet.

Blade Material

Another similarity between Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon knives is the material of their blades.

All Wusthof knives, including the Classic and Ikon, are made out of high-carbon rust-resistant steel with a unique blend of carbon, alloys, and elements to improve hardness, durability, and resist staining and corrosion.

Below are the exact materials in the metal of Wusthof Classic and Ikon blades:

  • Stainless steel: The primary material which is used universally by knife makers.
  • Carbon: .5% of the blade is Carbon which adds hardness and durability.
  • Chromium: An alloy that helps the blade resist staining. You’ll notice that Wusthof knives are very easy to clean and part of that is due to the presence of chromium in the metal.
  • Molybdenum: A chemical element to resist corrosion and add hardness.
  • Vanadium: Another chemical element to increase hardness and durability.

Sharpness

The edges of Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon blades are both sharpened at a 14-degree angle on each side or a total angle of 28 degrees.

Most kitchen knives are sharpened somewhere between 14 and 20 degrees. The smaller the angle, the sharper the blade.

At a 14-degree angle per side, Wusthof knives are some of the sharpest you can buy. The downside of a sharp edge is that it is more likely to chip but Wusthof is able to pull it off because of the quality of their materials and their unique sharpening process.

Wusthof recently invented a technology called PEtec (PrecisionEdge Technology) that utilizes robots, lasers, whetstone, and a special disk to measure, sharpen, and polish the edges. Like many other successful companies, Wusthof is constantly trying to figure out how to make a great product even better and that was their mission when they developed PEtec.

The results of PEtec are noticeable: superior cutting performance, significantly longer edge retention, and a consistent edge along the entire length of the blade.

Hardness

The hardness of a knife blade is important because a harder blade can hold a sharper edge but, contrary to what you might think, harder blades are more likely to chip.

All knife manufacturers use the Rockwell Scale to assess the hardness of their blades. Most kitchen knives are between 55 and 60 which is considered the ideal range to hold a sharp edge but remain extremely durable.

Since Wusthof Classic and Wusthof Ikon blades are made of the same material, they both have a Rockwell Hardness of 58.

Warranty

Lastly, all Wusthof knives, including the Classic and Ikon, come with a limited lifetime warranty. Their warranty guarantees that their knives will be free of defects in material and/or craftsmanship but does not cover damage that is a result of normal wear or misuse. You can read the fine print of Wusthof’s warranty here.

Bottom Line: Which Should You Choose?

The three main differences between the Wusthof Classic, Ikon, and Classic Ikon lines are material, design, and price. In order to decide which line is best for you, you need to consider each of these differences carefully and prioritize the ones that matter most to you.

Wusthof Classic vs. Ikon vs. Classic Ikon

Wusthof Ikon handles are made of a beautiful natural wood that requires a little bit of extra care but it adds an elegance that Classic and Classic Ikon knives lack.

Wusthof Classic handles have flat sides and a distinct curve near the butt end of the handle. Wusthof Ikon and Classic Ikon handles are more rounded and have smoother curves.

Wusthof Classic knives have a full bolster while the Ikon and Classic Ikon have a half bolster between the blade and handle and another bolster at the butt end of their handle.

Both designs are undoubtedly beautiful but the best one for you is a matter of personal preference. It’s tough to decide by looking at pictures so I highly recommend ordering one knife and testing it out before committing to an entire set.

Lastly, Wusthof Ikon knives are significantly more expensive than Wusthof Classic knives. If you’re in love with the shape and design of Ikon and are okay with a black synthetic handle, Classic Ikon is a great option that won’t break the bank.

Personally, I love the look of Ikon knives but I strongly prefer how the Classic handles feel in my hand. I tested both extensively and realized that the comfort of the Classic knives outweighed the beauty (and high price) of Ikon. I ended up purchasing the Classic set and have been using them for years. They are absolutely fantastic and I have no regrets.

If you’re still not sure which ones are best for you, Classic, Ikon, and Classic Ikon are available on Amazon where you can learn more and read hundreds of reviews.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Re you very useful piece on the difference between the Classic range, the Ikon range and the classic ikon range.
    You say Wusthof use PEtech to get sharp blades. How do domestic users of these knives keep them sharp without PEtech?
    Thanks Tony

    • Great question, Tony.

      You can use handheld or electric sharpeners, a steel, or a whetstone. This page on Wusthof.com explains exactly how to use each method.

      If you’re still not comfortable with any of these methods, you can always bring your knives to a local sharpening shop to get them sharpened professionally.

      The good news is that Wusthof knives usually only need to be sharpened once a year if you use them regularly. Less often if you don’t use them every day.

      Good luck!

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