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Are you in the market for new kitchen knives, but you can’t decide between renowned German knife makers Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels?
Both brands offer fully-forged knives that are incredibly sharp, ultra-durable, and look as good as they perform.
The key difference between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives is that Wusthof edges are slightly sharper with a 14-degree angle per side compared to Zwilling at 15 degrees per side. Also, Wusthof blades are slightly harder, which results in longer-lasting sharpness, but increases the chances of the edge chipping.
That’s the very high-level summary, but there’s much more to know about these two brands before deciding which one to buy.
In this article, I provide an in-depth comparison of Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives and dive deep into their differences, similarities, pros, cons, and much more.
If you’re looking to quickly compare the price of Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives, jump ahead to our comparison chart which shows the current prices on Amazon.
Let’s get right into it:
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: 30-Second Summary
- Side-By-Side Comparison Chart
- Companies’ Histories
- Forged vs. Stamped Knives
- Anatomy of a Forged Kitchen Knife
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: Differences
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: Similarities
- Overview of Wusthof Product Lines
- Overview of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Product Lines
- Bottom Line: Which Should You Choose?
Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels are two of the most popular knife makers in the world. They have both been in business for over 100 years, and millions of home cooks and professional chefs across the globe use their knives.
The fact is, you can’t go wrong with either but, before you decide which knives to buy, it’s essential to understand exactly how they are similar and how they are different.
If you only have a minute, here’s what you need to know about Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives.
What Are Their Similarities?
- History: Both brands have been making knives in Solingen, Germany for over two centuries (literally).
- Blade Materials: Both brands use the same materials to make their blades; high carbon, rust-resistant steel.
- Warranty: They both guarantee their knives with a limited lifetime warranty. Their warranties cover defects in materials and craftsmanship.
- Bolster and Tang: Both brands design their knives with a bolster and full tang to improve balance and increase durability.
- Caring and Cleaning: Both brands recommend caring for their knives in the same manner: hand-wash only, and dry immediately.
What Are Their Differences?
- Edge Angle: Wusthof cuts their edges at a 14-degree angle and Zwilling J.A. Henckels cuts their edges at a 15-degree angle. Wusthof’s lower angle means that their edges are slightly sharper than Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
- Blade Hardness: The steel blades of Wusthof knives are harder than Zwilling J.A. Henckels which helps keep the edge longer but makes Wusthof slightly less durable.
- Handle Design and Materials: The design and material of their handles are different which impacts how they feel in your hand. All Zwilling knives have a distinct curve near the butt end to rest your pinky finger and prevent your hand from slipping. Wusthof’s Classic line of knives shares that same distinct curve, but their other knife lines have smoother contoured handles.
- Price: Lastly, pricing varies between the two brands and depends on which product line you buy. To get a quick comparison, you can check out their current prices:
|Wusthof||Zwilling J.A. Henckels|
|Where It's Made||Solingen, Germany (City of Blades)||Solingen, Germany (City of Blades)|
|Number of Forged Knife Lines||5||6|
|Blade Material||High Carbon, Rust-Resistant Steel||High Carbon, Rust-Resistant Steel|
|Warranty||Lifetime Limited Warranty||Lifetime Limited Warranty|
|Designed With a Bolster and Tang||Yes||Yes|
|Cleaning||Hand Wash Only||Hand Wash Only|
|Edge Angle (lower angle = sharper)||14-Degree Angle Per Side||15-Degree Angle Per Side|
|Blade Hardness (higher=harder but less durable)||Rockwell Hardness of 58||Rockwell Hardness of 57|
|Handle Material||Wood or Synthetic Material||Wood or Synthetic Material|
|Current Prices||Check Amazon, Check SurLaTable.com||Check Amazon, Check Zwilling.com|
Since 1814, Wusthof has been making knives in the city of Solingen, Germany, which is about 215 kilometers northwest of Frankfurt.
Solingen earned its nickname as the “City of Blades” by becoming home to several blade manufacturers besides Wusthof, including Zwilling J.A. Henckels, DOVO, Dreiturm, and a few others.
Wusthof has been family owned its entire existence—seven generations. Currently, Harald Wusthof and Viola Wusthof lead the company.
The fact that Wusthof has been in business and remained family-owned for two centuries is a testament to the superior quality and performance that they’re able to produce.
If you’re impressed by Wusthof’s longevity, you’ll be even more impressed by Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
Back in 1731, Peter Henckels registered the trademark for the “Zwilling” (Twin in German) logo. The company was later renamed Zwilling J.A. Henckels after Peter’s son, John Abraham Henckels.
Like Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels launched in Solingen, Germany. Their headquarters remain in Solingen today; however, they’ve expanded significantly over the years and now have operations all over the globe.
Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels have been around forever and got their start in the same town in Germany that is home to some of the best knife and blade manufacturers in the world.
Can you imagine the competition for talent and resources in that town?
Fortunately for us, that competition results in superior products that we get to enjoy every day. We need more towns like Solingen!
Forged knives are manufactured from a single piece of steel that is heated and then pounded by either man or machine.
Stamped knives are cut out (or stamped) from a sheet of steel. There are some benefits to stamped knives, but, in general, they are lighter, lower cost, and considered lower quality compared to forged knives.
Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels make stamped knives to give consumers a lower-priced option.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers several stamped knife lines under the brand Henckels International, including (click to view each line on Amazon):
- Henckels International Definition
- Henckels International Silvercap
- Henckels International Solution
- Henckels International Statement
- Henckels International Everedge Plus
- Henckels International Fine Edge Pro
- Henckels International Eversharp Pro
- Henckels International Fine Edge Synergy
These knife lines are not only stamped, but Zwilling J.A. Henckels doesn’t manufacture them in Germany, hence the name Henckels International. Instead, these lines are manufactured in Spain and Asia.
An easy way to distinguish Zwilling J.A. Henckel’s high-end forged knives from their lower-cost, entry-level lines is to look at the logo on the blade.
The high-end, forged knives have the twin logo and the lower-cost stamped knives have a single stick figure logo.
Although the stamped knives that Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels offer are excellent options, especially if you’re on a budget, I highly recommend investing in a set of forged knives. Forged knives are sturdier, more well-balanced, and maintain a sharp edge for longer.
For this article, we are focusing on the differences and similarities between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels forged knives.
Are you interested in learning more about the differences between forged and stamped knives?
Check out our recent article where we compare Wusthof’s most popular forged knife line (Classic) versus its most popular stamped knife line (Gourmet).
Before I break down the differences between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a forged knife. Knowing the purpose of each part of a forged knife will help you understand the details that I’ll cover in a minute.
Blade – Forged from a single piece of steel, the blade is the most important part of a knife. Without a well-designed blade, the performance of the knife will suffer.
The hardness of a blade is measured using the Rockwell Scale. The higher the number on the scale, the harder the steel. Wusthof tempers their blades to a 58 Rockwell, slightly harder than Henckels at 57.
Edge – The best edge is sharp and easy to maintain. Sharpness is determined by the angle in which the edge is ground. The smaller the angle, the sharper the edge.
Heel – The heel is the part of the blade closest to the handle. It’s the part of the knife that you’ll use to cut hard vegetables like carrots and parsnips.
Bolster – The bolster is the thick part of the knife located between the handle and the blade. Besides adding weight and balance, the bolster prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade during intense chopping.
Tang – Forged knives are made from a single piece of steel that runs from the tip of the blade through the butt end of the handle. The portion of steel that runs through the handle is called the tang. The tang provides balance and durability and prevents the blade from detaching from the handle since it is all one piece.
Rivets – Rivets are the studs that attach the handle to the tang. In addition to holding the knife together, rivets provide a classic design element to the handle.
Handle – Handles are made from many different materials, including wood, plastic, and other composites such as polypropylene and polyoxymethylene.
Despite the pleasing aesthetic, wood handles are becoming less popular since wood is porous and can absorb bacteria from raw foods. Most wooden handles today are sealed with a coating protecting it and making it easier to maintain.
Both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels offer a wide variety of styles and designs with nuances that make each appealing in a different way. When evaluating which brand to choose, it’s essential to fully understand what characteristics are the same and what are different.
There are several critical differences between Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives including edge angle, the hardness of the blade, design and material of the handle, how they feel in your hand, and their price. This section dives deeper into each of these differences.
Edge Angle – The lower the degree, the sharper the edge. Out of the factory, Wusthof sharpens their knives at a 14-degree angle per side while Zwilling J.A. Henckels sharpens their knives at 15 per side. The difference is minor, but it is worth noting that Wusthof knives are slightly sharper.
So, why not make the angle as sharp as possible?
Well, if you do that, the edge becomes less durable and won’t be able to handle significant abuse from daily chopping. For everyday chef’s knives, 14-15 is ideal. For more details on edge sharpness, check out this post on shapeningsupplies.com.
Wusthof engineers recently developed a new sharpening technique that they call PEtec (Precise Edge Technology).
In a nutshell, this technology uses a laser to precisely measure the blade. The technology then calculates the perfect angle based on each individual blade. Once that is determined, they use robots to sharpen the edge to the ideal angle with a whetstone. Finally, Wusthof finishes the blade with a polish using a special disk.
This unique process results in superior cutting performance, long edge retention, and consistent quality.
Blade Hardness – While researching kitchen knives, you will likely come across a reference to Rockwell Hardness or HCR. The Rockwell Scale is used by knife manufacturers to measure the hardness of a blade. The higher the number, the harder the steel.
Similar to the angle of the edge, there is no perfect level of hardness, the ideal hardness is dependent on the intended use of the blade. Harder steel keeps its edge longer but is less durable than softer steel. Softer steel, while more durable, will lose its edge faster. For kitchen knives, anything from 55-60 works well.
All Wusthof forged knives have a Rockwell Hardness of 58. Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives have a Rockwell Hardness of 57.
Handle design and material – Each knife has a different style handle that plays a significant role in the look, feel, and elegance.
The Epicure and Ikon Wusthof lines have wood handles, but the others are made out of polyoxymethylene.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ Pro Holm Oak and Twin 1731 lines feature wood handles while the others are made from synthetic materials. The best material entirely depends on your personal preference.
Here is a look at Wusthof handles:
Here is a look at Zwilling J.A. Henckels handles:
As you can see in these pictures, Zwilling’s handles all have a sharp, distinct curve right before the butt end which allows you to rest your pinky finger and prevents your hand from slipping. It also adds a beautiful design element.
Wusthof’s Classic line (top picture, second from the right) has a very similar curve, but the rest of their lines have smoother curves.
The handle on Wusthof’s Epicure line bends in the other direction, which gives it a much different feel than the others.
Speaking of how these knives feel in your hand…
How the knife feels in your hand – One of the most important factors in deciding which knives to buy is how it feels in your hand; however, comfort is highly personal and subjective.
Each product line from both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels has a different handle, weight, bolster, tang, etc.
I highly recommend holding the knives before you buy because you might be surprised at which one you prefer. At the very least, order a few different options and return them after testing out the grips.
You might feel strongly about a particular design, but after holding it, realize that using it every day would be a challenge.
The pricing varies by brand, product line, and whether you buy a set or individual knives.
Check out the chart below to see the latest pricing on Amazon.
|Knife Set||Price||View on Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Grand Prix II Black 9-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic IKON 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Epicure 12-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Ikon 8-Piece Set||Amazon|
|ZWILLING Pro 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
|ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Pro Holm Oak Set||Amazon|
|Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional S 18-Piece Set||Amazon|
|ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Four Star 12-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Four Star II 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
Now that you understand the differences let’s dive into how Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives are similar.
History – Both companies have been in business forever, and both started and continue to operate out of the “City of Blades”, Solingen, Germany.
Blade material – Both make their blades out of high carbon, rust-resistant steel. When it comes to knives, it all begins with the materials, and high carbon, rust-resistant steel it the optimal material for long-lasting performance and durability.
Bolster and tang – All forged lines from Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels include a bolster and full tang to protect your hand from slipping onto the blade, improved balance, and durability.
Hand-wash only – Both manufacturers highly recommend that you DO NOT wash them in a dishwasher.
Logos – Coincidentally (or not?) both companies have similar looking logos that are red and white. Make sure you don’t confuse the two!
Zwilling J.A. Henckels logo:
Wusthof has five forged knife product lines. The differences between Wusthof’s forged knife product lines (Epicure, Ikon, Classic Ikon, Classic, and Grand Prix II) are subtle but important to note when determining which one to buy. This breakdown will help you understand what each line offers.
The Epicure product line features a wider blade for easy handling. It has a full bolster for superior balance, protection and grip, and a full tang attached to the handle with a double rivet. Wusthof makes the Epicure handle out of Richlite, a composite of recycled wood fibers. Its handle is elegant and more rounded than the other lines.
The Ikon line features a slightly less narrow blade and a half bolster. The half bolster allows you to sharpen the entire blade. Like Wusthof Epicure knives, Ikon knives have a full tang. But, unlike Epicure knives, the Ikon handles have three rivets and a bolster on the butt of the handle for added balance and elegance.
Wusthof makes Ikon handles out of sustainable “Grenadill” African Blackwood. It’s a gorgeous looking handle and knife. If you want to take a closer look, check out our recent in-depth comparison of Wusthof Ikon vs. Wusthof Classic knives.
Check out Wusthof Ikon knives on Amazon.
Wusthof Classic Ikon
The only difference between the Classic Ikon and Ikon is the handle. Wusthof makes the Classic Ikon handle out of a sleek synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM).
The Classic line features a full bolster for balance, protection, and comfort. The handle is made out of the same material as the Classic Ikon, Polyoxymethylene (POM), but has a different design.
I like the Classic product line the best because of how the handle feels in my hand. It has a lip at the butt of the handle that provides a secure grip and makes it easy to control.
If you want to learn more and see up close pictures, check out our recent in-depth review of the Wusthof Classic line.
Wusthof Grand Prix II
The Grand Prix II features a full bolster, triple-riveted full tang, and polypropylene handle. The rivets are encased with an outer layer which gives it a slightly different look compared to the other product lines. Learn more about this line in my in-depth comparison of Wusthof Grand Prix II vs. Classic.
Check out Wusthof Grand Prix II knives on Amazon.
Similar to Wusthof, Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers a variety of options with six different forged knife product lines: Pro Holm Oak, Zwilling Pro, Professional “S”, ★★★★ ® Four Star, Twin(R) Four Star II, Twin® 1731.
Here is what each product line has to offer:
Zwilling J.A. Henckels markets the Zwilling Pro line as the most user-friendly knife available. It features a smaller bolster that enables you to sharpen the entire blade while still providing balance and protection. It has a full tang with a triple-riveted handle made from synthetic materials. The handle features a lip towards the bottom for added grip similar to the Wusthof Classic.
Zwilling Pro Holm Oak
The Pro Holm Oak line is exactly the same as the Zwilling Pro, except the handle is crafted from Mediterranean Holm Oak.
Zwilling Professional “S”
The Profession “S” line is classic German design with a triple-riveted handle, full bolster, and fully exposed tang throughout the black, synthetic handle. For more detailed information on the Pro “S” line, check out our recent in-depth comparison of Zwilling Pro vs. Pro “S”.
Zwilling ★★★★ Four Star
The Four Star is Zwilling J.A. Henckels’ top-selling knife featuring a full bolster, black handle with covered rivets for a sleek look.
Zwilling Twin Four Star II
Similar to the Four Star, the Twin Four Star II has the same features but also includes a bolster in the butt of the handled for added weight, balance, and performance.
Zwilling Twin 1731
The Twin 1731 line features a curved bolster that makes handling safe and comfortable while allowing you to use the entire blade. The handle is made out of untreated, oiled ebony wood, giving it an elegant classic look. The Zwilling logo is engraved on the bolster for additional elegance. Warning: this knife is extremely expensive.
I wish I could definitively recommend one brand over the other, but it is not that simple.
The fact that both Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels have been in business for over 200 years speaks volumes about the quality and consistency of both brands’ products.
Regardless of which brand you buy, you’ll get high-quality, razor-sharp, and elegantly designed knives that will last forever. Each brand has its pros and cons, but you really can’t go wrong with either—some people swear by Wusthof, while others prefer Zwilling J.A. Henckels.
If you’re looking for a nudge in one direction or the other, I highly recommend Wusthof Classic knives.
Some of their other knife lines, like the Epicure and Ikon, have more elegant handle designs, but I value comfort and function over aesthetics.
If you’re the type of shopper than needs to get your hands on a product before you buy, stores like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma carry both brands and will let you test them on fruits and vegetables in their stores.
In fact, I was in Williams Sonoma recently, and I passed by the knife section. Guess which brands were side-by-side in the case?
That’s right, Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels (Wusthof on the left, Zwilling J.A. Henckels on the right). Talk about competitive!
You can check the latest prices and read hundreds of reviews for Wusthof Knives and Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives at the links below.
- Check out Wusthof kitchen knives on Amazon and SurLaTable.com.
- Check out Zwilling J.A. Henckels kitchen knives on Amazon and Zwilling.com
If you’re still not sure, check out our recent in-depth review of Wusthof Classic knives. You’ll learn how they’re made, what they’re made of, how they perform, how they look and feel, how much they cost, common complaints, and so much more.
If you’re not convinced German-style knives like Wusthof and Zwilling are right for you, check out our recent articles, Shun vs. Wusthof, Cutco vs. Wusthof, Wusthof vs. Global, and Wusthof vs. Victorinox to get an in-depth look at how the top Japanese-style (Shun and Global), American (Cutco), and Swiss (Victorinox) knives compare to German knives.
What Are Your Thoughts on Wusthof and Zwilling J.A. Henckels Kitchen Knives?
Have you had a different experience with Wusthof or Zwilling J.A. Henckels? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Are there any other kitchen knife brands that you think are better? Please let us know in the comments section below; we would love to hear your feedback.
If you found this article helpful, you should also check out:
- Best Chef’s Knife Under $100: Top 6 Compared
- The Definitive Guide to the Best Kitchen Knife Brands
- The Ultimate Review of Wusthof Classic Kitchen Knives
- Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: What Are the Differences?
- Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet: Kitchen Knife Comparison (With Pictures)
- Wusthof vs. Global: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Wusthof vs. Victorinox: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Shun vs. Wusthof: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Cutco vs. Wusthof: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
- Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro vs. Pro “S”: What’s the Difference?
- Made In 8-Inch Chef’s Knife Review (With Pictures)
- Japanese vs. German Kitchen Knives: What’s the Difference?
- Best German Kitchen Knives: Top 5 Brands Compared