What's new

A Tale of a Rex & 2 Brit Aristocrats

IMG_6568.jpg

I love my Rex Ambassador. It is a near perfect daily shaver for the weekdays. It’s modern; it’s manly; it’s sophisticated; it’s brazen steel; it’s smooth as silk (setting 2). Along with some quiet reflection on the gift that is today and on the one who made it, the morning shave helps me prepare my mind for the difficult workday to come.

Conversely, for me, the weekends are a time of rest and renewal. They call for something special—something vintage, something classic, something timeless. Something that sweeps one back to a different era—a simpler time, a slower time, a time before the quick and easy, a time before the dawn of the Information Age. For me, King Gillette weekends are a delight; they’re regular and something I look forward to with the close of each work-week.

The Rex changed my taste in razors. It (re-)introduced me to more efficient DE designs, and it wasn’t long before I was hooked on moderate efficiency and began to relish some blade feel. I’ve long had a fascination with Aristocrats, particularly the British. They’re just something magical and mysterious about them. Coupled with those exquisite cases, they seem to stand as the zenith of classic razors making. So a while back, I decided it was time to find an open comb and give it a go.

After a post on the BST, a fine specimen emerged, and it wasn’t long before it was enroute. In the hand, it was all that I had thought it would be. It had the size, heft, balance, and those lovely barbershop spirals accenting a brilliant finish. However, there was a surprise. When I started this quest, I did not understand that there were in fact two different open comb British Aristocrats. In hindsight, I now realize I thought I was getting a 1938 rhodium plated open comb British Aristocrat in a set #22. In fact, I ended up with the other, less common 1936 silver plated version. Neat!

Besides the plating, I’ve noted a few other differences. The 1938 has the famous rounded brackets/braces—visible on the underneath side of the head on the ends. Conversely, the brackets/braces on the 1936 have points on the bottom and is more squared corners. Inside the head, they each have a long center bar for holding and aligning the blades, while the 1938 has additional “wings” on the ends of the bars. The 1938 has a plain band at the base handle, just above the TTO knob, while the 1936 has a tiny “Gillette” logo stamped on it. Lastly, the screw in the handle of the 1936 is recessed much further in.

So how do they shave? In both cases I found they aptly live up to their reputation: starkly efficient while still smooth and comfortable. They are not intimidating as I once had once perceived them to be! In my experience, I find these Aristocrats to be a little more efficient than my Rex on 2 and slightly less efficient than my Timeless Ti 0.95 OC. They just the right amount of blade feel, and I don’t find it obnoxious. Both razors are well balanced and have a heft about them that seems to exude a silent confidence and eagerness to be used. They’re truly superb and easily daily shavers.

I count myself extremely fortunate and blessed to get to collect and shave with fascinating and superb vintage razors. Each time they bring a cheery smile and pleasant diversion from the difficult year that is 2020. Wishing you all a pleasant weekend and many great shaves.

In the pictures above and below, the rhodium-plated 1938 is on left and the silver-plated 1936 on right.

IMG_6596.jpg
IMG_6595.jpg

IMG_6597.jpg
 
Last edited:
Amazing write-up, photos and description of the most beautiful looking razor model ever made.
Well done, Doug!! :thumbup::a50:

...Oh, and thanks to your recommendation: if I ever decide to get a modern razor I think the Rex A will be the one...
 
Beautiful!! I am planning my first shave with a newly acquired 3rd generation UK Aristocrat tomorrow. To be honest I am a little hesitant about using it. I have an irrational fear of marring it somehow. To me all of the UK Aristocrats are eye candy.
 
Amazing write-up, photos and description of the most beautiful looking razor model ever made.
Well done, Doug!! :thumbup::a50:

...Oh, and thanks to your recommendation: if I ever decide to get a modern razor I think the Rex A will be the one...
Thank you Peter! They astound me every time I pick them up. On a side note, I'm on the waiting list for a Wolfman. The plan is to get a WR2 with a short handled hallow bulldog style WRH2 handle...similar in style to my Aristocrats. I'm very curious to see if it will unseat the Rex as king of moderns in my house!
Beautiful!! I am planning my first shave with a newly acquired 3rd generation UK Aristocrat tomorrow. To be honest I am a little hesitant about using it. I have an irrational fear of marring it somehow. To me all of the UK Aristocrats are eye candy.
Congrats on the 3rd gen! Did you shave with it today? I only shave with my Aristocrats on the weekends--when I'm relaxed and have nowhere to be...less chance of a blunder! And by using my modern steel razors during the week, I'll put less wear on the vintages. I figure this way, along with meticulous care, I can enjoy them more fully and they will still likely outlast me.
 
Thank you Peter! They astound me every time I pick them up. On a side note, I'm on the waiting list for a Wolfman. The plan is to get a WR2 with a short handled hallow bulldog style WRH2 handle...similar in style to my Aristocrats. I'm very curious to see if it will unseat the Rex as king of moderns in my house!

Congrats on the 3rd gen! Did you shave with it today? I only shave with my Aristocrats on the weekends--when I'm relaxed and have nowhere to be...less chance of a blunder! And by using my modern steel razors during the week, I'll put less wear on the vintages. I figure this way, along with meticulous care, I can enjoy them more fully and they will still likely outlast me.

I did shave with it today and I am disappointed to say it was the worse shave of my life. I have never shed so much blood when shaving. I don’t blame the razor though, it almost certainly was caused by operator error. It was my first shave with a new razor and I put a very sharp blade that I have never tried before into the razor, a Gillette Nacet. I also got cute and pushed for the third ATG pass. This is just my seventh week DE shaving and I have only used a Rockwell 6S. The Rockwell handle is about an inch longer and I suspect the head geometry is different as well. I will take it for another spin next weekend with a less aggressive blade. Like you I don’t plan on making this razor a daily driver, I don’t want to put too much wear on that Rhodium plating. But I will tame it.
 
I did shave with it today and I am disappointed to say it was the worse shave of my life. I have never shed so much blood when shaving. I don’t blame the razor though, it almost certainly was caused by operator error. It was my first shave with a new razor and I put a very sharp blade that I have never tried before into the razor, a Gillette Nacet. I also got cute and pushed for the third ATG pass. This is just my seventh week DE shaving and I have only used a Rockwell 6S. The Rockwell handle is about an inch longer and I suspect the head geometry is different as well. I will take it for another spin next weekend with a less aggressive blade. Like you I don’t plan on making this razor a daily driver, I don’t want to put too much wear on that Rhodium plating. But I will tame it.

Man, sorry to hear that! Well, IMHO the 3rd gen is the most efficient of the generations, and I always use a milder blade in mine (Personna) whereas I use Feathers in almost all other razors. Just shaved with one of mine 3 days in a row and it is wonderful.

Maybe 7 weeks in was a bit too early, maybe you should put it away for a bit. Still, I honestly don’t think these can be worn out, I use mine around 80 times a year and it shows absolutely no signs!

PS Love your new avatar :thumbup:
 
I should have gone with the Personnas. I just discovered how close and comfortably they shave for me while using them last week. I made my first bulk purchase of blades and I have 200 arriving today. I didn't realize that the third generation UK Aristocrats are more aggressive than the other generations. I have been using the R4 plate in my Rockwell. The blade gap chart on this site shows the blade gap to be .61 and the same chart shows UK Aristocrats to have a blade gap of .66 so I thought they we would be close. My bad. As to the Avatar, it felt like a good choice. :cool: I was searching the different clubs in the Clubs and Brotherhoods section and I was surprised to not find one for Gillette Aristocrats. Peter, you are probably the most qualified person on this forum to start one, hint hint :punk:
 
Well I used the Aristocrat again today with much better results. I loaded the razor with a Personna blade and I was much more careful. I can tell though that this razor is not going to be very forgiving if I don't maintain a good angle or if I use pressure. But the problem with the first shave wasn't the fault of the razor but the fault of the shaver.
 
Well I used the Aristocrat again today with much better results. I loaded the razor with a Personna blade and I was much more careful. I can tell though that this razor is not going to be very forgiving if I don't maintain a good angle or if I use pressure. But the problem with the first shave wasn't the fault of the razor but the fault of the shaver.
Hang in there! It will get better with time. Different razors often require different techniques. It gets easier to switch between them with time and experience. After a couple of years with the same razor, I started branching out and trying different razors. I think that is when my technique improved the most and my preferences became much more defined.
 
Hang in there! It will get better with time. Different razors often require different techniques. It gets easier to switch between them with time and experience. After a couple of years with the same razor, I started branching out and trying different razors. I think that is when my technique improved the most and my preferences became much more defined.
My technique is still pretty raw. I plan on using a Derby Extra and then an Astra SP on my next shaves with this razor. I love this razor and I want it to work for me. I think a less aggressive blade might me tame it a bit.
 
Top Bottom