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Modern vs Vintage

It seems to me that most modern razors out there right now are reiterations of designs that are decades old (some close to a century). What do you think?
  • Has shaving been nailed already or not yet?
  • Do you feel like the new products/systems add any kind of substantial value to the experience?
  • Are results any better with the modern stuff?
I like retro stuff, so I may be biased. I'd still like to hear some thoughts, anyway...
 
I can get just as smooth a shave with a vintage razor as I can with a modern razor. It comes down too what a guy wants, and how much he wants to spend.

Clayton

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Well I don't think much r&d is going into modern safety razors since most companies who are really big into the razor business that spend money on r&d has almost abandoned the notion of safety razors other than making blades for less developed countries. The modern razors coming out are just essentially using designs from the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s because the research had already been done.

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Rhody

I'm a Lumberjack.
My experience so far has been new. I purchased a few vintage to collect. Recently used my birth year superspeed and was cool to used something so "old" that worked fine but compared to new "technology" or say craftsmanship I go new. Especially the blade gap and tolerance. Handle length and thickness. Stainless over chrome metal.
 
One thing to remember with modern vs vintage is that blades have gotten way better over the years. Blades in the '30s were a lot thicker, so if you use a modern blade in a vintage, they are way milder than they were intended to be because the blade gap is a lot smaller.
The vintage razors have their place and I own a few vintage Gillettes that are wonderful shavers. Id contend that modern razors are better though, simply because they are designed to use modern blades. Ive never found a vintage that shaves as close or as smooth as the R41 does.
 
I think one of the issues is that ( at least with DEs) you are locked into the blade design.

I agree, any/all razors are simply variations of the same theme (i.e. the blade holder). Having said, the same line applies to many utilitarian items we all have...shoes, cutlery, combs. The ones I own are the ones that appeal
to my personal e$thetic.
 
I've done a few recent comparisons but really must admit that sample sizes are small, usually a sample of one comparison razor.

In DE razors the Feather AS-D2 compares well to the Gillette Tech but did not surpass it; the Rockwell 2c did not fare as well and has not been pleasant or efficient. The Merkur 34C and 23C and the EJ DE89LbL were okay but not really up to the Tech comparison. The Feather Popular and Weishi 9306 and Viking Chieftain compared very well against the Gillette Super Speeds; as pleasant an experience as with the fatter headed earlier Super Speeds but not quite as pleasant as the slightly thinner head later black handled metal base Super Speed.

In SE razors so far none of the newer models has been better than the 1912 GEM. The RR Hawk in aluminum is almost as pleasant and almost as efficient but certainly not more pleasant or more efficient. The Ikon El Jefe was just plain not at all what I like and the brass Colonial General okay but still feeling awkward and unbalanced.

So far I have not found anything that works better or looks better or feels better than my Gillette Techs and Super Speeds or my GEM 1912s.
 
Good question!

I expect many of us use both new and seasoned razors with pleasurable results. The blades available to me today are better than my choices 50 years ago, however.
 
One thing to remember with modern vs vintage is that blades have gotten way better over the years. Blades in the '30s were a lot thicker, so if you use a modern blade in a vintage, they are way milder than they were intended to be because the blade gap is a lot smaller.
The vintage razors have their place and I own a few vintage Gillettes that are wonderful shavers. Id contend that modern razors are better though, simply because they are designed to use modern blades. Ive never found a vintage that shaves as close or as smooth as the R41 does.
And that's why I shim my blades. The blades up until they started making them out of stainless steel sucked. My dad didn't like the Gillette blades till they came out with the Teflon coated Spoilers. He would be amazed at what we get to choose from now.

Clayton

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Well, personally I started with one high-end new razor (AS-D2) and then went straight to vintages.

I love vintages for their history and character, and even though the AS-D2 gives me the most perfect shave and is a truly gorgeous razor, I find it almost boring in its utter perfection. There is no soul to it... The simple design of my 58 Tech or the cool old-school mechanics of my 62 Slim are the real deal, and they shave 99.5% as well as the Feather. And then move on to shaving with my impeccable 61-year old and unpretentious Blue Tip. Or any of my other 15+ vintages (and counting). But always with a 2017-perfect Feather blade. Wow.

Of course others in here appreciate and herd different things, that's the beauty of this whole thing. :a14:
 
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Well, personally I started with one high-end new razor (AS-D2) and then went straight to vintages.

I love vintages for their history and character, and even though the AS-D2 gives me the most perfect shave and is a truly gorgeous razor, I find it almost boring in its utter perfection. There is no soul to it... My 58 Tech or 62 Slim are the real deal. Or shaving with an impeccable 61-year old unassuming Blue Tip. Or any of my other 15+ vintages (and counting). Wow.

Of course others in here appreciate and herd different things, that's the beauty of this whole thing. :a14:

My exact same POV. :thumbup:
 
Well, personally I started with one high-end new razor (AS-D2) and then went straight to vintages.

I love vintages for their history and character, and even though the AS-D2 gives me the most perfect shave and is a truly gorgeous razor, I find it almost boring in its utter perfection. There is no soul to it... The simple design of my 58 Tech or the cool old-school mechanics of my 62 Slim are the real deal, and they shave 99.5% as well as the Feather. And then move on to shaving with my impeccable 61-year old and unpretentious Blue Tip. Or any of my other 15+ vintages (and counting). But always with a 2017-perfect Feather blade. Wow.

Of course others in here appreciate and herd different things, that's the beauty of this whole thing. :a14:
That is an awesome way of putting it. For almost a year I shaved with a modern DE razor and it gave me good shaves and did so effectively it just was boring. Now I have 5 vintage razors i love (well 4 for sure one I will be using for the first time tonight) and each one has it own soul to it and shaves a little different but they all shave just as well if not better than the new one.

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I like and use both.

Despite my deep affection for vintage razors, I like a lot of the modern razors too. Although no one is inventing a new blade anymore, and although most modern razors are based on vintage designs, there is some interesting innovation going on out there, both with designs (Rocnel, Supply Provision, and OneBlade come to mind) and materials that were not commonly used in vintage razors.(aluminum, stainless steel, bronze, and titanium).

With all the excellent vintage razors available and the explosion of modern razor designs, I think we are in a real golden age when it comes to traditional wet shaving. Your father and grandfather didn't have this many choices.
 
I hear a lot of talk often about how old blades were thicker. I have also heard how Kai blades are thicker and more rigid. Are they closer to the thickness of old blades?
 
I hear a lot of talk often about how old blades were thicker. I have also heard how Kai blades are thicker and more rigid. Are they closer to the thickness of old blades?

Vintage blades were typically .006" thick, modern blades are typically .004" thick.
Kai blades are .004" thick. Blade edge to edge, the Kai blade is wider and offers more blade exposure than the other DE blades.
 
One thing to remember with modern vs vintage is that blades have gotten way better over the years. Blades in the '30s were a lot thicker, so if you use a modern blade in a vintage, they are way milder than they were intended to be because the blade gap is a lot smaller.
The vintage razors have their place and I own a few vintage Gillettes that are wonderful shavers. Id contend that modern razors are better though, simply because they are designed to use modern blades. Ive never found a vintage that shaves as close or as smooth as the R41 does.
Maybe I'm wrong but I would think that a razor using a thinner blade would have a bigger blade gap not smaller.
 
Ok that is only. .002" difference why are people "shiming" their with like 2 extra blades by my math that goes from being .004" to .008 for one shim to .012 for 2 shims seems excessive if you are trying to recreate a .006" thickness blade. That being said I think it is all silly because I have been getting some great shaves from my vintage razors without doing all of that. Then again I don't have anything older than 1950.

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  • Has shaving been nailed already or not yet?
  • Do you feel like the new products/systems add any kind of substantial value to the experience?
  • Are results any better with the modern stuff?

To the first and last questions, the process it entirely too subjective to really answer that. If your skin/beard is the same as the guy who developed 'X' razor from the 1920's, then yes it's nailed, and no the modern stuff isn't any better. Others, not so much, perhaps.

I, for one, have not been able to get a good shave from a classic razor. Even some of the long standing modern units don't suit me one bit. So, from my subjective standpoint, yes, yes and yes.

It's also really interesting how your experience changes your expectations and how new products can test and retest that experience which changes your expectations again, and again. Evolution. You can be sure that there will always be something new that changes the subjective landscape, rendering a unanimous 'classic' vote almost impossible. I'm looking forward to evolving no facial hair.
 
Vintage blades were typically .006" thick

There seems to be a lot of variation among vintage blades. For example, the three-hole green wrapper Gillette blades from the 'teens seem a lot thicker than the later Blue Blades, which in turn seem thicker than the 1940's Gillette Thin Blades. Maybe the Blue Blades were more "typical" of most vintage blades?
 
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