The Parker Variant is Available!

Discussion in 'Double Edged Razors' started by Funkhauser, Dec 16, 2016.

    The black handle looks sexy but I got the silver variant of the Variant in case the black wore off. Maybe SSR will replace it with silver.
  1. 3 months of use with this razor. I'm still in love. This love affair is lasting longer then my marriages!
  2. Well...I was planning to eventually mail-order a Variant from one of the usual suspects (who, up till now, were perennially out-of-stock), when last week I found myself in Manhattan with a half-hour to kill (note: ex-NYer, living on the other side of the Hudson for the past two years). Decide to catch the subway to E. 59th & Lex, a few blocks away from Pasteur Pharmacy, which to those in the know has an unusually wide selection of wetshaving stuff. Casually perusing the razor section, I'm shocked to discover their having exactly one Parker Variant in stock. At the same time, I'm a bit crestfallen: this would be the day I'm bucks-down, and I'm laying off the plastic for a few weeks. I ask if they're getting any more soon; they say they're not sure. I think about putting a bit of cash down to hold this one, then decide to take my chances on it still being there the following Monday.

    Monday (11th) comes, I'm back in town, make my way to Pasteur, and...mirabile dictu, the Variant's still there! I'm still not exactly rolling in dough at the moment, but I pull the trigger anyway - it's still here, so I'm meant to buy it, right? :001_rolle Got on the rest of the day, then happily made my way home. But Tuesday would not be shave routine has fallen into shaving roughly every third day, partly on account of the shaves I've been getting with my current setup...more on that later. Wednesday would be The Day.

    And so, Wednesday cometh. The Setup: Variant razor, 2 setting, Astra Stainless (not SP), J. Peterman brass-handle 1903 ST badger brush (my standby, really nearly 20 years?), ToOBS Rose shave cream (almost gone...picking up more next trip in town); preshave prep is a good hot shower with Earth Therapeutics Hair Conditioner on beard, which is a variation of a trick mentioned long ago by Corey Greenberg via Shaveblog. Normal pattern for me: WTG, ATG (from neck up), partial XTG along neckline, minimal buffing.

    (As a reference I also currently own: Merkur Vision [okay, show of hands here: how many of you who own a Vision were surprised at just how big the thing was when you first opened the box? I sure as hell was[; Merkur Futur (early Hoffritz-branded edition]; Gillette Aristocrat [two: gold 1947 US edition & silver 1953 British edition); Gillette 1972 Super Adjustable, standard-length handle]. All but the gold 'crat and Super Adjustable have been out of rotation for a while.)


    WTG: Very, very good: I get what everyone says about the audible feedback being quite prominent, and I like this a lot. between the bit of extra heft and longer and slightly-thicker handle, the Variant is very easy to handle - in fact, i'd say I'm a bit more steady-handed with it than with any of the Gillettes, and a good deal more steady than I recall being with the chrome-plated Futur, thanks to the diamond-pattern knurling on the Variant's handle, which works quite well in spite of it not being quite as pronounced as the knurling on the adjustment tip (as others here have noted).

    ATG: Well, wow: there were exactly three small parts of this pass that were tricky, simply on account of my using this razor for the first time, and I got a bit overzealous. However, of those three, only one ended up a weeper, and a small one at that; this is actually very good for a first try for me - every other first-go with a razor for me has ended up a bit messier, since I always have to get the hang of adjusting angles-of-attack and such. But I still love the extra degree of control the extra heft and handle length are giving me, and the feedback is helping things along just fine.

    XTG: Acid-test time...and this thing comes through like gangbusters. I can only recall the Vision giving me this smooth an experience at this stage of the shave, and frankly I don't think it did a better job than this. And, as with ATG, I'm taking longer strokes, as the Variant feels more surefooted in the hand. And, buffing is kept to a minimum - there seems to be less need of it this time 'round.

    The big deal here is how much smoother things went with each pass: the Variant has most of the extra weight/heft of the Merkurs, but a good deal less outsized than the Vision (lovely beast as that one is in other ways), and far more control than the Futur could hope to have, thanks in large part to the Variant's textured handle, but also, IMO, because of the uniform width of the Variant's handle, compared to the varying (ahem...) width of the Futur's.

    Verdict: one hell of a great razor. Fit and finish on my example (all-brushed-chrome) seems to be blemish-free and uniform - low-key classy, just as I like it. Alignment seems spot-on, and calibration of the adjustment knob, with blade loaded, appears within reasonable tolerances. Literally my new go-to. When I first heard about this razor I thought that (1) Parker was attempting to shake up their image as just a go-to for cheap-and-decent-but-nothing-special razors, and (2) their rep would either soar or crash and burn based on how well things went on the manufacturing end, given the relative complexity of the design...which I suppose is why they decided to sidestep the idea of a TTO-style adjustable. I think it's safe to say they've succeeded on both counts: the Variant puts Parker solidly in the big leagues now.

    (Epilogue: One day after bringing the Variant home, my Inbox gets cluttered with confirmations from the usual suspects that YES, they now have the Variant in stock, in both finishes. There's a Seventh Cavalry moment for ya.)
  3. Great review Amateriat! Love your style. I agree on every point btw.
  4. Love the review Amateriat! Mirrors everything that I have experienced with my Variant thus far.
    My only addition to this information is that, as a head shaver, this razor has been virtually uncloggable. A quick rinse is all it has ever taken between a series of strokes, even after 3 days of hair growth on my head.
    This razor is a keeper.

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
  5. Just Ordered one from maggards.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. My Parker Variant arrived yesterday and you know what - it's an amazing razor!

    There's been a lot of comparisons with the Progress which is a razor I didn't really enjoy but the Variant reminds me very much of the Gillette Big Fellow in terms of balance and performance.

    It feels really really good in the hand and the 1-5+ knob will go round twice so you can dial it up to 11!

    When I first disassembled it and reassembled it, the minimum setting seemed to read 3 but then I noticed that both the cap and the baseplate have one side with a notch in it and when they're matched then it reassembles so that it's correctly calibrated every time with minimum setting on +1.
    I'm not really sure how this is achieved so perhaps someone could explain the mechanism - anyway it works!
    I also really like the way that it proudly says "India" on the underside of the baseplate.
    There's a lot of very good shaving gear coming out of India and it's something to shout about!
    So I put in a Supermax Platinum and broke out the Vicco Turmeric Cream, dialled the Variant up to 11 and got a quite spectacular super aggressive, smooth and irritation free shave.
    Like I said this razor reminds me so so much of the Gillette Big Fellow - it's heavy with a long very grippy handle and you can dial it up to extreme fierceness.
    After the 11 setting shave my face feels like a piece of hard rubber and I'd guess this can give the 2011 R41 a run for it's money - I'll do a shave off between the Variant and the 2011 soon.

    This is most certainly Love at first shave with the Parker Variant!
  7. You do realize there is no 11? The dial setting is from 1 to 5. Going around again IS possible, but subject to fines including jail time. I know it was silly, but I actually read the instructions that came with it.
  8. Lol - luckily I'm in UK and British law allows you to go around twice on adjustables as long as it's not a public holiday...

    ...Second shave with the Variant last night - I was still closely shaven from the previous 11 setting shave but needed to be smart for work today so I dialled it down to 5+.
    It might sound obvious but I'd never thought of using an adjustable like this before - dial it up for heavy growth and occasional shaving, dial it down for light growth and daily shaving.
    Who knew? :001_smile

    And the face feel afterwards is simply superb, such a supremely comfortable and very very efficient shave from a razor which feels great in the hand and can be adjusted up to the 2011 R41 ultraviolet zone or down to the red end R89 region.

    This is definitely a new classic and instantly one of my all time fave DEs, quite as good as the Eclipse Red Ring and Old Type Big Fellow.
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
  9. GlazedBoker

    GlazedBoker Contributor

    +1 :thumbup:

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