To Wolf or not to Wolf, that was the question—the question I had to answer when my turn came up back in November. Then and now, I found myself quite content with my small arsenal of double edge safety razors. Nevertheless, the endless enthusiasm from fellow posters spurned my curiosity to the point where I could no longer resist. So, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I paid the invoice, received my order, and experienced the Wolf—WR2 1.15mm, WHR2 80mm hallow.
My daily shaver during the week, overall shaving champion, and the reason for my hesitation on placing my order: the Rex Ambassador. For many reasons, I’m quite fond of my Rex—so much so that it never leaves home, and I keep a Timeless Ti 0.95 OC on hand for travel. On the weekends, I enjoy my vintage Gillettes. The lot includes an RFB, Fatboy (usually on 7-9), and three British Aristocrats—my Gen 4 is my current favorite, but I’ll rotate back to the other vintages eventually.
Prior to ordering, I couldn’t find much direct comparison between the Rex and Wolf, so I would like to share my thoughts. The vintage Gillettes are so different from these modern razors, I think a direct comparison would be unnatural. When the Wolf arrived, I was quite excited, as it’s the last modern razor I have a real interest in trying. So, without further ado, here are my observations and opinions:
Craftsmanship. As soon as I held the Wolf, the manufacturing approaches between the Rex and Wolf were immediately apparent. The Ambassador is produced by Rex Supply Co.: production and distribution are the stated goals of the owner. Thus, manufacturability is necessarily high. Although the Rex is a superb design and very well made, the craftsmanship of the Wolf is simply on a whole different level. Every edge and corner are perfectly smooth and rounded; every line gracefully flows to the next; every facet seems calculated; the piece screams hand-made elegance…the passion of a master craftsman. The Rex on the other hand feels industrial, manly—like brazen steel assembled with a purpose. The Wolf glistens like a modern Aristocrat; the Rex stands a proud testament of ingenuity and innovation.
Workmanship. As expected, the Wolf is flawless. There’s really no other way to describe it besides “absolute perfection.” It is so perfect, I’ve actually heard the baseplate sing for a few seconds (resonate) while I assembled the razor. And while I’m not going to make any generalizations or assessments about the quality management system or end quality control at Razor Emporium, I will state that I’ve purchased two razors and sent them both back for issues unbefitting products of their price points. My Ambassador had a prominent stain (in the steel) and the adjustment dial didn’t traverse the entire range. The vintage Gillette adjustable—it had some brass still showing and a number of areas that required further buffing. The Rex came back flawless; they even buffed out the scratches I had induced on the base plate during a fumbled blade loading. The Gillette did not: the plating and finish issues were fixed but the adjustment dial came back very stiff. Still, I have no reservation recommending Razor Emporium, but the buyer should be willing to claim Matt’s promise to get it right, if necessary.
Blade loading. On the Wolfman, it’s about as perfect as one could expect. Dropping the blade in-between the four large pins is dead simple, easy; there’s zero chance of error. It reminds me of the Timeless design with the two large bars. Concerning the Rex, blade loading is my only real complaint. While it uses two bars like the Timeless, they’re considerably shorter, requiring more attention to ensure the blade is seated on them and doesn’t become unseated when affixing the cap and blade to the rest of the razor. Looking at the design, I doubt there’s much Matt could do to address this without redesigning the whole thing—probably not worth it.
Ergonomics. For my tastes, the Rex is perfection. The short handle and 106 g heft are just right—easy to maneuver but still makes its presence known. The knurling feels magnetic—the razor seems to stick to your hand; the enlarged adjustment dial is marvelous—for gripping and rotating the razor; and the knob at the base is another plus for ergonomics. The Wolf is a (very) close second. The 80mm bull-dog hallow handle is wide, easy to grasp and control, and doesn’t slip when wet. It’s a touch more “head heavy” than the Rex, but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The head to total razor weight ratio is almost identical to my Above The Tie Atlas, which I’ve loved and used extensively.
Shaving Performance. I find the Wolf smooth, comfortable, and appropriately efficient—quite comparable to both my Rex on 2¼ (my default setting) and Timeless Ti 0.95 OC. It would present no difficulty in shaving daily and requires limited concentration to wield safely—my requirements for any razor. Perhaps due to the lighter weight, I don’t find it quite as smooth as the Rex. The beefy head on the Rex just exudes smoothness. The blade feel on the Wolf is not zero but is far less than the Rex. The Wolf seems to have a calm, composed, simple shaving feeling, while the Rex has that crazy vacuuming sensation (which I love) as it removes stubble. Given the limited blade exposure, the Wolf takes a little more care to shave a crazy swirl in my beard underneath my chin (I normally switch the Rex to 4 for this part). I did side-by-side shaves with both razors for 3 consecutive days in an effort to more accurately document the differences in shave performance, but there’s really not much more I can add. In the end, I prefer the shave of the Rex. One additional plus to the design of the WR2: the immense amount of lather it can hold during shaving—more than any other razor I’ve tried.
Rex Harshness. I think it worth mentioning that some have noted the Rex has a strange, objectionable harshness. For me, only with careful attention can I feel it, but it’s there, and some aren’t able to get past it. It doesn’t bother me. I’ve thought about it for some time, and I suspect it is comes from a secondary vibration—secondary to the main cutting vibration that comes directly from cutting of hair. I think it’s a faster, quieter vibration (higher frequency, lower amplitude) associated with the design, but I’m not certain.
Customizability. To me, this is one of the most compelling reasons to acquire a Wolf—you can get exactly what you want in terms of handle style/length/weight, head style/comb/gap, finish, etc. For those of us with strong and clearly defined preferences, the value of this cannot be overstated. Normally I’m not a fan “one-size fits none”, but for me, the Rex is great.
Rotation. So where does the Wolf fit in my regular razor rotation? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. The Rex just always seems the perfect way to start the weekday / workday, and I can’t see it being displaced by the Wolf. The Wolf almost seems too nice, but I’m slowly becoming more comfortable with its unique qualities. I still love my vintages, so I think the Wolf will sneak it in on selected weekdays or long weekends.
So what have I concluded? They’re both superlative razors in their own unique ways and represent the innovation, passion, skill, and drive of their creators. I very much enjoy the adjustability and blunt practicality of the Rex and the simplicity and stunning beauty of the Wolf. If I had to choose today, I would pick the Rex. However, I have a lot more shaving and experimenting to do with the Wolf in the weeks to come!
Thanks for reading. I hope this helps clarify if either of these razors is right for you.