Despite their similarities, there’s a clear winner here for me: the Wusthof Classic Ikon beats the Classic hands down. Both are top quality knives, but I have a definite preference for more modern styles of knives. The Classic will appeal to old-school chef who still loves blocky handles and heavy fingerguards, but I prefer sleeker, lighter knives.
Both knives are made by Wusthof, a well-respected knife maker based in Solingen, Germany. All their knives are of the best possible quality. They are made of high-carbon stainless steel. The edges are precision engineered with Wusthof’s PEtec’s patented sharpening process. The resulting combination of top-quality steel and precision sharpening gives both these knives a truly wicked, long-lasting edge.
Even though these knives are both made at the same factory, they have more differences than similarities. Here are a few places where they compare.
The stand-out difference between these two knives is the shape of their handle. Both are made of a tough polymer riveted to a full tang, and both have exceptional balance. This is just about the only similarity, however.
The Classic Ikon’s handle is much more ergonomic, fitting much more nicely into the palm of the hand. I also really like the cap on the but of the knife, meaning a drop or an impact to the butt of the handle is less likely to damage the polymer case. It’s durable, not indestructible.
In contrast, the Classic line has a traditional French knife handle, with a heavy rounded butt and square edges on the handle. The butt isn’t such a big deal, but there is more opportunity for damage to the handle. I’m not a big fan of all the straight lines and corners on a traditional knife, though. I find the more rounded designs more comfortable and therefore easier to control. The Ikon is a clear winner here.
Bolster and Finger Guard
The bolster (the thick length of metal that joins the blade and handle) is also vastly different in these two knives. I’m of two minds on this matter. On one hand, a smaller bolster does give the knife a more elegant feel and more fine control. On the other hand, a heavy bolster that extends down to the heel of the knife gives the blade another function: cracking and crushing. Without that reinforced heel, it’s just not going to work the same way.
So in these two knives, the Wusthof Ikons have the more elegant bolster. Instead of extending all the way down the blade to the heel, it is narrower at the heel. While this does allow the blade to be sharpened all the way to the very end, this isn’t necessarily an important feature.
The Wusthof Classic, however, has a reinforced fingerguard with a bolster that extends all the way to the heel. This gives the heel extra strength and some more versatility, but it can’t be sharpened in the same way. Personally, I prefer the smaller bolster of the Ikon as I also use Japanese style knives. They feel similar in my hands.
The actual shapes of the blades on these two knives are practically identical. Both have the right blend of straight edge with a decent roll for chopping. The only different is in the above-mentioned heel of the blade: the Classic Ikons can take an edge for the whole blade, while the Classics have a stronger heel for heavier duty jobs. This different towards the back of the blade does affect the perception of the entire length of the knife, but they are the same shape.
My choice is clear. I prefer the Wusthof Classic Ikon in every way. It looks better, feels better, and performs better as a result.
But my preferences are based on my own tasks and style of cooking (I cook a lot of Asian and Asian-inspired food). If you’re someone who prefers a bulkier or traditional knife, then the Wusthof Classic knife is the one for you.