10-09-2012, 05:10 PM
#1
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I was provided a loaned Darwin Standard razor for testing by a member of several forums. This member wanted a team of testers to use and provide opinions on the razor and how it performed. As a result, here are my impressions of the Darwin Standard razor.

Length 89.0 mm 3.51 inches

Width Plate 42.2 mm 1.66 inches

Head Width 38.2 mm 1.50 inches

Head/Plate Height 9.9 mm 0.39 inches

Handle Width Max 13.1 mm 0.52 inches

Weight 2.8 oz 80 grams


[Image: 8072596929_d79956a947_b.jpg]

[Image: 8072596819_8a71c270ee_b.jpg]

The fit and finish is very interesting. The design of the handle clearly comes from candle stick designs that were prevalent in Victorian era Britain. Look up Victorian era candle sticks and you will clearly see the resemblance. The cobalt stainless steel handle is extremely cool to the touch and this razor is a clear example of what could be fashioned in a pre World War II precision factory. The fit and finish are excellent for a razor of its age. The metallurgy and method of manufacturing from a tool and die facility has ensured that the razor will last for many years to come.

Now to the shaves. You have seen the photos, so I will take you through each day by blade. I purposely left the blade off of the images so that no one would know what blade was used. On day 1, I chose my standard test blade which is Big Ben. Many of you are aware from my DE Blade Challenge, that the Big Ben did not score high on longevity with a Slim.

http://shavenook.com/thread-de-blade-challenge-ii

[Image: Big%20Ben.png]

The one thing that it did do was stay amazingly smooth throughout its life span. So with that smoothness, it became my go to testing blade for any new razor. That way I can test a razor with a great degree of confidence even if it is very aggressive. In fact with a very aggressive razor this blade become a very potent combination since it is consistent and smooth it provides balance to the gap or exposure.

The first shave with any new razor I am tentative until I have fully experienced the razor and know its behavior. I used the same two pass pattern that is discussed in the DE Blade Challenge.

https://sites.google.com/site/gdcarringt...allenge-ii

I achieved an easy two pass South to North DFS almost to the point of BBS. The razor was very audible during the shaving process. With that a quick head pass provided an excellent shave for the day. The Big Ben proved to be an excellent match in terms of smoothness against the fine tuned gap / exposure that the Darwin provides.

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Day 2 was even more interesting shave. The Big Ben was in its second and final day. I achieved an easy two pass South to North BBS. This shave was absolutely wonderful and smooth with the razor singing its favorite whisker whacking tune. The head pass was also BBS without doing a lot of work. The Darwin is an extremely efficient razor. During that day my shave lasted from 5:30 A.M. to well past 8:30 P.M. and looked very acceptable even into the 8 o'clock hour. Since I would not have time to failure test each blade, the Big Ben went into the blade bank with at least one day of good shaving if it were coupled to the Darwin.

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On day 3 a change was made on the blade. A NOS Super Iridium was used to see how a more aggressive blade with a solid reputation would work in the Darwin.

[Image: Super%20Iridium.JPG]

Again, I achieved an easy two pass South to North BBS. This shave was absolutely wonderful and even slightly closer than the second day with the Big Ben. The head pass was also BBS without doing a lot of work. During that day my shave lasted from 5:30 A.M. to well past 10:00 P.M. and looked very acceptable even into the 9 o'clock hour.

[Image: 8041566568_190d85bc5e_b.jpg]

What is interesting is that from a standpoint of shaving, my beard is scratchy enough by evening to warrant a shave with many different razors. The Darwin, much like the Gillette New, 1930s Barbasol/Pal Floating head, and the 1936 U.S. Aristocrat made close shave that truly lasted the entire day with ease. Day 3 was now complete and day 4 would be the second shot at the Super Iridium.

Day 4 was a carbon copy of day 3 in every way. The blade acted as if it were fresh out of the wrapper. There was no change in effective time that the shave lasted. At this point since I felt that there was no more time for this blade it was transferred into another DE razor for further use.

Overall the Super Iridium provided slightly closer shaves than the Big Ben but it was by a very small margin. This would prove to be interesting later on.

[Image: 8042999509_dc61a829a5_b.jpg]

On day 5, 6 and 7 a more interesting test was devised. For me a blade that is highly touted but very controversial is the Feather blade. For me this blade tends to last one to maybe two days in other razors before just giving up into an unsmooth, irregular shave on third day to where it is not useable. So I decided to use a Feather to see if it could be consistently sharp and smooth in the Darwin for more than two days. That would allow me to see if the razor was indeed superior in blade to face efficiency.

[Image: Feather.jpg]

Day 5 provided the closest shave of the group. So close in fact that I developed a small weeper on my face and one on the head pass. The technique and pressure remained unchanged, so this was indeed the most efficient combination. The razor still sang out when he cutting motion took place. Again the Feather produced a very slight improvement as far as closeness versus the Super Iridium and a slight improvement over the Big Ben. This shave was still going strong into the 10 o'clock hour when I went to sleep.

[Image: 8045526676_c5592d3c1a_b.jpg]

Day 6 was close to a carbon copy day for the Feather, but not quite. The results were the same except that there were no weepers as in the previous day, but the shave was a sharp and smooth as the first day of the Super Iridium. During that day my shave lasted from 5:30 A.M. to well past 10:00 P.M. and looked very acceptable even into the 9 o'clock hour.

[Image: 8049098083_920c929888_b.jpg]

Day 7 was the moment of truth for both the Darwin and its partner the Feather. It would also be my last day of testing. If this shave was effective, it would cement a viewpoint I had about the Darwin in prior shaves. The shave started out well in fact it felt like the second day on the Super Iridium. An absolutely wonderful two pass shave with a through head shave. The blade cut effortlessly and smoothly without any pulls or drags. The shave lasted from 5:30 A.M. to well past 8:30 P.M. and looked very acceptable even into the 8 o'clock hour. The testing was complete and the blade was placed in the blade bank.

[Image: 8055159523_6c50f2b831_b.jpg]

Now to the conclusion of the matter on performance. I found that the Darwin is a very highly tuned razor. In fact it reminds me of the aggressiveness and effectiveness of a Gillette New with the smoothness of a Gillette Tech. You may ask, how can this diametric opposite be achieved. Here is the secret. The Darwin is the most blade insensitive razor that I have ever used. Now what I mean by blade insensitive is that regardless of blade used (within reason of quality), the razor is so correctly tuned with gap/exposure and angle that the blade barely affects the outcome. The only real difference in day to day use for the blade is how long will it last. I have a suspicion that the Big Ben for example could have lasted an extra two to three days (well past its normal life span) in the Darwin and the same with the Super Iridium. Because the blade is not having to over work or over compensate for a bad angle, the blade is then preserved from being dulled too quickly which allows for a much more efficient and effective shave. This is the only razor that has really allowed a Feather, for me, to be in control for shave number one and still good and sharp for shave number three including head shaves. This is a truly remarkable razor.

Now to the conclusion about pricing. There is no doubt in my mind that since this is a vintage razor with limited quantities in existence, that is worth what the market place can bear for it. Now if this were currently produced it could easily fetch 250 U.S.D. because it is clearly a superior razor in terms of head / baseplate design and quality of metal used. Now would I chase this vintage razor on the auction sites for the current values ... No! Basically it is a cost to value ratio. This razor achieves for me the last 5% of the total shave experience and that is not enough to make me obsess over getting one. If I found one in the wild for a very low price, lets say under $120, I would snatch it up in a New York minute because that would be an exceptional value.

Let me at this time thank Connie (Intrigued) for the loan of this wonderful shaving device. I hope you continue to enjoy it in good health for many years to come.

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 10-09-2012, 05:39 PM
#2
  • Harvey
  • Senior Member
  • North Hills CA
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Fantastic review...I always wondered about the Darwins and also blade/razor method of testing.Thank you for your time and effort.

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 10-09-2012, 06:10 PM
#3
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Gary, wonderful review. Thanks for sharing.

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 10-09-2012, 07:11 PM
#4
  • gijames
  • Mile High Soldier
  • TN, USA
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Thank you Gary! Cool

so if this is a standard, did they make a slant? or open comb?

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 10-09-2012, 09:09 PM
#5
  • Johan
  • Barberian of the lathering
  • Sweden
User Info
Thanks for the lenghty review!

So then we know that its not only looking fantastic its also a fantastic shaver to. I know that i never will own one with the prices they go for. Would i like to own one, YES!!!

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 10-09-2012, 10:46 PM
#6
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A good review of a good looking razor - I think it's the only DE I've seen where the head screws onto the handle and not the other way around.

Thank you Smile

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 10-10-2012, 06:49 AM
#7
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(10-09-2012, 07:11 PM)gijames Wrote: Thank you Gary! Cool

so if this is a standard, did they make a slant? or open comb?

Thanks Gary for your very thorough review!

To the best of my knowledge Fitzwilliam Works (makers of the Darwin) never made a slant or an open comb. The difference between the Darwin Deluxe and the Standard has to do mainly with the construction of the respective heads.

On the Standard the post are located on the cap.
   


On the Deluxe the post are located on the guard.
   

Darwin Deluxe
       

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 10-10-2012, 03:31 PM
#8
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(10-10-2012, 06:49 AM)Intrigued Wrote:
(10-09-2012, 07:11 PM)gijames Wrote: Thank you Gary! Cool

so if this is a standard, did they make a slant? or open comb?

Thanks Gary for your very thorough review!

To the best of my knowledge Fitzwilliam Works (makers of the Darwin) never made a slant or an open comb. The difference between the Darwin Deluxe and the Standard has to do mainly with the construction of the respective heads.

On the Standard the post are located on the cap.

On the Deluxe the post are located on the guard.

Darwin Deluxe

Now you will have them drooling even more. Biggrin

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 10-11-2012, 03:58 AM
#9
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Well, I owned a Darwin Standard at one point.

I agree with most of what's been said here about it: beautiful razor, phenomenally well made.

However, I never cared for the shave. Heck, a 40's SS would shave me better. I had it for a long time, and gave it a shot with different blades, preps, techniques.....etc. Never got to like it, so I passed it on to a friend of mine. I only keep razors that I'll use.

He's a collector, and was happy to get it, but he also didn't care for it as a shaver.

This could be one of those YMMV razors - some people love the shave, others don't like it at all.

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 10-11-2012, 07:42 AM
#10
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(10-11-2012, 03:58 AM)yohannrjm Wrote: Well, I owned a Darwin Standard at one point.

I agree with most of what's been said here about it: beautiful razor, phenomenally well made.

However, I never cared for the shave. Heck, a 40's SS would shave me better. I had it for a long time, and gave it a shot with different blades, preps, techniques.....etc. Never got to like it, so I passed it on to a friend of mine. I only keep razors that I'll use.

He's a collector, and was happy to get it, but he also didn't care for it as a shaver.

This could be one of those YMMV razors - some people love the shave, others don't like it at all.

One of the things that we've (Darwin geeks) found as we pursued information on the Darwins is there was a lot of variability in the razors from one to the other. It appears that they were not massed produced but instead involved a good deal of hand work. Besides the hand work, they also seemed to have tweaked the design many times over the years that they were made. It is entirely possible that instead of being a YMMV razor, it is a matter of YRMV (Your Razor May Vary).

Here are a couple of pictures of my two Deluxes. You can see that tooling is different on the handles.
   

   

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