F*ck Yeah German Products!

I recently bought two German-built products that made me intensely happy.

One is this pen, the Kaweco AL Sport. $70.

The other is this safety razor, from Merkur Solingen. $35.

Both exhibit qualities that I appreciate in items.

  • You can take them apart. In fact, in the case of the razor, it must be taken apart in order to be used. This makes me feel like a sniper in a very specific way: the careful assemblage of parts in order to build a tool that helps me complete a task feels particularly Bourne-esque.
  • They both feel very German, in the same way that German car doors close in a particular way, and even how their cars’ Oh Jesus handles fold up without a snap, but rather with with a slow glide. The snap of the pen’s push-button-bit is particularly pleasant.
  • They are both composed almost entirely of metal. The pen is made from aluminum, and the razor from chromed steel.
  • Their design is considered, but simple. I did not choose the alternative, better-promoted safety razor—from Baxter of California—because it wasn’t designed with the user in mind. The handle was longer (bad in a safety razor, where maneuverability is key), and the head was designed in a way that made it very easy to cut oneself while changing a blade.
  • They both have odd names that are fun to say. Mer • kur  So • lin • gen. Ka • we • co.
  • They’re both from old companies that are hard to find on the internet. Merkur (Dovo) has been making razors since 1906, and Kaweco’s been in the pen business since 1883.
  • They are effective, if non-standard items. There’s nothing I like more than doing things differently from the rest of the world, especially if that way is clearly better. Having a pen—a pen that you use, that goes with you from place to place, that isn’t some standard Bic or Uni-Ball—means you never have to buy another pen. Refills are all you need, and they’re cheap. And they’d seem to be better for the environment. Razor refills are astonishingly cheaper than Gillette refills, and the packaging is at least 100 times less intense. Again, better for the environment, and better for the pocketbook. Also, I can attest to this: the shave is WAY better with this razor than I ever achieved with a Gillette Mach 3.
  • Both have somewhat nutty, ugly packaging. Especially in the case of the razor, which comes in a cardboard box. It did feel a bit like I was getting a tiny Harry Potter wand, however, when I opened the box upon returning home. But both of them are proof positive that you shouldn’t always pay attention to the pack.

See why I feel like a sniper with this thing?

Seriously, though, I appreciate that they don’t spend time or money on the box. And while we’re talking about the environment, this is way more friendly than your normal razor packaging, right?

Comments

6 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Ha. Never thought I’d read an article about a pen and a razor and be so interested…

    Cool stuff. Now I want.

  2. Olle,

    You aught to take a look at Sinn Watches if you like German design and functionality. We’re talking magnetic field shielding, hardened steel (1200 or more Vickers as opposed to normal watches around 200), divers etc. Heavy stuff, yet beautifully designed. http://quicklook.watchprosite.com/show-nblog.post/ti-387551/

  3. Don,

    I got a Merkur a year or two ago. Great investment. But a $70 pen…. no comment.

  4. exactly the right comment, Don…couldn’t have said no comment any better!

  5. @ Stuart: Thanks, glad I got you hooked.

    @ Olle: Those are some SICK watches! Now I know more about watches than I did before today, so…thanks.

    @ Katie: :)

    Mom, Don:

    Thought a lot about this as I walked home yesterday, and I thought it important to explain why I might spend what is honestly FAR too much for a pen.

    It’s important for me to increase the amount of time that I spend writing this year, and I’ve always felt that the quality of my writing goes up when I spend more time composing in long-hand before I move to the computer. Buying a pricey pen—one that I researched intensely, that I feel adequately reflects the way I view the world with its durability, materials and design—helps me remember to write. Simple as that. I did the same thing last year with a pair of headphones that were nicer than I’d usually buy, and it resulted in me listening to more music, which was something I also wanted to add to my life.

    Call it an investment in personal culture.

    * Also… I knew this post would draw comments from the both of you. :)

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