With the exception of the modern design razors, such as the Futur and Vision, most Merkur razors are recognized by their utilitarian, practical designs and knurled handles. The Merkur 1904 Classic safety razor is a departure from the standard. Inspired by the original design of the first Gillette safety razor produced in 1904, this modern safety razor is an example of precision German engineering with a classic antique appeal.
The handle of the Merkur 1904 Classic safety razor is its most unique characteristic. It is noticeably shorter than most other safety razors and has a hexagonal shape with a beautifully engraved pattern. Although the pattern provides a gripping surface during use, the texture of the handle does not provide the reliable grip as the knurling found on other razors; however, it does a decent job of keeping the razor from slipping out of wet or soapy fingers during shaving.
The shorter and smaller diameter handle of this model may be a bit awkward for men with larger hands or wet shaving beginners accustomed to longer cartridge handles, but it does have ample weight that provides good balance. The razor is evenly weighted and easily maneuverable during use. The weight of the razor is neither too light nor too heavy, so there is not any tendency to put to apply excessive pressure to the razor against the skin.
Another unique feature is its nickel finish. The 1904 is the only razor offered by Merkur that is plated with nickel rather than the standard chrome or gold finishes. The nickel plating on the 1904 is applied very well and uniformly with no noticeable areas of unevenness on the handle or cutting head. The cutting action of the razor is the same as other popular models, such as the 23C and 34C, since they have the same cutting head design. This cutting head provides even blade exposure on both sides of the safety bar, and the blade always seats properly when mounted.
This safety razor is a traditional three-piece design, meaning the cutting head unscrews from the handle for blade replacement. This design works well for the longevity of the razor because there are no mechanical parts that are prone to wearing out, and it also makes the razor very easy to clean and maintain.
The Merkur 1904 Classic is a regular in my shaving rotation because the razor is not only visually appealing, but it is very well balanced and comfortable to use. The short handle is especially beneficial when doing light touch-up passes at the end of my shaves in those common trouble spots around the jaw line and lower neck. If you are looking to add a quality piece to your collection or upgrade to a razor with a vintage look and feel, the 1904 Classic is a great choice. Priced at only $28.00, this safety razor is an affordable way to enjoy Merkur quality that is as beautiful as it is practical.