J.A. Henckels was founded in Solingen, Germany in 1731. The company is 272 years old and today is still recognized worldwide as a symbol of fine cutlery. Henckels is the largest kitchen knife manufacturer in the world and they made their reputation by forging quality knives that last a generation or more. Their brand has lost some of it's luster in recent years as they began to offer a number of stamped knives with lower price points to compete at the lower end of the market.
Henckels currently offers a whopping 12 different lines of knives. Here is a brief run down of each line and our opinion of each as they relate to each other in terms of quality, fit, finish and value.
#1 Henckels Twin Cermax:
This line was developed 2 years ago to compete with the explosion of popularity in high end Japanese kitchen knives. In fact, Henckels manufactures these knives in Japan. The blade is as sharp as a scalpel. We found the Micarta handle to offer excellent ergonomics. The fit and finish overall get our highest mark. Unfortunately, these knives are also the most expensive they offer and there are a limited number of styles available. If you want a great knife from Henckels this is the line to choose. Overall we give this knife line an A-.
#2 Henckels Twin Select:
The Henckels Twin Select line has an all stainless steel look which we find very attractive. We found these knives to have comfortable, ergonomic, stainless steel handles. Some of our testers thought that they may be hard to grip if you have wet or greasy hands. The blade edge was very sharp but not as sharp out of the box as the Henckels Twin Cermax. We suspect that the edges were sharpened to differing angles. Also the knives have a large bolster which is common among many German knives which make the knives difficult to sharpen at the base of the blade over time. We much prefer tapered bolsters or bolsterless designs. Overall we give this knife line a B+.
#3 Henckels Pro S:
This is Henckels best selling line. It features their famous 3 rivet handle design along with their premium forged blades and full tang. Some have criticized Henckels for welding the blade to the handle instead of the more traditional method of forging the entire knife at once. This is a cost saving method but we have never heard of anyone breaking a knife at the weld which is invisible to the user. Again we would prefer this knife to have a tapered bolster and the edge is not very steep out of the box which makes them a little less sharp than we prefer but on the flip side the edge they provide lasts a long time before you need to re-sharpen. Overall we give this line a B.
#4 Henckels Four Star II:
The Henckels Twin Four Star II replaces the Four Star line and offers the same blade with a handles that has a metal cap. The extra metal in the handle moves the balance point back to the handle and this makes them feel clunky in the hand. You tend to fight the weight instead of felling that the knife is an extension of the hand like you do with well balanced knives. Therefore we think you should choose one of the 3 lines above. Overall we give this line a C.#5 Henckels Twin Cuisine:
The Henckels Twin Cuisine Line replaces the Five Star line and offers the same blade with a another similar heavyweight handle as the Four Star II. The extra metal in the handle moves the balance point back to the handle and this makes them feel clunky in the hand. You tend to fight the weight instead of felling that the knife is an extension of the hand like you do with well balanced knives. Just like the Four Star II, we think you should try one of our top 3 lines above. Overall we give this line a C.