Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements have regularly brought out razors based on designs from yesteryear — for example, their recent collection of double slants, some of which glow in the dark. (They’re currently out of stock, but you can request a notification if/when they are restocked. They give an excellent and comfortable shave.)
[Editor’s note: Quantum is currently out of stock but new inventory is expected very soon!]
The Quantum razor (Ed. note: PAA links are affiliate) is their CNC-machined take on the Eclipse Red Ring, a razor popular in the 1920s and 30s but hard to find today. I did find one and it is an excellent razor. I sold it with some reluctance when I decided to focus on razors of modern manufacture.
The Red Ring had two cutting-edge features:
- The base of the Red Ring’s handle had a small embedded magnet to assist in picking up a razor blade lying on the countertop.
- The Red Ring had an innovative guard design that, like a comb guard, allows the lather to flow through to the blade’s edge but avoids the comb guard’s weakness — that the comb’s tines bend easily if the razor is dropped — by attaching a bar reinforcement behind the tips of the tines.
The guard is thus neither a comb guard nor a bar guard — it’s a ribbed guard, with each rib firmly attached to the baseplate at both base and tip.
The Quantum comes with two baseplates, each with an identifier engraved on the bottom:
- The Alpha baseplate, marked with α, is the more aggressive. Although it is quite comfortable with little blade feel, it treats stubble sternly and would work well with a coarse, tough beard (and works fine with my more routine beard).
- The Omega baseplate, marked with Ω, is also very comfortable and for my beard quite efficient. I had no problem getting a BBS result in three passes.
The unique ribbed guard is the first thing one notices; the second is the color. The Quantum is stainless steel except for the two brass baseplates. The color combination I find… “snazzy” is what comes to mind, a word now not much used — consider it an homage to the Red Ring’s era.
Blade alignment is done by two tabs on the cap that fit into the slots in the baseplate visible in the photo above. Fit and finish are first-rate, thanks to CNC machining. The cap extends to cover the end tabs of the blades, and the sides of the head are rounded, though not so much as the first RazorRock Lupo razors, which could not lie on their side without falling over. The Quantum is reasonably stable lying on its side.
The Eclipse cap is grooved to match the ribs of the guard, and the Quantum carried forward the groove idea but with more precise definition from using modern materials and manufacturing methods.
The Quantum’s handle is a major improvement over the Red Ring’s. Compared to the original Red Ring handle, the Quantum handle has three big improvements, one small improvement, and one disimprovement.
Improvement 1: Thickness.
The Red Ring’s handle is skinny to a fault. The feel in the hand, unlike the feel on the face, is not all that pleasant. The handle is certainly usable, but the greater diameter of the Quantum’s handle makes it much more comfortable to hold.
Improvement 2: Heft.
The Quantum handle — solid stainless steel, and thick — has more heft in the hand than the Red Ring handle. Adding weight to the handle also makes the razor feel more agile and easy to control. Just picking up the razor gives a promise of its quality, a promise on which it fully delivers.
Improvement 3: Grip.
The knurling pattern on the Quantum handle is an homage to the Gillette flare-tip razors, but with a difference. The Gillette handle had knurling the length of the handle as shown in the photo at the right, but the Quantum intersperses plain bands with knurled bands — and the Quantum’s knurling is crisp and deep, providing an excellent grip. The knurling of the Red Ring, now aged, cannot match the Quantum’s freshness, but even in its heyday, I doubt the Red Ring’s handle was as grippy as the Quantum’s.
Tips of various colors.
Not an operational advantage, but pleasant nonetheless, the interchangeable flare-tip bases that Phoenix Shaving offers for this handle design let you spruce up the razor’s appearance to your taste. The first photo above shows the original base, but it can be replaced with any of those shown here (and sold separately).
Disimprovement: Missing magnet.
The little magnet embedded in the base of the Red Ring’s handle really did prove useful. A blade lying flat on a smooth countertop is not all that easy to pick up, especially if you don’t want to cut your finger. When the base of the Red Ring handle touched the blade, it was easily lifted. I wish Phoenix Artisan’s interchangeable tips included a magnet. Perhaps in time they will. (I for one have requested it.)
The shave the Quantum delivers is a delight. Both baseplates are comfortable on the face, with little or no blade feel, and the result is an easy shave that delivers a BBS result in three passes. Although I focus primarily on how the razor feels on my face and how it performs — comfort and efficiency — I am impressed by how good the razor feels in my hand.
I generally avoid judging a razor on its looks because beauty, being in the beholder’s eye, will vary from person to person. The Quantum’s appearance, however, totally won me over. I like the precise little grooves in the cap, the two-tone head of steel and brass, the ribbed guard, the retro appearance of the knurling (as well as its terrific feel), and the playfulness of the colored interchangeable tips. YMMV, of course, but I very much like the Quantum’s look: striking but homey.
After buying the Quantum — just below my usual $100 limit (which I observed in my earlier DE razor recommendations) — I have zero buyer’s remorse. In fact, I think it’s a bargain. Its presentation might be better — it comes in a small box made of card stock — but that’s trivial. More to the point, a handsome presentation point adds to the price and then sits in the back of the closet for years to come. What’s important is the day-in, day-out experience of using it, and the Quantum delivers that in spades.
It’s a great razor.