A kitchen knife can range from $20 to over $200.
Often these price differences are for good reason, but it does mean that it’s always worth doing a little research before committing to a knife.
Two brands people will often want to compare are Wüsthof and Mercer. They both offer similar knives in terms of style but have a fairly large price difference.
In this article, I’m going to tell you the differences between these two brands. I’ll go in-depth into the details of each, talking about where they are made, what materials are used and the difference in price.
This article should provide all the information you need to select the right knife for your needs.
Wüsthof knives are traditionally German knives with hundreds of years of heritage, but they are significantly more expensive knives than Mercer knives. Mercer’s Renaissance range offers an experience very close to that of a Wüsthof, but their Taiwan manufactured knives cost significantly less.
|My recommendation||Current price|
|Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch||View on Amazon (opens new tab)|
|Mercer Culinary Renaissance 8-Inch||View on Amazon (opens new tab)|
Wüsthof vs Mercer – Comparison Table
Here is my summary comparison table for each brand. This is mostly based on their main range of knives; the Wüsthof Classic and the Mercer Renaissance Chef’s Knife.
For a more in-depth look at each category then check out the rest of the article below.
|Country of Manufacture||Germany||Taiwan|
|Rockwell hardness||HRC 58||HRC 56-58|
|Factory edge||14 degrees (double bevel)||15 degrees (double bevel)|
|Handle material||POM (thermoplastic)||POM (thermoplastic)|
|Price range||$150 – $170 (Classic)||$50 – $60 (Renaissance)|
|Main benefit||High quality, super durable||Low price, well designed|
|My recommendation||Wüsthof 8-Inch Classic (view on Amazon)||Mercer Renaissance Chef’s Knife 8-Inch (View on Amazon)|
Wüsthof vs Mercer – Where are they made
|Brand||Country of manufacture|
Wüsthof is a family-owned German company based in Solingen, a city based just outside Düsseldorf in Western German.
Wüsthof produces all its knives in the German city of Solingen and has done so for over 200 years. This relatively small German city has a population just above 150,000, its strong knife making reputation has led it to be dubbed ‘The City of Blades’.
Mercer manufactures their knives in Taiwan, using imported German steel.
Mercer is part of a growing trend in the knife industry of using quality materials, like German or Japanese steel, but basing the manufacture in low-cost countries, like China or, in Mercer’s case, Taiwan.
In the past, these less authentic brands have been of noticeably lower quality, but more and more these brands are actually producing knives of a comparable standard to their German or Japanese counterparts, for a much lower price.
Wüsthof is clearly ‘the real deal’ in regard to being a truly German manufacturer of German-style kitchen knives, whereas Mercer is a less authentic brand without nearly the same level of heritage.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – What steel do they use
The first thing to know is that Wüsthof and Mercer actually both use the same steel for their knives, at least in their main range.
|Brand||Steel type||Rockwell hardness|
|Wüsthof Classic||X50CrMoV15||HRC 58|
|Mercer Renaissance||X50CrMoV15||HRC 56-58|
Both these knives use the same steel, X50CrMoV15. Wüsthof provide a very accurate HRC rating for their steel at 58 whilst Mercer state a range of 56-58, which is pretty typical for X50CrMoV15.
Both the Wüsthof Classic and Mercer Renaissance are made from forged steel so you’ll find hardly any difference between the two in terms of sharpness and performance.
Both the Wüsthof and Mercer use X50CrMoV15. It’s a German steel that is popular amongst producers of quality western-style knives, mainly due to its durability.
X50CrMoV15 large benefit is its durability, and that’s why it’s so popular with many European knife brands.
The main elements of interest within X50CrMoV15’s composition are Carbon, Vanadium and Chromium.
The Carbon content is around 0.55%. That’s not particularly high when comparing it with other quality knives; however, it’s high enough to provide sufficient strength in the blade for a 15 – 20 degree angle on each side, which is standard for western knives.
The big benefit of not having a very high Carbon content is that higher Carbon steels are usually more brittle, therefore the 0.55% content keeps the blade durable.
That’s the same with the strong Vanadium of 0.4%, Vanadium improves the resistance to wear of the steel also adding to its durability.
The Chromium content is 15% is what the 15 in X50CrMoV15 represents. Chromium is vital for the durability of steel as it’s what makes stainless steel resistant to rust.
Steel need only be 10.5% to be considered stainless, so a 15% content is high and makes this a quality stainless steel, very unlikely to rust unless extremely mistreated by the owner.
There is a slight difference in sharpness on the spine of the blade, that’s the back of the blade, opposite to the cutting edge.
You might not have paid any attention to this section of a knife before but a slightly sharp edge on the spine can actually be useful and is used for scraping tasks where a razor-sharp edge isn’t needed, like descaling fish.
The Wüsthof has a bit of sharpness to its spine, making it perfect for these types of tasks, whilst the Mercer has a softer, more rounded spine that can’t really be used.
It’s only a slight difference, most people don’t even use the spine anyway, but it’s an interesting little feature to know about.
Ultimately, on the cutting edge, both of these knives will perform almost exactly the same.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – How sharp are they
You will experience an almost identical sharpness between the Wüsthof and Mercer knives and both will hold their edge for a similar length of time.
|Brand||Factory edge||Rockwell hardness|
|Wüsthof Classic||14 degrees (double bevel)||HRC 58|
|Mercer Renaissance||15 degrees (double bevel)||HRC 56-58|
Both Wüsthof and Mercer use the same steel for their main range, as such there will be very little difference between the two when it comes to sharpness.
Wüsthof Classics do have a sharper factory edge, coming out at a very slim 14 degrees on each side. That’s a very acute angle for this hardness of steel and I would actually recommend sharpening a Wüsthof between 15 – 20 degrees when you do come to sharpen it.
I consider the 14-degree factory edge to be a bit of a marketing figure as 0.55% Carbon steel just won’t hold an edge that fine for very long.
With that being said, the two steel are ultimately going to be extremely similar and will perform almost exactly the same for sharpness.
There isn’t much to choose between the two when measuring sharpness.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – What are the handles made from
The material used for handles is a vital and often overlooked feature of any knife.
A quality handle is often the sign of a quality overall knife. Handles need to be made from a durable material that can withstand all the heat and moisture fluctuations knives can experience in the kitchen.
Once again we’ll focus on the two main ranges from each brand, the Wüsthof Classic and Mercer Renaissance.
|Wüsthof Classic||POM (thermoplastic)|
|Mercer Renaissance||POM (thermoplastic)|
Both Wüsthof Classic and Mercer Renaissance use a thermoplastic material called POM (Polyoxymethylene) for their knife handles.
Although, it is worth mentioning that the lower price ranges of Mercer, such as the Genesis range, use a Santoprene handle. This is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which is still very durable but not as hard as POM, the advantage is increased grip due to the texture, but it is more prone to damage.
But for now, let’s focus on POM as that is used by both brands in their main range. Materials like these are ideal for knife handles due to their extreme durability.
POM is specifically designed for high stiffness and stability, and being a thermoplastic means it’s also extremely resistant to temperature and moisture changes.
It’s a fantastic material to use for knife handles, that will undergo all sorts of pressures.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – How much do they cost
Both these brands have a range of knives all at differing price ranges.
To allow for a fairer comparison I’ve categorized three of their major ranges that represent their highest and lowest cost knives.
I’ve tried to compare similar knives, sticking to 8 Inch Chef’s knives or the closest equivalent they have in the range.
In brackets next to the general price range you’ll see the name of the range.
These prices are rough estimates. Prices do change over time but this is intended as a rough guide.
|Premium||$170 – $190 (Ikon)||Not Applicable|
|Standard||$150 – $170 (Classic)||$50 – $60 (Renaissance)|
|Value||$75 – $95 (Gourmet)||$15 – $25 (Millennia)|
This is easily the main benefit of Mercer knives over Wüsthof.
Mercer knives are significantly less expensive. In fact, you could pretty much consider all of the Mercer ranges to be value ranges, and they don’t offer any knives close to a Premium price.
I have to say; Mercer does offer a very good product for the price. The very low Millennia range is not going to be as durable as a Wüsthof knife, but for the price, you would expect it to.
But when you look at the Mercer Renaissance range, as most of this article does, what you get is a knife that is very similar to the Wüsthof Classic but is around one-third of the price.
Is it a genuine German knife? No, it’s made in Taiwan using imported German steel, and that’s the main reason it is so much less expensive.
But it does use the exact same steel Wüsthof use, and the entire design and build quality are similar.
If the price wasn’t a factor, Wüsthof would always be my first choice for a western-style chef’s knife, but for those on a budget Mercer offers serious value for money.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – What is the difference
The main difference between Wüsthof and Mercer knives is the price. Mercer knives generally cost much less than Wüsthof.
|Wüsthof||High quality, super durable|
|Mercer||Low price, comfortable design|
I like both these brands, but there is a clear difference in the average price.
Wüsthof is a name that’s synonymous with quality and durability. Their knives use classic designs and are built to last.
Mercer has focused on the more budget-friendly end of the price scale, and they actually offer incredible value for money.
The really cheap Mercer knives, at the $20 mark, are not comparable to the quality a Wüsthof would offer, although they are still a good option if you’re on a very tight budget.
But the Mercer Renaissance, is a good contender against the Wüsthof Classic, using almost identical materials and having a very similar design.
Wüsthof vs Mercer – Which is better for you
The determining factor for which of these brands you choose really comes down to budget.
If you have over $100 to spend, I would recommend a knife from the Classic Wüsthof range over a Mercer knife. I think Wüsthof offers the best western style Chef’s knives within the $100 – $200 price range.
However; if you are conscious of price, then Mercer knives are one of the best value-for-money knives out there.
The most similar Wüsthof knife at this price is their Gourmet collection, but you’ll usually find they still come in more expensive than Mercer Renaissance and they use stamped X50CrMoV15 steel rather than forged.
With Mercer, you are not getting the very best, authentic German knife, but you are getting something pretty close.
My Wüsthof Recommendation
The Wüsthof Classic Chef’s knife is my recommendation if you’re looking for a Wüsthof knife.
I recommend it a lot on this site as it’s the ultimate western chef’s knife. It’s super durable, comfortable to hold and use and as we’ve seen in the article above it uses top quality materials and is manufactured right in the German ‘City of Blades’, as it has been for over 200 years.
There are less expensive and more expensive Wüsthof knives, but for the money, I think this is the best.
My Mercer Recommendation
This is one of the most expensive knives from Mercer, and it’s still only at the price of most other brands’ value ranges!
What you get for around $50 is very good value. X50CrMoV15 forged german steel, half bolster with a thermoplastic, triple-riveted handle, and a classic western chef’s knife design.
It’s a knife you just can’t be disappointed with at that price.
It may not be the genuine article in that it’s manufactured in Taiwan instead of German, but it’s still a quality knife and an absolute bargain.