When choosing kitchen knives, there is a risk that you can be overwhelmed by choice.
There is a plethora of choice in this industry so it’s important to know the details before you make a buying decision, you don’t want to get misled by ‘knock-off’ brands that mismarketed their products.
Two great brands you won’t be misled by are Wüsthof and Messermeister. They both produce quality knives, which then begs the question, which one should you buy?
In this article, I’m going to tell you the differences between these two great 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 and Messermeister knives are very similar in terms of quality and price. They use many of the same materials and are produced in the same German city. The main difference is the design, Wüsthof knives are very classic whereas the premium collections of Messermeister have a very modern and sleek design.
|My recommendation||Current price|
|Wüsthof Classic 8-Inch||View on Amazon (opens new tab)|
|Messermeister Oliva Elite 8-Inch||View on Amazon (opens new tab)|
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – 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 Messermeister Meridian Elite.
For a more in-depth look at each category then check out the rest of the article below.
|Country of Manufacture||Germany||Germany|
|Steel type||X50CrMoV15||X50CrMoV15 (1.4116)|
|Rockwell hardness||HRC 58||HRC 57|
|Factory edge||14 degrees (double bevel)||15 degrees (double bevel)|
|Handle material||POM (thermoplastic)||POM (thermoplastic)|
|Price range||$150 – $170 (Classic)||$150 – $170 (Meridian Elite)|
|Main benefit||Classic design||Stylish design (especially in their premium collections)|
|My recommendation||Wüsthof 8-Inch Classic (view on Amazon)||Messermeister 8-Inch Meridian Elite (view on Amazon)|
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – 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’.
Messermeister Knives are also produced in the German city of Solingen, where they have been produced since their launch in 1985.
Messermeister is German for Knife (Messer) Maser (Meister), they have always had a focus on innovative design whilst still being influenced by German classics.
Bernd Dressler, the founder of Messermeister was the first western knife maker to introduce a bolsterless heel to his knife range, a trend that is found throughout western knives today.
Wüsthof has by far the longest heritage, but both these brands are true to their roots and produce their knives in the heart of the German knife industry, Solingen.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – What steel do they use
The steel used in knives will often change depending on which range you pick.
Here I’m going to focus on the most popular range for both Wüsthof and Messermeister knives.
They actually use the same steel, there is just a slight variation in hardness, most likely due to the way the steel is treated during manufacture.
|Brand||Steel type||Rockwell hardness|
|Wüsthof Classic||X50CrMoV15||HRC 58|
|Messermeister Meridian Elite||X50CrMoV15 (1.4116)||HRC 57|
Both these knives use the same steel, X50CrMoV15. However, there is a slight difference in their Rockwell hardness, with the Wüsthof knife being the harder of the two.
Steel always has a range for each element in its composition. Therefore, even though it’s the same steel, the way it’s treated could result in slight variations in its hardness.
Both the Wüsthof Classic and Messermeister Meridian Elite ranges use X50CrMoV15. Messermeister usually markets it with the name 1.4116, but the steel is the same. It’s a German steel that is popular amongst producers of quality western-style knives.
That’s because it has a particular focus on durability, whilst retaining enough strength for a sharp edge.
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 the Rockwell hardness (HRC), most likely to the two knife blades being treated with different techniques. The composition of elements within a steel is usually defined with a range, so even those using the same steel can have a slightly different outcome.
Having said that, there really is little difference to speak of between the steel used by Wüsthof and Messermeister.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – How sharp are they
Once again I’m going to focus on the most popular knives from each brand for this comparison.
You will experience an almost identical sharpness between both Wüsthof and Messermeister. Wüsthof knives will hold the edge for slightly longer due to the steel being slightly harder, but the difference is minimal.
|Brand||Factory edge||Rockwell hardness|
|Wüsthof Classic||14 degrees (double bevel)||HRC 58|
|Messermeister Meridian Elite||15 degrees (double bevel)||HRC 57|
Both Wüsthof and Messermeister 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.
Wüsthof Classic knives are measured as being slightly harder than Messermeister Meridian Elite knives, measuring 58 and 57 on the Rockwell scale respectively.
Exact details on why there is this small difference, considering they use the same steel, are not made available and I can only assume it’s down to how each brand treats the blades during manufacture.
With that being said, the two steel are ultimately going to be extremely similar and will perform almost exactly the same for sharpness.
A Wüsthof blade may just retain its edge for longer due to being slightly harder, but the difference would be very minimal.
There isn’t much to choose between the two when measuring sharpness.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – 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 Messermeister Meridian Elite.
|Wüsthof Classic||POM (thermoplastic)|
|Messermeister Meridian Elite||POM (thermoplastic) – Although other Messermeister ranges use stunning timber for the handle|
Both Wüsthof Classic and Messermeister Meridian Elite use a thermoplastic material called POM (Polyoxymethylene) for their knife handles.
Although, it is worth mentioning that Messermeister uses some very attractive timbers for their other ranges such as Royale Elite (American Walnut) and Oliva Elite (Olive Wood) that are exquisitely beautiful and perhaps one of the defining differences between the two brands.
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 and it makes sense to use this material for your main range, which is usually your more practical range.
However, as I’ve mentioned above, Messermeister in particular has some stunning handles in their other collections. I particularly like the Olive Wood handle used in their Oliva Elite collection.
So, although their main range uses the same handle material, I’d say the exquisite timber used by Messermeister in their other collections is probably the defining difference between these two, very similar brands.
I’ll link to the Messermeister Oliva Elite Chef’s knife at the bottom of this article, it’s well worth a look.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – How much do they cost
Both these brands have wide ranges 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)||$170 – $190 (Oliva Elite)|
|Standard||$150 – $170 (Classic)||$150 – $170 (Meridian Elite)|
|Value||$75 – $95 (Gourmet)||$35 – $45 (Four Seasons)|
It’s pretty clear that both Wüsthof and Messermeister offer a quite similar range of prices for their knives.
Messermeister has a slightly lower price for their more value range, but after that, they pretty much scale by exactly the same amount.
Given the similarities of these two brands, using much the same materials and even being produced in the same German city, it makes sense that their prices should be so similar.
So when comparing Wüsthof and Messermeister, there really is very little difference in the price. Of course, prices do tend to change throughout the year so it’s always worth checking if one or the other is currently offered at a reduced rate.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – What is the difference
It’s clear that Wüsthof and Messermeister are very similar in terms of quality. They use most of the same materials and are even manufactured in the same city.
So if you’re choosing between the two, you can rest easy that there is hardly any difference in quality or price, therefore that leaves one main difference between the two.
The main difference between Wüsthof and Messermeister knives is the design. I find Messermeister knives to be more stylish, and their Royale and Oliva Elite collections are particularly beautiful. Wüsthof knives are much more classic in their design.
There is no large difference in the quality of these two brands, and both have been built in the traditional western way of keeping durability in front of mind.
Really the main difference is the design of their collections. Wüsthof knives are very traditional. Even their premium Ikon range, which is probably the most ‘out-there’ in terms of design, is still very classic.
However, Messermeister knives, especially their premium ranges, are much more sleek and stylish.
Wüsthof vs Messermeister – Which is better for you
Whichever you buy you will get a good quality, durable knife that is comfortable to hold and well balanced. They use almost all the same materials and are even produced in the same city, so there really is no difference in quality to speak of.
The main difference between the knives is the design, especially in the premium collections.
Wüsthof knives always look pretty classic, they are very traditional and I think that does appeal to a lot of people. You can’t really dislike the look of a Wüsthof because they are so inoffensive in terms of their design. They basically look exactly how a kitchen knife should.
Messermeister however, especially in their premium ranges, opt for a more modern and stylish look, using timbers like American Walnut and Olive Wood for their handles which really results in an exquisite appearance.
It won’t make much difference to the performance when compared with Wüsthof, but they sure do look good.
So whether you like the classic look of the Wüsthof knives or the modern look of the Messermeister knives, you can be sure that whichever you pick, you aren’t missing out on any big difference in quality between the two.
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 Messermeister Recommendation
For my Messermeister recommendation, I’ve gone with one from their premium collection, especially the Oliva Elite collection.
This knife is stunning. I think it’s the most attractive western style Chef’s knife available and it’s the designs of their premium collections that is the main differing factor between Messermeister and Wüsthof knives.
It uses the same steel as the Wüsthof, so it’s still ultra-durable, but the Olive Wood handle gives it such a beautiful finish that it really stands out from other knives.
Olive wood won’t be quite as durable as the POM thermoplastic used on the main collections for both Messermeister and Wüsthof, so you will have to avoid doing things like soaking it in the kitchen sink because that’s clearly going to warp the wood over time.
But as timber goes, olive wood is still good material for knife handles, it’s hard and strong so it will be durable, it’s just hard to match the artificially created durability of substances like POM with natural materials.
It’s a great knife, so if you want to add a bit of beauty to your kitchen then there are few better choices than this Messermeister Oliva Elite.