I can think of few technologies that don’t perform better today than they did when I was a kid. Of course, I don’t include foodstuffs in that statement, which are generally quanta shittier in taste than they were even as little as 20 years ago. I’m talking mainly about the products of technology itself: Cars, fridges, watches, airplanes, computers, cellphones, etc. Notice I said “perform”, meaning ease of use, efficacy, accuracy, user friendliness, etc. Unfortunately, what HAS suffered is longevity; everything is cleverly designed to work faultlessly but for a very limited and pre-defined time….also known as planned obsolescence.
Until the last few days, I really couldn’t think of anything that actually worked better in an earlier incarnation. Sure, I love my 42 year old Rolex (bought new for $185 in 1971); it still works well, but has always lost or gained a minute or two every week from new. I recently received a gift of a Swiss Military watch which I’ve been wearing for the last two months while my watch is off for its once-a-decade routine cleaning and lubrication. This $200 watch from Costco keeps faultless time and is waterproof far beyond the limits of my watch. Will it last 40+ years? Of course not. Does it PERFORM better? Doubtlessly.
A few days ago I was reviewing my double-edge blade supply and realized that I was running very low (thanks to turning my son onto DE shaving and his penchant for helping himself to my supplies). I noticed a pack of vintage late 1960′s or early ’70′s Gillette stainless steel blades sitting in the display case that came with my new-old-stock Gillette Fat-Boy razor that I acquired a few years ago on eBay. I couldn’t resist the temptation to try one of these 40-50 year old blades, knowing that it went against every rule of safety and sanitation; even though the blades appear intact in their dispenser, it isn’t sealed in cellophane and someone COULD have used one and replaced it in order to preserve its value.
Nevertheless, I remembered the wise counsel of one of my psychotherapist colleagues. She is a world-class authority on Cognitive Behavior Therapy and deals with a lot of OCD and anxiety cases. She once told me that the key to treating phobias was to transition patients’ thinking from “Unlikely but possible”, to “Possible but unlikely”. I decided that it was very unlikely that these blades had ever been used and loaded one into my trusty E.J. Chatsworth razor.
All I can say is this: I have tried almost every DE blade on the market over the last 6 years, from Russian Sputniks (terrific) to Japanese Feathers (so sharp as to be almost unusable without massive blood loss), but this vintage Gillette DE puts them all to absolute shame! I had a two-day beard growth and even with the first with-the-grain pass, I achieved an almost whisker free face. The second pass produced a BBS result, and the third pass was essentially an irrelevant gesture to habit.
I repeated the shave a day later and the results were even better. If you’re a DE shaver and have never tried one of these, RUN don’t walk to eBay and stock up. These were my two best shaves EVER!