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Is One of These Brands the Rolex of EDC Knives? Here’s the Evidence

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The Rolex of Pocket Knives? One of These Three Brands

If any everyday carry knifemaking brand is comparable to the most recognizable watchmaker in the world, it’s one of these three.


When you think of watches, what are the first brands that come to mind? If you’re like me, there’s a pretty good chance Rolex is somewhere pretty high up on that list, if it’s not the first one. Hell, Rolex is practically synonymous with luxury watchmaking, worn (and referenced) in movies, mentioned in songs (and worn by the musicians who make them) — there’s even an entire Etsy category for Rolex clothing for those who like the brand, but maybe can’t afford the watches (and perhaps don’t mind a bootleg or two).

This is all to say: Rolex is one of the most recognizable, influential and time-tested brands in human history, watch industry or otherwise. The brand is so significant, in fact, that this article isn’t even actually about Rolex. Rather, we’re using Rolex as a means of comparison; we want to figure out which, if any, is the knifemaking brand that relates most closely to Rolex. We’ve rounded up three brands that might fit the bill and pitted them up against one another to find out, once and for all, who is the Rolex of EDC knifemaking.

Our Criteria

If we’re going to try and decide what brand is the Rolex of EDC knifemaking, we have to first define what, exactly, makes Rolex stand out among it competitors. This is to say: there is no one factor that makes or breaks the comparison. Rolex is a brand of multitudes, and so it is up to us to decide which factors bear the most weight. 

While you could probably write a dissertation on the matter (and there are many, many books on the brand itself), there are a few that stand out among the rest. It’s the following six considerations we’ve outlined for comparison, hopefully allowing us to better pin down what brand might be the Rolex of EDC knifemaking.

Rolex’s watches, along with being some of the most recognizable in the world, are also of extremely high quality.Rolex


One of the things that helps make Rolex such a strong brand is its history. Founded in 1905, the company boasts an impressive nearly 120-year lifespan, and it’s still going strong to this day. While existence alone is not necessarily something that makes a brand significant, it definitely helps when there’s a long, successful, traceable history, especially when paired with the other factors on this guide.

Name Recognition

A quick Google search of the “most recognizable watch brands” is going to elicit you a whopping 1,430,000,000 results. And just about every single one of the top results has something in common: they list Rolex as number one. That’s not a coincidence. The brand is as synonymous worldwide with watches as Apple is with phones or Nike is with shoes.


While you might think that name recognition, reputation and popularity are one and the same, we’d suggest differently. For example, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is cult-famous and, therefore, pretty largely recognizable, especially among film buffs. It’s so famous, in fact, that another movie, The Disaster Artist, was made about its production. It’s also often called the “worst movie ever” by that same crowd, which falls more in line with the idea of reputation/popularity.

Rolex, by contrast, is both incredibly recognizable and so wildly popular (and reputable) that there’s a genuine shortage of the brand’s watches. In short, Rolex is both well-known and well-loved, and that’s an important distinction.


A brand like Rolex doesn’t achieve its status by resting on its laurels. Rather, a huge part of the business over the years has been focused on (you guessed it) innovation. Along with a deep catalog of models, Rolex was also responsible for crafting the first-ever waterproof watch, the world’s first self-winding mechanism with a Perpetual rotor, the first self-winding wrist chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial, the first GMT watch and so on. Innovation, like watchmaking itself, is a core part of what made Rolex into the brand it is today.

Product Quality

Fratello’s Watches, a highly respected blog about timepieces and all things related, has an entire, in-depth piece entitled “Why Rolex Quality Is Objectively Among The Very Best.” And it’s not the only one; Chrono24 has a similar piece called “Why Rolex is Still Better Than Every Other Watch Brand.” Those are just two of many examples. And what’s one of the biggest common threads? Quality. Perhaps it’s because Rolex is vertically integrated, meaning the brand controls all aspects of production. Or what if the brand’s history and significance have drawn in some of the best designers to collaborate with the brand?

Maybe it’s to help the brand’s offerings stand apart from the flood of fakes on the market (Rolex is actually the most faked watch brand in the world). The likeliest explanation is that it’s a huge number of factors related to all of this and more.

Lasting Power

While this somewhat goes hand-in-hand with provenance/history, there’s another element which differentiates lasting power. Rolex is a brand that, were it to suddenly cease to exist for whatever reason, would not suddenly be forgotten. From its significance to pop culture to the watches themselves, Rolex as a name/concept is likely to be remembered far longer even than the lifespan of the brand itself.

A good example of this is Pan Am, the commercial airline that went defunct in 1991 (interestingly, Rolex actually created the lauded GMT-Master for Pan-Am pilots). While definitely not as significant as Rolex, Pan Am is still remembered fondly both within and without the aerospace industry (there was even a short-lived TV series about the company in the early 2010s). It’s worth noting, as well, that this is probably the most subjective of all our factors and necessitates the non-objective use of opinion.

Tremendous attention to detail across all facets, from design to manufacturing, helps set Rolex apart.Rolex

Why are we only considering these three brands?

There are a lot of brands in the knifemaking world, especially right now, and many of them are quite significant. However, it’s important for the purposes of this article that we only consider those that are at the pinnacle of the numerous aforementioned factors. This does not mean that a brand that does not appear on this list is bad by any means. It’s just that there’s such a specific number of metrics we’re considering, that many brands (even among the current best and most popular in the knifemaking world) don’t necessarily qualify enough to make them worth consideration.

Furthermore, this is not a shortlist of brands I’ve decided upon entirely on my own. While I have been writing about knives in some capacity since 2016 (that’s eight years, for those who don’t want to do the math) and have a fairly respectable knowledge of the industry, it wouldn’t be right to solely utilize my own knowledge. As such, I’ve conducted a significant amount of research on popular knife and EDC forums (including both Reddit and BladeForums), academic sources (including registered patents), the brands themselves and more.

To the best of my ability, I truly believe these are the brands that most closely qualify for consideration (and I’ve shared my sources where applicable within this article itself). Keep in mind: I am not suggesting these are the only brands comparable to the likes of Rolex or that there aren’t other brands offering exceptional pocket knives that might be likened to high-end timepieces, just that they are the most comparable when looked at through the lens of this specific set of criteria.

Which of These Brands Is the Rolex of EDC Knifemaking?

Obviously, the above is a lot to consider. But Rolex wouldn’t be the brand it is without all of the aforementioned factors (and more). For another brand to stand up to that storied reputation, even in a completely different industry (e.g. knifemaking and everyday carry), that brand has to be reasonably comparable — meeting most, if not all, of the same factors on a significant level. We’ve filtered three knifemaking brands we think come closest and have compared them to see once and for all if there is, in fact, an EDC knifemaking equivalent to Rolex.

The brand’s namesake, the late A.G. Russell, was a pioneer in the knifemaking world unlike any other.A.G. Russell

A.G. Russell

Provenance: By far the brand with the longest history, A.G. Russell is the longest-standing mail-order knife business, having been founded all the way back in 1964. The brand can also take credit for creating the oldest knife collectors club and the oldest after-market knife business.

Name Recognition: While A.G. Russell is popular among knife enthusiasts (the brand’s late founder is even fondly referred to as “Mr. Knife” for his many contributions to the knife world), we wouldn’t exactly call the brand a household name, and the brand’s audience appears to skew older and more niche. Let’s put it this way: if you’re not searching for the brand specifically, there’s a chance you may never stumble upon it.

Reputation/Popularity: For those who know of A.G. Russell, the brand is practically unimpeachable. It even has a section on its own site dedicated to customer testimonials. That being said, A.G. Russell is limited by its smaller customer pool and a catalog of more old-school knives that perhaps don’t suit the tastes of the younger knife-collecting crowd.

Innovation: As mentioned, A.G. Russell is the oldest mail-order knife brand and has done a lot for the knife business overall. That being said, the brand isn’t exactly the most innovative. That’s not to say the brand has no innovation of which to speak: a quick Google search revealed patents for a two-finger knife and a fixed blade that locks into its sheath, but the most recent of the two is still almost 20 years old. The brand’s most significant release is probably its One Hand Knife, which is also still its best-selling knife since these knives first started shipping in 1988 (that’s over 36 years). All of this is to say that innovation really does not appear to be a part of the company’s mission at this juncture.

Product Quality: This is where A.G. Russell really shines, as the brand is widely known for making solid, good-quality products. Even people who are perhaps not the biggest fans of the brand can admit that the brand’s offerings are quite reliably well-built. More importantly, A.G. Russell is largely free of harsh internet judgment, with many suggesting that, while the brand’s knives aren’t particularly exceptional, they’re also never bad, either. The brand also has one of the best customer service segments of any brand on the market, which would be pretty tough to manage if its products weren’t up to snuff.

Lasting Power: A.G. Russell has already solidified itself in the annals of knifemaking history, but many of the factors that make this so are related to the brand’s business operations and not quite as much its products. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that A.G. Russell would fade quickly into the ether upon cessation of operations, I also can’t say that the brand will be largely remembered outside of its small, albeit loyal, customer base.

A.G. Russell

A.G. Russell One-Hand Knife



Böhler N690


Stag Horn or Cocobolo Wood


One Hand

Blade Length



One-hand operable

Classic design



Somewhat outdated

For the last 40 years, CRK has been one of the foremost names in the EDC world for innovation and quality.CRK

Chris Reeve Knives

Provenance: Chris Reeve Knives was founded all the way back in 1984 (making this year the company’s 40th anniversary), which perhaps isn’t quite geriatric in the knifemaking world — Victorinox and Case, for instance, were founded in the late-1800s — but is still significant enough that it bears mentioning. Still, it does put CRK on the younger side of the spectrum when set against the other brands on this list.

Name Recognition: If you ever have a conversation with someone outside of the knife world about CRK, the first thing they’re probably going to ask you is, “Wait, the guy who played Superman?” Unfortunately, the name recognition of the late actor is actually a knock against CRK simply because of the confusion therein. That being said, CRK (and Chris Reeve himself) are absolutely legendary within the knife and everyday carry communities, largely because of the brand’s famed offerings and the tremendous contributions Chris Reeve has made toward knifemaking.

Reputation/Popularity: While extremely popular in the knifemaking world, CRK has one fairly large knock against it: its knives are, put bluntly, too damn expensive for your average EDC enthusiast to reasonably buy. In fact, the least expensive offering the brand makes is a fixed blade priced at $275. Asking nearly $300 for even a baseline knife is a big ask, especially when there are some pretty stellar knives on the market for half that or less. Still, there’s no denying the reverence with which CRK is spoken of.

Innovation: This may be CRK’s biggest bright spot, as the brand’s namesake has helped create some of the most significant innovations known to the knifemaking world. This includes the frame lock, which Chris Reeve originally created and patented as the Reeve Integral Lock. He also helped develop three of the most storied and revered Crucible Particle Metallurgy knife steels: S30V, S35VN, and S45VN. There are few brands and makers who have had such a significant impact.

Product Quality: When it comes to high-end EDC folding knives, CRK is one of the few brands with a product that acts as the standard by which the rest of the industry is judged. I’m talking, of course, about the storied Sebenza lineup. As such, CRK’s offerings are largely unmatched when it comes to overall quality — truly, few brands come close. CRK’s overall quality is legendary in and of itself.

Lasting Power: Even if CRK were wiped off the face of the Earth entirely, Chris Reeve’s contributions to the knifemaking world have made him an integral (pun intended), irreplaceable titan. While the name could fade in time, the brand’s (and the maker’s) innovations ensure that, in some way, CRK will continue to exist as long as knifemaking itself exists.

Chris Reeve Knives

Chris Reeve Knives Sebenza 31


Blade Length

2.99 or 3.61 inches

Blade Steel

CPM MagnaCut or S45VN

Handle Material

6AL4V Titanium (optional canvas Micarta, bog oak, box elder burl and Macassar ebony onlays)

Locking Mechanism

Reeve Integral Lock

Total Length

6.98 inches or 8.40 inches


One of the best EDC knives ever made

Highly customizable

Available in two sizes


Extremely expensive

Sometimes hard to get

Spyderco specializes in some of the best workhorse blades around — the kind of knives you can use every single day and still hand down to the next generation.Spyderco


Provenance: Dating back to 1976, it’s possible most folks familiar with the name Spyderco were unaware of just how long the brand has been around. Maybe that’s because it’s also still one of the foremost brands in the industry to this day. Either way, this Sal and Gail Glesser-founded outfit has a surprising amount of history under its belt, and that’s saying a lot.

Name Recognition: Even to the average person, Spyderco is probably the most recognizable name on this whole list (besides Rolex, obviously). The brand’s offerings make appearances on a significant number of “best of” lists (especially the brand’s Para Military 2 and Para 3 knives), and its knives can be found far and wide — even on Amazon, which is unique compared to the rest of the brands on this list (it’s the only brand on the list who is officially available on Amazon).

Reputation/Popularity: While significantly more recognizable and available than the rest of the brands on this list, that doesn’t mean Spyderco suffers from any hit to its reputation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Especially among the more recognizable brands, Spyderco is widely considered a benchmark by which other brands are judged. Furthermore, the brand actually has a history of issues with availability — with its most popular knife styles frequently selling out (a trend that continues to this day). While some of this could be blamed on how small or an operation Spyderco is compared to, say, Victorinox (a $20m company versus a $500m one), it still bears mentioning.

Innovation: Without a doubt, Spyderco is an innovative brand, responsible for creating some of the best knives and technologies on the market to this day — including the brand’s beloved Compression lock and the highly-lauded PM2 pocket knife. And those two are hardly even scratching the surface. Take a look here for a much longer list of the brand’s patents (and here), and you’ll start to get an idea of just how significant Spyderco is when it comes to knifemaking innovation.

Product Quality: There is no question that Spyderco’s knives, especially when it comes to workhorse blades, are among the best on the market today. However, as a larger-scale production brand, its offerings are comparatively lacking when it comes to refinement. This is not an indictment on Spyderco’s overall brand, but rather a comment on the idea that Spyderco makes knives that are made to be used and abused — they’re not collector’s pieces to be put on display. Take that as you will, but it does put them in a bit of another class when compared to some of the other brands. Spyderco knives are tough, just not necessarily pretty.

Lasting Power: Like CRK, Spyderco is undoubtedly going to be remembered for a very, very long time. I don’t see the company going anywhere in even the distant future, but the mark Sal Glesser has left on the knifemaking world is one of the most significant, and he’s among the most prolific designers of all time. Spyderco is definitely a legacy brand; there’s no question.

Spyderco Para 3








Blade Length



One of the toughest EDC knives around

Incredibly strong Compression lock

Very lightweight


Not the most refined design

Design is polarizing

Ultimately, CRK strikes the best balance of our considered factors, offering a catalog of dependable, high-quality, frankly beautiful knives.

Our pick: Chris Reeve Knives

While I wouldn’t call it a clean sweep — CRK isn’t rock-solid on all fronts and the competition was pretty tough, with all three brands performing respectably across our considered factors — I’m confident to say that, of all these brands, Chris Reeve Knives most closely fits the bill, inching out Spyderco (a close second) strictly on the basis of refinement.

Even among novices, the brand’s name holds sway — largely a product of its exceptional (if limited) catalog and its founder’s many significant innovations. Furthermore, its offerings — especially the Sebenza line of knives — are a standard by which other high-end knives are judged. It’s all of this and more that has led me to determine that Chris Reeve Knives is the Rolex of EDC knifemaking.