A look at the modern equivalent of James Bond’s favoured Hoffritz razors.
Ian Fleming mentions James Bond’s razor on several occasions, first in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when it was an old fashioned heavy-toothed Gillette, which he uses as a knuckle-duster.
By the time of the short story 007 in New York and finally The Man With The Golden Gun, Bond has switched to a Hoffritz razor of the same pattern – we learn that the handle is useful for hiding what Fleming calls the “minor tools of espionage – codes, microdot developers, cyanide and other pills”.
Bond makes a mark on the handle to see whether it is disturbed while he is away from his room, and when he returns of course it is, although we never learn if he was actually hiding anything in his razor.
Because of this I had thought about buying a Hoffritz on eBay for some time now, but have never actually got around to it. Although Hoffritz still exists, it no longer sells razors, so a brand new Hoffritz is out of the question.
And I’ve also recently started to read that many people consider the old style safety razors superior to the modern cartridge style razors as they give a closer shave – and are no worse for nicks.
However, I was recently reading an article on MI6 about New York, when I read “Hoffritz is now called International Cutlery… if you want Bond’s razor, you can purchase a Merkur who produced the razors for Hoffritz from International Cutlery.”
While I haven’t been able to verify for sure that Merkur did produce the Hoffritz razors, this claim does appear in several sources online. Today Merkur is owned by DOVO Solingen thanks to a takeover in 1996. Although these are not branded Hoffritz, they still produce razors of the same pattern mentioned by Fleming, although it is difficult to be sure with any certainty that these are similar in design to the old Hoffritz.
There are several possibilities that match James Bond’s razor – that is to say the heavy-toothed type – including the Merkur 15C and 11C. Apparently the “barber pole” handle (seen on the 12C and other models) was introduced later and therefore incorrect.