Alright, so we're looking at the Merkur Progress in today's review. It's a two-piece adjustable razor, where you remove the shaving cap to replace the double-edged razor within. Once the blade's in place, you can then adjust its exposure to determine the aggressiveness of the shave.
You even have two variants to choose from: a standard version and a long-handled version. All these make the Progress a pretty versatile razor – which is why we're giving it a long, hard look in this review.
The Merkur Progress is a two-piece adjustable razor. It sports a smoothly polished chrome body and shaving head. You'll have to separate the cap from the body to replace the razor blade (note: the safety bar is attached to the handle which is a part of the body).
The Progress's body can be further disassembled into two parts – for a total of three parts if you include the cap. This is very useful for cleaning out the gunk that builds up inside after a few months of hard use.
The Progress itself comes in two variants: the standard version which has a 3.35-inch handle, and the long-handle version which has a 4.14-inch handle. If you've got big hands, you'll definitely want to go with the long-handle variant.
The Merkur Progress weighs in at just under 100 grams, which is pretty substantial as far as adjustable razors go.
Then there's the actual shave. The Progress has five settings for its razor blade, from one to five. One is the gentlest, most forgiving shave, while five maxes out blade exposure for a really aggressive shave.
You adjust the aggressiveness of the shave by rotating a cream-colored plastic knob at the bottom of the body. Go gentle on the first pass to get rid of the long growth. Go increasingly aggressive with subsequent passes to get a silky-smooth shave.
This makes the Merkur Progress a great choice for a more controlled shave without sacrificing the convenience of a safety razor.
- Very nice, art-deco aesthetic
- Solid and hefty body
- Nice range of blade aggressiveness
- Can disassemble for thorough cleaning
- Machined parts look and feel tough
- Longer handle for bigger hands
We Dont Like
- The look may not appeal to everyone
- Grooved neck is a bit too smooth
- Blade alignment is a bit fussy
- Aligning knob can slip out of alignment
- Worried about the plastic knob
- Price is on the higher end
The Merkur Progress is a pretty solid adjustable razor, but what exactly can you expect from it? Here's a more in-depth look at what it has to offer.
Attractive Barber-Shop Look
The Merkur Progress sports a very nicely polished chrome exterior, with deep grooves on the handle and shallower grooves at the edges of the guard bar. The highlight of the razor, however, is a bright cream-white plastic knob at the base of the body.
This is the knob that you turn to determine the blade exposure, and it contrasts quite sharply with the polished chrome of the body and cap of the razor.
All this puts the Progress firmly in the Art Deco camp, with visuals that would make it fit into traditional barbershops. However, we have to admit that as classy as Art Deco is, not everyone is going to like it.
This stems mainly from the knob we mentioned earlier. It's creamy white, it's made of plastic – both of which make it stand out from the rest of the razor.
You'll either appreciate how the white adds a bit of brightness to break up the monotonous chrome scheme, or you'll hate how the plastic ruins the metallic consistency of the whole razor.
As for the feel of the Progress, we love how hefty and substantial it feels in your hand. The 100 or so grams goes a long way to making you feel as if you're holding a premium product in your hand. Even the plastic knob feels tough and sturdy, not cheap and fragile.
We wouldn't recommend slamming the knob over the counter, but we'd like to believe that it can survive a few drops from a respectable height.
Nicely Balanced Aggressiveness
One thing about the Merkur Progress that we noticed, however, is a few issues with blade alignment. Installing the double-sided blades is a tricky business, as you have to perfectly align its position on the cutting head. You have a nifty triangle on the side of the safety guard that matches to a notch on the side of the detachable cap.
It's a reliable way of knowing whether you positioned the blade correctly or not, but you still need to carefully fuss over the blade to make sure it slots in perfectly. Misalign the blade by even a few millimeters, and the resulting unevenness can muck up your careful shave.
Then there's the knob down at the bottom of the handle. You have to completely remove the razor head when replacing old blades – pulling it completely free from the body and the slotting it back in afterwards. If you don't get it right, you can end up misaligning the indicator.
The dot on the body will end up on different default spots, ruining your careful measurements. You can rotate the shaft of the Merkur Progress while pressing down on the head to recalibrate the alignment, but you still have to be mindful of the proper alignment when replacing the blade.
Then there's another minor gripe, but one worth putting down here: the lack of knurling. This knurling is the rough patterns etched into the metal handle, which provides a better grip for wet and soapy fingers. The polished chrome handle of the Progress isn't knurled.
The perfectly smooth shaft of the Progress has some wide, deep grooves for your fingers to catch on to. You still have to be careful with your grip though, as soapy fingers can weaken your hold if you're not mindful about the way you hold the shaft.
All things taken into consideration, The Merkur Progress is a great adjustable razor for everyday shaves. Its unique design makes it stand out from the crowd, while its heavy weight and polished chrome body make it satisfying to use.
Best of all is its nice balance of gentleness and aggressiveness. The lower settings are great for the first pass or a quick shave, while the higher settings are still aggressive enough without posing too much of a cutting risk.
The only real problem we are worried about is the alignment. You'll have to be very careful as you replace the blade, and you'll have to check whether the knob is properly aligned afterwards.
It's a rare occurrence and one that is easily corrected when it happens, but it's still an issue you need to watch out for.