Spotlight :: William Henry

An Eye on Windsor Collection Spotlight

William Henry Knives

What do woolly Mammoth teeth, aerospace-grade titanium, dinosaur bone, and precious stones have in common? 

A WH. 

Or, as you may better know it, a William Henry pocketknife. 

William Henry is not your everyday, humble knife. Obliterating the dichotomy of form versus function, a William Henry is as exquisite as it is functional. 

And if their materials of choice surprise you, so will this: No two William Henry knives are alike. In a world where designs are mass-produced to optimize profit, founder Matthew William Conable and his silent partner, Michael Henry Honack, believed their materials and artistry were so unique, they deserve exclusivity.

William Henry – from humble beginnings.

When Matt Conable designed his first pocketknife in 1997, the William Henry B10, he didn’t realize he had just founded one of the most memorable, collective pieces across jewelry and art. To create the name of his brand, Matt combined his middle name with his partner’s, and the result was “elegant, American, neutral … like it had history,” as he says. 

His instincts were right on. At tradeshows, people will now come up to him and say, “My grandfather had a William Henry.” With a twinkle in his eye, he heartily agrees, “yes they did!” and commends the young person for owning such a collectible piece of history.

Even though Matt and Michael were rightfully confident in the name, creating the logo took a lot more work – and a lot more time. 

Between 1997 and 1998, Matt tried out more than 250 logos before creating his iconic WH. But once he freehanded the winning logo, even before his final edits, he knew he had discovered something that encapsulated his brand perfectly. “It paired cattle brand – rustic, rugged and frontier – with monogram – high society,” Matt says. Which perfectly describes the WH aesthetic. 

His two years spent designing the perfect logo was not wasted. The original pieces branded “William Henry 1997” and “William Henry 1998” after the years they were designed, now sell for ten to twelve times the original price. 

Designing and building the best he could imagine.

But if the story of the logo exposes anything about the brand, it’s how dedicated they are to going that extra mile for excellence. 

As a child, Matt traveled the world with his dad’s jobs in American embassies. “I saw and admired art and craftsmanship and techniques from around the world. That was just sort of part of my childhood. And I think that’s how I evolved and approached the William Henry story. I wanted to design and build the best things I could possibly imagine.”

To begin creating a truly remarkable knife, he starts with remarkable raw materials. Sourcing fine metals and precious stones, which accessorize his knives, is one thing. But it’s something very different when you’re having to locate and dig up fossils. Take a look at how they got this dinosaur bone (and what it looks like in the final product) … 

But their materials must be as functional as they are beautiful. 

They use only the highest-grade metals, such as aerospace grade titanium, Damascus steel, and 24K gold Koftgari (the ancient Indian technique of inlaying gold and/or sterling silver in tool-steel). Steel crafted to military standards. Beautiful sturdy wood from around the world, such as orange spalted beech wood, cocobolo, Blue Spruce pinecone, and Koa wood. And then there are the fossils – like a 100,000-year-old piece of brain coral. Or a one-million-year-old piece of dinosaur bone.

The artistry is a collective global force of nuance and perfection.

Matt wanted the artistry to be everything he could imagine. “If I saw something halfway around the world that blew my mind, and I thought that artistry, that technique, that integrity would elevate William Henry’s product and my design ideas, then I would use that.”

For instance, the grind and polish of William Henry’s blades come from a connection he forged in Japan. As a young, up-and-coming knifemaker, he discovered an artist whose blade grinds and finishes far surpassed his own. It turns out this artist learned from a master knifemaker in Sakai City, Japan, whose history goes back generations. Seven generations, to be precise, to a grandfather who was one of the original makers of samurai swords coming from Saiki City. An introduction was made … and now more than twenty years later, William Henry still has this Japanese father and craftsman and his son-and-law grind and polish the WH blades to nuanced perfection. William Henry also uses the skills of Koftgari artisans, sterling silver carvers, and some of the most admired hand-engravers in the world.

While Matt has a global influence, he has an American heart. His home base is a 10,500 sqft workshop in McMinnville, Oregon, where more than 30 artisans work. 

The result of all this pursuit of excellence? 

An American-made, globally sourced functional knife that took more than seven months to produce and incorporated the use of more than 300 artisans and 800 individual operations.  Every William Henry comes with a serial number and an edition number on both the knife and its accompanying certificate as evidence of its authenticity and exclusivity. Each knife comes in a  commemorative wood box.

We have to admit, we like showing our William Henry knives.

When our founder, Donnie Thompson, began Windsor in 1975 … he never imagined we would feature woolly mammoth tooth next to our stunning diamonds and opalescent pearls. 

But when a piece is this beautiful, this well-crafted, it’s impossible to not want to show off a William Henry. 

And once you own William Henry knife … we know you’ll agree.

Windsor is proud to offer exclusive knives from the following limited-edition collections: