Gillette TechMatic – Possibly the Worst Razor of All Time.
It is called the Gillette TechMatic razor. Simply put, it was an attempt by Gillette to lock down consumer loyalty by patenting a new shaving system. Sound like the Mach 3 and the Fusion 5 to you?
Back in the 1960s, Gillette introduced what I believe was called the “TechMatic.”
It was a “band razor” that used an extended strip of razor steel, rather than discreet blades. You “changed blades” by flipping a lever to advance the band from a small feed spool to a take-up spool.
The shaves were awful, I believe because it was impossible for the head assembly to hold the band perfectly flat. It bulged in spots, leading to scrapes and cuts (at least that was my experience as I can best recall).
One year, everybody I knew was using them was using them. A year or two later they were all gone.
While Gillette’s first TechMatic was a non adjustable razor. A subsequent model was in fact adjustable.
Schick Hops on Board!
Not to be outdone Schick hopped on board (always a bridesmaid…) with their own band razor called “The Instamatic.” Really!
An interesting little thing is how Schick really screwed Gillette on the TechMatic as you can see the advancement dial is on the cartridge with the Schick but on the Gillette its on the razor itself so you can use Schick cartridges on the Gillette but if you try to use a Gillette cartridge on a Schick you’ll have no way to advance the band.
The Gillette TechMatic seemed so modern at the time. A new wave of technology. It spurred an entire new genre of razors. Many band razors started appearing from previously obscure manufacturers, especially in France and in England.
By 1970 band razors had a third of the shaving market. It was a trend, but unfortunately most men came to hate the razor. The cartridge was disproportionately expensive. The razor didn’t shave well. When the Atra came out in 1979 Gillette could accomplish the same “your stuck with us, proprietary design” for far less production costs, and at a greater profit margin. So it makes sense that in 1980 Gillette discontinued what is perhaps the worst shaver of all times!
PS – with today’s technology, it wouldn’t be difficult to make the band razor concept actually work. Hmmmm, something for me to look into?
PPS – A little known fact. When the Apollo astronauts voyaged to the moon, they were equipped with a Gillette TechMatic for the journey. Before the TechMatic, astronauts on the Gemini and Mercury missions did not shave at all.