Pocket knives don’t get much more basic than Opinel’s No. 8, but simplicity is precisely why it has become a classic. It has a handle available in a variety of types of wood, a blade just over three inches long and a rotating steel collar that locks it open or closed. It’s basic, reliable and, at under $20, affordable too. Recently though, Opinel created a limited-edition version of the No. 8 called the Ellipse that elevates its design into the realm of collectibility.
The primary upgrade Opinel built into the Ellipse is the handle. Instead of the beech present in the original, the Ellipse uses ebony, an exotic hardwood prized for its durability and dark hue (ebony is commonly used for fingerboards in guitars for those same reasons). Opinel also gave the Ellipse’s handle a slim and curvy aluminum leaf inlay that adds a touch of understated elegance.
The best thing about the Ellipse is that it refines the No. 8 without changing the uncomplicated elements that make it so great. It’s still a folding pocket knife with a reliable steel blade, a lock and a wooden handle. It does cost more, though — the enhanced handle brings the Ellipse up to $120. But for that price, you get a limited-edition knife with its edition number stamped into the blade, right alongside the company’s official crowned hand seal of authenticity.