When Xikar released its XO cutter four years ago, its new donut shape boldly departed from the company’s signature teardrop format. But how does one innovate on an innovation? By making it lighter, thinner and easier to use, of course. The Xikar Ensō ($99.99) checks off all these improvement boxes with its featherweight shell, synchronized double-guillotine blades and a body thickness of only half an inch.
Unlike the former model, the Ensō requires the use of only a single, side-loaded handle to actuate both blades. Its planetary gear system ensures that the two stainless steel blades open and close simultaneously for a swift, clean cut and smooth action. Technically, the aperture is only 68 ring gauge, but Ensō can handle the tapered heads of cigars with gauges as hefty as 72.
Don’t assume slimmer means chintzier. The metal alloy body is coated in a durable, nylon polymer finish, giving the unit a space-aged strength that Xikar is willing to guarantee for life, no matter which color you choose (there are six in total).
If you’re into industrial design, Ensō’s circular shape should call to mind the work of Henry Dreyfuss, who was renowned for devices like the Honeywell round thermostat. It’s said he was able to draw perfect circles by hand. In Zen Buddhism and Japanese calligraphy, ensō is a circle that’s hand drawn in one swift, fluid stroke symbolizing everything from strength and elegance to the universe itself. Pretty spiritual and high-minded for a gadget merely meant to cut the cap off your cigar.