Something is intrinsically fascinating about the perfect circle. Its mystical Euclidean elegance has captivated mathematicians, theologians and cigar smokers, which is why the punch cutter occupies a sacrosanct place among the armory of cigar accessories. Use it properly by gently twisting and pressing with just the right amount of force, and the punch cutter grants not only a tactile satisfaction, but an aesthetic one, especially if a clean incision with little mess is your objective. The method is easy enough to master, and there are plenty of stylistic options.
Siglo Accessories provides a basic approach to punch cutters with the Bullet Cutter ($71), an enameled oblong ingot of brass outfitted with a retractable Japanese steel blade. One twist conjures the steel, a twist back sheathes it with a well-oiled, luxurious operative action.
For an edgier, high-fashion calling, try the Atoll Eye Cutter ($140), which comes in myriad leathers (in this case, crocodile hide). Its spring-action mechanism protects the blade when not in use. Functionality is easy: position the eye on the head of your cigar and twist-press the blade to the desired depth. When finished, the Atoll Eye will automatically snap back into rest position, expunging the pristine polka dot of wrapper leaf it has just cut out. You may be wondering, what is the ideal circumference for the perfect punch cut? If one size does not fit all, the Davidoff Round Cutter ($315) gives you three sizes to choose from. A series of concentric circles in form, the attractive Round Cutter resembles a pocket watch, and unfolds to reveal a round pallet forged with three cutting blades, each a different size.
The knock on punch cutters is they tend to dull, forcing fans back to more conventional cutting means. Xikar remedies the problem with the self-sharpening Xi 008 Punch cutter ($39.99). It's a two-piece, threaded tool that easily unscrews to expose the protected blade. Every time you pull the cutter apart, a honing rod sharpens the blade.
When making a punch cut don't get carried away. Press too hard and you'll gouge the cigar, extracting too long a plug of tobacco from the filler. Do it right and you'll have what is arguably the perfect draw. It's a claim that is difficult to dispute, as proponents of the punch cutter have math on their side.