This is a great question.
There's is too many options in the world and not everyone has the time to try every knife. So we will try and break it down....
Questions we will need to answer....
1. Do you prefer honing with a rod or sharpening with a stone (usually you will do the honing regularly from home where as with stone sharpening this is usually a service used every few months)?
2. Do you prefer super hard and razor sharp or something you can throw around that will last forever?
3. What handle feels right in the hand?
Whichever knife you choose you will need to (like a car) maintain it.
There are also many choices of steel which change the way maintenance needs to be applied.
As the carbon content of the knife increases (Japanese knives to have higher carbon content - north of 1%) the knife edge gets harder. This is fantastic when first used and will stay harder and sharper longer.
The downside is, when compared with a German steel knife, which has a lower carbon content (closer to 0.5%) the knife is more likely to chip, may be slightly more corrosive and will be less malleable.
Put simply, a high carbon (Japanese) blade will need periodic wet-stone sharpening which will remove steel not just re-shaping. A german steel will not be as hard on the edge, however it will never get any rust and as long as you sharpen regularly with the rod in the kitchen it can stay sharp (not as hard and sharp as Japanese but hard enough for most).
So there is no answer - it's a trade-off.
If you like ever lasting, low but frequent maintenance and a knife very unlikely to chip go with German steel. If you want the sharpest and hardest blade on the planet (HRC hardness scores north of 60) AND you're ok to maintain with more detail and care (less regularly) then Japanese steels are the steels are the steels for you.
German steel made by Thyssen Krup (1.4116 - used by companies like Wusdorf, Krup Knives or Hammer Stahl) or Sweden's 12C27 are classic's for option 1, VG10 or AUS10 (blades like Kasumi or Koi Knives) are classic for option 2.
Neither option is the correct answer - depends what works for you. We hope this article is helpful and any comments are welcome below.
* HRC - The Rockwell C scale is usually abbreviated HRC (Hardness Rockwell C). The higher the number, the harder the material, but only relative to other numbers within a given scale.
|Wüsthof||Chefs Knife||1.4116||Thyssen- Krupp||Germany||0.45-0.55%||56|
|Victorinox||Chefs Knife||X55CrMo14 / 1.4110||Victorinox, Ibach||Switzerland||0.48-0.6%||56|
|Krup||Chefs Knife||1.4116||Thyssen- Krupp||Germany||0.45-0.55%||56|
|Hammer Stahl||Chefs Knife||1.4116||Thyssen- Krupp||Germany||0.45-0.55%||56|
|Sven Knives||Chefs Knife||12C27||Sandvik||Sweden||0.58%||57-59|
|Global||Chefs/Global Knife||CROMOVA 18||Yoshikin Factory||Japan||0.75-1.05%||58|
|Koi Knives||Gyuto Knife||AUS10||Aichi Steel||Japan||0.95-1.1%||60|
|Kasumi||Gyuto Knife||VG10||Takefu Special Steel Co||Japan||0.95-1.05%||60|
|Miyabi||Gyuto Knife||ZDP189||Hitchai Steel||Japan||0.03||64|