This is a question about Henckels Cronidur and a note about a sale.
A week ago I went looking for new kitchen knives, knowing nothing about them. I've been using a Henckels carving knife as my all-purpose kitchen knife for many years (I had no idea it was a carving knife until this week). I have to admit that there was some element of cooking, some element of hobby-like interest (new thing to learn about), and some element of decoration. I show up at Williams-Sonoma and decide I really like how the Wusthof Ikon Classic looks. And the Blackwood is on sale in the store for almost the same price (presumably they are discontinuing selling the Blackwood).
That's where the WS salesman comes in. He seemed very good: how do you use your knives, don't buy a big set, don't worry about the steak knives right now, no need to spend too much, etc. I point out the Ikon and he says I need to try it before buying it (I felt silly not suggesting that myself). It felt somewhat heavy and very back-heavy. It would be good if I held it like a hammer at the bottom of the handle, but otherwise it felt like my hand would get tired fairly quickly. So he showed me some standard Henckels and Wusthof, which actually felt better than the Ikon.
Then he showed me the Cronidur, which was also on sale (about $120-$190 per knife). It felt perfect. Light, but not too light, nice balance, especially if you pinch the blade in your fingers, and attractive (the handle is kind of faux wood made of resin and linen). He said it was made of harder steel and sharpened more like a Japanese knife. I ended up getting the set because it was pretty close to what I wanted: chef and Santoku for two simultaneous cooks, paring, bread (could have gotten cheaper), carver (I guess could have done without), steel, and the wood block was perfect for the kitchen. They also give you a nice Henckels book about using knives.
Then, out of curiosity, I find this site and learn a lot. As far as I can measure, the Cronidur line is sharpened at about 20-25 degrees (total) and asymmetric. At first I thought the sharpening was sloppy because the bevels weren't even, but then I realized it was the same on all four straight knives and was probably on purpose. Does that sound right? Do I have to be more careful sharpening asymmetric? My plan for now is to pay someone who was recommended to sharpen them, but it depends on the cost and frequency, so I may need to learn.
(A good-condition standard Wusthof paring knife seems about 35 degrees total.)
In retrospect, I might have considered the Japanese knives from WS or more likely elsewhere, but the Cronidur seems fine for now.
The Cronidur knives do not seem hugely popular on this site, but if anyone has interest, now would be the time to buy them. The sale was only in the store; they may be gone from the web. Not sure if they are being discontinued from WS because of lack of sale or because of actual problems, though.
Thanks to everyone for all the useful information on the site.