Patrick Ma, founder and creative director of Prometheus Design Werx (PDW), is best known within the knife community for the Dauntless series, a project he started during his time at Triple Aught Design. Part knife, part concept, the Dauntless project brought custom, mid-tech, and production makers together around a single knife design in a way that no other brand had done before. Now, Ma has launched the Invictus, an evolution of his signature style.
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The Invictus, like the Dauntless before it, represents a highly collaborative yet focused approach to knife making. Ma conceived of a folder built around a set of design rules and then invited other knife makers to build their own interpretation of the design. Since its first production (as seen in image below), manufactured by custom knife maker Allen Elishewitz, the Invictus has moved through a number of iterations, each one coming from a different company or custom maker. “It’s a way to create a product icon,” Ma explains. “Something like Levi’s 501: it’s a style of denim that’s been around since the late 1800s and it’s gone through many iterations but it’s still the 501.”
Jeremy Robertson of San Diego’s Calavera Cutlery and South African custom knife maker Gareth Bull have also made their versions of the Invictus. Each version showcases the talent and style of both Patrick Ma and the custom maker working with him. “My knife designs represent a lifelong, constantly evolving aesthetic. To be able to share these designs with other makers allows them to lend their voice to that iconic pattern and create new iterations as a collaborative effort,” he says. That pattern is drawn around four core requirements that unify all Invictus iterations:
1. The spearpoint blade. “The Spearpoint blade is millenia old, and it’s still a great general-purpose blade,” explains Ma.
2. The symmetrical, tapered handle end. “That too has been around forever,” says Ma. “You see it on Swiss army knives, slipjoints, ancient daggers and other working field knives. It’s a simple, comfortable ergonomic shape that’s been around for so long because it just makes sense.”
3. Fullers. In addition to their aesthetic, the five fullers in the handle add functional grip. “I think it’s a very functional, tried-and-true machining approach to applying a grippy texture to a smooth surface,” says Ma.
4. The forward choil, which Ma incorporated because it “allows you to choke up on the blade and do some finer work.”
A militaristic focus on utility and scrupulous attention to detail have made Ma’s knives very popular. “The best that we can do as a craftsman, as a designer, is to create an excellent, functional object that speaks instinctively to a certain audience,” he says. The Invictus project will continue to evolve; Ma hinted that more collaborations with custom knife makers are already in progress.
Knife featured in image: Prometheus Design Werx Invictus Knife