All our knives are rated for how hard they are with what is called the Rockwell rating or measurement (aka HRC) of the steel.
HRC is clever in its simplicity. The short easy version is it measures how much of a dent/mark a diamond point can make in the metal with a measured amount of weight. The smaller the mark the harder the steel. If you want to get all geeky about it read more about the Rockwell Hardness Scale on wikipedia.
The higher the rating the harder the material so the thinner/finer the cutting edge can be. Which is why you see higher ratings on our knives as they are built to be sharper and importantly - retain that sharpness for much longer than softer steels.
Most Japanese chef knives are at least 60HRC with some reaching 65-66 which is very hard and requires some care and attention with your cutting technique.
This can be countered somewhat by the choice of steel; powder steels can have a very high HRC rating (64-66HRC is common such as our ZDP-189 range). Also the harder a steel the longer they can take to sharpen but they stay sharper for longer (which is one of the whole points of getting a good knife for life, more time spent cooking rather than sharpening).
"How hard are Global knives?"
This is a common question we get given Global are marketed so widely as a premium knife and have a brand many people recognise.
While they're fairly sharp out of the box, their HRC rating is somewhere between 56 and 58HRC so they're not really in the same league as knives above the 60 HRC mark and you'll find that sharpness with Global soon disappears and you end up with a knife that requires a lot more maintenence to keep an edge and perform well.
They're also still a fairly premium price when you buy a set so you might want to reconsider and we hope you'll agree with us when we answer the other common question "are Japanese knives worth it?"