Hi CPP - you are astute! Curiosity got the best of me last night and I had to disassemble the quantum. You are correct there are no dust protectors, what I was seeing as shown in your second pic was simply the bearing races that are exposed. As you pointed out the blade has material removed in this area creating a flush condition. I thought those silver races were an additional washer for dust protection but was incorrect. I do believe Shiro's theory that this design will aid in cleaning / keep gunk out of there. This only adds to my belief that this is an extremely well thought out and detailed knife design.Thanks for a great write up about a great knife. I'm curious about the dust protectors you mentioned over the bearings. I found a picture of the Quantum broken down on Shiro's site but don't see anything of this nature.
Perhaps you are referring to the translation of Shiro's description of the blade's tang?
A design feature of the base of the blade allows, if necessary, to easily eliminate contamination of the node without disassembling the knife or any special means.Looking at the picture of that part of the knife while closed it seems that the placement of the bearing/pivot assembly so close to the rounded segment of the tang allows for easy access in cleaning and lubricating.
Thanks for pointing that out.