Waterman Phileas Fountain Pen

19 10 2012

I guess the ghosting is appropriate for October…thanks, Waterman, for remembering the holidays.

I’ve been told before that I need to own a Waterman, but the pen stores I frequent typically didn’t carry them and no particularly attractive model was able to catch my eye, thus instigating an e-commerce fueled need-to-buy. Even when an entry model Waterman finally popped up in my local pen store, I was reluctant to get it. “What’s the deal with the Watermans?” I asked skeptically, taking one out of the box. “This is an old man pen. What would I want with one of these?”

“I’ll make you a deal.”

“Phileas? That’s an old man name.”

“I’ll make you a really great deal.”

One really great deal later, here I am with another pen that looks like I swiped it from a geriatric stockbroker.

I am clinically incapable of refraining from calling this pen “Phineas” instead of “Phileas”

The Phileas is a peculiar mix of class and annoying minor flaws. Lets start with the good: the body has a nice weight to it but isn’t too heavy, and feels pretty nicely balanced.

I keep thinking the Phileas is black until Pelikan M150 steps in the picture and says “Gentlemen please, you don’t know what black really is.”

The charcoal-colored plastic feels smooth, almost luxurious (though the words “It doesn’t feel cheap!” come to mind, I don’t think that quite conveys nearly the compliment I intend). Yes, by the way, charcoal-colored—for some reason it continues to surprise me that the pen isn’t black.

Look carefully below the big highlight on the barrel and you’ll see the light hitting the seam in the plastic

My biggest issues: the seams palpable on opposite sides of the black plastic grip—

Why the gap? I’ve heard this decoration is supposed to evoke a cigar band, but I don’t smoke cigars or pens; do cigar bands have such a gap?

—and the way the back of the gold art deco design accent doesn’t fully come together.

Good things in moderation—including art deco

Why is that? Love the design accents; irked by these big flaws.

Time to write down some old fashioned ledger entries.

The third and final flaw: all these ghost starts that proliferate particularly when I print. Taking to the problem an eye loupe and the knowledge I gleaned from sitting in on a Richard Binder nib workshop, I’ve come to suspect the culprit is butt cheeks. What do I mean by such offensive language, you ask? It’s a problem, apparently not uncommon in some fancy pens, where in the quest to make a REALLY SMOOTH pen, they go too smooth, rounding the inside edge of the slit too much, so that the end of the nib resembles a little metallic bottom. This causes the ink to want to stay where it’s narrower, instead of going to the bottom of the cheeks onto the page. Here, a diagram from Richard:

Capillary action is not your friend when you’ve got a baby’s bottom nib

Look! Look closely! The cheeks! THE CHEEEEEEKS.

Once it’s writing, everything is golden for the most part (as long as I stick to cursive). The nib is neither too wet nor too dry, and has a solidly tactile feel across the page. I detect an occasional slight resistance on such backstrokes as crossing my T’s at certain angles, which probably has something to do with the fact that the nib looks like it was aligned inside of a Salvador Dali painting.

What is going ON here? I can’t even visually process this business.

But for the most part, the loveliness of the typical writing experience is worth persevering through the ghosting and such, until I finally get around to fixing up the nib.

With a little workout we’ll firm up those cheeks and have you writing like a normal pen in no time

Waterman Phileas: definitely enjoy…whether or not that enjoyment is enough to inspire future (and or perhaps more expensive) Waterman purchases remains to be seen.

Waterman Phillyboy tallyho what what

If anyone knows a good online retailer, send me a link. Otherwise I think your best bet is to come pick one up from Office Supplies & More, my local pen store (maybe I’ll convince them to take some along to the Ohio Pen Show).




9 responses

19 10 2012

Waterman was my first fountain pen. It was an inexpensive brushed chrome one that I loved so much, so smoothly did it write, that I carried it everywhere in my pockets…until one day a hole wore through somewhere on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, NYC and I lost it. To this day I wish I had it back. Enter the Phileas Fogg (or is it Phogg) fountain pen, of which I own several…one finepoint was absolutely perfect until I let a nasty 12 year-old try it out and she mangled the nib..she said she knew how to write with them…she didn’t…and my two others? The medium point hit the ground nib first and broke off one of the nib pieces. The third one I still use, although right now I am entranced with my won-free-on-the-internet from Fountain Pen Revolution the Moti… But Waterman pens have for me always written more smoothly and never ever leaked — unlike two Mont blancs I have been given, and which still stain my fingers and I can’t figure out quite why.

Phileas Fogg I think is a character in a novel…I’ll have to look it up…but it sure is NOT an old man’s pen! :-) Hope you get yours to be less “cheeky,” perhaps.

enjoy reading here – glad you tried a Waterman.

19 10 2012
No Pen Intended

I do wish my local pen store carried more types of Waterman fountain pen…it’s so much easier to impulse buy a fountain pen when it’s already in my hands :)

20 10 2012

Absolutely! I found my first one in a Staples office supply store, my favorite kind of place after an art store, a bookstore, a kayak shop…but I digress. and pens are like puppies — don’t hold it if you know you shouldn’t bring it home!

19 10 2012

I’m a HUGE fan (often mistaken for a globe-traveller’s balloon, in fact), so it is with deep affection for this pen that I say– beware the longitudinal posting scars.

24 10 2012
Andrea Kirkby

I love the Phileas and its cheaper European companion the Kultur. One of the lovely things about the pen is what a big nib it’s got for a relatively inexpensive pen – all mine have been great little writers though one needed a little smoothing before it set to work properly. It’s comfortable in the hand, and the deco styling is very attractive, though I agree with you about the gap on the Phileas band – just plain weird.

24 10 2012

Besides being part of the decoration I think the gap on the band is there to secure the cap when posted. Like the raised portion on the end of the section does when the pen is capped. If the distance between the tip of the nib and that raised portion of the section matches the distance from the end of the barrel to the gap…

Phileas Fogg is the main character from Jules Verne 1873 novel “Around the World in Eighty Days”. I’m not sure if they named the pen after him, though it is possible because of Waterman’s long term relation with France. Somehow the domed cap on the Phileas and Kultur pens always made me think of an hot air balloon.

Been following your blog almost from the beginning, I do like your “style”… and drawings too. Just keep up the great work!

Best regards from Portugal,


25 10 2012
Randall Robinson

I bought a black Waterman Phileas a few years ago. It was Waterman’s lowest-priced fountain pen and I’ve found it to be a good value, good bang for the buck. For a nominal sum you can have a decent looking pen that operates reasonably well. The more expensive Waterman that I’ve drooled for is the Waterman Charleston — in ivory and gold.

28 10 2012

I’ve had problems with my Kultur (same nib) skipping on the downstroke, for some reason. It doesn’t matter which ink I use, as it did it with two different ones. I’ve tried Skrip Red and Dragon’s Napalm, and both did the same. On two of my other Kulturs, the nib dries out easily as the caps don’t make a very good seal. On one of my Phileas that I used to have, the pen would dry out almost instantly, and I’d have to constantly prime the feed by twisting the converter. On my latest Phileas, it seems to work fine, albeit a little dry and still prone to some dryout. Nice pens with a nice feel, but the issues above with the cap and flow issues make me think twice about getting another.

30 04 2013

I use only Waterman Phileas fountain pens for my art at http://www.twelvedrawings.com and I wish I could afford to buy a drawer full of them. I keep one medium and one fine in my pocket at all times. This has led to some heartbreaking drops (always nib-down) and mysterious absences (I still search my car seats hoping to find a long-lost one). I admit I am hooked and relish having at least one irrational passion. When I pull it out to sign even a trivial credit card receipt, a hush falls over the room. Weird? Yes. Wonderful. Yes. It’s proves that the “old school” still has its power to amaze.

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