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).


Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – Steel Nib – Fine – Black Body

25 08 2011


The Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s fountain pen hopped into my shopping cart early on in my burgeoning fountain pen addiction, sometime after I became enchanted by the Sailor Ink Bar. This was among one of the first nice fountain pens I owned.

This is one of the pens I carry around in my zippered padfolio thing when I have job interviews. Fact.

The design is simple but deliciously professional, a nice mix of hard, sturdy resin and metal. The only branding on the pen is on the nib, with the rest of the pen austerely unadorned. The cap snaps securely onto both ends, and gives the pen a nice little weight to it. I like having a little weight on the back end to counterbalance my grip style. Some people might find this back-heavy, but honestly, the cap doesn’t weigh THAT much. It’s a nicely constructed pen—I’ve had it maybe a year now, and it’s still looking good.

One in pen years is practically one hundred in people years

Also, look at that grip, and how there’s almost no ridge between the grip section and the back body of the pen. THAT IS WHAT I LIKE TO SEE! I wish I’d taken a close up of that bit, so then I could post here a slowly zooming in .gif of the grip in a sea of majestic sparkles, set to romantic music or something. Alas, an opportunity missed. Moving on.

Let me break it down for you. Literally.

The one thing I don’t like at all about this pen is the cartridge situation—it doesn’t come with a cartridge, and it doesn’t take the standard short international cartridge. And the Sailor Nano Ink cartridges write a very rich black that will dry up in the pen if not used practically every other day. Go ahead and get a Sailor converter for this pen, or end up like me, syringe-filling old, cleaned out Nano cartridges. I haven’t had any drying out problems once I switched to the Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm, so I’m blaming it on the ink. Luckily, the feed isn’t difficult to remove and clean, so if you decide, against my advice, to actually use the Sailor Nano ink, at least you know you’ll be able to clean it when the ink inevitably dries up in the pen. Like I said, no such problems with the Noodler’s ink, quite the opposite in fact—the Dragon’s Napalm takes FOREVER to dry on Clairefontaine paper when coming out of this pen. I’m gonna have to try a different ink once I use up this cartridge’s worth…maybe find some Noodler’s quick-drying Bernanke ink?

Nib may also double as shaving or stabbing implement

I love the way this thing writes. This is a true Japanese fine nib, easily on par with any extra fine nib pen I currently own. Now, I’m using this pen almost exclusively on smooth paper, but even in my brief dealings with normal copy paper I’ve had no issues with this pen—no skipping, ink flow is consistent, I can write fast with it, writing is tactile but not scratchy, doesn’t give any resistance that would slow down my writing. Be advised: if you are a fan of broad nibs and don’t particularly care for any nib below a medium, then you’ll probably find this pen to be scratchy. I don’t think it’s scratchy, but one: I like my nibs fine, and two: I can SHOW you what a scratchy fine nib is (COUGH tachikawa comic nib fountain pen G model nib COUGH), and this is not a scratchy nib. It might be close, but I think it comes down on the nonscratchy side of fine.

My thesaurus advises me of acceptable synonyms for fine. So, here's what a true cat's pajamas nib should look like.

This is a good entry-level fountain pen. Slim, nicely made, holds up well, and it’s affordable. A gateway pen, if you will—a bridge from the low & expensive end (pens like the Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Varsity, Sailor Ink Bar, Platinum Preppy) on your way to the incurable addiction of fancy fountain pens with prices upwards of twenty-one McDouble Sandwiches (I assume McDoubles are used as an international unit of currency) and far beyond. Or you can rest sane and easy with some reasonably priced fountain pens, such as the likes of this Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen.

I keep awkwardly trying to cobble together a pun out of "caption" and "cap end" but it just isn't going to happen. I'll spare you. Instead your caption is: GRATUITOUS CLOSE-UP

Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – Steel Nib – Fine – Black Body at JetPens