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).