Wednesday, September 28, 2016

KAWECO SUPRA FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
Kaweco is known for some more experimental pen designs: the Sport pens are a fine example of that their not-so-mainstream design philosophy. And that unique design works, the Kaweco Sport pens are perhaps the most widely known pocket pens around! But it doesn't stop there: a couple months ago they came up with what could be their most daring design so far, and it's a clear winner, that much I can already say!

Talking about popular Kaweco products, the Lilliput is definitely another one that comes to mind. The wide variety of available materials/finishes, and the ultimate pocketability makes it a favourite of many. But that same small size that some people love, is what puts others off. Kaweco apparently noticed this, and came up with the Supra, basically a Lilliput on steroids (I know, I'm only the billionth blogger who says this. It's just exactly what you'll think when you see them!).
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
The Supra has a fairly minimal design, similar to the design of the Lilliput, on which is it obviously based. the bullet shape with rounded edges is simple but striking, especially in this larger size. The unique part of the Supra is obviously the removable extension piece. If you want a pocket pen, you can just take the extension out, and it transforms into a very pocketable pen, barely any bigger than the Lilliput, but a bit wider. If you prefer a more comfortable full-sized pen without having to post the cap, the extension piece comes into play, and adds about 3cm to the overal length of the pen.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
The removable section does affect the design of the pen just a little bit. It's definitely form follows function, because the added pair of threads on the extension makes for an inevitable step along the middle of the barrel (think about it, if the diameter of the extension would be the same as the rest of the pen, it would be impossible to connect all the pieces!). In terms of comfort, you'll also notice the added diameter of the extension piece because it does create slightly higher step from section to barrel. All parts on this pen are machined extremely precise, and the corners and threads can be a little sharp. This is definitely something to keep in mind in terms of comfort, although it hasn't been a dealbreaker for me so far, and I've used it quite a bit already.

The Supra is obviously a bit larger than the Lilliput. It weighs in at just over 50 grams total with the extension piece, which is almost double that of the brass Lilliput (the aluminium Lilliput is even lighter). Yet because it's a full-sized pen it doesn't feel overly heavy in the hand.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
Lengthwise, the Supra measures 10 cm closed, and 13.4 cm posted without the extension, which is comparable to the Lilliput. But with the extension, the Supra grows to a length of 13 cm closed, and 12.5 cm open, which is about average for a fountain pen, and definitely enough to provide a comfortable fit for most hands. The most obvious change is the added diameter, at 9.9 mm around the section, it’s a couple mm thicker than the Lilliput. While that might not sound like much, it’s certainly noticeable in the hand. So for those that thought the Lilliput was a bit too thin, too unsubstantial, the Supra improves in this area as well.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
A benefit of using the extension is that it's long enough to hold a standard international converter. That means you won't have to deal with those finnicky mini converters Kaweco provides (that never seem to perform as they should). The downside is that you'll have to switch back to cartridges when you decide to remove the section. I currently stick to syringe-filling empty cartridges, that way I can use the Supra in both configurations and still use whatever ink I want.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
The nib on the Supra was probably the biggest surprise for me when I first saw product shots of it. Kaweco finally decided to use their #6 nibs again, which I had previously only seen on the full-sized Kaweco Elite. I really like these larger nibs Kaweco offers, which is why I'd love to see them on more of their pens in the future (obviously not on their pocket pens, that would look ridiculous!). The nibs have essentially the exact same design, which is simple but classy. They are available in the same wide variety of nib sizes, from EF to BB (of course I went with BB), and seem to perform rather comparable to their smaller counterparts.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
I swapped out the double broad with the fine nib of my Kaweco Elite a couple of times (as you can see in the pictures), and both performed really well. The BB hard starts every now and then, but it usually picks up after the first stroke and writes consistently after that. It felt like the flow seems to be just the slightest bit wetter with these larger nibs, but overall the difference is negligible and your mileage may vary (it could also depend on the rather wet ink I used).
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
The Supra is without a doubt one of the most refreshing, and interesting new pens of the moment. People often complain that there isn't enough innovation and new products on the pen market, but I think Kaweco does a decent job with their new products. Even though I'd usually find myself using the Supra with the extension piece, I know a lot of people will switch regularly between the two setups, especially if you're into EDC and pocket carry, the Supra should be on your wishlist.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review
The Supra retails for 90 EUR/ 125 USD. That's not at all cheap, but I find it more than worth the money. It's fun to use, has an innovative design, and it's a rock-solid pen, I can't think of any reasons not to like it.

Note: this notebook was sent to me by The Pen Company, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
Kaweco Supra fountain pen review

Monday, September 26, 2016

RECAP: TILBURG PEN SHOW 2016

For the first time in three years I didn't forget to take a picture of the awesome sea-creature skeleton hanging in the middle of the Nature Museum Tilburg, where the pen show is hosted!
Speechless. That's what I was after the Tilburg pen show. On the two hour ride back home I still couldn't believe it. I just listened to music and soaked up all the awesome of the past eight-nine hours. It was amazing, once more. Really every year the Tilburg pen show is a treat, but this year it was extra special. After last year it became clear that it isn't just for the pens -I mean obviously also just a little bit for the pens...- but for the wonderful, crazy, kind-hearted people that you get surrounded with.

I honestly don't have words to describe the feeling, it's just being indulged in one big happy fountain pen family for a couple hours. And once it's over it feels like a part of you was left behind at the show, waiting for you to return next year.

'Oh come on Dries! Cut the emotional rambling!' - I hear you think, but this is legitimately how I feel, I can't help it. I just wish every day could be like being at a pen show, meeting like-minded people, talking, exchanging pens and inks, having a good laugh,... It's like the utopia for pen addicts, zoned out of the real world for a couple hours, away from all the crap.

But let's just quickly recap the Tilburg Pen Show (edition 28 already by the way!):
As was the case last year, one of the most prominent pen collectors/sellers in the galaxy honoured us again with his attendance: Sarj Minhas, aka. Mr. one man pen show. Even though I didn't buy anything from his table, I had a wonderful chat with him again, and of course I drooled at all his pens - hard not to...
More of Sarj's table.
The lovely Frank and Agatha from Fontoplumo were at the same table as last year, and brought us a lovely new special edition pen: a Fontoplumo exclusive Conid Kingsize called the Monarch. I didn't get the pen (a bit above my budget, quite a bit), but I did get the matching special edition KWZ Monarch ink!
Cliff Harrington and his wife also traditionally attend the show with a collection of beautiful vintage pens. I didn't get a chance to talk with him this time around, but if you see him at a pen show, definitely go say hi, such a great guy!
And I'm obviously still forgetting a bunch of people, like Dennis from La Couronne Du Comte and his awesome team both at the show and in the store (double the fun!), Petra and Sjoerd from Scrittura Elegante, two relatively new pen show exhibitors, but already irreplaceable with a variety of pens, paper and inks that perfectly complements the Tilburg show! 

But of course then there was also this colorful bunch (yes that's SBRE Brown in the Harlequin suit, don't ask me why!) that made the show whole! From left to right that's: Michael, Cris, Stephen, Azizah, Eric, Tarah, myself, and Janine! Thanks for the wonderful day guys, and thanks to all the other people that I got to meet but aren't in this picture, you know who you are! Also thanks to Jeanne, who does a splendid job organising the show year after year!
 And last but not least of course some pics of this year's -relatively modest- haul:
A Diplomat Excellence A Venetia fountain pen
A Monteverde Mountains of the world fountain pen, courtesy of Scrittura Elegante
A kick-ass 60 pen case for five bucks (#stealoftheshow), some inks, and some notebooks!

Friday, September 16, 2016

MONTBLANC HERITAGE ROUGE&NOIR FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
Montblanc's Rouge et Noir pens, part of the Heritage collection, take us back in time to one of their first pens to ever hit the market,110 years ago in 1906! I'll admit I'm usually not much of a Montblanc person, but when they come up with something interesting, I just have to take a closer look... and the Rouge et Noir collection classifies as 'interesting' without a doubt!

In 1906, pens were still mostly manufactured from ebonite (hard rubber). The current re-issue is divided in three 'tiers', two special editions made from precious resin, and a limited edition in hard rubber. The two pens I received on loan from Penworld to review are the 'cheaper' precious resin models, although knowing Montblanc, you'll understand that 'cheap' isn't exactly the term I should use.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
They are quite something though, regardless of the price. I most likely won't spend this kind of money on them, but it's a unique, eye-catching pen for sure. 

Both the black and red version of the Rouge et Noir are completely identical when it comes to the general design, but the small details are what sets them apart. The skinny, not-all-too-long design is typical for vintage pens. The colorways are also based on vintage pens, the black resin version has a coral red cap finial with a slightly off-white Montblanc star emblem embedded in it. The Coral red version is entirely made out of coral red 'precious' resin. Both colorways have a very vintage look and feel to them, both because of the overall design, and the materials used. The coral red resin plays a pretty big role in the appearance of the pen, even on the black version. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
The most prominent design feature is of course the snake clip wrapped around the top of the cap. It's a big part of the marketing around this pen, and with reason because it's the first thing you notice about the Rouge et Noir. It's quite a stand-out feature, but definitey in a good way. The metal clip has a weathered appearance (similar to aged silver, yet it's not a silver clip) which is achieved through specialised galvanising methods (according to the MB website).

The prize difference between the two versions shows in the little details, such as the clip and the nib. The changes are small (The coral has small green (gem)stones as eyes in the snake clip, two-tone  nib design, white-filled montblanc logo on the cap), but they do succeed in giving the pen a more luxurious and 'finished' appearance, making the black version look somewhat like a half-finished afterthought. It's  a considerable price increase, but if I'd buy one, I'd go for the coral red model without a doubt. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
If you're looking for a larger pen, the Rouge et Noir will not be for you. In fact, most complaints I've seen so far are about the rather dissapointing size. As I mentioned in the beginning, vintage pens that are usually not as large as modern ones. In that regard, Montblanc did a good job recreating the vintage design. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
Not as much the length, but the narrow profile is something not everyone will appreciate.
For todays standards however, a lot of people will be dissapointed to find a pen that measures in at just 13.7cm closed, and 12.5cm open, with a profile of 1cm width at the cap, and just 0.85cm around the section. The length is not the real issue though, it's actually fairly average, and more than decent enough to fit most hands. But the skinny profile, especially at the section where it's not much thicker than a woodcased pencil, might put some people off. Being a special edition pen, I think most people would expect something a bit larger. I'm more used to larger pens myself, and I have to say it took quite a bit of getting used to something this slender. It's definitely usable, but it felt like my grip was a bit more cramped than it would with a bigger pen. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
To my surprise, both versions are actually piston fillers. Being so slender and relatively small, I can imagine the ink capacity won't be much to write home about, and there's no ink window to keep track of how much ink is left. So in this case I think I would've actually preferred a C/C filling system for practical reasons. It's also worth noting that the barrels are actually metal, with what I presume is a layer of laquer over it to match the color of the rest of the pen (however you can see a slight color difference between barrel and cap on the Coral version). This gives the pen a noticeable amount of heft when you pick it up. It's by no means heavy, but it definitely feels solid in the hand, despite the smaller size. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
To make up for the size, Montblanc once again delivers with a beautiful nib design. With the grand theme obviously being the snake, the 14k gold nib features a minimalistic depiction of a snake head. Especially on the Coral red version, with the two-tone nib, this design stands out. It's easily one of the most beautiful nibs I've come across. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
Apart from the nib, another feature that shows upon uncapping the pen, is the metal grip section. It has a brushed finish that actually doesn't feel slippery while writing, and the threads are at the front of the section, instead of at the transition from section to barrel, which makes it a rather comfortable pen to hold, despite the lack of girth.

The small nib is the same design as found on the previous Heritage fountain pen, the 1912 safety filler. The 1912 was praised for being a bit soft and bouncy, I didn't really experience that with this nib, but it's an excellent nib nevertheless. In fact, of the three Montblanc pens I've reviewed so far (Montblanc 146, Montblanc M and this one), this is easily the best one. Both the medium and fine nib I tried were responsive but smooth, and had a rich, consistent flow. One thing I've noticed with all the Montblancs I've used, is that their nib sizes vary quite wildly. For example: the fine on the Coral R&N ran quite noticeably wider than the medium on both the 146 and the black R&N, whilst the fine nib on the Montblanc M wrote almost identical compared to said medium nibs. Consistency in line width doesn't seem to be their strong suit (in my experience, that is), but other than that I can't say anything bad about the way their nibs perform. 
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
I think it's fair to say that the Montblanc Rouge et Noir is quite a mixed bag. On one end I really like it, and for a brief moment I actually considered buying one (but then my wallet talked me over on that). The design is refreshing, something that stands out from the current selection of modern pens, and with a strong nod to vintage design.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review
But on the other hand, it's quite expensive, you have to pay a premium to get all the details (honestly if you're considering buying one, immediately move up to the coral version, the black one is so much less exciting if you compare them side by side). And the size will be a big no-go for a lot of people (I actually don't know if the Ebonite limited edition is larger, but even if it is, you'd have to be willing to pay about 1000 Euros more for it).

The black model retails for 630 EUR, while the Coral comes in at 760 EUR. That's by no means cheap, but it's already a bit less compared to the Heritage 1912, and for a Montblanc special edition it's probably as low as it's going to get. Is it worth it? If you can get over the skinny profile, I think it could be.

Note: Penworld Supports this blog. I received these pens on loan, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared here are completely my own! This review does not contain any affilate links.
Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir fountain pen review