Friday, February 5, 2016

GRAF VON FABER-CASTELL GUILLOCHE FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

For the past month, things have been awfully quiet around here. I had a pretty hefty exam period up until now, that pretty much drained all my energy. Even when I had a few hours off, I couldn't find the courage to start writing a new article. I'm slowly getting back into the normal routine of blogging though. To start the new year off, I decided to review a pen from a brand that I never tried before...

The impressive number of pen and stationery brands in Germany should be enough to show that Germans know a thing or two about making pens. When you think about German brands, the first that come to mind are probably Montblanc and Pelikan, but today I'd like to talk about a third big name... Graf Von Faber-Castell! 
As the name suggests, GvFC is the daughter-company of Faber-Castell, a brand most of you will know, I assume. Graf von Faber-Castell serves as the 'luxury' department of the brand, and specialises in gold-nibbed pens built with precious materials, and ridiculously priced limited editions! 

The concept behind GvFC pens is simple: to make pens like they used to back in the early 20th century. In that regard, pretty much all GvFC pens, while all different, show the same key design elements. The Classic, vintage-inspired design on their pens is accentuated with modern and luxurious materials and finishes..

The specific model I have in my hands today, is the 'Guilloche'. It's the cheapest model available that has an 18k gold nib, but don't let the word 'cheap' fool you. Prices for this model are still up in the 300 EUR mark, so it won't exactly be an impulse buy. However, it is a considerable step down in price from the regular line, so if you want to own a Graf, this is an excellent place to start. I'd like to thank Penworld for providing me with this pen!
Being the most affordable doesn't show in terms of build quality, or even presentation! The Guilloche comes, in a beautiful wooden box, just like its bigger brothers. I've seen a lot of nice presentation, but for a pen in this price range, the amount of detail  put in the packaging and presentation is quite unseen! 
You won't find any signs of cutting corners on the pen either. It's a relatively small pen, but it's made almost entirely out of metal, and finished with Platinum. The metal build makes for a solid feeling pen, with a satisfying weight (29 grams when closed). The Platinum plated trims are contrasted by a matte grey resin barrel with a herringbone guilloche pattern engraved on it. I personally find the combination of these two materials striking, and it makes for a balanced combination of old design and new materials.
Deisgnwise, this and all other GvFC pens are all pretty straightforward. The body is straight, accentuated by a nice wood or resin, but nothing crazy. The highlight is most definitely the cap. It has a somewhat odd shape, that flares out slightly towards the fineal. The small hinged clip has a simple shape, and is placed unusually low on the cap, similar in appearance to a lot of vintage pens. The family crest is engraved right above the clip. Everything is tastefully done. It's not an excentric pen (I'm looking at you, Delta Dolcevita!), but everything just fits together, and makes for a stylish, sleek product.

The grey resin used on the barrel is another aspect about this pen that I really like. It's a different finish from the rest of the Guilloche series, with a herringbone engraving instead of the classic 'barley' guilloche engraving on the other models. The resin isn't polished to a shine, but instead it has a matte finish that is very pleasant to the touch. Despite it being a metal pen, it still feels warm in the hand because of the barrel.
When we take a look at dimensions, it becomes immediately obvious that it's quite a small pen, and that's also one of my only gripes with it. I would have preferred a slightly longer, beefier pen. It's a personal preference, but with a closed length of only 13.1 cm (5.15 Inch), it feels a bit undersized. When uncapped, it's quite decent, at a decent 12.7 cm (5 Inch), which is more in line with other pens. Posting the cap is possible, but gives the pen a more pronounced back-heavy balance due to the metal cap (and it also gets quite long, at 16.2 cm or 6.4 Inch).
The Guilloche uses a standard snap cap, as opposed to the more expensive 'Classic' range that has a threaded cap. In general, I'm not a huge fan of snap caps, but there's no denying that it can be easier in situations where you have to be fast, or open the pen single-handedly. Uncap the pen, and you'll find a long, but relatively slender section. It's quite a narrow pen overall, so a narrow section is to be expected, but as I said before I would have preferred some more girth (I guess I'm getting used to oversize pens...). It has a nice, subtle contour to it, so overall it's quite pleasant to use. The section is also platinum-plated, I didn't find it particularly slippery, but if you dislike polished metal sections, you might want to watch out with this one.
Finally we arrive at the nib. The small, #5-ish sized nib fits the pen nicely, and doesn't look out of place. The nib features the same family crest as found on the cap, the design feels surprisingly modern, but it doesn't break with the vintage feel of the overall pen. I received a medium nib to try out, and I was quite impressed with the way it wrote out of the box. It's not an overpolished nib, quite similar to the Montblanc 146 I tried recently, so it gives some feedback while you write. It has a nice, generous flow, and the feed keeps up at all times. It doesn't have a whole lot of character, but it performs consistently, which is something I've come to appreciate as of recently.
Graf von Faber-Castell seems to be a brand we tend to forget when talking about German luxury pens. But as this one shows, they also know a thing or two about making great fountain pens! It's a luxurious pen, all the way from the packaging, to the perfect build quality and detailing. And on top, it's a solid performer as well. My only gripe was, and will be, that GvFC seems to make mostly smaller pens, which is not really my cup of tea. With the size in mind, I think you can't really go wrong with the Guilloche. At around 345 EUR for this herringbone finish (about 50 EUR less for the other available finishes), it's not a cheap pen, but you get a complete package and a great pen.

You can go take a look at Graf von Faber-Castell's offerings at Penworld.eu. They kindly provide a 10% discount to the Pencilcase readers, just use the code 'pencilcase' at checkout!

Note: Penworld Supports this blog. I  received this pen 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.

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