Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pelikan Souverän M805

Some of you might remember the review of the Visconti Wall Street I did a couple of months ago. At that time, it was most definitely the prettiest and best writer I had ever used. But the Visconti's days of being the ultimate grail pen seem to be over, because a new piece has entered the collection: the Pelikan Souverän M805!

The Pelikan isn't just a pen that has been on my wishlist for a very long time, it's a pen with a lot of emotional value. I've always been a fan of the Souverän collection because my grandmother had a vintage one (the classic green striated version!) that always caught my attention when I visited her. A few years back she passed it on to me as a birthday gift, after owning it for over 45 years! I don't have to explain how happy I was to actually own a pelikan pen myself!

A few years have passed, and two months back I graduated from high school. Because of this 'milestone' I got a fair amount of money from my parents and grandparents, the only rule was that I had to spend it on a pen, a nice pen (a rule I easily agreed with!). My quest for 'The' pen, wasn't easy, and at first I had something else in mind, but when I visited Cultpens (not affilated), I noticed that they had almost every Souverän model at a much better price (almost a fourth less!). Cultpens' offer was one I couldn't refuse, so a few days later my ultimate grail pen was on its way to its excited owner! 

But let's find out if it really deserves the title of Grail pen...

First of all, the packaging.  The pen comes in a sturdy, and rather large cardboard box. The dark brown bottom part has a wood-like grain, while the silver lid has a somewhat satin-ish feel. When you open the box, a white faux-leather tray (that can be removed to reveal booklets and warranty cards) holds the pen in a white faux-leather envelope-style case. 

I really like the box, especially the envelope pen case comes in very useful and does a great job protecting the pen from scuffs and scratches. I've read some people find the box a bit underwelming considering the price of the pen. Which is true, it can't exactly be called the most high-end box, being made out of cardboard. That being said though, it's still a fact that a box is just a box. It might add a bit to the overall first impression, but afterwards, when you put the box away, you'll hardly ever think about it again. 

There are a lot of different versions available of this model, so why did I choose this partcular version? Well... the major reason I like this pen is its simplicity. It doesn't scream for attention (The boldly-coloured, gold-trimmed M800 counterparts are obviously much  less subtle!). The M805 (where the 5 stands for the silver-colored trims) is a very understated, no-nonsense pen to say the least. A lot of people like brightly colored, swirly acrylic pens, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that (I do too occasionally!). But often times the black and silver combo wins for me! 

The Souverän series is divided into different sizes, the larger the model number, the larger the pen. These numbers range from 300 to 1000, with the 300 being small, almost pocket sized, and the M1000 being oversized. The M8XX is quite similar in length (M800: 14 cm /5.5 Inches, M1000: 14.5 cm / 5.7 Inches) when compared to the M1000, and the diameter (a beefy 14 mm!) isn't too different from the M1000 either. But the real surprise is its weight! All M800 and M1000 models have a metal piston filler system, whereas the smaller models have plastic parts. The metal inner parts make the M800 surprisingly heavy. Even though it's a big pen, you wouldn't expect a resin pen to weigh in at 30 grams capped!

At 14 cm capped, this is everything but small, and because of the good balance and decent weight, I prefer writing with it unposted. Though it's always good to know that, for those who really want to, the cap can be posted securely. The gently flared grip section is very comfortable to hold, for longer writing sessions as well. The threads aren't particularly sharp or protrusive, and even the small bump from section to threads didn't really bother me while writing.

Designwise, I'll let the history speak for itself. The Souverän has been around for ages, and it hasn't changed an awful lot in the past ten or twenty years! Why change something that's already great? The M805 is a massive-looking pen, it looks a bit blocky and unrefined from afar, with simple, straight lines. But look closely, and you'll notice that excellent build quality, simplicity and subtle details like the elegant clip that resembles the pelican beak, are all this pen needs to make it refined! This whole just pen feels and looks perfectly balanced. It's no wonder a lot of Pelikan collectors think the M800 is the ultimate Souverän pen!

The laser-etched Pelikan logo on the cap fineal might be the only dissapointment as far as design goes. I think it would have looked a bit more classy if it were engraved instead of etched. The matte look of the logo doesn't really combine well with the rest of the pen.

Something you should consider, is that the resin parts scuff quite easily, especially where the cap band touches the barrel. There's nothing to be done about that, and most people will like the way it 'ages' over time, that's just something you should consider on a resin pen. If you really like to have as little scratches as possible, I'd suggest choosing the striated version (available in red, blue, and green, as well as limited editions like tortoise brown), the scuffs will show up much less on the barrel.

All Souverän pens are piston fillers, which is the way to go on high-end pens like this. The mechanism operates extremely smooth and effortless. And the ink capacity is quite decent (approx. 1.4 ml). Also, there's a small, dark green ink window just behind the threads (Which isn't visible in the pictures because it was inked up at that moment). The ink window doesn't sound like an interesting feature, but if you ever used a piston pen without ink window, you know how irritating it is not to know how much ink there's left!

In the end though, as beatiful as this pen might be with its subtleness, one cannot deny that the -not so subtle- massive 18k two-tone gold nib is the real point of interest. The nib is -as I said- far from subtle, though it fits the pen perfectly! The size is just right, the pelikan logo and flourishes are refined and the two-tone color scheme reminds you that this isn't just any ordinairy nib! And you know what, it writes just as beautiful as it looks!  

The Medium nib behaves a bit stubby, with a very subtle difference in width between downstokes and horizontals. The nib has a lot of character, though I might once get it reground to a real stub. There's no immediate need for the regrind though, because this thing is pretty great already! It's a very smooth, responsive nib. Easily one of the smoothest nibs I have ever used. It's also a relatively wet writer, though a bit less than I initially expected, it has had no problem keeping up with fast writing so far. I've encountered a few hard starts over time, but nothing to be worried about.

Now would you look at that!
Another great quality of the Souverän series is that all nibs are swappable! Obviously these come at a cost, but it's an easy solution if you ever want to completely change the writing experience without breaking the bank (Approximately 150 Euros will get you an M800 nib unit). The nib unit screws right out, which could also be useful when you're cleaning your pen!

Something I didn't understand from reading other reviews on this pen, is that they often call the nib a 'nail'. Ok, it might not be a flex pen, but it's definitely not the stiffest nib I ever used! There's a bit of spring to it. Enough to make writing with it feel 'cushioned' and comfortable!

The M805 undoubtedly is a great pen! For 470 Euros/ 570 USDollars (However it can be found cheaper!) you get an honest pen, nothing flashy, no special features. Just a beautiful, well-made solid writer. I know it might not appeal to some people, but try it out, and you'll understand what's to like about it! Grail pen? Absolutely, and I'm pretty confident it'll stay my number one for a long time!


  1. Hi, you wrote this review more than seven years ago. How do you see this pen today? Countless pens later? Best regards, Tobias

    1. Hey Tobias, the M800 continues to be a stable in my collection, many of the special releases have followed since purchasing this first one. There are many (new) brands that offer strong competition against Pelikan these days. I have to admit, my focus on Pelikan nowadays certainly isn't as strong as it used to be, but nonetheless the M800 remains a fantastic alround pen. It's hard to knock!