Friday, February 13, 2015

Diplomat Excellence A Plus Fountain Pen

Diplomat Excellence A Plus Fountain Pen

Wait, What? didn't I already review the Diplomat Excellence A before? Why yes, but this isn't just the exact same pen. Even though they are strikingly similar. The pen I'll be reviewing today is the 'Plus' version of the Excellence model, and it has some cool new tricks up its sleeve...

The Excellence A, as you can read in my review I did about it, is a great pen, and I was really impressed by the sheer quality of it. But of course, no matter how awesome it was, there's always room for more improvement! The design has remained completely the same, as well as the dimensions, which is good because I already liked it in the first place. I opted for this black laquer and chrome trims version, as -at least for now- it's only available in black laquer and gold or silver trims, or the rhombus finish. The Excellence A Plus is still a rather simple, elegant pen. It's nothing over the top, rather it's the small details and excellent quality that make this pen stand out from the rest.

Surprisingly, the spring-loaded clip doesn't add much bulk.
The main differences between the Plus and the previous version are rather subtle, but definitely noticeable in use. The clip is now spring-loaded, which makes it a lot easier to attach it to your shirt pocket. I was somewhat affraid that the clip would add a lot of bulk and ruin the classy appearance of the pen, but that doesn't seem to be the case. The mechanism is indeed much easier to use, compared to the rather stiff clip on the previous version, but it's still not ideal. The spring-loaded action is a bit on the weak side, which means you probably shouldn't do a handstand while carrying this. The clip is also made in an entirely different way, being made out of a solid metal piece, instead of the traditional pressed metal clip. It still features the raindrop design, which is a relief because I really love the way it looks!

The other change is only noticeable when you try to uncap it. It no longer sports a snap-cap, instead it received a unique quarter-turn threaded cap. It closes reassuringly, but because it only needs a little over a quarter turn, it is much faster to open than most other pens. Diplomat really did a great job on the closing mechanism if you ask me. Not only is it easy to use, it's almost impossible to notice the threads when in use! The threads are big and rounded, and the step from barrel to section has a nice rounded edge. Add these comfortable threads to a nice big grip section, and you have one hell of a comfortable writing instrument! 

Comfort really is one of the major selling points of Diplomat's offerings. Out of all pens I've used in the last couple of months, the Excellence A definitely belongs to the better category! The large, slightly bulbous grip section has a nice girth that fills the hand perfectly. The all-metal build feels heavy at first, but in the hand, it feels extremely well-balanced and it appears lighter than it actually is. It's not a huge pen, at 13.9cm (5.45") capped it's a solid average in length, but it retains most of its length when uncapped (13.2cm / 5.2"), so it's easily usable unposted. I personally prefer the balance unposted, but for those of you who want a larger pen, it can be posted quite securely while remainig rather well-balanced!

On the original Excellence A review, I mentioned the absolutely beautiful steel nib, with the Diplomat flower stamped on it. The #6-size 14k gold nib also sports the same design, but the two-tone plating adds some more depth to it. I really like the way the nib looks, but believe me, there's more to like about it than just looks! 

The Medium width lays down a true to size, wet line, and it's satisfyingly smooth. I wouldn't compare it to my Pelikans, but that's not neccesarily a bad thing. It has a slight amount of feedback, especially on lesser quality paper, which is something I personally really appreciate in a fountain pen. Being a gold nib, I expected a slightly springy writing experience, but if you're looking for a flexy nib, this one won't do the trick for you. The nib has little or no give under pressure, but I did find that the Medium was ground slightly stub-ish (Like the Montegrappa Fortuna I reviewed recently!) which gives some line variation between cross- and downstrokes. Other than that, I found it to be very capable for everyday use, it never hesitates, and the flow is rather consistent.

Yes, the section is still securely held in place with a rubber o-ring!

Diplomat once again showed what they are worth with the Excellence A Plus! I still find it almost unbelievable how little attention this brand seems to get. At these prices, and with the quality products they deliver, Diplomat can easily be counted as one of the better brands around, along with other German big boys like Pelikan and Faber-Castell! From what I found online, prices for the Plus series seem to be about 40 EUR more than the regular model, so for the laquer version with gold nib you should expect to pay around 300 EUR / 350 USD. The steel nib version will come in at about 190 EUR / 220 USD. You should keep in mind that these prices are rough estimates, so far I've seen a lot of variation between different retailers or in different countries.

Note: this pen was sent to me by Diplomat, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, nor was I monetarily compensated. The opinions shared in this review are completely my own!

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the process of saving up for an Excellence, I'm thinking either the Marakesh or Carya version and I like the idea of the screw cap and spring loaded clip however I think the cost of the plus enhancements are a little to high on an already fairly expensive steel nibbed pen.