Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ink from the Keel

My experience with Waterman fountain pens is limited. I own only one, and it isn’t a pen I use too frequently, earning a place in my collection by its very unusual black and white checkerboard design that includes a broad orange stripe down the barrel. It is a 2000 model in the Waterman Harley Davidson Free Wheel Racing series. A good looking fountain pen, but my patience with the stainless steel nib was short lived.

Trying my hand at a Waterman Carène turned out to be a very different experience, and a pleasant surprise. Another of the pens I am evaluating for a friend, this one had to wait a couple of weeks to have its turn. Anyone with an interest in Waterman will know that the Carène is a very popular model, and that it comes in several variations. The one I am trying out today is the Carène in Marine Amber, called by some dealers Amber Shimmer. Waterman’s own description of this is typical ad agency copy: ‘Deep undulating browns and blacks mixed with the seasoned richness of gold-plated trim evoking a timeless elegance.’ Take a little of the pizazz and exaggeration out of that statement and what you’ll see is a barrel and cap in satin lacquer finish of brown marbled amber, enhanced by a gold plated pocket clip and trim. And my redaction of Waterman’s hype is not meant to imply this lacquer finish and gold trim might be anything less than beautiful. Most wouldn’t hesitate to call this a handsome fountain pen.

But if there is to be hype, to my eye, the pen’s attractiveness stems more from the overall line, the design of the pen’s shape. Fulfilling the nautical image implied by the name Carène—an old French word for ‘keel’—the designer envisioned the line and grace of a racing yacht, flowing from one end to the other with the least interruption. Begin with the top and what Waterman calls the ‘button,’ a slanting gold form echoing the curved stern of a yacht. From there the eye flows uninterrupted to the inlaid nib over a curving bottom, which can be seen as a yacht’s bow slicing into the waves. This nautical line is what Waterman means when they suggest ‘timeless elegance.’

Not a large pen, the Carène measures 14.4cm capped, and at 14.7cm posted is not a great deal longer. The weight is a comfortable 33 grams. What is noticeable is that the pen is slimmer than average, or maybe sleeker would be a more fitting description.

The inlaid nib is rhodium-plated 18k gold, and in the case of this pen, medium. Most interesting about this nib is the absence of an ink hole on the top. Instead, it is located behind the nib, on the underside of the pen, and 1.5cm up from the tip. The pen uses either a cartridge or converter filling system.

In my writing test, the pen performed beautifully. Smooth flowing without a hint of skip. The inkline is consistent throughout the stroke, either up, down or curving. I have my favorite pens and preferred nibs, and while I won’t say the Waterman Carène puts them in shadow, it definitely is a pen I would buy without hesitation. It writes well.

For the test in the attached photograph I used Waterman Havana ink on Clairefontaine 90g paper.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Mr.Leet.
    Did you receive my letter because this was the first time for me to send the letter to abroad.
    Mr.Sawane and I always check your blog and it is so interesting.I am surprised because this color of the pen (Waterman) is not sold in Japan, you know?
    Take care!


About Me

My photo
Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America