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Waterman Fountain Pens Full Guide-Review: Nibs, Collections, Materials, Vintage, More

Updated on January 6, 2015

Waterman Fountain Pens

Waterman has a unique place in fountain pen history. About a century ago it was the leader of an industry that was much more crucial to contemporary civilization than it is to today's digital and computerized world. Sheaffer, Cross, Pelikan, and Parker eventually caught up with the competition, but Waterman remains a force to be reckoned with – leaving its vintage pens as powerful reminders of its domination, and offering modern collections as future guarantees.

Modern Waterman fountain pens combine the latest patent technology with handmade craftsmanship and careful, dedicated quality control. Nibs, either gold or stainless steel, and body finishes, which include lacquer, platinum, and even wood (Serenite) form the basis of a wide range of designs. Brand selection includes such classic lines as the Phileas (out of production model destined to become a vintage item), contemporary sleek Hemisphere, and high-end, precious metal plated Edson, closely followed by luxury limited editions.

Waterman continue to push the boundaries of design by altering the shape of the pen: the wooden Serenite features a slight curve that lends it an oriental, spicy flair, while the solid Exception presents an unusual quadrangular build that some critics describe as simultaneously “avant-guarde” and “traditional.”

The growing selection clearly indicates that the company is continuing to evolve, and is a one to watch for future innovations and editions.

Materials

Materials are closely linked not only with the actual manufacturing process, but also with decoration, which in several collections becomes especially important.

Waterman furnish their pens with stainless steel or gold rhodium-plated nibs; the precious alloy items will, naturally, cost more. Each usually carries the iconic hexagon logo with the large “W” engraved inside, as well as some ornamentation (statement of provenance, linear patterns, and other).

The shape of the nib can differ dramatically from one model to another: some present an orthodox, angular design that seems to ooze history, others opt for contemporary, almost “aerodynamic” architecture.

Depending on collection, a body of a Waterman fountain pen can demonstrate several layers of differently colored lacquer, solid silver or chrome finishing, trims plated with platinum or palladium, and other configurations of color, metal, and additional materials. The aim is to render each piece as unique as possible.

The distribution of decorative parts, especially the heavier and the shinier ones, is given a particular attention since the pen notably changes in appearance when used – and the cap travels from one end to another. The clip will often play the role of an aesthetic counter-balance to the nib when the latter is exposed.

Collections

Let's take a closer look at the collections (click on the links to read dedicated reviews).

  • Hemisphere must be Waterman's most popular title: the stress given to contemporary design tastes gives the fountain pens a decidedly modern, independent appearance. Hemisphere pens feature a slim body, steel nibs (gold plated in some models), and immediately recognizable tapered, beveled caps. Carries palladium or gold plating in the more exclusive versions; the range of matt, metallic, and shimmery colored lacquered finishes complements both men's and ladies' items. Prices range usually between $50 and $100 for a new instrument.

  • Phileas pens, though no longer in production, remain a popular Waterman product that can still be found in new condition in some stores. Phileas exhibits a more corpulent body that tapers in both directions when the cap covers the nib; the nib is gold plated stainless steel. This line comes in solid and marble colors, usually in darker tones – purple, red, and malachite green. Same price range as Hemisphere.

  • Carene comprises a versatile collection that stands out for its expressively shaped nibs and a range of finishes that include lacquer, silver, and pink gold (palladium plated panoply), adorned with geometrical, or free-flowing linear ornament. Carene offers men's and women's models; prices range between $150 and $300.

  • Expert demonstrates a familiar cigar shaped body, painted in dark or neutral tones – the visual edginess of this design imparts a strong sense of masculine aura. Expert fountain pens don't shun sophistication, but assign it largely to the cap, executed in alloys or lacquer; the body also may include various understated patterns. Prices usually hover between $100 and $150.

  • Exception conveys Waterman's vision of modern high-end fountain pen making. 18K gold nibs, single or two-tone, and rhodium-plated, extend from a quadrangular body that marks a break from aesthetic tradition – yet reaffirms it at the same time. Prices reach into the five hundreds and higher; roller-ball and ballpoint versions cost around $200.

  • Perspective collection embodies a contemporary architectural concept that translates to linear clarity and effortless stylishness. Transitions from one pen section to another are made with as little visual shocks as possible – harmony plays an ever important role in this line. Stainless steel nibs; $100-$150 price range.

  • Charleston revives classic Art Deco ideas, in a way revealing the historical source of many design elements that have become essential in so many modern creations – all across the industry, and beyond, to watch and furniture making, glassware, and other decorative genres.

  • Vintage instruments allow to trace the company's history almost to the outset of the last century. Patrician, Man, Skywriter, and other titles have long become sought for collectibles – that, if kept properly, can still function perfectly.

  • Edson, Audace, Serenite, Elegance: in this collective review we focus on several types of designs that both demonstrate and delineate the breadth and depth of Waterman fountain pen selection.

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