Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Rolex and a Montegrappa

I have talked before why people chose to use a fountain pen. My conclusion is they chose for the same reason they chose to wear a mechanical watch. And I think the two are a match made in heaven.
Maybe Rolex Rainbow is not the most conspicuous watch to wear, but I think it will go really well with the Montegrappa Rainbow. Assorting your watch with the fountain pen could be a new trend.





And I think that was what Nomos was trying to do with the rebranded Kaweco, even though for me both are more valuable on their own. Rather than having a weird branded fountain pen I would go for the "real" one if I can say so.
But maybe we should take the good idea behind this. When you buy a Kaweco make sure to buy a Nomos, and vice versa.

Follow the link to see the post with the first watch - fountain pen combo, a match made in heaven between Kaweco sport and Nomos.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pencils in hotel rooms, Stabilo Schwan 306

Usually, hotels offer you a little notepad and ballpoint to write down things, but I was greeted in my short Hamburg visit by an HB Stabilo Schwan 306 pencil.

I found the markings on it curious, as I know the US marks the lead harness by numbers and HB is the #2 pencil. Well, this is a 2 1/2 pencil so a bit harder than a regular HB.
The finish of the pencil was made for this hotel room, it looks like woody and unfinished. Like a raw pencil. The same feeling the room left me, an old cabin in the woods, except it wasn't in the woods.
I do not know if it was a calculated decision to leave this particular pencil in the room or it was just a coincidence.
So, on the natural finish of the pencil, the brand name, and model number are written in a very dark paint.
The lines put down by the pencil look dark enough and smooth, so no complaints about the writing or the handling of the pencil.
I had to take the paper back to the lab (back home) to test the ease with which the lines are erased from the paper. And it is no problem, it erases well.
Also, there is no sharpening test, as I did not have my Opinel #8 with me.

All in all, it is an ok pencil, that has an interesting finish that goes well with the looks of a cabin in the woods.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Preview OHTO Conception Mechanical Pencil


OHTO Conception mechanical pencil

A few days ago I received in the mail a small but very impressive package.
Thanks to: Stationery Wiki, and the people who made it possible
Matthias from Bleistift blog the mechanical pencil sponsor
Dave from Dave's mechanical pencils judge
Brad from The Pen Addict judge

How I got the mechanical pencil?
I ended up with this beautiful mechanical pencil as a prize in a competition hosted by Stationery Wiki. I participated with a post on the wiki about the Rotring 500. Irony or not I could choose between a Rotring 500 and the OHTO Conception. I chose the OHTO Conception because I am not familiar with the brand and their products
I also got a cup

What is Stationery Wiki?
A place where to find information and facts about stationery related products and these great people are the

Why this wiki and not Wikipedia?
Because Wikipedia has a filter and if it considers that the page is not of great importance for the public it will delete it to save precious space. At the same time, it can be tricky to find information about pencils, fountain pens, and other similar products and companies.
I wrote a few posts in which I tried to start from the beginning and go to the present days (short timelines): Rotring Tikky, Rotring 500 (the runner up post), Koh-I-Noor Versatil. And every time it was a difficult task.
The Rotring Tikky post was planned more than half of year before i started to write it. Partially because it was hard getting all the info, partly because I wanted to find more info and confirm what I have found, and largely because many times I am pretty busy and when I am not I am lazy :)
Joking aside the project is a great cause and I am a supporter of it.

I did not had the time to enjoy the pencil yet as I was on the road most of last and this week. I will make time for writing a review of the OHTO Conception in 0.3 mm shortly.
Until then you can read the review of the OHTO Conception on Bleistift. Some time has passed since I read this post and can't remember the conclusion or the positives and negatives. So it will be interesting to see how I rate it compared to Matthias.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Hamburg, Germany and Montblanc in a duty free shop

hamburg, brick buildings and graffiti

I just came back from Hamburg, Germany, after a very short trip. And I learned 2 new things.
First, I have to look for flights with more time between them or I should get in a better shape. It was a short and intense trip, as for my flight to Hamburg I had to change planes in Munich, and because the first one had a delay of over an hour I had to run for about 15 gates to get to my second flight just to realize that the gate number had changed and had to run back another 28 gates. I was completely out of breath. I can't even believe that a few years back I ran a full marathon.

mont blanc perfume

The second thing I learned is that Montblanc is also a perfume maker ?!? What ?!?
Maybe Paco Rabanne will start making inks... Not trying to be mean but I do not like this kind of style of business even though this seems to be the future for all brands.
Have someone produce whatever you want to sell, and you use the brand name to make people pay as much as possible for a generic product.
I just hope this is not like Armani watches (replace Armani with whatever clothing brand you would like), pricey pieces of quartz that you should pay around 30 $.

I can't say much about Hamburg as I did not get the chance to visit anything. But I saw a lot of construction sites, brick buildings, and graffiti. Oh, let's not forget about the bubble machine on a car.
hamburg, brick buildings and graffiti

hamburg construction site and graffiti

hamburg party


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Back to school small notebook


This is the last weekend before schools start again. So this means 2 things. A lot of stationary stuff everywhere and the last 2 days with "normal" traffic.
Yesterday I was in a shop and just noticed this bright neon small notebooks for just 0.25 Euro. I just had to have one of each color as they look very fun.
I enjoy using small notebooks as they are easy to fit in a pocket, in a bag without making it heavy or bulky. And this small size is just enough to write down some quick notes or have as a few backup information that is easy to reach on the go. Or just use it for something as basic as a shopping list.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ink Review Koh-I-Noor blue

The fountain pen ink is produced by Koh-I-Noor in the Czech Republic.
It comes in a plastic bottle 50 g, and it has no additional box to store the inkwell. All this I imagine is to reduce cost and offer the best possible price to the consumer.
It comes in just 3 colors, blue, black and red. It is a rather limited selection, but this kind of inks are marketed towards students who need a no fuss, inexpensive ink.
And when it comes to price, it is a fantastic one. It is available in about every shop and costs between 1.1 - 1.4 Euro (average of 1.5 USD).
Another cheap contender would be Hero, but the price for a bottle of 60 ml is about 4.8 - 5 USD
Another comparison could be done with Pelikan 4001 blue 1000 ml (which is cheaper than black). The price on Amazon.de for 1000 ml is 26.59 euro, which translates into 0.03 euro/ml or 1.5 euro for 50 ml.
This makes the Koh-I-Noor ink to be more cost-effective even compared to Hero ink or with purchase of 1 liter of Pelikan 4001 blue. Yes, the Hero comes in a glass bottle and has a box, which the Koh I Noor doesn't offer. But you have to admit the price for it is incredible.

The company also produces a document ink. "Ink suitable for fountain pens, light and moisture-resistant, cannot be removed from paper without damaging the paper. For use in archives, for writing documents and at registry offices." They offer it in 50 g plastic bottle and 30 ml in a glass bottle. It is available in blue and black.
Unfortunately, I could not come across this one. It is rarer than a unicorn's horn, at least in my area.

So the ink comes in an unimpressive plastic bottle, the label is in Czech and English and this is about it. The top colored band from the label represents the color inside.
It is a light blue, not too saturated. But I like the look of it. In appearance, it is in between the Faber Castell Royal Blue and the Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue. The Pelikan 4001 has a little more of an indigo color in it.


As I stated before, the ink is marketed for students, so this is a no fuss ink. It does not have a shine or shading. But it flows well, hasn't been able to clog a pen so far, it dries reasonably fast, and does not bleed.
There is an area where it doesn't do very well, and that is water. Running water over a piece of paper almost erased the entire Koh-I-Noor ink. It was hardly visible after. The Pelikan is not a lot better but I would grade it a little higher.

To conclude, I give it a thumbs up. It is a great value ink. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

"Get Out" presents Bic Matic

Doing detective work.. What better companion to find if not the Bic Matic.
The movie Get Out presents for a short period of time the famous Bic Matic
movie get out pencil writing bic matic

movie get out pencil writing bic matic

movie get out pencil writing bic matic
It's not the best movie, and I don't know if it deserves the mark it has on IMDB, but it has an interesting scenario.
In the movie, Rod is looking for his 26 year old friend, Chris. And to put down all his ideas, he uses a clear body Bic Matic with a yellow clip.

Also spotted in movies.
Thor using Bic four colours
Bic Matic Grip in cinema

Bic does not seem to be camera shy.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rotring 500 review

The Rotring 500 is the little brother of the 600 series. It shares the same looks but has a plastic barrel instead of metal. The grip is made from metal and has knurlings the same as the lead hardness indicator. It comes in sizes 0.5 and 0.7 only in black while the Rotring 600 can be found in silver as well.

This was not always the case. 
The first appearance of the rotring 500 is around 1989 - 1990, about the same time the rotring 600 appeared on the market. 
When it came out the pencil was available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, 0.9 mm and the grip and lead harness indicator sections were silver while the rest of the pencil was black 
The codes for the pencil were:
502 503 (0.3 mm)
502 505 (0.5 mm)
502 507 (0.7 mm)
502 509 (0.9 mm)

Notice that Rotring was using lead size notations 0.3 mm and 0.9 mm. Nowadays the 0.3 mm became 0.35 mm and the 0.9 mm became 1.0 mm.

This looks like a very serious drafting pencil, and it is. It has a Rotring classic design, it is built very well with precision and comfort in mind, but the times have changed. If you could buy this serious tool in all drafting sizes, now it is available only in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm. These are the most common sizes used nowadays for general writing. So even the most die-hard drafting pencils are becoming regular mechanical pencils with a  peculiar design.

Getting back to the pencil. 1904725 and 1904727 are the new product codes for Rotring 500 0.5 mm and for 0.7 mm.
The 500 is the cheaper version of the 600. It is not the cheapest (that spot is reserved for the 300 complete plastic build). The 500 is made in Japan and the build seems solid. The grip, lead hardness indicator, and the cap are made out of brass, the clip is made out of stainless steel and the barrel is plastic (ABS) but feels nice to the touch.
I like the tool design, it screams, I was made with a precise purpose in mind. The barrel is hexagonal so it does not roll off the table, it has written with red "rOtring 500 / 0,7 mm". The clip is a very solid one and has the name rOtring, stamped on it. The lead hardness indicator is a nice touch, it does not move too freely so I do not think there is the risk of moving it by accident. What I like a lot is the repositioning of the red ring right at the end of the pencil. Also, it is not a strip of paint, it is a plastic with a red color. Very nice, because the paints used on the rotring's tend to get erased with not too much use. The endcap is made out of brass and hides a small eraser and the feed system. One thing it misses is the color coding for the size, but as I mentioned before even the drafting pencils seem to move towards general writing instruments, so the lack of size colored marking is not a concern for most people.
This is about 3 times more expensive than a Rotring Tikky but when you hold it in your hand you can justify paying 3 times more. You could go even higher by purchasing the 600, but I feel that this is a great deal. You get a great mechanical pencil that is good looking, is well built and will cost less than half what a 600 will cost.







I like how on the 2017 Rotring Catalog Cover the Rotring 500 0.5 mm pops up.

rotring 500 catalogue

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Black ink: Faber Castell vs Pelikan 4001

Lately, I have been using fountain pens more often. And I found that the most used color of ink is black. Both of the writing samples are with Faber Castell Loom fountain pen.
The Faber Castell has a more fluid ink, and the color is more saturated compared to the Pelikan.
On the plus side for the Pelikan, it is a bit cheaper and it is more popular, at least with the shops. You can find Pelikan 4001 in any stationary shop, small or big.
They are both close, but Pelikan wins at foto finish

I chose Pelikan mainly because it handled a little bit better in the sun test, you can see in the post ink over time. And it is easier to find

black ink faber castell vs pelikan 4001 fountain pen

black ink faber castell vs pelikan 4001 fountain pen

Saturday, July 7, 2018

OEM Kaweco

In a previous post, I talked about similarities between fountain pens and mechanical watches. It is clear that others have thought about this because Nomos is selling Kaweco Aluminium Sport on their site, branded with Nomos Glashutte. 
The price for the Nomos branded fountain pen version is about the same with the price of the Kaweco one. $ 72 (I made the comparison using the jetpens site, but take into consideration that the shipping is free from the Nomos site for most parts of the world while jetpens delivers with no cost in US)


"DESCRIPTION
Kaweco, a stationery company founded back in 1883 that once turned Heidelberg into the center of the German fountain pen industry, also produces pens for NOMOS Glashütte—since this is something NOMOS can’t do.
The design of these pens is rooted in the 1930’s, while the choice of materials employed is right up-to-date—they are produced from untreated, hand-polished aluminum. In other words: Life may leave its mark on the pen in the form of small scratches, dents, a fine patina, and other beautiful traces of time. That said, it comes with a protective cover—for traveling, for example—in the form of a black Jepard leather pouch. 

DETAILS
NOMOS’ aluminum fountain pen has a particularly soft steel nib (with an iridium tip, nib size M). 10.5 cm in length, or 13.5 cm when in use (with the lid attached to the end). Comes with a soft case made of black Jepard leather. Customers in the United States, please note: due to US Customs restrictions, orders delivered to the United States are shipped without an ink cartridge. Not to worry though, you can purchase these from your local office supply store online retailer under the name, "international standard cartridge"

I wonder, would you go for the Nomos version if you already own a Nomos watch or stick to the Kaweco original? Isn't this like wearing an Audi watch?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Advertising with a pencil

Many companies use promo materials to raise the public's awareness about their company, brand, products etc. Many times with a cheap plastic ballpoint that has the name printed on the side. Why not be a bit different and use a pencil instead.
Koh-I-Noor has a catalog to present their advertising products. In the images, you can see a lot of known brands using Koh-I-Noor pencils for marketing purposes

The pencils come in a variety of forms, and sizes and are using the colors of the brands they represent.

I really like the idea of using something less plasticky for marketing, plus they do not look all the same.

A double treat for me, apart from the cool idea of having marketing material in form of a humble pencil, is that I work for one of the companies that is present in the Koh-I-Noor catalog.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Continental Typewriter at a flea market

No pencils or fountain pens for today, just a little part of the history of writing, or IT :)
Even though last weeks had unstable weather and today according to the forecast it was not different I chose to get up early in the morning and go to the local flea market, that takes place every Saturday. It is the first time I go, and I heard that the best is to go early in the morning. Just to demonstrate how relative things are, I chose to go at 9 o'clock as it is a Saturday, but the flea market opens up at 4 am.
Anyway, I started roaming around, looking here and there. In all this time I didn't even notice the shining sun and the fact that my head and arms are getting burned. Going through junk is mesmerizing and creates a weirdly satisfying feeling.
Between the kitsch, junk, CE (China Export) and other things I can not put a tag on, I saw a part of history, writing or IT. I do not know where to put it.

I think the category for it is IT, as the seller put this Continental Typewriter next to laptops.
I can remember that one of my grandmother's neighbor had a typewriter, and I wrote so Mambo Jambo about 25 years ago or so. At the moment I didn't know how to write, as I haven't started school, but I was fascinated by the fact you could see the letters move to make an imprint on the paper.
I did a quick search on the internet and the last Continental Typewriter was produced in 1954.

Maybe this is not your, "cup of tea"... No problem, there were still a lot of things to see and buy                       I took home a #22 spanner, a punch, and a tailor's ruler. Maybe next time I will find some old fountain pens or something related to writing that is worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Ink over time

Recently I started writing with a fountain pen again. The appetite for fountain pens has been ignited by the cheap Preppy. The sensation was quite nice switching from ballpoint to fountain pen. But the fact that ink is soluble into water made me contemplate on the resistance of ink over time. You can find on the Internet and on the forums good UV tests of different inks. But I wanted a test of my own to see how my inks work in my situation, so your  mileage may vary. I live in a place with moderate sunlight. I tried to replicate what would happen to your ink writings left on a table on which you get a fair share of sunlight.
The test is not very scientific as i used different fountain pens and the exposure to light was different as i did not used all the inks in the test from the begining but still the results are interesting.

Inks used: platinum blue black, Faber Castell royal blue, Faber Castell permanent black, Pelikan 4001 royal blue, Pelikan 4001 black, Pelikan 4001 personal mix 1:1 royal blue and black, Koh I Noor Blue

The test was conducted for a period of 4 months from March until June.

UV ink test, pelikan, faber castell, platinum, koh i noir

Results:
Koh I Noor blue with the least time exposed to sunlight is almost invisible
Faber Castell royal blue is very hard to read even though it received a similar amount of sun with Pelikan 4001 royal blue
The blacks from Pelikan and Faber Castell look similar after sun exposure.
The winner of the test I would say is the Platinum blue black
The ink was not the only one affected by the sun the paper that was exposed obtain a yellowish tint

Also see: Platinum Preppy

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gel Pens Pelikan, Pilot vs cheap brand

There are many products with very different price points and you can't just wonder, why the difference? You can tell yourself, it is the quality what you pay is what you get. But really?
I am bringing in to the ring an incredible threesome of gel pens.
Pelikan Soft Gel, Pilot Super Gel and no name brand Forster.

Cold start test. 

After a long period of sitting on the shelf. It is the first test because I had to get them started.
Pelikan, Pilot Super Gel 0.5 had no problem starting right away. Pilot 0.7 had some issues and Forster needed convincing.

writing with gel pen Pelikan Pilot Forster

Line width and saturation. 

I am testing only general purpose writing colors (blue, black)
Black color, test between Pilot 0.7 and Pelikan. I can say that Pelikan produces a hair skinnier line (the size is not advertised) and it seems to be a little less saturated compared to Pilot 0.7 mm
gel pen line width and color saturation
Blue color, test between Pilot 0.5 & 0.7 and Forster. Forster does not specify the width but is around 0.5. It is a lighter blue compared to Pilor but nice color. The width is very close to Pilot 0.5. The 0.7 mm Pilot has a darker color and a thicker line.

Bleeding

I tested all this on cheap copy machine paper, because it is most likely to use this pens in an office environment where this kind of paper is the norm.
No surprise the thinner the point less bleedthrough.
Worst performance order:
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 black. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.7 blue. Bleedthrough but can be used
Pilot Super Gel 0.5 blue. It has decent performance and can be used
On the same place Pelikan Soft Gel and Forster with very little bleedthrough.
gel pen bleed through copy paper Pelikan vs Pilot


Comfort and ergonomics

The best in class is the Pilot, which has a grip section with smooth circles spaced closely. It is comfortable and you can use the pen for long hours
Second is the Pelikan with a rubber insert. It is at the same level with the plastic body. It feels good but I do not think offers to many benefits.
Last is the Forster which has the grip identical with the rest of the barrel just a bit thicker. It is not uncomfortable to use but for sure they cut some corners to be able to produce them for cheap. It has a sharper edge if you're gripping the pen close to the lead.
gel pen ergonomic

Writing experience

The writing is the most important aspect of the pen after all. I can say that all right ok, but my opinion is that Pelikan is the smoothest. Pilot has a bad feel to it, it's like the ball is wobbling inside, it does not seem a quality assembly. And this aspect is true to all of the tested Pilots. Even the Forster felt better to me.

Quality

Forster is cheaply made, the cap is not as secure as the other. Also, the clip cannot be used as if you pull it slides out of the cap. This is not valid for all the ones I have only for the blue color. But it shows that the quality control and the design are not the best.

Value

This is a very interesting section. Because I don't think it is a surprise to anybody that the quality on a cheap no-name brand is lower compared to Pilot or even Pelikan.
But the real question is a cheap product a good value to the customer. Well, it can be a very good value sometimes.
In this case, I think you get 90% of the quality for a lot less money
cheap gel penIt's not the most scientific test you can make but sometimes you need to simplify the process and admit that your mileage might vary.
How long will the pen write depends on the level of ink inside. Of course, other factors influence the mileage, like the line thickness, reservoir diameter, and ink viscosity. So the 0.5 pens will last longer than 0.7.
But to compare the pens (0.5) without writing until the pen is out of ink I measured the ink inside. I assumed the diameter and viscosity of the gel holder are similar so I did not take this into consideration while doing the measurements. Pelikan and Forster do not say the line thickness but I consider them to be a 0.5 as they are very close to the Pilot in width.

BrandInk levelPriceInkPrice
cmeurcomparisoncomparison
Froster9.70.24benchmarkbenchmark
Pelikan Soft Gel10.70.64+ 10.3%267%
Pilot Super Gel9.90.99+ 2%413%




In this situation, Forster is cheaper by a mile. It holds less ink but it is cheaper between 2 and 4 times than Pelikan and Pilot. That in my book is called a good deal. But there is a catch. The ink levels between my Forster pens vary a bit. One of them has 1.5 cm less than the one I measured. Another one is 0.9 cm less. So this is not very consistent. But even if I would redo the test, and I would use the one with the smallest amount of ink the test will still look great. The Pelikan would hold ~ + 30% more ink but still costs 2.67 times more. The Pilot would hold around + 20% more ink and would still cost more than 4 times as much. So you can buy for each 2 Pelikans 5 Forsters, And for each Pilot 4 Forsters.
Annoying is the fact that not all pens are filled up as they should be, and again this is the lack of quality control with this ones.
All discomforts aside they are good value. Pelikan is the second on the list and Pilot get the disappointing 3rd place as the product is very expensive, and the writing experience is not as good as the cheaper products tested.



Friday, May 11, 2018

Review Faber Castell Grip 1345 mechanical pencil

faber castell 1345 review 0.5 mm
Faber Castell 1345 Grip II, 0.5 mm in blue
Faber Castell Grip 1345 is one very nice mechanical pencil. It is made in Japan, and it comes in 2 lead sizes. The 1345 is a 0.5 mm and the 1347 is 0.7 mm.
There are 14 available barrel colors to pick from. The Faber Castell green, a traditional burgundy, dark blue, black and other very nice pastel colors.
I have, and will review the Faber Castell Grip II model, 1345 (that is 0.5 mm) color blue.

Because the pencil is made out of plastic it is a light mechanical pencil, but it does feel good and solid in the hand.
Faber Castell has put thought into the pencils design. The barrel is made out of a glossy plastic. On the barrel, it is embossed with gold like paint GRIP 1345 0.5 the Faber-Castell logo and name.
After more ware and tare I will say how the writing is holding up.
The top part of the barrel is brushed so it has a matte finish to it. This makes the pencil more interesting and shows that someone has put thought about the design of the pencil.
The clip is metallic, elegant and feels secure.

The clicking mechanism holds a very long twist eraser. The plastic seems soft to the touch and has a chromed trim near the eraser. The advantage of this system is the long eraser, and the fact you twist to reveal it, so you do not risk losing the cap. The eraser has 3 cm of usable length so it will last. Even this is a cool feature too have, and the implementation is nice I will not give it extra points, as I am one of those guys who doesn't like using the erasers on the mechanical pencils. Not because they are rubish. I do not use them as I do not like the worn look, it makes the pen less appealing.
This way I enjoy a "brand new" pencil everiday.
The downside because of this long eraser is the feeling system. Because this eraser section is so long it is harder to put the leads in.

faber castell 1345 review 0.5 mm blueThe tip of the mechanical pencil is conical and made from a chromed metal. It offers a retracting and sliding sleeve, so it makes for a pocket safe mechanical pencil. The retracting and sliding sleeve does not have a wabble to it, when you write it feels just a regular non retractable sleeve.
Because of the conical tip, it's not a drafting pencil, it is intended for general use. The pencil comes with spring lead protection, meaning if you press harder on the lead, the lead will be cushioned by a spring. This works if you have a more vertical way of holding the pencil.
I like the way the sliding sleeve works (this is a feature also named "automatic" on some mechanical pencils). When the lead is used and the sleeve will hit the paper, and so it will slide back a little bit, revealing the lead. This means you can use the advance system less and the lead will be far less susceptible to break. But not all "automatic" pencils are created equal. Some of the problems this system encounters are: too much pressure to slide the sleeve, sleeves that do not have the right angle and not enough polish making them scratchy. I would give the Faber Castell Grip an 8.5/10 score for this feature. It works almost perfect.
The advance mechanism makes a nice clicky sound when pressed. The lead advancement is on the low side. 5 clicks will offer 3 mm of lead. In comparison, the Rotring Tikky (version 3) puts out 4.5 mm.
The grip section is made out of soft rubber. It is very comfortable and nicely integrated into the barrel, but I suspect it will have a relatively short life. It seems a bit soft and it has a moves a bit under pressure, I think with time it will become looser. This is the drawback of the rubber grips. They are comfortable but not durable, and can be annoying to feel it move in hand. Other problems that might appear is the hardening of the grip to the point it is uncomfortable, it cracks, or the rubber becomes sticky.

All this makes the Faber Castell Grip 1345 a very nice mechanical pencil, that I am happy to use as my daily writer.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

What is the similarity between fountain pens and mechanical watches?

Whats the difference between a groundhog and an eagle?

They both live underground except for the eagle.


A good joke that is appropriate for this topic. Why do we use these things? Fountain pens and mechanical watches should be a thing of the past. But they are not, actually they are doing well.
Many years ago I think Bill Gates dream was an office without any paper or pen. A vision that is far-fetched even today when we have all the gadgets around. We have computers and laptops, on which you can type a lot faster than you can write by hand, the letters are more legible, it is not user specific. You can easily edit papers, search documents, it is incredible. Now we have high-performance phones that are up to 1000 $. You have it on you all the time so you can type some memos, notes, reminders, to do lists, you can even use speech recognition to talk to your phone.
vintage fountain pen print advertisment
Parker advertisement
A few years back most people thought that stationary shops where a thing of the past, and it will not take long until they will disappear.
Well, what happened? They are still around, you can find them all over town, in malls, online.
Maybe it is because sometimes freehand writing is more convenient, you are not limited by a word editing software, you have the ability to do quick sketches, representations, graphs and so more. So this explains partially the existence of pen and paper in an office.
But coming back to my initial question, why do we keep using fountain pens and why are they so similar to mechanical watches? 
For me, it's more of a newly discovered hobby. I was not a fan of fountain pens in school, I used one from the 1st to the 4th grade, because it was mandatory. Ballpoints or pencils were not allowed.
My first fountain pen and second (I think I had 2, because the first one cracked) were a Parker copy Hero but I do not know the model number. They were green, that I can remember and had a gold cap (not of real gold of course).
I stopped using them after the fourth grade and didn't look back until in recent time.


So why people still use fountain pens? They have a lot of disadvantages. To name some of them:
       Most of the ink is not waterproof, and smudges. I agree there are inks that are water resistant but are expensive, not widely available (i only found 1 locally in a single shop)
       It is very affected by light (again there are more permanent inks but as well they are expensive and difficult to procure)
       The ink is wet, and on cheaper paper, it can bleed on the other side, or it can feather. On the opposite side on glossy paper, it needs a longer period to dry and there is the risk of smudging it. Because of drying time, it is difficult to be a left-handed person and write with a fountain pen. Not all pens and inks will work.
      Most pens hold small amounts of ink, and these means many refills which sometimes can be a dirty job. You need to carry with you backup pens or cartridges in case you run out of ink. There are options like eyedroppers which hold very large amounts of ink, but then you risk blurping ink. Why does this happen? Because you have too much ink inside, or better said, too much air when you use up the ink. So the solution is refilling it constantly and not let the ink levels to go under 1/2 or 1/3. This defeats the purpose of the eyedropper fountain pen.
      Dealing with ink is most of the times messy, and you will have ink on your hands, clothes, and furniture if you are really that lucky one. Sometimes pens leak, sometimes you are not careful enough when refilling it, or you do not clean it thoroughly after filling it.
      Nibs are fragile things, too much pressure, dropping the fountain pen uncapped can mean that you are going to buy a new fountain pen.
      Even thought fountain pens are premium products in most cases and have an accordingly high price they are far from perfect. Most of the times the nib is not aligned as it should and you have to mess with it to get the best writing experience.

In many situations, they are a thing of the past. There are better options there that overcome most of the problems of fountain pens. Ballpoints have come a long way and good refills write consistent, with very little pressure (there are heavier ballpoints that write under there own pressure), they last a long time, you don't need to worry about refilling it every day or every week. You can just have them laying around, you do not need to worry about them drying out. Most of the ballpoints inks are considerably less affected by water and sun.
You have mechanical pencils. They do not offer the opportunity of getting messy, they write consistently, you have various lead sizes and grades. It is very easy to refill and a refill pack is minuscule. They can last a lifetime as well as the writing. The effect of the sun is almost inexistent. There are rollers, gel pens, and many other writing instruments.

Why don't we ditch the fountain pen for good?
In my opinion is the same thing the mechanical watches are still around us and prosper.
Why would you buy a mechanical watch that is not as accurate as a quartz one, it has far fewer features, and any simple feature (like a chronograph) means a lot more money. From a quartz watch you can get accurate time, smaller price tag, solar charging, batteries that last 10 years, time synchronization with an atomic clock, multiple alarms, timers, countdown timer, time zones, GPS, barometric pressure, automatic time zones, illumination, ruggedness and much much more.

Because the fountain pen like the mechanical watch is a thing of beauty. It does not need to be cheap, simple, easy to live with. It fulfills the need for the old-fashioned way of doing things. They are classy a thing of beauty that you can pass on, even in this age of consumerism. They are a dependent way of getting the job done that was proved over many years. It is the way to connect with the past, our roots. It is the way to regain the love for doing things "by hand" and the love for analog.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Noris pencil in a digital world

On the 30th of March 1858, the first patent for a pencil with an eraser at the end was issued to Hymen Lipman
What is next? Well, the Staedtler Noris has a stylus ...

from Staedtler Catalogue 2017


of course, if you think that merging to items into one is the way to create a bad product you can stick to the Noris HB and get the new Noris Digital, launched in 2017

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the jungle with Casio AE1200


Usually, in the movie business, everything is done with a reason, and the reason is making money. Cars and watches are no exception, it is a good source of promoting a brand. When it comes to watches most of them are high end, high price timepieces.
Yesterday I went to the cinema to see Pacific Rim, the second one. The movie does not worth talking about, it is like the first one...
But in the hall of the cinema was a cut out with the Jumanji cast. I saw the movie but I haven't noticed until at that moment that Kevin Hart is wearing the Casio "Royal" AE1200.

How cool is that. The watch that the fans say it belongs in the Bond universe but never appeared is featured in Jumanji.
To pay respect to the movie which brought the Casio AE1200 to the big screen the nickname of the watch should be changed to Jumanji watch, granted it doesn't sound as cool as Casio Royale.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Montblanc fountain pen in The Infiltrator

movie infiltrator signature fountain pen
Another spotting on the big screen, but this time is of a different magnitude. Mostly you see actors using pencils or ballpoints, but in the movie The Infiltrator, Bryan Cranston uses a fountain pen. It is a very short appearance. The fountain pen used is a nice white and silver. Very classy and elegant.
movie infiltrator writing fountain pen
If you take a closer look the fountain pen has the grip and the top part silver color. The barrel is a mate white.
On the grip, there is some engraving. The cap is a screw type.
movie infiltrator writing fountain pen
The fountain pen featured is a Montblanc Meisterstuck Solitaire. It is a very nice fountain pen with a gold nib 18k plated with Rhodium. The grip section, end of the barrel and the clip is platinum plated.
On the grip, there is a beautiful engraving with Montblanc.
The price of the pen is between $ 650 - $ 1000.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Spring is here


I do not know how many countries have this tradition but here, it is a custom to offer to the ladies on the 1st of March a small gift in the form of a "martisor" and or snowdrops. In some regions, it is a custom for men to receive them. Anyway, it's meaning is the rebirth of nature the end of winter. It is the white and red string and usually, it comes attached to some kind of figurine, something that shows that spring is here, like a flower or something that brings luck like a horseshoe. And is a custom for women to wear them during the month of March or at least in the first days of March.

Of course, you can find different motifs, flowers, plants, good luck symbols, traditional symbols, birds, insects (usually ladybugs, I haven't seen a dung beetle martisor yet), and colored pencils. Wait .. what?


This is the first year I saw such kind of symbol but maybe it will start a trend. I think the magic pencil from Koh-I-Noor would be a much nicer spring symbol.