Franklin-Christoph Model 29 Bellus
This is a classy pen, probably more suited to formal dress than the jeans and polo shirt that I'm wearing right now. I first saw this on one of the many tea and fountain pen blogs and it was love at first sight. I have a soft spot for anything Art Deco, especially those that are modernized on Art Deco. I think this fits a particular niche of that look, a very slightly industrial Art Deco.
This pen is gorgeous. Everything about it is top notch, machined and polished. I’ll try to highlight the looks without describing everything in the pictures here. The nib is pretty, although my biggest gripe with the pen is that the F-C logo on the nib looks a bit cheap. It looks like F-C phoned that logo in from wherever they buy their nibs. It's not bad, but it's the weakest point of the pen in my opinion. Also, the nib is a bit on the smaller side, but it’s not bad or mis-fitting.
Back to the good: the pocket clip has a direct line to my taste in design. It is 90% function-as-form design, 10% swept lines and pure form Since the metal clip is a separate cast piece of metal held at the fulcrum, it does not need to curve into the cap or connect to the cap on its own like most clips. This allows the clip to visually be its own piece at both ends.
And the best part: the cap closure. This cap is held in place by a strong magnet. There's a rotational cam mechanism around both the metal barrel end and the section allow the cap to pop off easily, but still hold tight when fully capped. The feel of the cap slipping back onto either end is wonderful, aided by the hefty mass of the pen.
Oh yeah, the weight of the pen. This is not small or light. The pen is a bit narrower than a 146, but as long or a hair longer. For me (small hands) this is perfect. One issue is that the cap is about 42% of the entire weight of the pen, and when posted, begins to fatigue my hand in about 5 minutes. This pen is clearly designed for writing un-posted, and is weighted perfectly for that. The barrel and section is plenty long enough for me to be comfortable without posting.
As said, this is pen is too heavy to write posted for long, and that lack of fully flexible nibs isn't quite ideal. That said, nearly everything else is positive. I ordered my pen with a steel medium stub nib, and it is one of the most buttery smooth nibs I've ever written with. There's just a hint of line variation in the writing, which is exactly what I was aiming for; something that I could use every day and would look good, but wouldn't look like I was using a calligraphy pen. There's also a little bit of flex in the nib, although the edges of the specialty nib grinding do not allow for much flexing without getting a bunch of tooth.
I will say, the writing “foot” of this nib is ground and polished very nicely, but the custom grinding work is quite visible. It does leave a bit of a scratch if you’re even a little off. My nib is also ground on a slight angle and with a curve at the end (so that the nib isn’t writing with its full width since the right side is pulled away from the paper slightly). I guess a picture here would be best, so I’ll have to try and grab a macro with my phone when I get back home and see what you guys think. Overall, I hate to complain because it’s one of my favorite pens to write with.
And then there's the filling mechanism... yes, this is a cartridge/converter pen. I will continue to defend these fillers due to their flexibility. Ink capacity will not be great, but I can always keep a standard international cartridge around in case.
I've written with a 146, 145, and Starwalker at the MontBlanc boutique, and I'm much more impressed with this. At $100, there may be some other choices, but the fact that this can fairly compare with pens 3 to 5 times its price is awesome. Also, these pens are made/assembled about 3 hours from my house, near my Alma Matter, so I feel a connection and like that I'm supporting a small local company over a big German pen maker. Honestly, I don't know how these aren't more popular already. Based on the value and writing experience of this pen, I absolutely plan to get the Model 25 and maybe even the 19 in the foreseeable (though not immediate) future.