Kaweco Allrounder, Extra-Fine Nib, Blue Finish
I bought the Allrounder because I’m going to be away from home for about a month and want a pen to take with me that is decent quality, but not too precious, has an extra-fine nib and uses international standard cartridges for convenience. Kaweco wasn’t a brand that had blipped on my radar before, but after a bit of research the Allrounder seemed to tick the boxes so I decided to give it a go. This review is based on my initial impressions, so I’ll come back with an update if anything new or different comes up when I’ve spent a bit more time with the pen.
Appearance & Design (7/10) - Funky Fusion of Fancy and Functional
The Allrounder arrives wrapped in the regulation white cardboard sleeve. When you slip it off, instead of the normal textured plastic or faux leather presentation case, there is an illustrated retro-style hinged tin box. It’s a nice touch, and could be genuinely useful for carrying your pen, pencil, cartridges etc. around in your bag.
Taking the pen out of its protective baggie, the initial impression is of smooth, satin, blue bodywork and shiny chrome fittings. It reminds me a bit of a new car.
Looking at the pen more closely the cap is really quite fancy. There’s a shiny ring with a ‘...IOIOIOI...‘ pattern engraved in it, and a swoopingly curved clip which is again engraved with some swirly lines and the Kaweco name. The cap also has ‘Kaweco Allrounder Germany‘ in discreet white writing on the opposite side to the clip. Topping it off there is a round, silver, metallic jewel emblazoned with the Kaweco logo. Close up, this jewel is a shade cruder in its detail compared to the delicate engraving on the clip and band.
In contrast to the cap, the pen itself is quite plain. The nib is polished to match the cap detail and has the Kaweco name engraved on it. The Kaweco logo is also stamped on the underside of the feed in case you were in any doubt. The section and barrel are plain, rounded, satin finish aluminium, and the end of the barrel has a slightly odd looking dimple in it. You could almost be looking at two halves of different pens - the fancy cap and the functional body.
Construction & Quality (8/10) - Feels Like It’s Made of Metal...
...which is just as well because it’s solid aluminium. The whole thing feels strong and dependable. The cap screws off with a quick three-quarter turn, and is lined with threaded plastic to soften the action. The barrel and section are firmly screwed together, metal-to-metal this time, and easily unscrewed after considerably more than a three quarter turn (lost count, got bored).
The only thing that spoils the impression of solidity is that when you have it inked with a short cartridge, and another tucked into the end of the barrel, you can hear the spare rattling around a bit. This isn’t evident when you’re writing, just when the pen is waved about a bit or moved from hand to hand.
Weight & Dimensions (7/10) - Suits Me Sir
Here are a few numbers, unverified but snaffled from a reputable vendor’s website:
Consistent with its solid construction, the Allrounder has a bit of weight to it. I’m a big fella and I like a pen that won’t blow away in a strong wind, so that’s fine with me. About 40% of that weight is in the fancy cap, so when posted the package feels a bit top heavy.
I’d call this a medium sized pen. If you line it up alongside a Pelikan M600 with their caps on the two are almost identically sized. Take the caps off and the Allrounder is shorter in the nib, longer in the barrel. Post them and you’ll find that the cap sits much higher on the Allrounder, making it noticeably longer than the M600.
Nib & Performance (8/10) - Extra-Fine and No Mistake
All my observations are based on using the cartridge that came bundled with the pen, which is presumably Kaweco’s own brand. You can see (but probably not read) my initial scribbles in the attached image.
The Allrounder started up immediately when the cartridge was inserted, and gives a reliable, well-defined line. I can’t trick it into skipping, blotting or any other sort of misbehaviour.
There is a bit of springiness in the nib but no sign of any line variation, not that I’d expect any. I do believe that there is a little bit of shading in evidence which comes as a pleasant surprise.
The writing experience is smooth, with just a bit of feedback to keep things interesting. My test page was in a pad of fancy Rhodia 80gsm paper, so I also gave it a whirl on cheap-as-chips copier paper and the Allrounder still behaved well.
I’d say it’s a fairly dry writer. I’ve provided a swift comparison to the M600 which is also extra-fine and inked with Herbin’s Sapphire Blue (Eclat de Saphir si vous parlez francais).
Filling System (8/10) - Standard Stuff
The Allrounder is supplied with a dummy cartridge inserted into the section and a single short cartridge parked in the reserve position at the back of the barrel. The live cartridge pushes easily and securely into place, and as mentioned above starts up immediately.
I plan to use the pen with cartridges so haven’t tested the piston converter that’s part of the bundle. It looks well made and the action is smooth enough so I expect it would be fine. The only thing I’d point out is that it doesn’t have an agitator like you find in e.g. a Montblanc converter. Personally I’m not convinced they achieve much, just thought I’d mention it.
Cost & Value (7/10) - A Decent Pen for the Price
I paid 75 pounds sterling for the Allrounder, bought new from a UK-based online vendor with free delivery, and so far I’m happy that it represents decent value for this money. I’m fortunate to be able to afford this without too much pain, and the pen sits mid-table in my collection in terms of price, poshness, snob-value etc. If I’d saved long and hard for it, I might get a bit picky about the slight crudeness of the Kaweco logo on the cap, and the comparative lack of embellishment on the barrel.
Conclusion (45/60 = 75%) - Does The Job Nicely
Checking back against what I was looking for, the Allrounder definitely ticks the boxes. It’s solid, looks pretty good, writes well, and accepts standard cartridges. I’m pleased to add it to my collection, and would encourage anyone who is after a similarly priced pen to give Kaweco some consideration.