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Do Lamy, Kaweco Feel The Chinese Breathing In Their Necks?

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#1 Morbus Curiositas

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 15:30

Dear FPN friends.

Thanks to FPN and my Fountain Pen hero SBRE Brown I have discovered some nice looking pens from the Empire of the Middle.

You all might know them.

Jinhao, Hero, Kaigelu etc.etc.

Of course these pens are no competion for i.e. Pelikan, Mont Blanc, edison etc, when it comes to Charima. And I guess also in quality there of course is a difference. I Love my m800 it is excellent and of cours I pay extra for the charisma.

I believe though that the cheaper pens like the Lamy Safari and cheaper Kaweco must feel the competition.

I have a Lamy Joy and a Lamy Vista. They write well and the vista is kind of nice but nothing special (the looks of it) In Europe they cost about 15-18.

For that money one could also buy a nice Chinese pen. There is the Hero 359 a steal of of the Lamy 359... Nothing special ordinary plastic. Both the Hero and the Lamy... But the Lamy writes well. The hero costs $15 (12) at I sell pens.... For that difference you better buy the original.

But how about a Jinhhao x450 or 159 or a Kaigelu 316. Htey sell for less or just a bit more.... But they look much more beautiful and more valuable than a Safari.... According to several reviews they wirtie quite well too...

So I guess if i want to spend say $25, I go for some Chinese
(no chop sticks:-)

Nice pens to buy in between when your saving money for an expensive "dream" must have Fountain Pen....

For the price and the looks that must be a better deal fo the money I guess. And some how in the course of time Lamy or other Western penmakers must feel the competition for their cheaper pens I guess.

Don't understand me wrong I lke the Lamy Vista and I love the Lamy Joy, and of course there are the loyal Lamy etc. fans....

but stilll...

I would like to know your thoughts on this subject

Regards,
Peter

Das leben ist wie ein Perpetuum Mobile mit ein Mangel..... Immer im Bewegung jedoch nicht unendlich. (life is like a troubled Perpetuum Mobile ever moving but not for ever)

Tricked throughout the centuries...

For centuries people had been tricked by kings & "religion-alism"

In the 20th century people got tricked by communism

Today people get tricked by (neo)capitalism  :) 


#2 richardandtracy

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 15:49

I suspect middle rank companies do feel the heat a bit, but I doubt if it's enough to fire them up to do something spectacular.

 

Where can they go?

If they try to compete on price, their quality will be worse than the Chinese because their labour costs are so high. Furthermore, they won't be able to take the design short cuts that the Chinese do, because then their product will not meet the EU safety requirements. I think they are currently being saved by the inadvertent protectionism of the EU safety directives - the Chinese see Europe as such a small market for them at the moment they can't be bothered to meet the requirements.

If the companies try to design expensive products, they will run into MB, Waterman & many of the higher end Italian companies. Their inexperience at high end stuff will be a problem allowing them to compete.

 

So, I think they feel moderately safe as the Chinese manufacturers haven't moved in on the mid range markets yet, and they feel protected by legislation. I see no evidence that they are trying to move into more competitive areas, so I fear they don't yet feel enough heat.

 

Regards,

 

Richard.



#3 The Blue Knight

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 15:54

I think the lamy safari at just over £10 is reasonable for a good quality everyday pen. But I do think the Kaweco Sport is over priced. As it's a pen that should be a Lamy safari competitor but costs more and is less of a pen. I think it's stupid for £17 pen you have to buy the clip for it I mean every other pen comes with the clip included and £17 isn't small change. Also it doesn't really take a converter so I think it is a bit of an expensive novelty pen.

 

 

Chinese pens they are interesting as they offer a lot of variety then more traditional pen makes. But I do think until these become widely distributed Lamy's customer base will stay strong.



#4 MBFan

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Posted 14 April 2014 - 16:03

I get what you're saying and I agree. The high end market (I.e. Montblanc, Pelikan etc.) is dominated by european manufacturers, and there is little competition bar Sailor, Pilot, Platinum, and other smaller companies that produce high end custom pieces or produce on a small scale.

The lower end, however, is certainly becoming more diverse in terms of good value for money pens. The pens we once thought were a bargain can be seen as more expensive in comparison to other manufacturers' offerings (e.g £5 Jinhao 159 vs. £15 safari). These pens don't necessarily differ much in terms of usability or quality either.

Having said that, I didn't know, and I didn't want to know, about Chinese pens until I was member here for some time. The average Joe fountain pen user will probably not know about Jinhao or Hero. This is probably due to the fact that European/US companies have a monopoly on advertising, and have a good knowledge of the European/US market. This will make it harder for Chinese pen companies to make the leap, although TWSBI have shown that it is possible.

Just my thoughts.
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#5 kidde

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 04:24

Many people (too many in my opinion) think made in China-India-??? makes a product inferior. No more factual than made in USA somehow means better. I can only use my experience. So far every Pilot, Platinum, Jinhao, Kaigelu, Oliver, Reynolds, Artex, Camlin, Dollar, Esterbrook, Mabie Todd, Sheaffer, Reform and Pelikan I have bought worked well after a good cleaning. My Bulow (Jinhao) needed scrubbed, as did my Singularity. They wrote fine after that. Lanbitou, Hero, Dux and Pentel have given me problems, up to the point of being unusable. I'd say failure rate is at 50%, how do you send out product that poorly made.
Do the Europeans feel the "heat"? No and won't need to until the second tier Asian makers invest in better training and QC. I think Jinhao is a threat. Based on my one model, the 316, Kaigelu could be a threat. With the effort needed to distribute more widely I can't imagine how many pens these two companies could sell. If they can keep increasing quality and QC they have a bright future.

Paul

"Nothing is impossible, even the word says 'I'm Possible!'" Audrey Hepburn


#6 KBeezie

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 08:48

I doubt it, there will always be the stigma of buying Chinese for some people compared to the advertised brand, and there will probably be just as many who believe the quality to be vastly inferior without even trying it. There's probably also some folks who would buy those brands who have no clue the Chinese "equivalent" exists, since on ebay and such they're not going to show up in a search for that brand. 

 

After having actually tried them (and smoothing out the nib on a Hero 616 even), I do feel that the 'good' batch of them can give the brands they mimic a good run for their money especially the larger pens (Jinhao X450, X750, 159, etc). Most of the lackluster components on them can be replaced with something nicer (converter, nib, sometimes even the feed). 

 

But still I don't think in the eyes of those brands do they particularly see those Asian pens as a threat til they try to sell them directly in their market (and most the ones for sale domestically don't exactly resemble those brands so much). 


Edited by KBeezie, 15 April 2014 - 08:51.


#7 richardandtracy

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 09:07

One of the problems that comes is when some Chinese manufacturers stop imitating and come up with a design of their own. That is when their true creativity comes out, and the results are frequently dire.

 

I know that's a pretty sweeping statement, but I do have an example I can show:

Take a look at my Review of a non-derivative Huashilai here: http://www.fountainp...2210/?p=2557284 . It's catastrophic.

 

OK, it may be a single manufacturer who produced that ghastly mess, but I do think it's the sort of thing that makes the Western manufacturers much more complacent than they should be.

 

Regards,

 

Richard



#8 erpe

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 09:57

I have some Chinese pens in the collection but only the Kaigelu 316 and the Hero's 7022 and 7032 have made it into regular rotation so far. My main concern is reliability because I do quite a lot of writing 'on the road' and I can't have pen problems there. The lower priced Parkers, Watermans, KaWeCo's, Faber Castell's and Lamy's all fulfill this requirement, the JinHao 159, 450 and 750, the other Hero's and Kaigelu's do not. I prefer a slightly more expensive pen that always works over a cheap pen that might or might not.

The Chinese pens are used at the desk when I have time to fix when they don't work or simply have enough others around. The best thing about cheap Chinese pens, I don't have Indian pens yet, is that it allows me to have like 10 different inks and colors at hand.



#9 Sasha Royale

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 10:11

The government of PRC is shamefully poor at enforcing international patent and copyright laws.  

Legal redress compares to that aboard a the "Jolly Roger".  


Auf freiem Grund mit freiem Volke stehn. 
Zum Augenblicke dürft ich sagen: 
Verweile doch, du bist so schön ! 


#10 Morbus Curiositas

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 10:51

I suspect middle rank companies do feel the heat a bit, but I doubt if it's enough to fire them up to do something spectacular.
 
Where can they go?
If they try to compete on price, their quality will be worse than the Chinese because their labour costs are so high. Furthermore, they won't be able to take the design short cuts that the Chinese do, because then their product will not meet the EU safety requirements. I think they are currently being saved by the inadvertent protectionism of the EU safety directives - the Chinese see Europe as such a small market for them at the moment they can't be bothered to meet the requirements.
If the companies try to design expensive products, they will run into MB, Waterman & many of the higher end Italian companies. Their inexperience at high end stuff will be a problem allowing them to compete.
 
So, I think they feel moderately safe as the Chinese manufacturers haven't moved in on the mid range markets yet, and they feel protected by legislation. I see no evidence that they are trying to move into more competitive areas, so I fear they don't yet feel enough heat.
 
Regards,
 
Richard.


Dear Richard and Tracy,

Thanks for shearing your thoughts.

I have a problem ;-)

I clicked in the link Chestnut Pens...

I guess our dear Chinese friends have to wait a bit :-)

Lovely work you do......

I already know the name of the Fountain Pen review I will do....

"I saw the pens of Richard and Tracy and I went absolutely crazy!!!" :-):-):-)

I will send you a privae message in the FPN-Messenger....

I want.... er...correction, I must know all about your noble work :-)

Cheerio (Fountain Pen-) King Richard

I salute you sire,

your humble fan Peter

Das leben ist wie ein Perpetuum Mobile mit ein Mangel..... Immer im Bewegung jedoch nicht unendlich. (life is like a troubled Perpetuum Mobile ever moving but not for ever)

Tricked throughout the centuries...

For centuries people had been tricked by kings & "religion-alism"

In the 20th century people got tricked by communism

Today people get tricked by (neo)capitalism  :) 


#11 Morbus Curiositas

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 11:00

I have some Chinese pens in the collection but only the Kaigelu 316 and the Hero's 7022 and 7032 have made it into regular rotation so far. My main concern is reliability because I do quite a lot of writing 'on the road' and I can't have pen problems there. The lower priced Parkers, Watermans, KaWeCo's, Faber Castell's and Lamy's all fulfill this requirement, the JinHao 159, 450 and 750, the other Hero's and Kaigelu's do not. I prefer a slightly more expensive pen that always works over a cheap pen that might or might not.
The Chinese pens are used at the desk when I have time to fix when they don't work or simply have enough others around. The best thing about cheap Chinese pens, I don't have Indian pens yet, is that it allows me to have like 10 different inks and colors at hand.

  

Dear Richard and Tracy,
Thanks for shearing your thoughts.
I have a problem ;-)
I clicked in the link Chestnut Pens...
I guess our dear Chinese friends have to wait a bit :-)
Lovely work you do......
I already know the name of the Fountain Pen review I will do....
"I saw the pens of Richard and Tracy and I went absolutely crazy!!!" :-):-):-)
I will send you a privae message in the FPN-Messenger....
I want.... er...correction, I must know all about your noble work :-)
Cheerio (Fountain Pen-) King Richard
I salute you sire,
your humble fan Peter


Dear Erpe thanks for your Info on quality and reliability.

Good thing to use the cheaper an possibly less reliable pens for filing them up with several inks.

But I agree it's better to spend a bit more... That's why my reply to King Richard of Pistonheart is in here....

40 euros for a lovely kitpen tuned by the sire himself.... Very tempting!

I must buy one test it and then check out the comissioned option...

... and still keep saving for a CS Winston (great pen great person ;-)

question what inks do you have and which do you love.

Bye bye en tot ziens
Peter

Das leben ist wie ein Perpetuum Mobile mit ein Mangel..... Immer im Bewegung jedoch nicht unendlich. (life is like a troubled Perpetuum Mobile ever moving but not for ever)

Tricked throughout the centuries...

For centuries people had been tricked by kings & "religion-alism"

In the 20th century people got tricked by communism

Today people get tricked by (neo)capitalism  :) 


#12 WilsonCQB1911

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 11:15

Isn't Kaweco manufactured in China?  Or am I getting that wrong?  Seems impossible to manufacture pens at those prices with German labor (or any western country).



#13 Seele

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 14:04

I could be wrong but I heard someone saying that Kaweco pens are built in Greece nowadays.

 

The main problem with the Chinese industries is that the manufacturers never managed to establish a reliable distribution and support system overseas. Without a sole agent for a certain country or district, who's keen on building a dealership network, the buying public could only rely on international mail order - that is if they have even heard of the brand itself.

 

Would the possible retailers such as newsagents, stationers etc be interested in being a retailer? It all depends on the support offered by the official agent, because the retailer would not want to be held responsible for supporting something that they hardly know.

 

This is the problem with the Chinese industries: they want to export but have neither the expertise to do it, not have they got the intention to acquire said expertise. To my mind, Lamy is not happy about the "Summer Color" etc but they are not exactly sweating bullets either.


No, I am not going to list my pens here.

#14 PAKMAN

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 14:47

My recent Kaweco purchase has "Germany" printed on it so one would assume it was manufactured there.

 

kaweco.JPG


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#15 Morbus Curiositas

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 15:11

I could be wrong but I heard someone saying that Kaweco pens are built in Greece nowadays.
 
The main problem with the Chinese industries is that the manufacturers never managed to establish a reliable distribution and support system overseas. Without a sole agent for a certain country or district, who's keen on building a dealership network, the buying public could only rely on international mail order - that is if they have even heard of the brand itself.
 
Would the possible retailers such as newsagents, stationers etc be interested in being a retailer? It all depends on the support offered by the official agent, because the retailer would not want to be held responsible for supporting something that they hardly know.
 
This is the problem with the Chinese industries: they want to export but have neither the expertise to do it, not have they got the intention to acquire said expertise. To my mind, Lamy is not happy about the "Summer Color" etc but they are not exactly sweating bullets either.


Good point there....

Now it's sort of a gamble...

Will it work or fall apart....

Is it only nice in the photo or ugly...

Ch3check Richard's an tracy's link in the reply above

Das leben ist wie ein Perpetuum Mobile mit ein Mangel..... Immer im Bewegung jedoch nicht unendlich. (life is like a troubled Perpetuum Mobile ever moving but not for ever)

Tricked throughout the centuries...

For centuries people had been tricked by kings & "religion-alism"

In the 20th century people got tricked by communism

Today people get tricked by (neo)capitalism  :) 


#16 richardandtracy

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 15:29

For some reason my website isn't feeling up to it at the moment.

 

Regards,

 

Richard



#17 Morbus Curiositas

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 15:38

I could be wrong but I heard someone saying that Kaweco pens are built in Greece nowadays.
 
The main problem with the Chinese industries is that the manufacturers never managed to establish a reliable distribution and support system overseas. Without a sole agent for a certain country or district, who's keen on building a dealership network, the buying public could only rely on international mail order - that is if they have even heard of the brand itself.
 
Would the possible retailers such as newsagents, stationers etc be interested in being a retailer? It all depends on the support offered by the official agent, because the retailer would not want to be held responsible for supporting something that they hardly know.
 
This is the problem with the Chinese industries: they want to export but have neither the expertise to do it, not have they got the intention to acquire said expertise. To my mind, Lamy is not happy about the "Summer Color" etc but they are not exactly sweating bullets either.


Good point...

Now it is sort of a gamble

Das leben ist wie ein Perpetuum Mobile mit ein Mangel..... Immer im Bewegung jedoch nicht unendlich. (life is like a troubled Perpetuum Mobile ever moving but not for ever)

Tricked throughout the centuries...

For centuries people had been tricked by kings & "religion-alism"

In the 20th century people got tricked by communism

Today people get tricked by (neo)capitalism  :) 


#18 WilsonCQB1911

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 16:39

My recent Kaweco purchase has "Germany" printed on it so one would assume it was manufactured there.
 
attachicon.gifkaweco.JPG


EU laws with regards to when a company can claim made in "x" are a bit looser than US standards. So I would not assume it was made in Germany just because of that. But I'm not saying it is not either.

#19 PAKMAN

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 17:50

Why assume anything else?? Do you have any evidence that Kaweco's are assembled in China? I checked the paperwork with the pen and it states that the pens are assembled in Nuremburg with the nibs coming from Bock in Heidelberg. The web site also shows this with the only notable exception that the precision pencil mechanisms are supplied by Japan.  


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#20 Flounder

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 18:01

One of the problems that comes is when some Chinese manufacturers stop imitating and come up with a design of their own. That is when their true creativity comes out, and the results are frequently dire.

 

I know that's a pretty sweeping statement, but I do have an example I can show:

Take a look at my Review of a non-derivative Huashilai here: http://www.fountainp...2210/?p=2557284 . It's catastrophic.

 

OK, it may be a single manufacturer who produced that ghastly mess, but I do think it's the sort of thing that makes the Western manufacturers much more complacent than they should be.

 

Regards,

 

Richard

 

 

Ugghh!


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