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Waterman l'Etalon Review


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17 replies to this topic

#1 CRB

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 22:05

There have been a few threads lately asking for information on the l’Etalon, a Waterman model that was marketed during the 1990s. I recently bought one, and I thought it would be good to have some reviews of the pen in the data base.

Early Impressions I first saw the Stallion about ten years ago in a fountain pen shop. My favorite at the time was the Waterman Gentleman. To me the l’Etalon looked thick and awkward. “Well, that’s one I won’t have to get” I thought, and I paid no attention to them for years.

A few weeks ago I saw a sterling silver model at a pen club gathering. Seeing it up close I was impressed with its quality. The more I examined it, the more I realized that I had overlooked a gem. Not long after that, I bought a gold-plated l’Etalon in basket weave pattern with a broad nib, at auction. It is the pen I am reviewing here.

let_1fi.JPG



Appearance & Design The basket weave pattern covers the entire barrel and cap, a big plus to me. It appears to be cast or pressed rather than engraved. The pattern is expertly formed and very attractive. The finish on the body of the pen is matte; the band, clip and barrel end are highly polished. The look is rich and luxurious.

let_2ad.jpg



Weight & Dimensions The pen has a substantial feel, and rests securely in the hand. No actual gripping is necessary to keep it in place. The plastic section, though not concave, is easy to rotate; so it’s easy to keep the nib at the desired placement on the paper. The weight and balance are perfect for me.

Weight: 38 grams with cap; 24 grams without cap
Length: capped 14 cm, without cap 12.5 cm
Width at cap/barrel seam: 12 cm

For size comparison, here is the l’Etalon next to a Parker Sonnet and a Sheaffer Legacy II.

let_3wd.JPG



Nib & Performance The pen came with a broad 18k gold nib, which wrote smoothly and reliably. I have a lot of favorite ink colors, and I enjoy seeing them in a bold stroke. But I also find that with a big round point, my handwriting can be hard to read; some of the loops don’t look like loops at all. So I had Pendemonium regrind the nib to match one of my favorite nibs – a Sheaffer Stylist stub. With the nib's new shape, my letters are closer to what I intend to make them, and easier to read. It’s still very smooth, and wonderful to write with.

let_4np.jpg

let_5ws.JPG


Filling System The pen uses cartridges or a convertor, as do most of my pens. It’s acceptable. I spend a few seconds filling the pen, and can then write with it for hours.

Cost & Value Here it really shines: It is a high quality writing instrument, elegant in design, finely engineered using quality materials. The cap opens and closes with a quiet ‘click’. Holding the pen is as pleasant an experience as writing with it. The prices I have seen for new old stock examples are around 200 USD and a bit higher. As with many pens, you can find a range of prices, depending on condition and the vagaries of the market.

Conclusion I am very glad I had an opportunity to give this pen another look. It’s among my favorites now.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this example.

Cheers,
Joe

Edited by CRB, 25 May 2009 - 22:07.


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#2 Hoarder68

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 22:11

I have several L'etalons and really like them all. This is a great review of the pen.

#3 deauville

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 23:18

I too have an Etalon - in maroon - one of my favourite pens. A very smooth writer, well balanced and a sturdy well engineered pen.

Edited by deauville, 25 May 2009 - 23:19.

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#4 wspohn

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 13:19

Nice review and excellent photos!
Bill Spohn
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#5 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 21:09

great review thanks for sharing smile.gif
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#6 CRB

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 03:07

Thanks everybody. This was my first review, and I appreciate your comments.


Joe

#7 MYU

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 03:33

Excellent review, Joe; quite impressive for your first as well. smile.gif You're obviously no stranger to macro photography. Useful pen comparisons. Great to have such a detailed handwriting sample as well. Thanks for your contribution! thumbup.gif

I'm rather impressed with the look of this pen. Waterman seems to have achieved a very solid and well designed pen. I wonder if it comes in any other body textures.

~Gary

Edited by MYU, 29 May 2009 - 03:34.

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#8 breaker

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Posted 07 May 2014 - 17:30

nice review and pics!

thanks!


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#9 topicM

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 22:45

Excellent review. And thanks very much -- I have one in my collection but could not remember the name. A Broad nib just as was yours, and thanks to you I can perhaps find a F for a replacement. 



#10 fravin

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 00:28

Do you know what L'etalon means?



#11 jmccarty3

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 00:53

L'Etalon means The Stallion. The L'Etalons are my favorite Waterman pens. I have several of them. Recently I bought a black one with a pristine broad "L" nib, which I had stubbed by Pendleton Brown. Unfortunately, it has developed a leak between the gold at the proximal end of the section and the lacquered portion of the section. I have not experienced this problem with any of my other L'Etalons. At Pendleton's suggestion, I am sending the pen to Pentiques to see if it can be repaired. The only other problem I have had with L'Etalons is that the tassie at the end of the barrel sometimes comes loose.

 

It's interesting that the section and stainless steel nib of the Phileas are identical in shape and size to that of the L'Etalon, which of course has an 18k nib. These sections and nibs are interchangeable between the two types of pen, if one desires. I have not found any modern Waterman nib that equals that of the L'Etalon, and I am at a loss to explain why Waterman stopped making them.


Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.


#12 fravin

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Posted 10 May 2015 - 13:32

I just bought one, black. It was an old stocked item, not used. What a great nib it has... Writes fantastic!

#13 PaperQueen

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 21:41

I'm finally putting together an inventory of pens today, one of which is my lovely sterling silver l’Etalon. Forgot how pretty it was; what a delight to see others enjoying theirs too. :)


Why are there fourteen samples of dark plum ink on my desk? Because I still haven't found the right shade.

Is that a problem...???  : : : sigh : : : 

 

Update: Great. Finally found one I love (Lamy Dark Lilac) but I can't get more. Ah, life in my inky world....


#14 Namo

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Posted 10 February 2017 - 23:57

L'Etalon means The Stallion. The L'Etalons are my favorite Waterman pens. I have several of them. Recently I bought a black one with a pristine broad "L" nib, which I had stubbed by Pendleton Brown. Unfortunately, it has developed a leak between the gold at the proximal end of the section and the lacquered portion of the section. I have not experienced this problem with any of my other L'Etalons. At Pendleton's suggestion, I am sending the pen to Pentiques to see if it can be repaired. The only other problem I have had with L'Etalons is that the tassie at the end of the barrel sometimes comes loose.
 
It's interesting that the section and stainless steel nib of the Phileas are identical in shape and size to that of the L'Etalon, which of course has an 18k nib. These sections and nibs are interchangeable between the two types of pen, if one desires. I have not found any modern Waterman nib that equals that of the L'Etalon, and I am at a loss to explain why Waterman stopped making them.


I am late at the party - very nice review of a beautiful pen. I've always loved Watermans's nibs, and I am sure this one would be no exception.
I have a question about the name, though. In French, "étalon" means stallion, but it also means "standard" as on "gold standard" or "measurement standard". Here it would suggest that the pen is the standard to which every pen is measured or evaluated. Does anyone know where the name comes from? Standard or Stallion?

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#15 Laureat75

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 17:25

Stallion or standard? Good question.  I don't have the answer, but by bumping this up I will perhaps catch the attention of someone who does know.



#16 jmccarty3

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 18:48

This is a bit of circuitous reasoning, but keep in mind that L'Etalon was not Waterman's top-of-the-line pen. To me it makes less sense that they would name this pen, as excellent as it is, the "Standard" by which all their pens were to be judged. I'll have to vote for "Stallion."


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#17 Laureat75

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 19:57

What makes a pen "top of the line"?  The price?  Or the quality of construction?  Or myth and legend?

 

I would argue that the Etalon is just as well made, and therefore just as "good", as the Gentleman and the Man, and in some configurations just as expensive, if not more so.  Sometimes considerably more.

 

I suspect that "top of the line" means no more than that at one particular time a certain pen was sold with a more exotic (and therefore expensive) finish than any other.

 

As for the Edson, there used to be a cocktail on the list of a London nightclub that was priced at 250 pounds sterling.  When asked why they had a drink at such a ridiculous price the answer was - because there's always some idiot who will buy one.

 

Before any Edson owners take offence I should just say that I have no doubt that the workmanship and precious materials that go into the visible parts of an Edson may well justify the price asked.   But let's not pretend it is a better pen, just a more beautiful one.

 

And there's nothing wrong with that



#18 Chrissy

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 20:58

I saw my first Edson last week and I was hugely disappointed in how fat and 'clunky' looking it was. I much prefer the Etalon  :)








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