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Review: Waterman Phileas


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#21 Garfield

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:21

QUOTE (James P @ Jul 14 2006, 03:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Before I begin this review, let me get this disclosure out of the way early, lest anyone accuse me of being anything less than honest: The Pear Tree Pen Company recently became an authorized Waterman dealer. Our Waterman inventory at the moment consists of Waterman Phileas and Charleston models, in all available colors and modes - fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint. We also have genuine Waterman inks in stock.

Despite the fact that I'm a retailer of Waterman products, I think this review is still unbiased and presents an objective view of this pen. Contrary opinions are welcome.

OK, now on to the review.

Waterman's "entry-level" fountain pen, the Phileas is one of those pens that gave many pen enthusiasts their first taste of what a fountain pen could be. And why not? For about $50.00 (MSRP), you get an attractive pen that's comfortable, well-balanced and writes, uh . . . right.

As I said, the Waterman Phileas got many a collecter started in the hobby. I wasn't one of them, however, and this is the first Phileas I've had the chance to hold and use. To say I was skeptical about the Phileas is an understatement. As much as I love fountain pens, I've had a hard time falling in love with Waterman. It's certainly not for a lack of trying, and I own a lot of Watermans. While their quality has almost always been good, many of Waterman's pens are lacquer over brass, which makes them too heavy in my book. Some people prefer a heavy pen, but I don't, especially for long writing sessions. My hands are small and after a while, heavy pens really start to cause me a lot of hand fatigue. Moreover, in my opinion, Waterman's nibs lean toward the bland. Don't get me wrong - they work well enough, but the one's I've used lack a certain je ne sais quoi. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Phileas is unlike those Watermans I've used in the past.

First of all, it's light, but not so light that it feels cheap. Waterman accomplished this by building the Phileas out of plastic, rather than lacquer-coated brass. But Waterman inserted a small brass sleeve into the upper portion of the barrel to give the pen a bit of substance. It feels nice in the hand, and I was able to write several pages without even the slightest hint of fatigue. The pen is also nicely balanced, and is exceptionally comfortable with the cap posted or unposted.

Of course, the true test of any writing instrument is how well it writes and this is where the Waterman must have put its R & D money, because the Phileas excels in this department. When I first inked up the Phileas I honestly wondered if I was setting myself up for disappointment. Not a chance!

I filled the included converter with Noodler's Black ink and less than a minute later, I was ready to go. I pulled off the slip cap and started to write. Much to my surprise, the two-tone stainless steel nib was buttery smooth. I mean really smoooooooooooth. Although it still lacked some of flair that comes with more exotic nibs, the line it laid down was consistent and even. It was neither too wet nor too dry - it seemed to lay down the right amount of ink at all times. Oh, and did I mention it was smooth?

Every single letter was perfectly formed (to the best of my ability, that is), and there was not a single moment's hesitation, skipping, streaking or any of the other potential pitfalls of pendom. Vertical lines were as smooth and clean as horizontal ones. I left the pen uncapped for about an hour and it started immediately when I picked up. It wrote perfectly after sitting on my desk overnight.

I did not detect any tooth to this nib at all. Some people may find that disconcerting, as they prefer to get a little feedback from the nib as they write, so if that sounds like you - be forewarned. My medium nib was true to size, which was also unexpected, since Waterman nibs have a reputation for running a hair wide.

Appearance wise, the Phileas is an attractive pen. The model I tested is a red marble acrylic. The red is a nice deep, almost burgundy, red with black swirls stirred in. The pen is decorated at the ends with black on the cap and a black "blind cap" to match the black plastic section. Gold-colored trim rings separate the black pieces from the red marble, and a gold clip finishes the package. The nib itself is two-tone stainless steel and looks quite rich as well.

On the fit and finish side, it's obvious that this is an entry-level pen. On close examination, the luster of the pen's plastic just doesn't match that of more expensive pens, but when viewed from a distance, it's not as apparent. One of the things that sets many expensive pens apart is attention to detail, and the Waterman Phileas is lacking in this area as well. The biggest "flaw" to my eye was the trim ring at the end of the barrel - it was not a solid ring that encircled the pen barrel; rather, it appeared to be a clip that was a few millimeters too small to complete the circle. I don't know why Waterman would skimp in that area. It's one of those tiny details that few will ever notice unless they happen to be looking for something to criticize, though. And I was.

The Phileas measures 5" from the tip of its nib to the end of the black plastic blind cap. That number stretches to 5 5/8" when the cap is posted and 5 3/8" long when capped. Not a large pen by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not a small one, either.

The pen comes in the familiar blue clamshell box, in which is a blue Waterman ink cartridge and a converter for using bottled ink.

I have to confess, I almost chose not to publish this review. Because the Wateman Phileas may just well be the last pen you'll ever need, I was worried I'd go out of business! Lucky for me that fountain pens are often more about desire than need.

To wrap up, the Phileas is a terrific pen. It looks good and performs far better than one would expect for a pen at this price-point. It's not perfect, but the flaws are primarily cosmetic and easily overlooked when one factors in the outstanding performance. It's easy to see why so many fountain pen enthusiasts got hooked after using one. It really is that good.

James Partridge


I think that this review perfectly captures what you get with the Phileas. I have only recently discovered this pen - I own a black GT fine and a green marbled GT medium. I love these pens. In the work situation (taking copious notes) the fine nib in particular, they outperform my Binderized Namiki Falcon and my Lamy 2000 EF.


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#22 Garfield

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:21

QUOTE (James P @ Jul 14 2006, 03:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Before I begin this review, let me get this disclosure out of the way early, lest anyone accuse me of being anything less than honest: The Pear Tree Pen Company recently became an authorized Waterman dealer. Our Waterman inventory at the moment consists of Waterman Phileas and Charleston models, in all available colors and modes - fountain pen, rollerball and ballpoint. We also have genuine Waterman inks in stock.

Despite the fact that I'm a retailer of Waterman products, I think this review is still unbiased and presents an objective view of this pen. Contrary opinions are welcome.

OK, now on to the review.

Waterman's "entry-level" fountain pen, the Phileas is one of those pens that gave many pen enthusiasts their first taste of what a fountain pen could be. And why not? For about $50.00 (MSRP), you get an attractive pen that's comfortable, well-balanced and writes, uh . . . right.

As I said, the Waterman Phileas got many a collecter started in the hobby. I wasn't one of them, however, and this is the first Phileas I've had the chance to hold and use. To say I was skeptical about the Phileas is an understatement. As much as I love fountain pens, I've had a hard time falling in love with Waterman. It's certainly not for a lack of trying, and I own a lot of Watermans. While their quality has almost always been good, many of Waterman's pens are lacquer over brass, which makes them too heavy in my book. Some people prefer a heavy pen, but I don't, especially for long writing sessions. My hands are small and after a while, heavy pens really start to cause me a lot of hand fatigue. Moreover, in my opinion, Waterman's nibs lean toward the bland. Don't get me wrong - they work well enough, but the one's I've used lack a certain je ne sais quoi. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the Phileas is unlike those Watermans I've used in the past.

First of all, it's light, but not so light that it feels cheap. Waterman accomplished this by building the Phileas out of plastic, rather than lacquer-coated brass. But Waterman inserted a small brass sleeve into the upper portion of the barrel to give the pen a bit of substance. It feels nice in the hand, and I was able to write several pages without even the slightest hint of fatigue. The pen is also nicely balanced, and is exceptionally comfortable with the cap posted or unposted.

Of course, the true test of any writing instrument is how well it writes and this is where the Waterman must have put its R & D money, because the Phileas excels in this department. When I first inked up the Phileas I honestly wondered if I was setting myself up for disappointment. Not a chance!

I filled the included converter with Noodler's Black ink and less than a minute later, I was ready to go. I pulled off the slip cap and started to write. Much to my surprise, the two-tone stainless steel nib was buttery smooth. I mean really smoooooooooooth. Although it still lacked some of flair that comes with more exotic nibs, the line it laid down was consistent and even. It was neither too wet nor too dry - it seemed to lay down the right amount of ink at all times. Oh, and did I mention it was smooth?

Every single letter was perfectly formed (to the best of my ability, that is), and there was not a single moment's hesitation, skipping, streaking or any of the other potential pitfalls of pendom. Vertical lines were as smooth and clean as horizontal ones. I left the pen uncapped for about an hour and it started immediately when I picked up. It wrote perfectly after sitting on my desk overnight.

I did not detect any tooth to this nib at all. Some people may find that disconcerting, as they prefer to get a little feedback from the nib as they write, so if that sounds like you - be forewarned. My medium nib was true to size, which was also unexpected, since Waterman nibs have a reputation for running a hair wide.

Appearance wise, the Phileas is an attractive pen. The model I tested is a red marble acrylic. The red is a nice deep, almost burgundy, red with black swirls stirred in. The pen is decorated at the ends with black on the cap and a black "blind cap" to match the black plastic section. Gold-colored trim rings separate the black pieces from the red marble, and a gold clip finishes the package. The nib itself is two-tone stainless steel and looks quite rich as well.

On the fit and finish side, it's obvious that this is an entry-level pen. On close examination, the luster of the pen's plastic just doesn't match that of more expensive pens, but when viewed from a distance, it's not as apparent. One of the things that sets many expensive pens apart is attention to detail, and the Waterman Phileas is lacking in this area as well. The biggest "flaw" to my eye was the trim ring at the end of the barrel - it was not a solid ring that encircled the pen barrel; rather, it appeared to be a clip that was a few millimeters too small to complete the circle. I don't know why Waterman would skimp in that area. It's one of those tiny details that few will ever notice unless they happen to be looking for something to criticize, though. And I was.

The Phileas measures 5" from the tip of its nib to the end of the black plastic blind cap. That number stretches to 5 5/8" when the cap is posted and 5 3/8" long when capped. Not a large pen by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly not a small one, either.

The pen comes in the familiar blue clamshell box, in which is a blue Waterman ink cartridge and a converter for using bottled ink.

I have to confess, I almost chose not to publish this review. Because the Wateman Phileas may just well be the last pen you'll ever need, I was worried I'd go out of business! Lucky for me that fountain pens are often more about desire than need.

To wrap up, the Phileas is a terrific pen. It looks good and performs far better than one would expect for a pen at this price-point. It's not perfect, but the flaws are primarily cosmetic and easily overlooked when one factors in the outstanding performance. It's easy to see why so many fountain pen enthusiasts got hooked after using one. It really is that good.

James Partridge


I think that this review perfectly captures what you get with the Phileas. I have only recently discovered this pen - I own a black GT fine and a green marbled GT medium. I love these pens. In the work situation (taking copious notes) the fine nib in particular, they outperform my Binderized Namiki Falcon and my Lamy 2000 EF.


#23 azbobcat

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 22:07

Yep, but remember this one is a dressed up Kultur, even with a blind cap and a gold colored nib. But there are more simple versions (about 7,50 euro's on the web) with steel colored nibs and one monocolored.

The top ones are Phileas's, the ones on the bottom of the pic Kultur's.


One small question: On the top pen there seems to be a blob of extra gold by the ring. Is it?!? or is that something else?!? This is the second or third pen I've seen pictures of that has that same extra blob of gold by the ring. Hope you can tell me what it is. Thanks

#24 nilpf

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Posted 26 July 2010 - 10:35

Just an extra embellishment on the ring at the end of the barrel. I'd guess it's particular to Phileas. Mine has it.

#25 whiteOUT

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Posted 27 July 2010 - 11:22

mine has it too.......... totally in love with this pen.... writes very smoothly........

#26 jniforat

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 21:33

thanks for the review! I'm contemplating getting a Phileas, and this helped!

#27 kilraughts

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 12:58

Good information on pen here but having read your review still in the balance as to whether to buy a Phileas on offer currently. My attraction really is that I like Waterman pens generally.

#28 tonybelding

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 13:14

Appearance wise, the Phileas is an attractive pen.


You do realize some of us refer to it as the "Waterman Hideous", right? :roflmho:

That's an exaggeration, but I do think it's. . . homely, at best.


The model I tested is a red marble acrylic. The red is a nice deep, almost burgundy, red with black swirls stirred in.


Yesss. . . I find the "marbled" finish particularly chintzy. IMHO the solid black ones are the least visually offensive.

Having said all that, I have great respect for the Phileas. It's a truly full-featured pen: nice snap-on cap, articulated internally sprung clip, large and robust feed and ink collector, large and attractive nib, high-quality converter (in contrast with some much more expensive pens that come with junk converters these days), presentation box, warranty, and all for a low price.

Is it true that the Phileas is being (or has been) discontinued? Tsk. . .

#29 USMCMom

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Posted 10 May 2011 - 13:29

I have more than one Phileas. They write smoothly and every time the nib touches the paper. I've never had a problem or had to coax them ... they're always ready.

#30 simcha

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 19:29

Is it true that the Phileas is being (or has been) discontinued? Tsk. . .


Is that true? It would be too bad if this pen is discontinued. I have the red marbled and the plain black styles of the Phileas both with a med. nib. I love how this pen writes. It's as smoothe as butter. I got introduced to Waterman years ago and I have to say that even though this is their cheapest pen, I like it the best. I have very large hands and the thickness of the pen makes writing easier and my hand doesn't cramp from holding it. I use nothing but Waterman non-permanent ink in them. Their ink keeps my pens flowing freely. Also I like the shadowing of the Waterman ink and the colors. I have green, violet, Havanna brown, black, and Florida blue. I know that if any of my journals get wet, the words are pretty much gone. Oh well... I write them for me anyway. I keep black in the plain black style Phileas and I use the red marbled one for colors. Also, I'm not very easy on my pens and these two pens have held up well to my wear and tear.

Also, if you can still find these pens, they are still inexpensive. I lose things all the time. If I lose one of these I don't feel too terrible. I've misplaced these pens many times and I have to admit, I went through withdrawal since they are my everyday pens. They turned up though... :)

BTW, my introduction to Waterman was the Preface. I have a red and a reddish brown one. On my reddish brown one the clip is loose. :( The hot red one is still going strong though.
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#31 rjbull

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 22:18

Although above made me wonder if Waterman were trying too hard to look upper-class, I think the green marbled version looks gorgeous - from a distance; I can imagine it being used as a prop on a period film set. As the OP points out, it doesn't look quite so classy on closer inspection. That reminds me of the obituary the author Kyril Bonfiglioli wrote for himself: "Loved and respected by all who knew him slightly."

But, on first trial, my Phileas seemed too dry a writer, albeit I can't remember the ink (probably Lamy Blue). I more recently tried it with Waterman Florida Blue, and that seemed better, but the nib sometimes skips. Still, perhaps I'd better try it again.

#32 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 01:16

Yes, less is more with this pen, because the Phileas is *a bit* overdone. <_< They are both VERY good writers. But I prefer the more austere appearance of the Parker Frontier and Parker Reflex. These Parker's are more solidly build i.m.o.


I have all three pens.

The Reflex is an eight-dollar cheapie that's even too cheap for me, and that's saying a lot---it looks like it was made of the same material they make little girls' plastic bracelets.

My first Phil came in a kit with bottled ink and carts and a how-to book. It was supposedly a medium but writes like a garden-hose B.

Love it, though. My other Phil is black with an F nib.

#33 Chris H

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 11:12

The Phileas is a great pen! My re-entry pen into fountain pen writing. I think James's review is on the money. In addition, I very much like the looks of the Phileas. Beautiful, IMO.

Chris

Edited by Chris H, 20 May 2011 - 11:13.

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#34 mrpiggy

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 11:02

I love my new fountain pen. It is black with a gold trim. The nib writes smoothly with a good ink flow. The clip is sturdy and the cap posts well. It is also not too heavy. I got mine for just €20 with a converter.

#35 chadden42

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Posted 23 August 2011 - 22:39

I, too, started with a Phileas. It was sold to me by a small pen store on Chestnut St. in Philadelphia, now out of business. Mine is blue marbled and is still a favorite.
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#36 Anne-Sophie

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Posted 24 August 2011 - 05:35

Love my Phileases, I even bought backup ones when I found out they were being discontinued and there was a sale at a store nearby.
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#37 Bill32164

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 01:04

After reading about the Phileas I decided I wanted to get one. I like the look of the pen and even thought I have several Watermans as well as some other brands I kept my eye open for a Phileas at a reasonable price (I'm cheap). Mine arrived today and I am not one bit disappointed in it. I have the red marble with an F nib. I like the fit of this pen better than my other Watermans since I have always like pens with a fatter grip. I agree with the review. This is a nice smooth pen. Not a wet as other Waterman pens, but nice enough that it writes on many different quality papers.

#38 realchas

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 02:32

I have a translucent blue Phileas and I guess you would call it a demonstrator. the fine point I think is responsible for slight scratchiness and slow starts after sitting. I think demonstrators look cheap. any comments?

#39 Namo

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 16:56

I have a translucent blue Phileas and I guess you would call it a demonstrator. the fine point I think is responsible for slight scratchiness and slow starts after sitting. I think demonstrators look cheap. any comments?


It is a Waterman Kultur - they sell for less than 20$ here. The QC is not without flaws, but it is a good pen, intened I guess for school children. One advantage: it can be turn into a ED pen very easily - I use my clear Kultur this way, and with a Philéas section.

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#40 Bill32164

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:24

My second Phileas arrived today, a medium. Now I have one of each. Both are excellent writers. Since my first comment on the Phileas I have gotten several more different pens. I found a new Phileas on line that was very inexpensive including the shipping and could not pass it up. I am very happy I decided to buy it. In comparison to my Waterman Laureat medium nib the Phileas is a bit narrower. Unless side by side one would not know the medium Phileas from the medium Laureat, but the medium Laureat beside my medium Parker? That would be easy to tell, even if they were not side by side. This new Phileas gives my Parkers a run for their money.






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