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Jaguar Concept Fountain Pen
Posted 11 November 2009 - 23:39
I received a black Jaguar Concept pen as a gift last year from my father, to go with my little black X-Type (which has now been sold). I was very excited as it was my first ďexpensiveĒ pen.
Made by Aquila Brands, the pen is supposed to be inspired by the essence of Jaguar cars. Fahrneyís Pensí site specifically mentions the XK series, but personally I donít see any of the XK in this pen. The closest I can get if I use my imagination real hard is a slight resemblance in the penís clip to the chromed bumper of the old XJ series or maybe the E-Type.
In fact, Iím positive that whoever designed this pen had older Jaguars in mind, because out of the box, it didnít work, and required constant tinkering. And the clip isnít on straight either.
The Nib: 3/5
At first, the nib was disappointing in a few ways:
1. It wouldnít write
2. It is steel
3. It is hard as a nail
Problem #1 plagued me until a few days ago, when I finally managed to pry the tines apart. Somehow it left the factory with the tines tight as a vice, so the ink could not flow freely to the nib. It would write dryly for a line or two, but the flow could not keep up even with painfully slow writing. Adjustment was stymied by problems #2 and #3; itís so stiff that it took great effort to spread the tines. When I received the pen I was still a rookie and didnít want to break it. Now I know better. Or maybe I donít care?
For a pen with an MSRP of $200 USD ($220 Ė 300 in Canada, ouch), Iím surprised and disappointed that the nib is basically plain looking steel. There are many pens on the market with gold nibs or decorated nibs (that work out of the box) that provide some writing character for less than half this price. Of course, those nibs probably canít be used to puncture the tires of those rusty hulks whose drivers like to put dings in your Jagís doors while parked at the supermarket like this one can.
Now that Iíve got it working, the nib is a nice writer (but not the penÖ see below). There is absolutely no flex, but it is very smooth and puts down a consistent and generously moist line. However it is a hard starter if it's been sitting over night and ink tends to evaporate quickly. This doesn't make it an ideal signature pen unless you plan on dipping first. Only Medium nibs are available for this model, but mine writes exactly like a Pelikan or Lamy Fine. The nib features the leaping Jaguar emblem but is otherwise completely plain. It is, however, gigantic, if size matters to you.
1. Shape & Looks: The overall shape of this pen is like a torpedo, blunted on the long narrow end (room for a propeller). The silver clip is very long and pointed, and quite stiff. Below the clip the leaping Jaguar emblem is printed in white. Itís quite understated and doesnít detract from the pen. The cap and section sport a silver ring that closes tightly and pleasantly together (more on this later), and the blunt end of the pen also has a silver cap (with a tiny hole... odd). Overall, itís an interesting and flowing design that isnít over the top. I suppose thatís a lot like Jaguar cars, although the penís design doesnít really scream ďJaguarĒ by itself. In fact I always get the feeling like Iíve seen the design somewhere before. (Namiki/Pilot Bamboo??)
The section is chrome and is nicely curved; there are also huge threads visible just before the section meets the body. Itís quite a nice look, but the nib is too plain and is a slightly different shade of silver, which makes it look like something is missing or out of place. The large step in size from the section to the body combined with the shortness of the section make it difficult to grip; itís slightly easier for me to hold it above the section, where the body is fattest. Itís not comfortable, however, and because the body tapers so much at the top, the pen feels weighted toward the nib. Although the cap can be posted, this makes the whole pen extremely heavy and does not do much to balance the pen properly. Posting the cap is not easy; you must push it on a bit and it is likely to loosen and become wobbly; the effect is something like a cowbell.
The cap threads are heavy and feel like they close tightly, but because they are so big and there is only 1 full turn to them, the cap comes off very easily. If you suspend the pen by the cap, the body WILL fall out when you least expect it. Definitely NOT secure.
One other issue is that this pen, un-posted, has a great tendency to roll and its mass and shape cause it to pick up speed quickly. Like a jaguar (the animal, not the car), it loves to leap down from high places unexpectedly and silently, so be wary.
2. Size and Weight:
The pen is 14.3cm capped and 12.3cm uncapped, making it one of my longer pens. The widest portion is 1.4cmÖ itís VERY fat. The barrel is aluminum and is quite heavy; the section also has quite a bit of metal and the nib itself feels heavy too. The cap is also aluminum and the thick metal clip makes it very heavy. This pen feels very awkward in a pocket, and chances are it wonít fit well in one anyway. The combination of pointy clip and heavy body make it likely to poke a hole or rip a seam eventually. So while itís quite a streamlined pen, itís not very graceful.
3. Filling system:
The pen comes with a couple of short cartridges, which look ridiculously small inside this behemoth. Iím sure a long cartridge will also fit, although I havenít tried it. No converter is supplied, and Stylus Fine Pens, who carry this line, said that they havenít found a converter that fits perfectly. An international converter is very tight but you can push one in. However you will likely never be able to use it again in any other pen as the mouth will get stretched. A Waterman converter is too loose. I am currently using a Schmidt international-size converter that has a thick plastic knob, and it works well. The odd nipple size definitely scores some negative points.
4. Quality & Value: 2/5
The Jaguar Concept Pen has unfortunately been a big disappointment. It is definitely a case of style over substance. The poorly-adjusted nib and the bent clip reflect poor craftsmanship; the nib materials are cheap and plain and the overall design, which is unpleasant to use, show how little thought was put into the pen as a writing instrument. This is where the pen diverges completely from Jaguar cars: though it has the style, it doesnít perform. Despite their faults, quirks, and quality issues, Jaguar cars are always a joy to drive. This pen, on the other hand, is just a hand cramp waiting to happen. For $75 I can see buying one of these as a Jaguar driver and a fan of the brand, but for $200 I expect a pen that I can use. I also expect a warranty longer than 2 years.
I canít suggest this pen to anyone who is looking for a quality writing tool. However if you REALLY like Jaguar, want something to show off to your friends/clients, your writing mostly consists of signing checks, and $200 is pocket change to you, then it might be something youíre interested in. I think this pen is a very bad case of brand marketing, and little more. Iím sure glad I didnít pay for it.
Posted 12 November 2009 - 00:55
I owned a few of their Lalex brand pens, which were fairly nice and were original in concept, if a little uneven in quality.
Since then, it seems they want to focus on metal bodied 'brand' pens, and that leaves me cold.
Seeing $300+ Mercedes pens with steel nibs was the first clue to me. I wonder how they talked such prestigious brands into agreeing to produce mediocre pens. I really like the look of the Tibaldi pens, but they are stupidly expensive and heavy.
It must especially hurt since it was a gift from your father.
Posted 12 November 2009 - 02:27
It must especially hurt since it was a gift from your father.
Thanks for the comment.
The day before I got the pen I just happened to look at the Aquila website and thought that it didn't look like anything remotely Jaguar-esque and the shape was all wrong to actually use. The next day my dad showed up at my house unannounced with the box in his hand.
He actually didn't think it would even write (or that I would try writing with it). He just bought it "for the collection" and "to go with the car." He held it before he bought it and knew it was too heavy to actually use. I guess he had money burning a hole in his pocket that day.
Posted 13 November 2009 - 22:35
My experience has been different. I got a couple of these pens ridiculously cheaply when the Australian distributor went out of business. Mine wrote smoothly straight out of the box, and writes first up even after a few weeks of not being used. I haven't had a cap fall off. I don't post, so that's not a problem. I just tried posting it and, yes, it's heavy and unbalanced. Mine is not quite up to cow bells [loved that!].
Mine are dark green and red and lovely rich colours. The nib is plain, but I thought it was understated, like the general elegance of jaguar cars. Leave the glitzy nibs to those ... I dunno...italian sports jobs? And there is nothing wrong with a quality steel nib.
The pen fits my image of Jaguar cars which is probably way outdated: those impressive beasts from twenty or so years ago. I expect it is more designed to be stored in the glovebox or to lie on a desk than to be carried around in one's pocket.
I've Montegrappa converters in mine and have had no trouble with ink leaks or whatever.
It sounds like your pen needs to go to the garage for a tune-up. It is still under warranty, isn't it? It shouldn't be as bad as you describe, not at that price and being brand new.
Keep us informed what happens.
Thanks for the review.
Posted 14 November 2009 - 00:52