This review is of a Parker 100 in the Smoke Bronze finish. I'll be a bit subjective in this review as IANAN has done a really good job on the objective side of the Parker 100 here: http://www.fountainp...showtopic=45937 .
I came to this pen as someone who is fascinated by hooded nib pens in general and Parker hooded nib pens in particular. I used a Parker 17 Lady at Junior school, then after accidentally destroying it I was given a beautiful slim pen with a gold arrow over the nib. Twenty eight years later I discovered it was a Parker 61. In an effort to get this nearly dead pen repaired/replaced I discovered FPN and.. ah well, that's a story for another time.
At the time of writing this review I am missing only one Parker hooded pen type from my collection - the Parker 51 SE, a pen I have no real desire to buy due to its reported propensity to crack its shells. My collection includes several examples of the Parker 51, several Parker 61's, a Parker 21 standard, a Parker 21 Super, the Parker 17 Lady, several Parker 17 Standard's & a Parker 17 Super. The Parker 100 represents the last (according to Parker) in a long line of hooded nib pens. Anyway, due to the 36 years experience I have of hooded nib pens, I feel qualified to pronounce deep & meaningful twaddle about the Parker 100. I leave it up to you to sort the dross from the gems.
The Parker 100 is now out of production, and the 'New' stock is really recent 'NOS'. The pen wasn't wildly popular with the public, and is deeply unpopular with some. I leave you to get my overall view from the review below. I think lambasting the pen (as some have done) is unfortunate, and loving it uncondtionally is naive. See below for why I think this.
Now to do the review.
Overall Impression of the looks
The Parker 100 is constructed with a cleverly shaped metal shell, barrel & cap. I would dearly love to know how the shape was created - probably spun on a CNC lathe, but it's difficult to be certain. The shell & barrel are then given a coating that is the visible finish. This is probably an epoxy based paint, but short of scratching it off & analysing it, I'm just guessing. I've seen it reported that the finish can be damaged by posting the pen. I do not normally post and, as a result of the reports, I won't in the future either. The only pen I post regularly is the P17 Lady, as the pen is so small it needs to be posted to be able to rest on my hand while writing.
The colour is pretty much what it says, a smokey bronze colour with a metallic lustre in the paint. It's a fairly unusual colour that goes well with the satin gold colour of the cap body. The shiny gold highlights are a nice contrast without feeling too busy. The end of the barrel & cap have silver coloured cones, reminiscent of the P51 & earlier P61's. This is a nice touch, but could have been nicer if a pearlescent silver coloured non-metallic jewel had been used. The shiny gold coloured ring near the cap lip is a nice homage to the Duofold cap ring.
One of the key design features of the hooded nib pen is the smooth Bauhaus curve from the nib to the end of the barrel. It is here that the Parker 100 is significantly less attractive than any other Parker hooded nib pen, even the flashy P17 Super. That's a very subjective and sweeping statement, so here is why I think so:
1) Starting next to the nib, the curve begins on a gold coloured highlight before the start of the shell. There is then a slight step up to the shell. This step is emphasised by the reflections of the step in the gold highlight and the design of the junction. It's as if the highlight doesn't fit properly into the shell - however all P100's I've seen have the same shape, so I presume it's intended to look like that. Maybe the designer & the approvals committee had a collective failure of aesthetics - or they like 'Ugly'. The shape is shown below, and see how the golden highlight doesn't match the shell profile anywhere:
2) The P51 clutch ring equivalent is handled well, with a flush ring. That's nice. The two sprung loaded pegs on ither side of the pen are less nice. These are unsightly and I can feel them sticking into my fingers while I write with the pen. The rough edges on mine also abrade my fingers when I absently stoke the pen while thinking. Basically, these pegs demand that they are noticed, and I don't want to have to notice them - they are there to do a job, and being noticed is not part of that job. Who notices the cap retention mechanism on a P51? Nobody. So why should the P100's cap retention mechanism be noticed?
3) The barrel sweeps smoothly towards the top of the pen, until 7-8mm away from the end when there is a fairly abrupt transition to a tighter radius of curvature (highlighted with an arrow). The effect is to create a visible knuckle - well, it's less visible in the photo! - and reduce the diameter of the barrel end jewel by about 0.5mm - making it 0.5mm smaller than the cap jewel. Umm... why? The abrupt transition looks wrong, like an afterthought added to alter the posting position of the cap rather than go to the effort of re-working the entire pen. The net effect is that both ends of the pen body look poorly designed & finished.
The barrel end jewel is nicely flush, and doesn't feel wrong when running fingers over it.
Impression of writing with the pen
The nib looks a little odd in profile with a large ball of iridium at the end, but I don't really care about that. It's the writing performance that's important. The nib is very smooth, and starts every time. This is a very nice nib. Personally I'd rate the nib as equivalent to a moderate quality P51 or a poorer quality P61, so while it's not top notch, it isn't far off. That's a really good point for the pen. The medium nib on this pen is quite wide - I'd call it an 'English Medium' (despite being made in France), but I prefer them that way.
However, it's not a joy to write with.
The reason is the weight of the pen. At 35-36 grams it's 175% the weight of a Parker 51. I regard a P51 as being on the upper limit for a pen that can be used for 8 hours a day.
The other significant problem with writing with the P100 is that it's grossly fat. If the pen could have been as sylph-like as the P61, I could probably have coped with the excessive weight. However, it's a pen that feels fat and lazy, as if it's been hit by middle aged spread. To fingers trained by years of P61's and a couple of years with a P51, the hood gives the impression of a pencil designed for a young child - all fat and bulky for uncoordinated fingers to grip easily. I'm not 4 years old any more... I can cope with 'delicate'... You may be different. Where I hold the pen, the diameter is similar to the section on a Duofold Centennial - which for some reason feels quite acceptable. (I'm giving my impressions, I'm not trying to be logical. OK?)
The convertor & feed usually keeps up with the demand when using the pen, giving a nice wet line. However, occasionally the nib is starved & it's necessary to give the convertor a twist. I'm not sure if this is a design problem, a convertor problem or due to the ink I've used (Parker Quink). It's not a major issue & I can live with it, but others may not.
The fit between the barrel & connector is superb, the threads feel beautifully smooth - an order of magnitude better then the thread between my Duofold Centennial barrel & section. There is no rattle on the threads as it's unscrewed, just a silky smooth action. It feels like real thought has been put into the fit and finish here. The edge of the barrel where it connects with the section is unsupported brass, and very thin at that. It's vulnerable to being bent when not on the pen - so be careful. The rest of the barrel is lined with a plastic sleeve, like the P61 Flighter & Insignia. This is probably responsible for the feeling of remarkable solidity of the barrel.
The metal body of the pen warms up quickly and retains the heat, so the pen feels warm to the touch. It's a very pleasant feeling, rather nicer than most metal bodied pens.
So far I have had no problems with fingers slipping down the hood. Due to the type of finish on the metal, I don't think it'll ever get slippery.
My general feeling about this pen is 'A golden opportunity, missed'.
It could have been so good. Some of the design and manufacturing techniques are impressive. However the shape isn't quite there, and it looks as if the fit is dreadful around the nib. Despite my criticisms of the pen, I do like it. But there are much better hooded nib pens available. The P51 and P61 are better, no question. The P61 writes better (shame about the plastic), and the P51 is hard to fault in any way. The P100 is not a pen for writing with all day. A couple of hours is the maximum in my view. The weight is the pen's biggest flaw, but the reported fragility of the surface finish may well be a significant problem in the long term.
If I had to choose one hooded nib pen as my only pen, I'm sorry to say it wouldn't be this one.
If, however, I had to choose between the P100 and any of the other modern hooded nib pens I have tried (Hero 616, 330, Bahadur 612, Dux 612, Wing Sung 812, Jinhao 321), then the P100 would be my choice only because of the nib being a medium. If Jinhao did a medium on their 321 ( http://www.fountainp...nhao-321-review ), that would be my choice in preference to the P100. These two would be closedly followed by the Bahadur and Dux - which are only a fraction of the P100's price. I suspect the Hero 100 would be a serious rival to the P100 if you like fine nibs, but I've not tried it because there is no equivalent to the 'English Medium Nib' for the Hero 100.
So, can I present you with the Parker 100. It's like the curate's egg; 'Good in Parts'.
All the best,
Edited by richardandtracy, 27 June 2013 - 09:39.