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Montegrappa Espressione Duetto
Posted 06 July 2010 - 07:35
Sterling Silver and resin (mystery black)
18k gold broad nib w/ ebonite feed
I decided that it was time for another REAL fountain pen. My Pelikan M805 w/ medium nib has served me well for 5 years but I was longing for something different. The one thing that has bothered me about the Pelikan, is that the barrel shows a lot of wear from posting. Although it doesn't affect its use, I find it disappointing that manufacturers don't compensate for this in some way. I believe pens were meant to be posted and it is reasonable to expect that a user might post. The threads for posting the Montegrappa Espressione was what originally attracted me. The price and dimensions were equally attractive and the Duetto version added more sterling silver for weight (a bonus in my opinion). Although I have small hands, I have always liked pens with larger dimensions. Pens described as oversized, for instance the MontBlanc 149, I find very comfortable. Other than the Pelikan, most of my experience with FPs (as owner) has been with inexpensive (sub $50.) ones with calligraphy nibs.
Note: I discovered that my expensive camera will not take macro shots at all - no macro lens. So unfortunately, there are no shots of the nib, clip or other fine details. The good news is that there are many shots available online that are a good representation of the pen.
Appearance and Design - Score = 10/10
The Espressione Duetto is a sleek contemporary design with touches of artful craftsmanship and utilitarianism. While posted, the pen is a simple cylinder shape with a flat top that shows a very tasteful 1912 emblem. I was very surprised at how nice the "Mystery Black" (hmmm, very MontBlanc sounding) resin looked. Rather than the typical marbled or solid look, the black resin appears shimmery like velvet with flashes of gray metallic. In fact, in the right lighting, this pen could be described as dark gray - but much more interesting. The design is even more appealing unposted were the utilitarian features come out. The resin cylinder is capped at both ends with course sterling silver threads that I find unique among FPs. The sterling silver cap has simple grooves machined around its circumference and is topped with the nicely engraved 1912 emblem. The cap also sports the customary Montegrappa clip with roller that seems very strong and substantial but will not be used. Comments have been made about the number of turns required to cap Montegrappa pens but I do not find it excessive at all. To post the cap even take less turns. The appearance and design is very unique - scoring high with me. Add to this the fact that Montegrappa solved my posting damage problem and you get a high score for appearance and design.
Construction and Quality - Score = 10/10
This pen seems very rugged and no flaws can be found. The clip lines up with the top of the nib when posted and threads are neither tight nor sloppy. Overall, I believe that this pen will withstand many years of use and abuse. Although despised by many, the cartridge/convertor system should equate to low maintenance. True construction and quality can not be determined until the pen has endured many years of use. Thus, my score reflects initial quality.
Weight and Dimensions - Score = 8.5/10
This is where people will either love this pen or hate it. Although similar in size to my Pelikan M805, the Duetto improves upon weight and girth. With two full ink cartridges installed, this pen weighs in at 52 grams/1.84 ounces as compared to the Pelikan at around 29 grams when full. I find this weight range ideal and find it very comfortable. A majority of people would probably find this weight tiring. The diameter of this pen is 0.6 inches - again very comfortable to me, in fact, ideal. This would put it in the same category as a Montblanc 149 or Pelikan M1000. Side note: the calipers in the photo appear to be open but I double checked and it does measure a full 0.6". While capped, the pen is actually shorter than the Pelikan M805, Montblanc Le Grand RB and even Lamy Safari but not by enough to matter much. The Duetto is just past 5 1/4". Now for my one complaint. Although, the sterling silver cap adds to the overall weight (that I like), it places it high while posted. My ideal pen would be of this weight but the weight would be placed lower for an overall lower center of gravity. The heavy posted cap does not bother me much and I tend to adapt to the pen I am using but some users might find this troublesome. The score given considers a perfect score for girth and weight countered by the undesirable high center of gravity.
Nib and Performance - Score = 4.5/10
The nib is 18k gold (single tone white) in broad with a greek key design found on most Montegrappa pens. When compared to the Pelikan, I must say it fails in the appearance department. The Pelikan nib is a beautiful two tone gold nib that exhibits craftsmanship and the company logo. The Montegrappa nib does nothing for me. Certainly not an attention getting nib. Another complaint is that there is not an extensive nib choice, simply the standard EF, F, M & B. I believe that there is a significant number of FP users that would like a stub, italic or oblique nib. I like a larger nib that leaves lots of ink behind yet ground in a way that will leave good variation and detail. I chose the Broad nib in the hopes of someday having it turned into a stub (advise, references on where to send it are welcome). As far as performance, after putting two new Montegrappa blue cartridges in, I immediately was able to get a nice wet line. The writing sample included is within seconds of installing the cartridges. No skipping and no "getting it started" like I expected. Performance wise, it writes beautifully but lacks the clean, well defined lines that an italic nib would offer. As is, the broad nib would work well for large writing - ie - checkwriting, etc. Here the score suffers for lackluster appearance and limited nib choices. The good performance keeps the score out of the gutter.
Filling System and Maintenance - Score = Neutral
There seems to be a lot of opinions on FPN about piston vs. cartridge/convertors. I tend to be neutral on the issue as both have there advantages and disadvantages. Of course, the Pelikan was a piston filler with good capacity but at times this can be inconvenient. If you are away from the ink bottles, well you know. Excluding traveling ink pots, etc., the cartridge convertor system can be convenient although frequent (especially in the case of a broad nib). Maintenance wise, I can't ever foresee having a problem with any C/C system. One thing to note, I was surprised to find a convertor already installed in the pen after ordering one. Although, they were both Montegrappa brand convertors, the part that connects to the feed differed on the one installed. It had an additional flare - possibly a seal. Both are threaded externally and have not been used yet. No score given - matter of preference.
Cost and Value - Score = 9.5/10
I bought the Duetto new from Fountain Pen Hospital. It was not in stock (probably because of the broad nib) but their communication regarding the delay was outstanding. Received it in about 1 1/2 weeks and paid $316. with free shipping. I believe that this is a very fair price for this quality pen. Considering that most pens that I like are in the $500-$1200 range, I am very happy with my purchase. I believe that MSRP for the Duetto is $395. - still a fair price IMO. Most of the pens that fit my criteria (mostly girth) are much more than this. In the less than $450. bracket, I believe that Montegrappa is one of the few manufacturers that offer real value.
Conclusion - Final Score = 8.5
Overall, I am pleased with my purchase. Furthermore, I will consider Montegrappa in the future. The Espressione Duetto is a great pen for anyone that likes larger pens with some weight to them. The only things that need improvement IMO would be the nib appearance, nib choices and weight distribution.
Posted 06 July 2010 - 22:34
Nice pen and good review. Montegrappa reduced prices pretty recently and I've been eyeing them, especially this model.
Posted 07 July 2010 - 05:01
Posted 13 July 2010 - 22:10
Posted 15 July 2010 - 16:47
Magnanimity & Pragmatism
Posted 15 July 2010 - 17:12
which has a great cap lining for safe posting
Thanks ballboy! An important detail not advertised.
Posted 15 July 2010 - 17:28
Not sure if that's typical.
Vancouver Pen Club
OMAS Italia '90 - Aurora Blue // Montblanc 14 - Visconti Purple
Posted 18 July 2010 - 12:33
Magnanimity & Pragmatism