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Wörther Compact Metal
Posted 21 May 2011 - 14:01
So, let me give a try at this, hope it lives up to FPN standards.
First, let me say a couple words about the company. Wörther is a small company in Baden Baden, Germany. I came to discover them because I was looking for some mechanical pencils to make Christmas gifts for colleagues at the office. I bought the pencils from an online shop (Cultpens, no affiliation), but as I am a pen enthusiast, I was curious to learn about the company. Information on Wörther can be found at this link.
What is written there is true, I had some e-mail exchanges with the company and my contact was Bettina Wörther, i.e. the daughter of the founder. She was always friendly and willing to support. People like her are a rare breed nowadays, where companies consider customers like numbers and answer inquires with canned e-mails sent from customer service centers located in Noweretheristan.
When I discovered that they make also FPs and I saw the Compact Metal, I had to buy one . I told about the discovery of this piece of design to a couple of friends of mine, and the initial order of one pen became a several pens one. Plus, for the same reason, I bought additional ones from other online stores and brick and mortar stores in Italy and in Germany. My Wörther Compact Metal was bough directly from the company, but it can be found also from reputable online shops as well and major pen stores in Europe. I paid about 40 Euro for mine, which I bought together with the matching ballpoint. The Compact Metal is avaliable also in a swinging variant, perfect for hanging on an executive desk.
I have enclosed a Lami Safari in the pictures, for comparison purposes, since this is one of the most common FPs among FPN members. Hope this helps a better understanding of the dimensions.
So, let’s come to the pen.
Appearance and Design – 10
It is really, really unique. The pen has been conceived as a line extension to their pencil range, and actually looks like an oversized pencil, with a giant hexagonal barrel. The pen looks like it has been made out of a single piece of aluminum. I love this design because I can leave the pen on the table without the fear that it starts rolling and ultimately falls on the floor. The pen is made of matte neutral aluminum, and the clip is spring operated. The cap is hexagonal as the pen itself and perfectly matches when inserted. The only drawback of this design is that it is impossible to post the cap, but this is not an issue at all for me, because I tend not to post my pens, and I find the balance perfect without missing posting capability. The pen is perfectly at ease in the business environment I use it in, and sometimes I get looks of admiration and questions (where did I buy, how does it write, is the BP or the roller available, … and so on). Don't shoot on me but I don't like retro designs, I am a fan of the Bauhaus and I am absolutely in love with the design, up to the point that I bought a more expensive Faber Castell Ondoro to have a pen with the same hexagonal barrel and light weight.
Construction and Quality – 10
Kudos to Wörther, here. The pen is made almost entirely of aluminum, natural color. The only plastic parts are the cap insert that secures the cap on the grip when the pen is capped, and the clip insert into the cap (the clip itself is aluminum too). The cap goes into place with a reassuring click.
Wörther claims they make all the parts themselves, with the exception of the nib and feeding, and that parts are precisely matched. I can confirm, the pen is made of good quality aluminum, and all pieces are precisely machined to match together with minimum tolerances, as it can be seen from the pictures. The cap goes in place with a click, perfectly aligned with the hexagonal pattern.
The grip section (which is perfectly round and not triangular like in many other German pens), is also made of aluminum, and it perfectly screws into the barrel. Although the pen is very lightweight because of the use of aluminum, it feels very solid and well made. Since I have ordered more than one pen to supply friends, I have checked all of them before giving away, and all were confirming my impression of the one I have decided to keep for myself. All were made according to the same level of quality. Ok, ten FPs are not a representative sample of industrial production, but the company really seems to choose good quality materials have a very strict quality control system, and to me this was really impressive, after all we are speaking of a 40 Euro pen…
Weight and Dimensions – 8
For me it is really OK, it is not so big and not so small, the length is 13 cm and the diameter is about 12 mm. Uncapped the length is about 11.5 cm, slightly shorter than a Safari. The difference is more noticeable when the pen is uncapped, as it is not possible to post. For some people this might be on the small side, actually the pen is called Compact for a reason, but I have never been a fan of big pens. It is also very lightweight, because of the materials used, just 30 grams. The weight is just slightly more than a plastic pen. Actually this is a surprise the first time you take the pen in your hand, because the metal look suggests a much heavier weight. This makes it comfortable for me to hold it when I need to write several pages. The reason I gave 8 out of 10 is that it is not possible to post the pen. As I said, no issue for me, but others might disagree and prefer to write with the pen posted also to avoid the cap bouncing around on the desk. I use this pen to take notes in meetings, so I usually write with the pen in one hand and the cap in the other, because taking this kind of notes involves frequent pauses, during which I cap the pen without clicking the cap in place to avoid nib drying. I also like the choice of the material. When you first take the pen in your hands, it is cold, because the grip is made of metal, but one of the advantages of aluminum is its heat conductivity, so it quickly reaches the hand temperature, making the grip very comfortable. This, combined with the matte finish and the material itself reduces sweating, making the grip very comfortable even for long writing time. I have a couple of pen with a polished steel grip, and, apart from being colder, if my hand starts to sweat, the grip tends to become slippery. This does not happen here, in spite of the fact that the grip section is plain.
Nib and Performance - 5, turned to 10
Let me explain. I bought the pen with a Medium nib and I found myself very disappointed. Although I loved all other aspects of the pen, I did not like the way it wrote. It was a really, really, really dry writer, with a lot of skipping. Sometimes the pen stopped writing and I had to squeeze the cartridge a little bit to resume flow. I think one of the reason is that I insisted to use my favorite ink (Diamine Prussian Blue) in cartridges, which is a known dry ink, also because the writing becomes drier when the cartridge is almost empty. The problem was not there when I was using a wet ink, I tried Lamy blue with a converter and it was OK, but this was not my intended need for this pen.
My feeling was like when you see a fantastic sport looking car, you buy it, turn the ignition, and discover that under the bonnet there is a small engine with just a bunch of horsepower to allow you to make the errands in the neighbourhood. I was tempted to give up, but I like this pen too much and I am not the kind of person who gives up easily. I disassembled the feeding and I saw that the design allowed very little flow to the nib. This might not be an issue with a wet ink, and actually it wasn't, but I love Diamine Prussian Blue… and I need cartridges when travelling by plane.
So I contacted the company and asked for a replacement nib feeding section, which came in a few days for a very reasonable price. My idea was to work on the feeding section and the nib a little bit to increase the flow. To my surprise, this was not necessary, because the replacement part has a different design, which allows better flow and turns the pen in a much wetter writer. See picture, the former design is on the bottom and the new one on the top.
This was exactly what I was looking for. Now the pen writes exactly the way I like with my favorite ink. Thinking of the sport car example, it is like taking out the 75 hp four cylinder engine it came with and replacing with a good 400 hp 8-V one. Now I am really satisfied of the performance and the Compact Metal is going to be one of the pens I use the most (the others are a Faber Castell Ambition and a Rotring Newton).
The nib is stainless steel, marked Iridium Point and size. According to what I have been told, the feeding assembly is the only part of the pen that is not manufactured by Wörther themselves. It comes from some other German supplier, could be Schmidt. It consists of the nib, the feeding insert and the holding, which screws into the aluminum grip section. To me, it makes perfectly sense for a small company to act this way, and helps to keep prices down, making those writing tools available to a larger number of people. I have nothing to say about the nib, the size is a German medium, comparable to a Lamy one, it is reasonably stiff (which for me is OK) and has quite a large “sweet spot”. I would define it as a good industrial product that perfectly lives up to the job, like an old, trusty, Volkswagen Beetle. Since the grip section is round, there is no preferred finger position and it is possible to write with a slightly different angle than the “recommended” one. With the new feeding section the pen is a slightly wet writer, this can restrict its use, with the need to avoid cheap recycled paper (i.e. “toilet like” paper ), but since almost all my writing is on Fabriano, Rhodia or Clairefontaine notebooks, for me no problem, here. I always have the matching BP with me should I bounce into horrible paper. If someone is interested in a narrower writing, the pen is available also with a fine nib.
Filling and maintenance – 8
No rocket science here. The pen is a C/C one. It comes with standard cartridges and it can be equipped with a standard “international” converter. I tested it with a Faber Castell one and it was OK, although I use mine on cartridges, because they are more convenient to bring around. If the pen needs maintenance, it is very easy to disassemble. The feeding unit is screwed into the grip and, once unscrewed, the nib and the feeding insert come apart by simply pulling away from the holding. Disassembling the feeding, cleaning it and reassembling the whole is really a ten minutes job and requires no specific tools. The whole feeding assembly is available as a spare at a very reasonable price. The cap is also available as a spare, for a about a third of the price of the whole pen.
Cost and Value – 10
I bought my pen directly from the company. Price was around 40 Euro. I have bought several others upon request of friends and I paid the same price or slightly higher depending on the place (Wörther directly, online shops or brick and mortar shops), but I have never exceeded the 45 Euro mark. Considering the high level of quality o the pen, both in choices of materials and craftsmanship and the consistency I found between the several samples I bought, I can give a full 10 for value for money.
This relates to the pen as it is now, i.e. with the new feeding section and fully meeting my needs. It also takes into consideration the fact that the company behind the pen is a small company producing in Germany, where the cost of labor is high. Actually to create jobs in the area was one of the reason the Wörther family started the business. Considering the high quality standard in the used material and craftsmanship and the superior customer services (they kindly answered all my e-mails), I can really say that 40 Euro for such a pen is really a good value for money.
Final score – 9
As I said, this pen won a place into my business travel pen set, together with the Faber Castell Ambition and Rotring Newton. I bought the matching BP and the two travel together with a Pilot 0.5 mm mechanical pencil into a Giorgio Fedon leather case.
Although I was disappointed of the performance, now that all issues have been solved, I am really in love with this little gem and I am planning to keep the pen for a long time and I am currently using it at least every week, mostly for my meeting notes. It is currently running on Diamine Blue-Black cartridges, but I plan going back soon to Prussian Blue. I would therefore give a sound nine as a final score and this is more or less the opinion of all my friends who have one (and some have more than one).
Shall I recommend? It depends. Not to people who like large pens, or prefer to write with the pen posted. And not to people that prefer to spend the same amount of money on an industrial product made in an anonymous factory in some cheap labor cost country. I believe that the company itself has to be considered in the evaluation of the product. I am sure that the performance can not rival a pen with four time the price tag and a gold nib or a better steel one. For me it is not the perfect pen (assuming that such a pen exists), but it is a very good writing tool for a very reasonable price. I love the design, like the materials and I am satisfied of the performance. IMHO it is very difficult to get the same level of craftmanship at this price level.
So, I can recommend it if you like the hexagonal design, don’t need to post, like the feeling of holding an aluminum barrel and you are looking for a reasonably good performance for the price. Last but not least, for people who value such things and try to stay away from mass produced things, no matter how good they are, it adds the experience of supporting a family owned German company creating jobs there, working with very high quality standards, selling it at a price that makes it affordable to a lot of people and backing up the whole with a fantastic customer service. For me those are values that add to the products, others might think differently.
OK, they buy the nib from somebody else, but nobody is perfect…
Nobody makes it out alive anyway
Posted 21 May 2011 - 21:19
Edited by alvarez57, 21 May 2011 - 21:19.
Posted 23 May 2011 - 00:59
Posted 25 May 2011 - 07:06
As I said, I am the kind of person that try to buy things looking at the companies behind them. Whenever I can, I do my best to support the economy in the area where I live, for example I buy at farmers' markets. I don't want to be turned into a mere consumer of products sold at the cheapest price for me or at the highest profit for the company, because they have manufactured in some cheap labour cost and no rights factory somewhere on the other side of the planet and sold to me by a multi-national big company that makes nice statements in their website but in practice does not like to have somebody look into how their products are made. IMHO a FP is some kind of friend, it becomes part of the family, like cars used to do in the old days. If I want something disposable, I'd take a giveaway plastic BP. So, in case like this, it is a pleasure for me to look at the pen and say "Hey, that's a good pen, I bought it from a company I share the vision and mission, and it came for a very reasonable price". I know that I am being philosophical, here, and maybe my review is not an aseptic one, maybe if the FP was tested in a lab using machines, the verdict could had been different, but, hey, this is a real world we are living in and emotions are a part of it.
I am curious to test the Profil as well, but seems it is not so easy to find.
Need to contact the company and ask.
Nobody makes it out alive anyway
Posted 28 May 2014 - 15:42
This is one heck of a resurrection, but could I ask how you disassembled the nib and feed? I can remove the section that is the feed+nib, but I can't take the nib off the feed. Any tips would be very welcome indeed. Thanks.
Posted 31 May 2014 - 14:13
I've been admiring this pen for years and was close to splurging on one a week ago but the idea of a Springy M200 nib was too tempting so I went for the M200 instead. However I've put at the top of my short list for my next pen as it seems very interesting.
Posted 10 June 2014 - 09:08
I can't seem to remove the nib from the feed on mine. Any tips?
Posted 05 February 2015 - 12:53
I can't seem to remove the nib from the feed on mine. Any tips?
Sorry, but I have been away from this forum for a while.
The nib + feed is inserted by pressure in a plastic case, which in turn is screwed into the aluminium grip section.
Worther buys the complete assembly, they call it "nocepiece" from a nib manufacturer.
So, if you unscrewed the assembly, to remove the nib you just have to pull.
If it does not come out, it is because it was pushed in with great force or there are some ink deposit that act as a glue.
Then you have to be patient, first try water immersion to remove deposits, then try to pull the nib out without damaging it.
Nobody makes it out alive anyway
Posted 13 July 2015 - 13:12
How is this pen in comparison with the other Hexagon pen from Germany the Faber Castell Ondoro. Do you have any photos of them side by side?
Posted 05 September 2016 - 21:26