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Lamy 2000 Vs. Montblanc 220


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#1 mongrelnomad

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 14:25

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I recently picked up a NOS MB 220 from a fellow FPNer. As soon as I opened the box and picked it up I thought: "Hold on, I've seen this pen before!" And lo-and-behold, it is, for all intents and purposes, Montblanc's riposte to the L2K. Even today, the similarities are striking. Both were designed in the 1960s, both are made of makrolon in Germany, both have gold EF nibs, both are piston fillers, and both cost me a nearly identical €100 or thereabouts.

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So, we've ascertained that they're shockingly similar; what are those differences that will make-or-break this test, and allow us to tell them apart, and sort the winners from the losers. Let's start, shall we?

1. Size, weight and feel: Though both are nearly identical in length and taper to an almost identical diameter at the ends, the Lamy is substantially fatter in the centre. This may contribute to its greater heft and mass: it is substantially heavier (26g - 17g without the cap) than the 220 (16g - 11g without the cap). That said, however, it is the heavier Lamy that is more comfortable to use posted; though the 220 is lovely without its cap, it does not post properly (there is some spring inside that repels the end of the pen when inserted) and completely throws off the balance.

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I usually like light pens, but there are two types of lightness - the first (personified by the Japanese) is lightness as intrinsic quality, something engineered-in; the second is lightness as cheapness. Unfortunately, the 220 falls into the second category.

2. Grips: Although both make statements with their designs - the 220 transitioning to smooth rather than textured makrolon, the L2K preferring steel - it is the Montblanc that is the more comfortable. Why? Firstly, the taper down to the nib is less dramatic; secondly, the little metal nubs that hold the cap in place are placed higher up the body, away from fingers. It should also be noted that there are three of them (versus the Lamy's two) and as a result that cap fastens insanely tightly, requiring a very hefty tug to remove.

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3. Trim: This is probably the starkest difference between the pens, and I must admit I prefer the Lamy's approach. I live in the Bauhaus White City, and this pen is definitely at home here. When closed, it screams its intent through lack of bling, only the rock-solid and ultra-functional spring-loaded clip breaking the unadulterated lines. The 220 cannot hope to compete: its gold trim, though pretty in an unassuming and surprisingly conservative way, feels cheap and unnecessary; the rubber recessed splat at its flat bottom unpleasant to the touch. Only the milky Montblanc star on then cap seems well considered, the white almost bleeding into the black with a loose, etherial quality.

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4. Nibs: Here, the Montblanc flat-out shines. It looks odd (in a quaint retro-futuro steampunk kindof way), but by god can it write. Like Montblanc's best, it has a slight upturn at its end, leaving a solid, wet but easily controlled line, just a little feedback edging the smoothness. I have quite a few Montblanc EF nibs from the 1960s all the way to today, and this is as good as any of them without even the slightest adjustment. And what of the L2K? Well, I'm not a big fan of hooded nibs, so it is already at a disadvantage. But wow can it write. It was, I must admit, not always that way, starting life as hands-down the worst EF nib I've ever owned. It wasn't a fire-hose, rather it was a broken fire-hydrant, gushing forth with so much ink that it soaked through my notebooks and stained my wrist as I wrote across the paper. The resulting line was more BB than EF. Now, however, after a trip to FPN's own Oxonian, it is a different story. Ground to an italic, it is simply phenomenal, matching and even surpassing the Montblanc in every way. But, remember, this comes after both time and money - I was tempted to fling the damn thing from the window when it arrived.

Neither show the slightest interest in flexibility, but that's the way of the world now I guess (and the 1960s) and I don't think we can mark them down for it.

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5. Sundries: And what of the other things? Well, piston-fillers are piston-fillers, and although one company is known for theirs, and the other shuns them for all but this one line, it is the Lamy that seems the built-to-last. And ink-windows? Well, both are equally useless.

So, which do I prefer?
Honestly, they are both great pens, but given the opportunity to own just one, it would be the L2K. The 220 feels like an imitation; worse than that, it feels like an imitation built down to a price so as not to step on the toes of its more expensive Meisterstuck siblings. The Makrolon King is still the king, but it is rather closer than I would have thought.

Had Montblanc used the material for its premier line rather than 'precious resin', the result may have been very different indeed.

Edited by mongrelnomad, 11 June 2011 - 19:31.

Too many pens; too little writing.

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#2 jandrese

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 14:40

Thanks for sharing. The MB kind of looks like a Parker 45, which is another pen with a decidedly cheap feel. Every L2K in the world seems to be, at best, a wet writer. I wish mine had a dial for controlling ink flow. An EF italic ugh? Interesting.

#3 mongrelnomad

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 14:43

I sent the pen to John asking him to do something - anything - with it. He suggested the italic and, having given up at that point, gave the go-ahead.

It is a wonderful nib: really controlled flow, and surprisingly forgiving with the angle at which it's used. There isn't extreme line variation, but then it's an EF.
Too many pens; too little writing.

#4 jar

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 14:48

Interesting review. I have had both, gave the L2K away to a friend as a starter pen. They are both nice pens, one near the top of the marques line and the other a representative of the marques economy line.

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#5 hari317

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 15:58

Interesting comparison. I have both the pens, in fact, several of the MB22x pens. I prefer the MB to the L2K. All, of my MB22xs post very well, are excellent writers, and can be taken apart very easily to be serviced with no tools required. The pens are very sturdily built and I have personally never encountered a cracked MB22x in the brushed finish. I think it will be also interesting to compare the Lamy Profil pens to the MM22x since they are more similar in shape, I have a few pictures and if the OP permits, I will be glad to post them here.

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#6 mongrelnomad

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 16:00

Absolutely Hari - go ahead!
Too many pens; too little writing.

#7 hari317

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 16:16

Thank you Mongrelnomad. The following pics show from L-R: Lamy Profil 81, MB220, MB224, and the Lamy2K.

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Cheers!
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#8 mongrelnomad

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 16:20

Great photos!
Too many pens; too little writing.

#9 watch_art

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 17:39

Thanks for a great review and comparo. This makes me want a 220 even more now!

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#10 piembi

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:03

Thank you for this comparison.

IMO the L2K is built to last. I have L2Ks of several ages and the body is still flawless.

I have several MB 220/200s and the body does have a weakness that is annoying. The section is leaking just a little bit and there is some ink in the cap and around the nib. Result: inky fingers.

But regarding the nib I do have a preference: I like the MB much better than the L2Ks nib. Back then MB did produce a cheaper line as well - with a nib as good as the Meisterstück-nibs.

#11 hari317

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 13:22

I have several MB 220/200s and the body does have a weakness that is annoying. The section is leaking just a little bit and there is some ink in the cap and around the nib. Result: inky fingers.


hello Piembi, It is very easy to fix the leak that you are experiencing. My post: Link has pics and instructions if you want to attempt a DIY.

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#12 mongrelnomad

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:51

I have several MB 220/200s and the body does have a weakness that is annoying. The section is leaking just a little bit and there is some ink in the cap and around the nib. Result: inky fingers.


I have the same result, for a different reason.

I've been using the 220 a lot recently (I went to New York last week and this was one of only two pens I took with me), and the shape of the nib means that if - like me - you grip your pen low down, the cutouts on either side of the nib will come into contact with your fingers. Ta-da! Inky fingers.

Not a deal-breaker, but annoying nonetheless...

Edited by mongrelnomad, 30 June 2011 - 12:14.

Too many pens; too little writing.

#13 richardandtracy

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 10:44

Fascinating I had never seen the MB before. I think it looks more like a Parker 65 than the L2k though ( http://www.fountainp...showtopic=52883 )

Thanks for the review. It's good to learn.

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#14 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 16:28

I tried a 220 and a lamy 2000 some months ago, I definitely preferred the mb over the lamy because of the nib and better ink flow.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#15 JLS1

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 15:29

I know I'm chiming in late, but thanks for an interesting comparison. I have always loved the look of both of these pens, even more so after I snagged a MB220 w/an F nib. I agree with Hari317 and others that it is a very good writer and am looking forward to comparing it to a L2K. (That is, if I don't break down and get a Nakaya or Dani first...temptation! ;))

#16 nicholasyeo

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 17:23

Wow, never knew such a Mont Blanc existed!






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