I got this pen NOS from a brick-and-mortar store favored by the FPN-Philippines pen group. I picked it out from a batch of 4 or 5 Initials. No box or papers. No converter. One short international cartridge furnished (stored in the barrel.)
Appearance and Design (8/10)
The Initial has a rather ergonomic look about it. Some casual observers may dismiss it as a fancy version of a Pilot Dr. Grip rollerball. I think this to be an advantage, in that I can go about writing instead of explaining the pen I have in my hands.
Cap and barrel tail are polished chrome. The clip’s arch reinforces the avant-garde theme, and closer inspection reveals that it uses a leaf spring to create tension for the clip. Nifty detail but I don’t know if this may prove to be an Achilles heel in the long run. You have to admit that there are strong similarities between the Rotring and some pens coming from Faber Castell. Whether the two German firms use the same design house, I would not know. Cool looking pen though.
The barrel is polished midnight blue resin, while the rounded section is a satiny grey plastic affair with grasping grooves. The section looks to be a little low rent compared to the rest of the pen, but it is comfortable in use.
Construction & Quality (7/10)
The assemblies appear to be properly fit together. No gaps can be discerned anywhere. The polish on the metalwork as well as the barrel resin is evenly done.
The clutch on the slip cap does not make use of fingers, but instead relies on raised dimples on the cap liner to grasp the section. The fit is snug but I would be interested in finding out if these dimples wear down over time and make cap retention less secure.
Weight and Dimensions (9/10)
I like the weight of this pen. It is lighter than a Lamy 2000 but it has a good heft to it.
Unposted, the balance of the pen is slightly biased towards the nib. The uncapped length of the pen does not require me to post, and so I opt not to post when writing with the Rotring.
The cigar shape of the pen’s barrel is a joy. The pen seems to settle quickly and comfortably into my hand and allows lengthy writing sessions to be undertaken without strain or fatigue.
Nib and Performance (8/10)
The steel nib has the profile of a spear, rather than an arrowhead. Flex or spring is not expected, but neither is it needed. My Initial’s Medium writes very smoothly and required no tine adjustment at all. The tipping material seems more flat than spherical and writing fast, stubbish tendencies become visible. At normal speeds, line variation is negligible. In many ways, it felt as smooth as the Pelikan steel Medium nibs, which is a good thing.
A word of caution: this is one thirsty pen!
I used the included short International for the pen’s first outing. I did not flush the pen before the first inking, but it laid down really wet lines nonetheless. After a couple of Letter-sized pages of scribbles, I unscrewed the barrel to check ink levels and the cart was empty, save for some ink clinging to the cartridge walls.
I surmised that the feed held a lot of ink which is why this pen has yet to stutter at all. Converters are strongly urged if you pick up one of these things.
This pen is designed for those who need to write all day, and if need be, all night. The looks may take a while to grow on some, but its performance is immediately felt. If the Faber Castells are the SLS AMGs of the German fountain pen realm, the Initial could very well be a Volkswagen Beetle hiding a Porsche engine in its derriere.
Filling System (7/10)
It is a C/C pen. It takes International Converters. I could not find any Rotring or Waterman converters around, but those made by Inoxcrom work well. Flushing the pen is easy, using an ear syringe.
Cost & Value (10/10)
I got this pen for the equivalent of $9 and change. You can’t beat this price:performance ratio without going the Sumgai route.
This pen is a real sleeper. I have not heard many folks mention Rotrings when it comes to good modern fountain pens, but the Initial does the Rotring brand proud. Sadly, Rotring no longer makes fountain pens so those wanting a copy are destined to scour the NOS and pre-loved markets to get their fix.
If you are a form-follows-function sort of chap, then this pen is for you. And even folks with more traditional tastes owe it to themselves to at least roadtest the Initial if they need to write all day.
Edited by KarloT, 27 June 2011 - 18:39.