I am reviewing here one of my favorite pens: A Porsche Design Faber Castel Titanium Pen from the late 70s-80s. Designed in the early days of the Porsche Design studio by "Butzi" Porsche himself (who was also a student at the very famous Hochschule fur Gestaltung Ulm [founders who were related to Sophie Scholl if you have watched the movie...]), you can still see the fainted letters of "Faber Castell WEST GERMANY" on the underside of the mirror shiny clip.
It is presented in a very nice rosewood box wrapped around by a black paper box originally. The emblem of Porsche Design is lettered on a steel plate in the rosewood box. It comes with several small booklets in different languages telling you how lucky you are to own a PD product...
The first impressions that struck me was the beautiful sheen of the titanium body depending on the angle of viewing. The tiny letters of "Porsche Design" is laser engraved around the cap of the pen. The PD emblem is also laser engraved at the smooth mirror top of the cap. The design of the pen has two textural themes. The dominant texture is the natural titanium texture, silky smooth yet has a very finely sanded scintillating look to it. The other texture is a highly polished look on the two ends of the pen, the nib and the clip. A series of ring grips gives this otherwise minimal theme a visual break but yet adds a hint of symmetry between the cap and the barrel.
The appearance is one of high elegance by the contrast of polished texture with that of a slightly high-tech industrial titanium one. This pen is completely made of titanium except the nib. This pen was made in the days when titanium machining was quite complicated and expensive, and the grip rings must have cost a ton to machine out of solid titanium.
Finish is exquisite although my nearly daily use has bequeathed upon the pen some marks here and there. But marks actually 'heal' over time as the peculiar oxidation process of titanium rapidly covers the worst up. There is some of those wabi-sabi aesthetics here! It is actually very hard to find factory flaws in the older Porsche Design products.
If you hold the pen depending on the angle of the direct light, you might see some blues and reds speckling very finely along the body. I thought that is extremely delightful to behold. To contrast, my Namiki Bamboo rhodium has just a more uniformly whitish texture to it.
The polished titanium clip can rotate outwards to accommodate a thicker pocket, or a short stack of papers. Quite an interesting design. Apparently, this pen can also be used on a plane without problem as stated in the manual.
The pen comes in three models (it also has a pencil and rollerball version). There is a full sterling silver model with full silver nib. Then there is a black titanium model with a blackish titanium carbite plated nib and then a full titanium (natural) with polished steel nib or 18K nib. I have the steel nib and my dad has the 18K one. The 18K nib has a faint rose gold look to it.
The pen measures 5-5/8" long, 5/16" diameter at barrel, and weighs...well, imagine this is made of solid steel, and then in your imagination takes out half the weight: that's the feel to weight ratio of this pen. It is light, but yet not plastic or resin light.
I have a F nib. Some stories about the nib. On two separate occasions across a span of ten years, I loaned this pen very briefly for a friend and a professor respectively to write something down. Their unanimous exclaimation was: Wow, this is a good pen. That friend pestered me on more than one occasion to sell the pen to him. So lucky for him, we were in Seattle a few years ago and we found an entire batch of these pens thrown out by Colorado Pen Co. as old discarded stock for 20% of its original price. He got one and I got one. Life became good for him after that!
The nib is great. I can print very small letters on it as I usually do for lecture note taking. Recently, it seemed to have developed a problem of not writing "o" or "e" well, smudging into the open areas of the letters. But I also realized that as the amount of ink depletes, it writes perfect once more. Perhaps others have an insight into this problem. Other than that, it is a very smooth writer. The nib is a true Fine and a rigid steel nib.
The pen uses catridges as well as a piston converter. Recently, I just switched to a waterman converter hearing that it will solve the leaking problem I had with the original FC converter. It did. But the waterman does not sit very perfectly with the pen, or at least not as well as the original converter.
I paid an exorbitant price on this, nearly $550 more than 10 years ago at a Porsche Design boutique. My friend and I got the same pen for $99 a few years ago. As a matter of fact, the store was selling the pens regardless of their nature (pencil, rollerball, other Arc 1 PD models) all at the same price! But if you chanced upon one on Ebay, I think you will find the quality holding up to the age given the flawless QC of the older PD products.
That said, I don't think I will pay the same amount of money as I did for this pen again!
This is a great pen, great daily writer with a ton of 80s high tech quiet panache that only attracts attention for people with an eye to details. I like it and I hope you enjoy this lengthy review of a less known pen.
Edited by lecorbusier, 26 November 2006 - 23:25.