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Review: Porsche Design Faber-Castell Fountain Pen


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#1 lecorbusier

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 23:16

I was thinking of doing this for a while now. Now the perfect excuse to leave pages and pages of psych methods!

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...smile.gif

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
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.

APPEARANCE/FINISH
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.

DESIGN/MEASUREMENT/WEIGHT
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.

NIB
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.

FILLING MECHANISM
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.

COST
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!



CONCLUSION
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.

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Edited by lecorbusier, 26 November 2006 - 23:25.

"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."--Mary Catherine Bateson

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#2 lecorbusier

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 23:18

Another image

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#3 lecorbusier

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 23:19

Last Image

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#4 Phthalo

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Posted 27 November 2006 - 00:49

It's very nice to see these lesser-known Porsche models reviewed - thank you! smile.gif
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#5 gary

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 15:39

Thank you for an excellent review of an uncommon pen, with very nice pics.
gary

#6 cmeisenzahl

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 14:12

Nice pen and pics!

#7 DRP

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 17:40

Great review! Thanks for bringing this pen to my attention.

#8 southpaw

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 17:17

Thanks for a very well written review of a pen we don't see around much!
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#9 lecorbusier

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 23:26

Thanks everyone. Could not resist as the sunlight filters through...

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#10 alexanderino

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 14:33

It's mystifying as to why it has gone uncommented on so far, but that last image is one artistic photograph. Bravo, lecorbusier!

#11 aramisdesaumoher

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 22:59

It's very hard to find any info about this pen.
I found this text in the instruction manual from an Ebay seller from Hong Kong___2178.jpg


So my question is:
Did also Porsche design make a SS body with titanium finish for this fountain pen?
I would want to know if they did it because i have bought this fountain pen with rose gold nib and the ball point pen based on this model too on ebay, but the seller claims that they are made of SS matt finished.image_display.jpg 1258_1.jpg [attac
hment=29954:1228_1.jpg]
This is in order to finally know if i have the full titanium model or a Stainless Steel one.

Thanks in advance.

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#12 Doug C

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Posted 01 August 2008 - 00:51

I have the ballpoint and the rollerball version of this pen (the roller is unusual in that the cap is just a tube, and the clip is part of the main pen body), as well as the follow up model fountain pen, the Arc. It has a similar look, but is a little more voluputous, and the clip in the shape a large arc (hence the name).

These are pens I intend to hold on to. I have at least one of every PD model.

Edited by Doug C, 01 August 2008 - 00:52.

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#13 lecorbusier

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 04:56

Thank you Alex! The sun happened to be there; I got lucky.


QUOTE (alexanderino @ Jul 24 2008, 03:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's mystifying as to why it has gone uncommented on so far, but that last image is one artistic photograph. Bravo, lecorbusier!


"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."--Mary Catherine Bateson

Visit my blog at, http://untilutopia.blogspot.com/

#14 lecorbusier

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 05:18

I doubt that PD made a SS body with titanium coating. I attach a photo for you on my collection over the years in titanium (coated) writing instruments from Faber-Castell. The only pen not made by FC is the middle pen, a Lamy ballpoint with a retractable nib. That is Titanium coated, as stated on the shaft. While I have not weighed them individually without their ballpoint refill and converter respectively, they weigh nearly the same by feel. (In fact for a while, Porsche Design bought these pens from Lamy and relabeled them as PD pens; saw that at their Rodeo drive shop in the 90s!)

The pen that Doug called "Arc" is the second one from the top. It was also made by Faber-Castell and it has a Ti-Carbide coating. The top one is a very old FC Alpha-matic; which is Ti-Carbide too and even at nearly twenty years, it has remained unfazed by the harshness of constant use. The Copper-Carbide model (not shown) which was their base model has by now a layer of very interesting oxide on it from the humid environment where it was stored.

I am inclined to take Porsche Design at their word that the entire pen (minus the nib and the clip), is made of titanium, and not coated. As you can see, the 18K nib model (second from the bottom) I have is much newer, and the grey-ness indicative of oxidation has not progressed to the stage of the older fountain pen in the foreground, while the Lamy coated model has remained like new when it is at least as old as the Alpha-matic pencil. I am no metallurgist, but perceptually and by the pen's price point in those days, this should be a full titanium pen, not a coated one. The Lamy was only 1/8 of the price of the fountain pen by price comparison; and the Arc fountain pen was also much cheaper than the original titanium fountain pen.

I find these pens very attractive; and mysteriously mute with very different color variances as they age and when used in daylight. But these design ideas are no longer in currency so they are not produced anymore. I guess you can say that they are artifacts of the cold war!

I highly recommend these pens and along with Doug, think they are keepers to be used for a very long time. By the way, the manual of these pens say that Porsche Design guarantees these pens from quality lapses for 25 years. Which means it is still likely that this pen you are about to buy will still be under warranty. Mine has no problem at all; and recently after switching to a Pelikan converter, worked flawlessly resolving a leak from a previous PD converter which has worn out from use!


Shot with SAMSUNG at 2008-08-03










QUOTE (aramisdesaumoher @ Jul 31 2008, 11:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's very hard to find any info about this pen.
I found this text in the instruction manual from an Ebay seller from Hong Kong___2178.jpg


So my question is:
Did also Porsche design make a SS body with titanium finish for this fountain pen?
I would want to know if they did it because i have bought this fountain pen with rose gold nib and the ball point pen based on this model too on ebay, but the seller claims that they are made of SS matt finished.image_display.jpg 1258_1.jpg [attac
hment=29954:1228_1.jpg]
This is in order to finally know if i have the full titanium model or a Stainless Steel one.

Thanks in advance.


"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."--Mary Catherine Bateson

Visit my blog at, http://untilutopia.blogspot.com/

#15 Nikolaos

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Posted 04 August 2008 - 08:22

Very nice review! This pen is really gorgeous and understated!

Nikolaos

#16 aramisdesaumoher

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 09:31

Than you very much lecorbusier for your great explanation.
I found this site searching some info on these pens and your review was the only reference and serious approach out there, we can say that i discovered this fantastic forum because of your review.I'm not a big pen enthusiast overall, but I'm attracted to the high tech writing instruments that are made of titanium , carbon fibre... and also the 80's design.
In fact this is why I decided to register in this site.


#17 lecorbusier

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 11:51

You are welcome, and welcome to the board!

Oh yes, FP talk does not get better than this. Though Purists.com has an active writing instrument discussion board, things and topics move faster here, and you will also realize that the enthusiasts here are a tad different than folks who visit the Purists site.

I am glad that my review was useful. You are indeed very lucky to have won your bid on Ebay...I visit once a while and realize that the bidding for these pens can get quite competitive, and bargains are few.

If you are interested in such writing instruments, you can look out for the Lamy Persona, which was also made in this period. There were some Lamys that escaped my attention too, along the design lines of this titanium fountain pen. In fact, Lamy has a model right now in Stainless Steel that nearly look like our fountain pen. The harder ones to find is the Sterling Silver model with a White Gold Nib. The black titanium coated version is also hard to find. There weren't that many to start with...

An alternative place where you can still get them is at some of the US Porsche Design boutiques where they still have some NOS. I was at their main store in Munich a couple of years ago and they have all gone to the new models by FC. But the prices at such boutiques have become even more exorbitant of late so good for checking out but Ebay may still be the place to buy.

Good luck and see you online.



QUOTE (aramisdesaumoher @ Aug 5 2008, 10:31 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Than you very much lecorbusier for your great explanation.
I found this site searching some info on these pens and your review was the only reference and serious approach out there, we can say that i discovered this fantastic forum because of your review.I'm not a big pen enthusiast overall, but I'm attracted to the high tech writing instruments that are made of titanium , carbon fibre... and also the 80's design.
In fact this is why I decided to register in this site.


"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."--Mary Catherine Bateson

Visit my blog at, http://untilutopia.blogspot.com/

#18 lecorbusier

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 11:52

Thanks Nikolaos! Indeed it is!!



QUOTE (Nikolaos @ Aug 4 2008, 09:22 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Very nice review! This pen is really gorgeous and understated!

Nikolaos


"We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn."--Mary Catherine Bateson

Visit my blog at, http://untilutopia.blogspot.com/

#19 aramisdesaumoher

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 17:21

Of course lecorbusier, the lamy persona titanium /gold plated is a very desirable fountain pen, i will have no doubt if i have a chance to buy one NOS.
From my point of view,PD vintage pens, lighters, pipes, watches are all very researched today; according to me, this is because of the poor level of today's PD department excepting the more expensive watches and perhaps the aero ballpoint and pencil.
Another good place to buy is martini auctions, but the offer is a bit limited in number and i have not yet see any faber castell or PD vintage item, like titanium alpha-matics or PD arc1 models.
Black carbide models are scarce but a few months ago a FP was sold in the ebay.nl, didn't mention faber castell and titanium and that's why i missed the auction,later , searching in google i could see the winning bid at only 110 us dollar.
The silver model seems to be the scarcest.

See you soon too. lticaptd.gif


#20 aramisdesaumoher

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 17:24

QUOTE (aramisdesaumoher @ Aug 5 2008, 07:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Of course lecorbusier, the lamy persona titanium /gold plated is a very desirable fountain pen, i will have no doubt if i have a chance to buy one NOS.
From my point of view,PD vintage pens, lighters, pipes, watches are all very researched today; according to me, this is because of the poor level of today's PD department excepting the more expensive watches and perhaps the aero ballpoint and pencil.
Another good place to buy is martini auctions, but the offer is a bit limited in number and i have not yet see any faber castell or PD vintage item, like titanium alpha-matics or PD arc1 models.
Black carbide models are scarce but a few months ago a FP was sold in the ebay.nl, didn't mention faber castell and titanium and that's why i missed the auction,later , searching in google i could see the winning bid at only 110 us dollar.
The silver model seems to be the scarcest.

See you soon too smile.gif








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