Years ago the MontBlanc brand just spoke to me, but the pretension was more than I could take. No emoticon available covers the malaise of that disappointment. By accident I discovered Franklin-Christoph, and they're going to fill that place in my heart. If you're into jewel-encrusted, gold, titanium, and kryptonite-filled, Godzilla-DNA-embedded-into-the-cap ostentation, or something with pink, green, and yellow swirly-swirls, the FC Model 25 isn't going to speak to you. If it does, then read on.
Thanks for not cheaping-out on the box, FC!
APPEARANCE & DESIGN (9) - There's a fine line between innovative design and gimmick, and for me the Model 25 nails it. It's hard to re-think the classic capped pen model, isn't it? But clipping the diminutive cap into the clip just works. This pen is all about the lines: capped, it's so very linear; posted, it becomes geometric. The way the spring clip attaches around the body with screws binding it together from either side make it ever so slightly 'industrial,' without making it cold or inelegant. I can't say enough about the design. The branding is understated: stamped logo on the top, name around the band, and four etched diamonds down the length of the clip.
The only part I don't like is the number of turns to take off the cap. I love how quickly the caps come off of my Pelikan and Delta, and for my taste the Model 25 needs one less turn.
CONSTRUCTION & QUALITY (9) - The clip is the most solid and secure-feeling that I've seen for a design that focuses on elegance. The pen unscrews about an inch and a half from the bottom of the cap, but it's impossible to see the seam unless you have good light and you know where to look. It can be felt by touch if you run your fingers down the barrel. The creme band has an amazing finish, and has a 'fade' to it rather than being a solid color.
There is, to me, a slight imperfection in the joint of the clip to the barrel, looking from the creme band upward. If I look closely enough I see something, but I don't know exactly what it is; maybe lacquer build-up?
WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS (9) - I write with my pens, I don't want jewelry. So as satisfying as heavy pens feel at first, I don't care for them. At the same time, really light pens feel a little bit 'cheap.' The 25 is perfect. Because of the hefty clip, it's the kind of pen that might be top-heavy posted, but the design puts the clip in the web of the hand when writing, so it's exactly in the right place. I'll copy the dimensions from the FC website.
5.47" capped length
5.23" posted length
NIB & PERFORMANCE (10) - Steel nib, writes perfectly right out of the box. Like buttah. I expected it to be hard as a nail, like my Rotring, but it's more like my Dolcevita nib, flex-wise.
FILLING SYSTEM & MAINTENANCE (5) - It's a converter, unfortunately, which I suppose makes it automatically a score of 5: it works, but it's no fun. Oh if only the 25 were an eyedropper! At least it's a quiet converter. I had a Bexley that had a slight rattle to it because of the converter, which I could not stand. Because of the half-hooded nib, it's cleaner to fill it by taking the converter out rather than dipping the nib itself in the bottle.
COST & VALUE (10) - Straight from FC, the pen was $125, shipped. I think that's outstanding. I paid about $100 shipped for my ratting Bexley, with a cheezy clip and overall 'discount' feel to it. The FC has even more intrinsic value to me because of the company. From what I can tell, Franklin-Christoph produces pens in small runs rather than mass-producing for wide distribution.
CONCLUSION (Final score: 8.6 - stupid converter!) - The 25 is a winner on design alone. Add to that a quality finish, excellent writing characteristics, and an up-and-coming boutique brand, and you've got something special. Everything from the lovely box the pen came in to the personal communication from FC is classy. I'm definitely a fan.
Edited by Erasmus, 30 September 2011 - 18:24.