I hope the photos will be enough - as this is a pen whose presence is entirely too difficult to capture.
First Impressions: 7/10
Being that this pen is retailed as a luxury item, one would come to expect a little bit more than Dupont gives with regards to packaging, especially considering that, from a boutique, this pen will run you for upwards of $400. This figure will be closer to $500 for the fountain ( a very unique steel nib), and more if you elect for the carbon fiber version. The box is a simple, no-nonsense black box with the brands name in silver lettering. It's nice, and feels well made, but for the price you just expect a bit more. Nothing remarkable here, so I won't bother with a picture of the box.
Appearance and Design: 9/10
This is, in my opinion, where this pen really stands out. This pen is large, unique, and very imposing. If nothing else, this pen has a lot of presence. The pen itsself is a shiny black carbon fiber resin composite encased in a beautiful palladium skeleton. The palladium framework gives the pen a unique teardrop shape when held in hand, and will be something you will either love or hate. I personally love it, it feels very balanced and natural when held, and the teardrop shape prevents the pen from rolling off of a desk when uncapped/unposted.
The clip is spring loaded, secure, and easy to use. Serial numbers as well as "Made in France" marked on the side. The pen is also engraved "S.T. Dupont Paris" just below where the cap connects, a signature "D" painted in on the top of the cap, and another engraved "D" on the writing section.
Construction and Quality: 7/10
This pen is immaculately finished. Every surface is mirror polished, even inside the cap, and the engravings are flawless. The clip is sturdy as well. It is worth noting however, that this pen is a fingerprint magnet (keep your cleaning cloths ready!).
It is not without its issues though. Manufacturing quality is excellent in itsself, but a few things could have been better handled - The Carbon-resin, while nice, scratches relatively easily in my experience (Likely a trade off to avoid shattering like MBs). The capping mechanism as well, while somewhat similar to the Rolls-Royce feel that the Olympio line gives, is not all there. When uncapping the pen, there is no mechanism in place to self-center, and as a result, you are pretty much guaranteed to end up with a patina on the writing section of the pen. The capping mechanism is also not quite as solid as on the other lines - it is picky. Sometimes when I cap it, there's a tiny bit of play with the cap, other times, there is none. I have found there's a trick to capping it correctly and not getting that play, but it's a hassle, and could have been better done.
Weight and Dimensions 9/10
As previously mentioned, this pen is rather large. It also has a love-or-hate teardrop shape to it that will either make your hands sing, or make them weep. I urge you to try this pen out in person before purchasing.
The Carbon-resin composite is the key to this pen. Without it, it would be heavy and clunky - with it however, the pen has an excellent sense of balance, and even a lightness to it. When I initially picked up the pen, I was shocked at how light it was for its size, and because of this, how natural it felt in my hands, and how naturally it would fall to the paper.
This picture is my attempt at showing the teardrop construction:
Refills and Performance 9/10
Lets start with the basics, this pen can use Rollerball, fineliner, and ballpoint refills, which makes it very versatile compared with other brands. For example, a montblanc can be either a Rollerball/fineliner or a ballpoint, but not all three. This pen can also be filled with Montblanc refills if you care to, but you have to fill the back end with a little bit of chopped up rubberbands to make it fit properly. Haven't tested Pilot G2 refills, as I don't like the feel of Gel Ink.
S.T. Dupont Rollerball refills are as good as you can get. They are smooth enough to glide over paper, and while do not give as good of a line as its fountain pen brethren, are in and of themselves, fairly fun to write with. They use liquid ink, and in my experience are smoother than their Mont Blanc counterparts (although I do use Mont Blanc refills often in this pen, for the wider range of colours). I am under the impression that these refills carry the same ink as the fountain pen cartridges, and the colours look very similar (if this is true, it should theoretically be possible to refill these with a syringe and an ink bottle, but I haven't yet tried it). Ink dries quickly.
This is without a doubt, if there is such a thing, the Rollerball to end all Rollerballs.
*A note about why I do not like Gel Ink, and the benefits of using a Liquid ink like Dupont instead* - Gel pens can not write fast. In my experience, if you write too fast with a gel pen, the line starts fading and skipping (even with a G2). With a speed test with a Dupont refill, I could never make the pen skip, even if I was writing at unrealistic speeds (in circles). Additionally, the ink dries faster, and feels more natural, behaving like I feel an ink should.
Gel pens also have a tendency to pool ink at intervals where one would change direction - a problem that is absent in a well made liquid-refill. Similar and cheaper they may be, but gel pens are in no way equivalent.
Cost and Value: 7/10
Whee, the entirely subjective bit. This pen ran me $450, but keep in mind that I paid retail price. While I do feel that this price is steep, especially for a rollerball, I am happy with my purchase. There are not many pens to be had for this price range that feature as unique a design or as much presence as this pen lends, not to mention teardrop shape that my hands so love.
For a little more, one can upgrade to a fountain pen, of which there are already reviews for on this forum. This pen features a steel nib, which is a bit nuts for the price. But then again, I'm not one to talk, I bought the rollerball. I do hear that it writes well though.
Despite the fact that is is a rollerball and I have since discovered fountain pens, I am confident to say that I would make this purchase again. While I do prefer fountain pens these days, I still use this pen fairly often - it writes well enough to make me grin a little every time, and if that's not the real purpose of a pen, what is? Being batman?
Well, this pen does that too
Edited by seoulseeker, 15 January 2012 - 15:04.