INTRODUCTION: I first came across the Franklin-Christoph brand when browsing the FPN forum. After checking out their website, I was impressive by their products line-up and decided to try one of their lower-end pens. I finally decided on the Model 14 because of the magnetic cap ( I'm a sucker for novelties) and the interchangeable nibs. I wanted to get the pen in red, but it was already out of production at that time. Luckily, Lady Luck smiled down on me and I found that there were still a few pieces left sold on their eBay store. To make the deal sweeter, the price was $10 lower than what is being sold on their online store. In the end, I managed to score the pen in an out-of-production color, and at a lower price!
1. Appearance & Design (8/10) – The pen is simply designed, with a layer of red lacquer and chrome trimming. The 4 Franklin-Christoph diamonds are lasered onto the clip, and the Franklin-Christoph logo is lasered onto the pen bottom. The nibs used are stainless steel Schmidt nibs with the Schmidt logo on it. I would have preferred the nib with the Franklin-Christoph logo on it though. In addition, there are 2 more design flaws that I found: The pen cap is too short, giving the pen a chunky look, and the pen section is too short, to be elaborated on later. (PS: All steel and gold nibs now are available with the Franklin-Christoph logo on them.)
2. Construction & Quality (9/10) – The pen feels robust and well built in my hands. I believe that it's entirely made out of brass, hence it has quite a heft to it. Those who love heavy pens will like it, but more on that in the next section. All in all, there is no flaw I can find. I washed the entire nib unit in an ultrasonic cleaner a number of time and I found that a spot developed a discoloration. It doesn't look like rust and the pen is still usable but because of this, I'm taking a point off.
3. Weight & Dimensions (6/10) – This is where the pen disappoints. Personally I find the pen too heavy for long period of usage. I think it's because the entire pen is made from brass instead of your usual resin. The pen body is pretty long without posting, but the magnetic cap (the magnet is in the cap) can be posted using the same magnetic function. When posted, the balance is totally off as the cap is very heavy ( as it contains a strong magnet). Since I usually use my pens unposted, this isn't much of an issue, but for those who like to post, this may post a problem. To me, the main design flaw lies in the short, almost non existent pen section. If I use my normal gripping method, I'll end up gripping the area where the pen body and pen section meet, an area of a sharp step-down. Needless to say, it's extremely uncomfortable. If I adjust my grip down, my grip on end up on the threads, and I'll be holding too close to the nib, so it's extremely uncomfortable. So what I currently do is hold it abit higher, gripping the pen body. I haven't been using it often enough to get used to the sensation, so it's still abit uncomfortable, though not as uncomfortable as holding it on the threaded section.
4. Nib & Performance (20/20) – I bought 2 nibs, the EF and F nibs, but I haven't gotten around to taking the F nib out of the packaging. Hence, the following only applies to the EF nib. The reason I've not used the F nib is because the EF nib is so perfect! The EF nib lays down a perfect Western EF nib line, and is smooth with a little feedback. I like my nibs to have a tiny bit of feedback which allows me more control over my handwriting. However, the problems with most EF nibs are too much feedback and too little smoothness. Hence I was pleasantly surprised with the smoothness of the nib. The nib is not too dry as well and I seldom experienced skipping with it. In addition, the nib section is easily changeable ( as simple as unscrewing the barrel) and the range of replaceable nibs is staggering, with Fine, Medium, Broad, Extra Fine, 0.9mm Cursive Italic, 1.1mm Cursive Italic and 1.1mm Stub. Needless to say, the nib deserved a perfect 10! (PS: The nib above is a 1.1 CI nib, not a F nib or the EF nib mentioned in the review.)
5. Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – The pen comes with a piston converter which works well and it's capacity is above average. Nothing special or wrong with it.
6. Cost & Value (9/10) – This pen is almost the perfect pen if not for its heavy weight and not-so-great design. However for $79.50 ( for normal nibs) or $89.50 ( for special nibs) you get a classy looking pen, with a magnetic cap, and the options to change the nibs ( which can be bought separately) to whichever suit your fancy. Furthermore, there are other Franklin-Christoph pens that use the same nibs, so there's plenty of potential mix-and-match.
7. Conclusion (Final score, 62/70) – In conclusion, I didn't regret taking a leap of faith and buying the Model 14. Now that I've experienced for myself how fantastic the steel nib fountain pen is, I'm on the lookout for a gold nib fountain pen for my next Franklin-Christoph purchase. Furthermore, the 2/3 pen pouches look outstanding as well. Franklin-Christoph may be a small company, but they are certainly not short on quality products. Look out for more Franklin-Christoph reviews in the future.
Edited by xuan87, 23 July 2012 - 18:15.