I was given this pen by a friend who knows I like fountain pens, as a birthday gift. He had not bought it new, and it cae wrapped in a generic pen box, and not its own. Nevertheless it was a nice addition to my Parkers, a model I did not have before, nor had I used it. On first look with its golden shiny appearance made it look more expensive than it was.
Later I learned that the pen was initially made by Parker as Model 88 (1987 - 2003), later renamed to Rialto (2004-2007), also known as Place Vendome, the column of which the pen is supposed to resemble. In fact it is a mixture of different Parker designs, section and nib is the same as Vector, clip borrowed from Parker Arrow, and the body resembles Parker 95 in shape and finish, and the cap top is reminiscent of Parker Sonnet. The earlier model had dfifferent colored sections but sometime in 1990s the sections were all made black. It was offered in Matte and Metal finishes.
APPEARANCE AND DESIGN: 6/10
The pen looks solid and the golden sheen makes it look more expensive than it really is, and so it should too, because it is coated with 23K gold. The body and cap have straight lnies longitudinally running all along its length (P95 feature). The cap top in fact reminds me of Parker Sonnet with a black plastic disc at the top. Otherwise the pen looks remarkable siilar to Vector.
CONSTRUCTION AND QUALITY: 7/10
The quality of construction is defnitely better than Vector. Whereas the Vector feels cheap and light when held, the 88 feels a bit more solid than a Vector.The finish is good. Gold sheen, expensive looking. Cap snaps on well and posts well to like the Vector. The body seems to be the same girth as Vector and the caps are in fact interchangeable, but the barrels do not fit each other. The gold coated nib nib is essentially the steel nib of Vector but that too has been modified with a design and looks better. The section is plastic and more comfortable to hold then the slippery metal sextion of the Vector. Overall the pen has more personality the Vector and feel slike it can take a fall or two from the desk, and survive.
WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS: 6.5/10)
The dimensions are almost exactly the same as the Vector. Length capped 13.2cm, uncapped 11.5cm and posted almost 15.7cm. The barrel width is 1.1cm and section is 0.9cm wide. I do not have a weighjing machine for this size, but it feel a bit heavier than Vector.
NIB AND PERFORMANCE: 6.5/10
The nib is gold coated steel the same size and shape as the Vector, but it has a design on it and fells different in writing - although technically it should not.I have M and B Vectors and B 88. The 88 writes better and smoother. I have used thios pen with many inks, expensive and cheap local brands, and on many paper types, from good to poor (in my daily hospital routine), and found it to give a good account of itself. The nib is friction fit like the Vector.
FILLING SYSTEM AND MAINTENANCE: 8/10
The pen is a C / C and takes proprietary Parker cartridges or a slide or pump converter. Cleaninbg and maintenance is no problem therefore. I hate to use cartridges, and have had no trouble with the pump converter of the 88 filling from bottles.
COST AND VALUE: 6.5/10
I got this pen for free, and for that irt is a very good deal. Will I buy it for the retail price at which it was offered, maybe not, because I know of too many other options available to me for that much money. But in Pakistan Parker brand is equated with a high quality expensive pen, and most would know of just one or two brands if any. For here the golden apparel and the design will ensure a 'status' to the wearer of this pen. So for my country men it would not be a bad deal. The above I suspect may hold true for most of the world today, where the parker 'Arrow' is a recognised symbol, and a golden pen at that will attract attention to itself. For the more knowing there may be better options for equivalent money.
CONCLUSION: 40/60 or 6.66/10
I may have been a bit harsh in assessing the pen. It does have a personality, but while grading it I cannot in my mind honestly separate it from the Vector. Plus the fact that although on the whole it is a nice pen, but I see design imitations from other models when I see it. In short a nice pen on its own, but not an original design by Parker. Knowing that reduces the worth of the pen as a writing instrument from a comapny famous for its innovative designs in the years gone by.
Would I recommend it:
To a student, junior executive as the only pen they are going to have - yes for its quality, personality and status (in gold finish).
To a FPNer - maybe / maybe not, unless you are a parker / Vector collector, or are completing a thin pen collection.
Edited by jslallar, 27 November 2012 - 01:39.