i can't speak really to durability, because I've only owned my Pelikans for a relatively short time. My M800 I've had for a year and a half or so, and the M600 that I just sold off was about 3 or 4 years old and it was in excellent condition.
However, I do think that my M800 is my favorite pen and by far the best writer. My experience with brands is relatively narrow -- I've used Pilots, Waterman, Lamy, although not very many of each brand. But in my (limited) experience, my Pelikan's nib far outperforms any of my other pens.
In addition to the nib, I really like the physical pen itself. My M800 has got a very nice length, weight, and heft, for me at least. I know people that don't like its size, but for me, it's just nice to hold in the hand. The stripes, the styling, the look all appeal to me much more than, say, a Montblanc. Now, don't get me wrong, Montblancs are fine pens, but they have a very conservative feel to them. And that's absolutely fine, but as personal preference, I like Pelikan's colors and styling a lot more.
I'll also echo sargetalon's comment about their company and history. Although I don't (yet) own any vintage Pelikans, I find that Pelikan has a very rich history. I understand that it's a real intangible thing, but I'll give you an personal take. I walked into a Montblanc boutique recently and a sales rep asked me if I knew anything about Montblanc history. I said, "Yes, only a little, it started in the late 1800's or early 1900's, they started off with fountain pens, blah blah." And the rep comes back to me and says, "Oh, yes, but I mean, you know that we are owned by Richemont now, right? The same company that owns Cartier, and we maintain our exclusiveness by making very limited products." Pelikan on the other hand, remains blissfully free of this image/burden, and they stick to what they do best -- making great pens, every bit as good (if not better) than any of their competitors.
So, I do own and enjoy other pens, and I think the world would be a bit more boring place if it was filled only with, excellent as they are, Pelikans. However, it's the only pen I own that consistently makes me smile and just play with it and stare at the finish. In other words, my Pelikan makes me genuinely happy as I use it. And that's what it's really all about, isn't it?
Edited by Trebor, 05 February 2015 - 05:56.