Here is a review of a pen that does not get a lot of love, for some legitimate reasons, and some nitpicky (even snobby) reasons. This was my first Italian pen. I bought it a few months ago simply because I liked the way it looked. All I knew about Montegrappa was the obnoxious Stallone skulls-a-plenty pen.
The Fortuna line, as I understand, represents a move toward creating an "entry level" product in their range, to appeal to younger users and newer fountain pen users; users who may not be interested in traditional (read: boring) black-and-gold cigar-shaped pens or who can't afford any of Montegrappa's other offerings. (Get them hooked when they're young, eh?)
The pen comes in black or white polished resin with rose gold, rhodium or ruthenium trim choices. (There are also some limited versions that are festooned with skulls because...of course it's festooned with skulls.) Mine is the white version with ruthenium trim.
The Montegrappa packaging is pretty neat. A blue-gray slipcover reveals a blue-gray box, which holds a blue-gray leatherette-feeling hexagonal case. The Montegrappa "repeating-tile" motif is present throughout. The pen case has a thick, metal plaque on it and has a magnetic closure. Inside is the pen, a converter, a pair of cartridges (in blue-black and black) and some paperwork. All in all it's a pretty classy affair that lets the user feel like they're buying a luxury product.
Length, capped: 13.6cm
Length, uncapped: 12.5cm
Length, posted: 16cm
Width, at section: 11.1mm
Width, max.: 13.5mm
Weight, capped: 38g
Here it is alongside two other relatively common pens: a Pilot Capless and a Montblanc 146
Impressions & Design
It's definitely a unique-looking pen. That's part of the appeal. It has a very stark aesthetic, simple black and white. I've heard more than one person comment that it looks like the pen Apple would design (but the Apple pen would only work with Apple ink on Apple paper). Its shape is unusual as well. The barrel is a slightly tapered cylinder that truncates rather abruptly.
The cap is massive and has a badge on top that reads '1912' along with a massive cap ring with 'Montegrappa' engraved on it. The clip, which has a neat little roller, is incredibly stiff and is also black. Everything visible that's not white is black, including the nib. Of particular note are the heavy, square-cut threads on the section. They give the pen a quasi-industrial feel that is a little at odds with the futuristic look of the rest of the pen but does go with the chunky aesthetic. They secure the cap securely, though, which screws off and on in one-and-a-half twists.
When using the pen, it feels nice and balanced, but very heavy when posted. While the barrel is white resin, the section feels like it's white-enameled brass. It is cold to the touch.
When loaded with a red ink, Diamine Oxblood, in my case, it makes a major impression. To quote one of my colleagues, "That's like the kind of pen a vampire would use."
The nib is steel, which is a major point of contention about this pen. It is, you guessed it, black. It has 'Montegrappa' engraved on it along with the tile pattern from the packaging. The feed is plastic. It is nicely proportioned to the length and width of the pen. It's a handsome nib, though. I believe Montegrappa now outsources nib production to Bock, but I'm not sure.
What I am sure about is that this is the best steel nib I've ever used. Out of the box, its flow was perfect and it writes ridiculously smoothly. It doesn't skip or hesitate. It was tuned perfectly. It really sets a high bar for other companies to follow.
In terms of performance, it's pretty stiff. There's some spring to it, but not a lot. I'm a lefty hook-writer with a very light hand, so any kind of flex is lost on me anyway.
One thing to note, however, is that this nib is also extremely narrow. I have a medium, but it lays down a finer line than my extra-fine Pelikan M800. I checked to make sure. Yeah, it's a "medium". Go figure.
Standard international catridges. The converter is a screw-in type. Yup. Nothing new here.
One thing to note is that if you fill the converter via the nib, you will get ink on the white section. That's just a pain in the neck to keep pearly white.
So here's where people start complaining. The MSRP for this pen is 290USD. That's an awful lot for a c/c pen with a steel nib. (People like gold nibs.) For me, though, the amount of tuning that this nib obviously received at the factory makes that argument fall flat. How many times have you had a way out-of-tune gold nib on a new pen? Tune is more important than material. Similarly, people want a piston-filling system and not cartridges. That's more of a design choice than a cost-cutting choice. Cartridges have as many pros as cons and pistons certainly aren't perfect. (Also, Nakayas are c/c pens. So there.)
The rest of the high cost is, I think, simply because of Montegrappa's positioning as a luxury product, no different than Montblanc or OMAS or Cartier etc etc.
Ultimately, this pen can be had for much, much less online. I got mine for around 150USD, new. That changes the whole equation regarding the steel nib and c/c complaints and, actually, makes this pen a pretty good value.
It looks cool as all get-out, it was reasonably priced, it's got the best out-of-the-box steel nib (and one of the best nibs of any material) that I've ever used, it's Italian. It's a pen that stands out. It's a pen that's meant to stand out, but it does so without looking comical. What's not to like?
Edited by atomic_doug, 04 July 2015 - 15:20.