This review is dedicated to the city of Paris, its people, its spirit.
Half way through this review is when the massacre happened, peace be on all of us.
The tragic co-incidence is that the pen under review is marked – Paris.
Warning – This review contains bad puns, parody, snowflakes, mud-slinging, dodgy English, terrible grammar, digressions, ostentatious use of langue française , immoral pictures and a certain dragon. If you are one of those with sensitive tastes, or are easily offended by any of the above, please refrain from reading/looking any further. You have been warned!
Taking a page out of Bilbo Baggins’s travelogue, I’d say that I practically have the entire fellowship in my ring sans one exception. There is Legolas epitomised by the shaeffer Targa 1004 in Sterling Silver XF, lean, mean, and blisteringly fast combined with elven feature of immortality
The Pelikan M215 Lozinge with a, wide hairy M steel nib is the ever reliable Mr Samwise Gamji
Then there is the ‘Click’ Ebonite Gimli with its rough edges, less than acceptable table manners (inky fingers), huge (dr)ink capacity, temperament etc., despite its failings, I keep tugging at this drawf’s beard often.
I found Aragorn in the form of the Pelikan 1000 with an ‘S’ nib (Oh, that’s an another story; if you survive this review, let me know in the comments section if you’d like me to write that story for you)
Frodo in the Parker Duofold international, the other two hobbits are my Carené s with Stub and Oblique-Stub. The Lamy 2000 Stainless Steel dons the hat of Boromir. As you see there is a hole in the ring, so to say, the old wizard, the one who is equally comfortable in the company of hobbits, elves, kings and even a Balrog. As soon as my retina registered the image of the Waterman exception Night and Day with platinum stripe, my limbic system lit up and the amygdala switched to Gollum mode …. “we wants it, we deserves it” etc, my banker choked on an olive at the same time somewhere in Spain. Akin to Gollam’s mentality, you can’t give up on precious just because it is expensive, as expensive is a function of time and timing, or so I convinced myself. After relentless searching for months a good deal manifested on ‘great river’.com; Too good to be true, but too tempting to ignore, caved in and placed an order. Funny that the price tripled as soon as my order was processed, I didn’t know what would happen, would they honour the order or just send me their standard apology e-mail? Surely you have been to a zoo, but were you there during ‘meal time’? I mean, when the zoo keepers are preparing to feed the animals? Yes? The smell is in the air, stomach is burbling with hunger pangs. They know they’ll get the food, but they just can’t wait. They are circling, running up and down, howling and being very impatient in their extra-large pen (yes, the other pen which means an enclosure and you did see what I did there, didn’t you?). Then you know my plight until my pen arrived in the mail box after two weeks. I don’t remember how the outer packaging looked, as it got torn to smithereens in a hurry. Well, what do we have here, an unassuming package that practically every other lower tier Waterman came in, nothing exception-al. Gingerly the outer sleeve is slid and there is the waterman’s usual hard cardboard box, box is slowly opened to reveal the most elegant pen I have ever set eyes on, yet !
Unlike the Carene, Charleton, Perspective or expert which did not have the control number, this box contains a control number which can be used to return the pen. There is a box of 8 cartidges of Serenity- blue and a waterman booklet that contains information on how to fill the pen, and an international guarantee.
Yes there are bling pens out there whose 24 carat gold barrel is hand-turned on a rose-engine by 14 and three fourths blind virgins working tirelessly for 3 years and 14 months, studded with diamonds taken directly from Smaug’s den , Ultra Ultra Limited Edition, limited to just half a pen (they found that by the time they finished making the cap, they erm… were no longer virgins). Some completely outrageously ostentatious ones that would put a full-size-lit-up-Christmas-tree-with-Santa-sitting-on-it to shame (don’t know what I mean? have a look at some special Italian pens) , some oxymoronic (I’m looking at you Montblanc - Mahatma Gandhi http://www.montblanc...tma-gandhi.html ), some geek delights with their innovative functional designs like the Pilot VPs, Conids , Snorkels etc. Then there is the elegant one - exception, black lacquer, sharp looking guilloche-engraved Platinum pin stripes, silver trim , solid , functional and holds its own in a sea of ostentatious snowflakes. I digress.
Gandalf had arrived! Since he was still clad in grey (Medium nib), he was neatly packed and sent off the helpful elf’s at Newellco (I have written about their fantastic service before: http://www.fountainp...y-it-should-be/ ) for a stubborn change. While Gandalf was in the mines of Moria earning his badge, the rest of the fellowship did give me good company but the zoo keepers had to be summoned often to help contain an aforementioned hungry animal. Three weeks later another package is decimated (yes, this time I tore it into exactly 10 pieces), it’s from the Elves. Gandalf the white had re-joined the fellowship of the Ring. All hail the new white wizard with a stubby nib.
If you are still reading this, I hear you mutter – Start the FµÇ%ing show, well hang on, Rome was not built in a day… wassit?. Let me take a détour from middle earth to extreme east, humour me this.
There are show pieces that are immensely beautiful, delicate, ornate and often expensive. They are made explicitly for one purpose – display. Take for example the “For show only” deliberately made blunt Katana and Wakizashis, Legendary temper (of the steel kind), Masterful craftsmanship, elaborate sheath but doesn’t poke. The point is – what’s the point? A fountain pen is made to write, and writing is what makes it a pen. Unlike a Katana which is unsuitable for cutting veggies (Unless you like your salad with a dash of traditional Choji Oil) a good fountain pen could be used for both – cleaving short notes during meetings or a verbal diarrhoea like this one. Write it does, the exception, with aplomb if I may add. Every pen worth its nib writes, but we are not here to read a binary report are we? we are interested in the how, we are curious about on what all, we would like to know if this is a low slung super sports car that’s flip over a tarmac after encountering the slightest bump or it is a rock crawler that eats up the Rubicon-trail for breakfast ?
Ladies and Gentlemen if I were to report that the Waterman Exception Night and Day with Platinum stripes and silver trim endowed with a Stub nib writes like a
- Lump of deep frozen soft butter sliding on a red-hot inclined mirror-polished steel plane, or
- Rain drop rolling on a fresh lily pad, or
- Mercury globules scuttling on flat shiny polished lens grade glass, or
- Your private data slipping out of a high-security databases/websites <sorry, couldn’t help>, or
- Insert your other favourite analogy for nib smoothness here
I would have to go sit in the corner with a dunce hat and plead guilty for spreading a blatant lie. Is it smooth? Plenty; Is it the smoothest? No, but not far from it either. The smoothest Stub Nib crown (right out the box without sending it off to a nib meister) though, goes to another of Waterman’s stable mate the Carene.
Of course there are, I am sure many other factory stub-nib pens out there that are far smoother than the Carene, but my stable is small. Come to think of it, if my pen box were indeed a stable, a couple of sturdy studs, a cosy cow, a couple gallant goats and erm cheap-sheep etc. I digress. The Exception is more like a winter Olympics solo figure-skating champion who is practicing on a frozen-solid serene Siberian lake on a crispy bright winter morning under a pastel blue sky. Calm, composed absolutely sure about the moves, this champion we observe, apart from performing gravity and physics defying routines is whistling and humming a catchy tune, but one can still hear the blades cutting though the ice, the slight rustle when the titanium composite tipped steel, cuts through the cold crystal lattice. Hum it does, the exception nib, while it splices through paper floating on its single tone18K solid gold- Rhodium plated appendage. The hum adds to the experience, it is not a singing nib for sure, not like the Pavarotti-on-steroids Pelikan M-1000 Nib, no ma’am. This is more like a gentle young lady humming in the shower trying to recall a tune that her long lost grandmother sang to her as a lullaby when she was a toddler. I tried that once, the bathroom singing I mean and my neighbour croaked, this one still registered as croaked under mysterious circumstances. Unlike our Olympics champion on ice skates, the exception can’t spread its tines one bit. I understand from this very forum that the ancestors of the Exception could easily carry out that feat. So, flex is out, but does it at least have a spring to its tines? Not unless you use it as a crutch. One can feel the paper through the pen, slightly, just the way I like it. If one pays enough attention, you can feel the texture of the paper, the sensitive among us could distinguish between 60gm vs 90gm vs 120gm by just drawing a line blindfolded. A slightly wider line is rendered by the exception when compared to the Carene, but the Carene also renders the thinnest, Shading is better with the Exception though. There are other forces at play when judging line variation as we already know, for example the result and experience that you get when you take a single 90gm paper, place it on a smooth hard surface, say a glass table will be significantly different than writing on a padded book. When it comes to shading though, even with medium flow the exception is able to eke out enough shading to please the eye. Imagine if the nib is tuned to wet flow and one uses beautiful shading inks like the Iroshizuku line, the results could be ethereal.
Now that we are in the flow business, the pen was tuned to mid flow by the elves at Newellco, so that it behaves well on business paper (read cheap – made for ball-points). I’ve tried it on various denominations from 60gm to 190 from different brands; Rhodias, laser-printer paper, post-its and funky fibrous Japanese paper, tissue paper at the dining table etc., not a skip in the beat. This pen turns out to be rock-crawler of the fountain pen world, perfect for business sojourns where you don’t know which paper you gotta ink (Think airports, immigration forms, tic-tac-toe on the back of the immigration form while waiting in the queue, customs declarations when carrying product samples, hotels receptions, dinner cheques, newspaper sudoku… etc etc ). As we all know, that there are multiple variables at play here some of which is determined by the user himself/herself, for example how much force does one put on the pen, the angle the nib, the way it is turned, speed of writing, writing-style, letter size, the grip and sometimes the stare as well, Oooo ya the stare; ok, not the stare, but you get the point…
Now that we have been through the performance grind let’s get into the looks and details department, shall we? Handsome, exquisite, L'art nouveau, suprême de raffinement, extrêmement élégante … these are the words/phrases that come to mind (I can curse in French too). Trust me, I don’t know a word of French, I’m adding all this to make it look high-brow, or so I’m told. Although partial to dual-tone nibs, this Rhodium clad 18K affair shines in the company of O-so bah-uh-ti-full platinum pin-stripes and other Rhodium coated appointments. The nib has a globe motif with 12 longitudinal lines and 4 latitude lines. “Waterman Ideal” is etched on the nib to good effect. The size of the Nib when compared to the rest of the body is just perfect, in comparison to its stable mate Waterman elegance which erm., IMHO, is a tad hmm ‘Petite’ in the nib department. The “élégance” may work well with a “la petite robe noire” (LBD), but if I don one, onlookers retinae are guaranteed to be burnt and pretty much always chaos ensues; I am certified WMD – weapon of mass distress. I digress, on the other end of the spectrum though, you have pens that have spades attached to them, ladies and gentlemen let me introduce to the Namiki Emperor who is already sitting on Freud’s couch; I say no more.
Twirl the nib to find a wholesome feed with jet black fins made of plastic (if plastic sounds ‘cheap’ to you, how about we use the name of its noble twin ‘precious resin’). Notice that the fins are more closely packed at the base of the nib and gradually transitions towards spare while the ridge grows in girth. This is in direct contrast to its no-fin pen-box-mate Parker Centennial Big Red with a 3B (new version). Somehow without taking the functionality into consideration the finned feed looks (IMHO of course) way better the Ski-pist-slope of the aforementioned Parker. The fins remind me of the enigmatic sand shark’s gills swimming through the inky blue translucent shallow waters. There is an “ST” and “35” imprint on the feed. Although I’m fairly sure that “ST” stands for Stub (Duh), the secret of “35” eludes me, maybe experts on this very site could help? My guess is though, that “35”indicates the feed length in millimetres.
Let’s get back to the pin-stripes, shall we? Let me entertain you with an anecdote. Recently I happened to attend a high-profile meeting with a Japanese Conglomerate with the CTO sitting next to me. Usually these meetings with big boys are as entertaining as watching paint dry twice, I noticed that the notes-booklet on the table was made of good quality paper, so I whipped the Exception from my jacket and started doodling, err… making notes. The paint was not drying fast enough, the first page of the notebook was filled with doodles and as I was about to turn the nib to my face a gentle voice near my shoulder whispered in a very typical Japanese accent ‘Very nice pen’ . OK, I woke up, recovered from the stupor, and offered the gentlemen to have a look at it. A gentle bow ensued and in half a second later I see a high quality Schneider-Kreuznach 10X illuminated loupe come out of his pocket!! The stripes are inspected, then the nib, the cap, the stripes again. He stops, smiles and says ‘very precise, very beautiful’. I was half expecting him to give me the pen back, as I was already feeling nervous, the other half wanted to continue with the interaction as it was, way far better than watching the second coat of paint dehydrate. He then gets an optical cloth, shows it to me and says ‘may I?’, I was part offended, part intrigued , part WTH, since it took too long for the words to come out, the best I thought was to do is bow, which I did. He proceeds to polish one facet of the lacquer coated brass body and out comes the loupe again. He takes his time and says ‘very many layers, transparent, high quality, very nice, German?’ I wanted to say French but, I just said no. So he summarized the exception for me. Beautiful, Precision engineering, can be passed on to the next gen. He did ask for the maker of the pen later, I am sure a takeover is being planned as you read.
Honestly the guillochée does it for me, just look at it. It exudes precision, attention to detail, craftsmanship and it stood the10X multi-element colour-corrected illuminated loupe inspection by a Japanese OCD CTO. It looks absolutely stunning and deflects the light in its characteristic light-shade-light which takes me back to the lab where as a young un I was staring at newton’s rings, agog at the beauty of interference of light. This is precisely the feeling you get when you look at the pattern, it is just mesmerising. Even my camera sensor goes into a tizzy displaying moiré in certain angles, despite the AA filer, so go figure.
Did I mention the barrel was square-ish? No? Oh, yes it is and did I also forget to mention that the barrel and the nib-unit connects via bayonet mechanism/mount? The “baïonnette mount” Very similar to the D/SLR or for that matter a range-finder lens mount, (not the M42 of course). More info here : https://en.wikipedia...i/Bayonet_mount . This way the square-ish joint is never misaligned. Simple but very effective engineering. The Barrel at the bayonet end tapers from the big square with each side measuring 1.32mm into a smaller square of 9.9mm. The barrel is released from the nib unit by a simple anti-clock wise twist; amusingly this works even with the cap on, so one can change the cartridge without removing the cap. The barrel plugs back into the nib-unit with a very reassuring click, neat. As you may notice, only 2 (opposing) sides of the barrel receive the guillochée treatment, the other two are beautiful deep translucent black lacquer.
The smaller end of the barrel is crowned with mirror polished cabochon which extends on the barrel by 3.7mm. I’d wax eloquent about how much attention to detail has been bestowed on this, but since eloquence not in my (g)jeans, and I’ve run out of wax, I’ll let these pictures speak.
The cap needs its own chapter, really. Not only does it get as much attention to detail as the barrel and nib unit, it looks gorgeous, the characteristic waterman split section clip is spring loaded, a spring that holds the weight of the pen. In fact this is the only pen among the full size full weight variety that scored full marks in my upside-down clip test. The test is simple, take a plain old A4 laser printer paper, clip the pen onto it. Make sure that pen is filled to its maximum capacity with ink. Now turn the paper + pen upside down. Give it a few short vertical nudges. Now repeat the test with a thin, smooth nylon cloth. If the pen falls off: fail. If the pen moves down by more than a 10mm : fail. If of course the pen holds its ground and doesn’t budge: pass. What’s the point of this test, you ask: simple, I don’t want my pens to fly off just because I bent over to pick a fallen object. Till now the pens that have failed the test miserably are the Lamy 2000 steel, geez come on LAMY, when you change from Makrolon to Steel, you ought to upgrade the spring as well; another culprit that funnily enough also comes from the stable of LAMY is their LAMY 2000 Titanium ball point (I use ball points for tactical reasons, not much for writing). Hell, the 2K-steel falls of even if there is no ink in the barrel! Function / form, my flabby old hairy gluteus maximus. I digress. The Exception’s cap also gets the beautiful guillochée treatment similar to the barrel.
If you observe closely there is a “P” sitting over a “W” inside a square on the clip. Does it stand for Paris, Waterman? Any pointers? The cap also has two bands, one on top and the other, bottom. On the bottom band, there is a precision engraving: “FRANCE”. The band on the cap match the bands on the barrel in sheen, texture, finish and lustre. Surprise surprise, the cap has a serial number on it ! On another note, the cap can be easily disassembled just with a screw driver. Some images for your entertainment follow.
If you are adamant poster, this pen is bad news. No sir/ma’am, this won’t post, unless one wants to justify the action by saying: “But I got big hands bro, and webbed feet and I wear a size 200 shoe” Ah, Yes I see that you are holding “understanding insecurity – for dummies” in your armpit, please join the Namiki Emperor on the couch. Jokes apart, no, seriously, the balance of the pen goes for a toss if used posted, the cap is heavy and it shows. The pen sans the cap is no push over either, the barrel weighs a substantial amount but it is not ungainly. Like one of those long distance adventure bikes, which look imposing and are bloody heavy until you ride one. Once on the bike, as the wheels roll, the bike disappears, the wind caresses your skin, and vast wide landscape beckons, you are no longer counting miles, but enjoying your smiles. The exception does it to you, poetry ensues, or an essay or maybe another review like this. Like a katana which is usually heavy (unless you have trained for years), if you know how to wield it, it’ll dance with you else you’ll end up in a bloody mess. That rounds up the exception as well, which tips the scales over 55 grams. Yes, this review was hand-written and then typed, yes including the photographs, if you have to ask. No, really, just the review.
If you are an over-writer or if you happen to hold you pen like a banana about to be eaten, then the square-ish nib section could pose a problem. The nib section gently tapers from square from the baïonnette section to a circle at the nib-end. Since I hold pens with a tripod grip, this doesn’t bother me; in fact the grip feels very natural, even better than the regular round ones.
The Exception is no exception when it comes to filling mechanism; it uses a standard cartridge/converter system and takes Waterman Cartridges and Converters. The interesting bit is that when the pen came back after the nib exchange, an additional converter was included, nice. Although I’m biased towards integral filling systems which use the barrel itself as a container (pistons/bulk-fillers/snorkels etc) this somehow works for the exception. I carry my ink and eye-dropper and just refill the cartridge. Another thing to report for people who travel, this pen has yet to embarrass me by leaking during inter/continental flights. I cross my tines… I mean fingers.
The cap fits securely on the pen with a reassuring click. The cap can be operated single-handed, an advantage in many an occasion, be it at airports, hospitals, hotel lobbies, taxis, courts, farms any place where your non-writing arm/hand is engaged in holding luggage, hands, pigs, Katanas etc. Although the process of capping in itself is quite assuring, it is not the best. I assure you it is secure, but the feeling could be better. If you really want to feel the assurance, try Legolas, I mean Shaeffer Targa. The difference is undeniable.
So, what do we have here? A 10/10 ? Grail-pen, Unobtainium, Krypton? None of it, sorry. Let me put it this way, I use it regularly, it disappears after the first stroke. It brings a broad smile to my f-ugly face when it’s writing or just sitting pretty in my jacket. That’s all I need and want… YMMV.
Here are is a couple of questions for you
- Let us know your fellowship of the ring , which pen would you choose to which character and why
- This is my first review on fpn, so don’t be gentle, get the bricks and rotten tomatoes out, I like to learn fast
- Your view on picture-to-words ratio - Less/enough/too-much/OTT
- Your view on picture quality
Thanks for reading and hope it was useful
-Dance Of Light