Recently my interest in all things fountain pen related has spawned a specific sub-genre - a fascination for experiencing nibs made of different materials such as gold, titanium, palladium, etc. Looking around, it seems that the Bock 250 triple system is the ideal platform for experiencing material differences since they seem to have the widest range of conceivable material options for this particular nib. It is thus hardly surprising that I have embarked on developing a collection of different Bock 250 nibs. To eradicate as many variables as possible, I am getting all of them in medium tip so as to focus solely on experiencing material differences.
Amongst the earliest Bock 250 sets, I got a Titanium one thanks to the help of fellow FPNer Tervinder (@romee_win) and his brother Rajdilawar who got it for me from Germany. Just looking at the colour of the Titanium nib convinced me that it will go very well with oxidized silver trims. Since Manoj is the only Indian pen maker that I am aware of who is using silver accoutrements, I approached him with a request to get a pen made. To match the colour of silver trims and titanium nibs, I opted to use Conway Stewart Heather blanks and hence the moniker used for the pen.
Instead of creating a design from scratch, I shared with Manoj one of the drafts I had of the Azaadi design. This was largely similar in concept except for being slightly larger and having only one broad ring in the cap instead of having two slimmer ones. It is a classic design with simple straight lines for the cap and with only a slight tapering of the barrel. The top of the cap and the bottom of the barrel are flat and polished. The body of the barrel and the cap are polished smooth and shiny. The broad silver hand crafted band on the cap with elaborate motifs add a touch of flair. Just like the Azaadi (and its muse the Churchill), this pen too has the concentric circles on the cap finial to give it a crown like look. The clip and trims used are all made of silver. The turquoise/teal base colour of the heather material and its pearlescent properties nicely complements the muted colour of the silver trims and the titanium nib.
Size and Balance
At 155mm capped, this is a card carrying member of the oversized pens club. But don’t let the length let you have misconceptions about its heft. Being a completely kitless pen with no metal other than in the nib, clip and bands means it is in-fact surprisingly light. Despite the length, it is nicely balanced and can easily provide comfortable writing for extended periods. The simply sublime section design adds to the comfort quotient. One can post the cap if so desired, but I prefer to use the pen unposted. The excellent Conway Stewart acrylic material is light and yet strong and hence the pen despite being oversize doesn’t compromise on the weight aspect and this contributes a lot towards the overall comfort.
The Bock 250 Titan nib in medium width is the heart and soul of the pen. As I had mentioned earlier, this pen exists for the sole purpose of allowing me to experience this nib. From an appearance perspective, this nib looks exactly like any other Bock 250 nib out there. Only the subdued matte grey colour and the Titan branding on the nib below the Bock logo gives you a hint that it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The clip nib and bands complement each other nicely thanks to their colour.
The thing I like about European pens is how most of them use the standard international system for cartridges and compatible convertors. I like this system better than any other because of the wide compatibility, system life longevity, value and convenience. So I am not at all surprised and quite delighted that Bock 250 triple systems adopt the same standard. This pen has paired the nib unit with a Schmidt K5 converter to use bottled inks and can also accept cartridges from a host of brands.
Manoj is a master craftsman who is known to work on only one pen at a time with an eagle’s eye focus on the details. That naturally translates to hallmark of quality and the pen benefits from the same. The fit and finish and the tolerances are impeccable for a handmade pen. It is obvious that the pen has been made with care and a considerable amount of time has gone into polishing and buffing to ensure a very high quality product.
I know all of you are interested about the writing experience more than anything else. I will keep it short and unambiguously state that this nib is simply awesome. The nib is super smooth, appropriately wet and glides over the paper laying down a nice wet line. There are no skips or false starts and overall the pen is a superb writer. The closest analogy I can think of is a couple of Visconti Dreamtouch nibs I have tried and this nib feels exactly the same.
Just to ensure that I am not being prematurely exuberant, I have been using this pen in continuous rotation for over a month now all the time keeping it inked with Daytone Blue-Black. I am happy to say, a month of cohabitation has not changed my opinion a bit and I still smile at the prospect of putting the pen to use. Please note that I am well aware that there are likely to be significant unit to unit variations between nibs and your personal experience might vary. So while I am no authority on whether all Bock Titanium nibs are great, the one I have received certainly makes me very happy.
Price and Value
I will make a distinction between the value proposition of the pen as made by Fosfor and the overall pen’s cost including that of the Titanium nib which I had procured by myself. As far as the standalone pen is concerned, it is incredibly VFM. I may have mentioned this before but I will do it again that I am not aware of any other custom pen-makers who offer this level of quality and individualization at this price point other than Manoj and Mr. L Subramaniam of ASA Pens. They hear you out, try to understand what is it that you wish to achieve and the satisfaction persists long after the cost concerns have receded.
Given how happy I am with the Titan nib, it is no wonder that I find the overall pen an amazing value for the quality and beauty that it offers. I am under no illusion however that part of the value perception comes into the picture because I wanted to experience something different in a Titanium nib. There may be quite a few steel nibs that can be tuned equally well (and I may have quite a few of them as well) and your perception of value is likely to be influenced by this fact. To Summarize, the pen is a great value with a properly tuned steel nib and an amazing value with the Titan nib if such a nib is what you are specifically seeking out.
The measurements in this section have not been taken with any precision instrument or laboratory techniques but should suffice to give you a fair idea of the size of the instrument.
Length (capped) – 154.5 mm
Length (uncapped) – 137 mm
Length (cap) – 71 mm
Length (section) – 22 mm
Maximum width – 14 mm
Minimum width – 8.5 mm
Maximum section width – 10 mm
Minimum section width – 8.25 mm
I had commissioned this pen with a very specific objective and it has successfully delivered without an iota of doubt. Not only do I like this pen, it has managed to wriggle into my regular list. I rarely ink up the same pen for four successive weeks and this one is breaking all records. It is very comfortable, well balanced and an excellent writer thanks to the wonderful Bock Titan nib. The silver clip and band is a unique Fosfor signature lends the pen a degree of exclusivity. I have no hesitation in recommending this model to others.
Conway Stewart Heather blanks from www.theturnersworkshop.co.uk
Bock 250 Titan nib from www.starbond-europa.de
The nib is also available at www.beaufortink.co.uk
Pen made by www.fosforpens.com