Until I received this pen, Laban was not a name that I had heard of, and would not have become aware of had I not been offered this fountain pen as a replacement for a very warped Monteverde Catalina butterscotch. In my view quite a generous offer by the Ebay seller I bought the Catalina from. He assured me that it was a much better pen. Based on the price, that seems true – in the internet the price range is about $95 to $120, and the recommended retail price appears to be $140. In comparison I paid $65 for the Catalina.
The Laban web site has practically no detailed information on the pens they sell – on laban.com they only show a few special collections, and on labanusa.com they have 82!!! pages of pens, but still absolutely no details. I am always skeptical when a manufacturer has a catalogue of 100’s of pens…..
According to the description on most sites the pen is made of “mother of pearl” resin and has platinum plated trim. Whether the trim is really platinum plated I have no way of confirming.
The complete pen is in resin, i.e. section, barrel and cap. This did surprise me, as from the internet it looked like only the barrel was resin. The barrel has a very nice mother of pearl look, and the rest of the pen has a silver pearlish shimmer depending on how the light falls on it.
It comes in black, red, green and purple versions – to me the black version looks the most elegant.
The nib is a two tone F nib, and has the words Laban Iridium on it. According to some comments on FPN about this pen, it appears to be a Bock nib.
The pen came in a what I thought was a slightly extravagant box, with no cartridges or converter provided. I think Laban could save on the box and provide a converter instead. I bought a Pelikan converter, which fits perfectly.
Now some facts:
- Length capped: 145 mm
- Length uncapped: 128 mm
- Length Posted: does not seem to be made to be posted
- Barrel Diameter: 13 mm
- Cap Diameter: 15 mm
- Weight: 37g capped, 24g uncapped
The pen is made completely of resin, except for the insert of the section and in the barrel, which is plated metal. The nib is very nicely plated two tone nib with the Laban logo and some decoration.
The barrel is really nicely done with what looks like long segments of mother of pearl. The cap is black shimmering resin with a broad band at the bottom, two rings at the top and a metal logo inset at the end. The clip is fairly stiff. On mine screwing the cap on is very difficult, the thread does not take immediately and there is quite a bit of resistance initially; it takes only one turn to close. Not sure if this is a problem only on mine.
Overall the pen makes an impression of good quality.
Writing with the pen
I chose a fine nib, but I would say it tends slightly toward medium, rather than the other way. It is clearly a non flex nib, which suits me down to the ground. I have inked it up with Waterman tender purple. I had absolutely no problems – the pen worked beautifully first time and is really lovely to write with. An excellent smooth writer.
It is a relatively chunky pen, very nice to hold and the balance is good. Posting the cap however makes it very top heavy, and I found the pen to be unsuitable for posting – there is no positive placing of the cap, and it seems not to have been designed to be posted. Because it is so nicely balanced without, I find it perfect unposted.
Hard to tell after a week – I don’t carry my pens around with me, so they are not really subject to wear. The resin surface is highly polished, so not sure how it will hold up under daily use.
Conclusion / Value for money
I would not have bought this pen, but now that I have it, I really do like it very much, and it has become one of my favourites. I find it very difficult to say whether it is value for money – it is definitely a quality pen, but without knowing for certain whether the trim is really platinum plated, and the nib really is from Bock, it is hard to make a judgement.
Here is a size comparison to a Jinhao 159 and the Monteverde Catalina.