It's been awhile since I've written a review, my last one being 3 years ago. Of late, I've been making it a habit to rotate my pens, to the tune of every 2-4 weeks. One of the Montblanc Writer's Edition receiving less love than their peers is certainly the Kafka. Hence my choice today
I bought this at the London WES in 2013 from a dealer for 450 GBP/560 Euros, being told it was 'mint' but anyone who's bought a pen or two could tell that wasn't true, from the number of micro scratches found on the pens which you would get with use. But the condition was good, the nib acceptable to write with on paper , so I took a leap and was rewarded.
The Kafka is a long pen - in length, the main reason I've not used it as frequently as the rest of my pens, simply because it doesn't fit into my shirt pocket, which is a pity, since it actually has a clip that would make Goldilocks proud. Most fountain pens don't anyway, but this one really sticks out as shown. So it's mostly a pen I use for writing out study notes, or in my journal.
It's not a pen I would post.
The clips stems off the top of the cap, and is neither too tight to the point of frustration or too loose for comfort.
Haven't used the pen in awhile, hence the dull silver, but I think it lends character ! After all it is a 2004 pen, a great way of tracking how old your pens are, when it's engraved on the nib directly !
From top to bottom; Kafka, Pelikan M1000, Pelikan M600, Parker 75
The nib is an 18k gold nib, with the familiar 4810m and Montblanc snowflake symbol engraved on the upper half, and a cockroach to represent one of Kafka's most famous publicly known works, Metamorphosis, where the main character well...not to spoil the story...turns into a cockroach. The nib is not particularly stiff, nor does it have any amount of flex to it, as most modern nibs do. As this is a medium, it doesn't have the 'stub' feel you may get with the broader Montblanc nibs. It was a dream to write with, and the feed keeps up very well, I never had to adjust the cartridge converter mid way ,as you would get with some pens.
The sometimes misunderstood, maligned and yet reliable cartridge converter. It seems tightly sealed, so I've not tried seeing what happened if I tugged harder. It's not removable from the pen unit.
The choice of colour for the body and cap is a dark ruby red, which at most angles, seem to be a deep and dark black. The body and cap of the pen isn't very reflective for all purposes, so even shining a light directly on to the pen doesn't bring out the reds in a more pleasing manner, as seen in the photo with flash below.
Glimmers of red, mostly at the tips.
It somehow shuns the light and displays its colours best in a dimly lit room, much like the terror of a flying cockroach landing on your face when the power goes out. Not a finger print magnet, which is a huge plus as well.
Why red ? I haven't read enough Kafka, but I can only guess that the term Kafkaesque is frequently applied to the bureaucratic red tape we all find ourselves entangled in on a daily basis . Back to the pen, it's mostly seen at both ends of the pen, where the innards of the pen end at.
The bottom end of the pen is tapered off with a piece of sterling silver, which you will see is rectangular in shape, but that transits into a the circular shape which we are all familiar with for most pens. Difficult to capture on camera. but the reflection of light of its surface tells you it changes along the way. Running your fingers along them and you'll find a seamless transition of the shapes.
Why wasn't this pen more popular ? My guesses:
1) regarded as being cheaper due to the cartridge converter filling mechanism. I've noticed many FP users here regard having non cc's as being more 'premium', so this was probably seen as Montblanc going cheap on a writer's edition. In my opinion cc's are great, much easier to maintain and less of a hassle to repair. (walking into a minefield here..)
2) less trimmings: The entire body of the pen is mostly 'precious resin, aka plastic' besides the silver trimmings, compared to other pens which had more ornately decorated caps, bodies, nib sections etc.
3) simple design: well some of the writer editions can simply be...quite garish. I've a George Bernard Shaw as well, and it can be, sometimes, a bit ostentatious and invites unwanted conversations and attempts to try it...
Overall, it's a design I find very pleasing, simple but elegantly done. I was happy to pay the price for a 2nd hand pen. As I slowly move away from broad nibs, but not yet to fine ones, I think this pen will feature more frequently in my daily pens. Hopefully I've convinced you that this is a wonderful pen ! I didn't score the pen out of a 10, because pens are like watches, love them or hate them, someones 10 maybe someone elses 3.75.
I'm always taking suggestions for red fountain pens !