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Montblanc Writer's Edition Kafka

montblanc kafka writers edition silver red cartridge converter limited edition

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39 replies to this topic

#1 hsianloon

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:17

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
 
Price:
 
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.
 
Design:
 
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. 
 
fpn_1487241239__img_20170216_170357.jpg
 

 

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The clips stems off the top of the cap, and is neither too tight to the point of frustration or too loose for comfort.

 

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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 !

 

 

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From top to bottom; Kafka, Pelikan M1000, Pelikan M600, Parker 75

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

fpn_1487241436__img_20170216_172032.jpg

 

 
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 !



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#2 visvamitra

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:29

It's nice pen. I wouldn't mind having one, just in case :) Also I used to be a huge Kafka fan.



#3 Uncial

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 11:39

I would add one further reason for it not being popular : it doesn't post. This may seem a trifling point, but I cannot help but notice that in my local pen shops and in the brick and mortar MB boutique the pens that languish unsold are almost always the ones that don't post. I do however like the Kafka very much, but I have never pulled the trigger on it for this very reason.



#4 Chrissy

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 12:17

Thank you for your review. :)  Not posting is the least of my worries, as I never post any of my pens (apart from those that have to be posted like Mb Boheme & Kaweco Sport) since I prefer to not make scratch marks on my FP barrels. My problems with the Kafka are that a) it's a funny shape - round cap and square barrel, B) it's got that weird permanent converter, and c) it's just a bit boring.



#5 hsianloon

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 13:59

It's nice pen. I wouldn't mind having one, just in case :) Also I used to be a huge Kafka fan.

 

What short stories from him would you recommend besides Metamorphosis ?

 

I would add one further reason for it not being popular : it doesn't post. This may seem a trifling point, but I cannot help but notice that in my local pen shops and in the brick and mortar MB boutique the pens that languish unsold are almost always the ones that don't post. I do however like the Kafka very much, but I have never pulled the trigger on it for this very reason.

 

Hm, I've to say I've never posted the majority of my pens, unless they're small ones. I think I've medium sized hands so never needed the extra length to have the pen feel comfortable in my hands. I couldn't live with scratched tops from posting !

 

Thank you for your review. :)  Not posting is the least of my worries, as I never post any of my pens (apart from those that have to be posted like Mb Boheme & Kaweco Sport) since I prefer to not make scratch marks on my FP barrels. My problems with the Kafka are that a) it's a funny shape - round cap and square barrel, B) it's got that weird permanent converter, and c) it's just a bit boring.

 

The shape is odd, but I think that's the part of the charm. I do wonder what it would take to get that converter out...though I hope it never comes to that . Yes I understand how it can feel a bit underwhelming compared to the pizaaz we've been seeing with most WE's. On the other hand, I think the newer one's are getting a bit too nightmarish..the Tolstoy looks like someone who walked into the fake fur shop and abandoned their humanity



#6 visvamitra

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 14:33

In the Penal Colony is good.  



#7 yoshipen

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Posted 27 February 2017 - 14:55

Thanks for the review of this. The Kafka is near or at the top of my MB wish list. The pictures of the fringe-transparency on the body (contrast between red & black) are very helpful. I love the look of the "aging" cap too. 

 

I couldn't agree more that many of the new MB offerings are a smidge over the top for my taste; beautiful but not something I could take to a meeting or even to the office. This one strikes a nice balance, it tells a writer's story more eloquently & subtly than other models.

 

A couple of quick questions: I assume that the weight is balanced pretty evenly- if not a little forward? How do you find the section/ weight for long writing sessions?



#8 Rilke1967

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 20:44

I own the Montblanc Writer's Edition Kafka. My pen has the ability to post the cap, which I have done successfully without damaging the pen. It's a smooth and wet write. I suggest Noodler's Tiananmen red ink as a compliment to this fine writing instrument.



#9 hsianloon

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Posted 03 March 2017 - 22:29

Thanks for the review of this. The Kafka is near or at the top of my MB wish list. The pictures of the fringe-transparency on the body (contrast between red & black) are very helpful. I love the look of the "aging" cap too. 
 
I couldn't agree more that many of the new MB offerings are a smidge over the top for my taste; beautiful but not something I could take to a meeting or even to the office. This one strikes a nice balance, it tells a writer's story more eloquently & subtly than other models.
 
A couple of quick questions: I assume that the weight is balanced pretty evenly- if not a little forward? How do you find the section/ weight for long writing sessions?


I find it's rather balanced, only slightly forward weighted to the nib section as you mentioned, but not significantly. I've written with it for 30-40minutes at a go and have had no problems.

#10 Pensei

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Posted 04 March 2017 - 03:48

Read the parables. Genius.



#11 Caeruleum

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Posted 22 June 2018 - 17:03

Thank you for the review and the excellent pictures. I need to sas this since I've read and enjoyed your reviews several times now.
Does anybody know of a pen of similar colour? A deep, dark red, almost black without direct light but with this fascinating red glow-shine. The MB Kafka is a bit pricey.

#12 Drawing61

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Posted 27 June 2018 - 00:12

What comes to mind is a Nakaya in a Kuro-Tamenuri finish. Pricey but probably less so than WE Montblanc.


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#13 truphae_inc

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 12:31

Love the Writer's Editions - thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!! 


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#14 Caeruleum

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 17:37

What comes to mind is a Nakaya in a Kuro-Tamenuri finish. Pricey but probably less so than WE Montblanc.


Thank you for the suggestion. I find the color combination and effect fascinating. However as you said, it is not cheap (for a reason), I will keep this as a figment for the future.

#15 bbs

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 19:22

The Platinum Izumo in a dark red lacquer finish is a lot more affordable and still has that dark red glow.

But the Kafka is a beautiful and intriguing pen, to my mind one of the best WE tributes to an author.
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#16 Caeruleum

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 14:27

The Platinum Izumo in a dark red lacquer finish is a lot more affordable and still has that dark red glow.

But the Kafka is a beautiful and intriguing pen, to my mind one of the best WE tributes to an author.


I have only seen Izumos for about 700+$ and considering the technique I had the impression they are a bit of a Platinum counterpart of Nakaya's offers, albrit less diverse.

#17 bbs

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 19:34

I have only seen Izumos for about 700+$ and considering the technique I had the impression they are a bit of a Platinum counterpart of Nakaya's offers, albrit less diverse.


Cult Pens has them for $513 - or $427 if you're not in the EU ......

https://www.cultpens...ountain-pen-red

But yes, Nakaya probably has the edge on this one.

Edited by bbs, 29 June 2018 - 19:37.

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#18 1nkulus

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Posted 03 July 2018 - 18:13

Definitely a stand out shape and color. It is one of the few MB's I own. The cockroach is unique and the Franz Kafka is probably the only writing instrument in the world to feature one.

 

It is a simple and unique shape from MB and 14 yrs on, just as captivating.


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#19 Tom Kellie

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 01:13

Definitely a stand out shape and color. It is one of the few MB's I own. The cockroach is unique and the Franz Kafka is probably the only writing instrument in the world to feature one.

 

It is a simple and unique shape from MB and 14 yrs on, just as captivating.

 

~ 1nkulus:

 

Your comment that it’s simple and unique is so true.

 

Montblanc hasn't shied away from a cockroach on a nib, nor assorted spiders and snakes.

 

When will centipedes and scorpions be given their turn in the limelight?

 

The Montblanc WE Kafka is a pen that would catch my eye if I ever chanced to see one in use in a coffee shop or a reading room.

 

Thank you for bringing fresh attention to this special pen.

 

Tom K.



#20 1nkulus

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Posted 05 July 2018 - 09:14

@ Tom Kellie

 

You are welcome.

 

The spiders and snakes are in use. Bring on the scorpions, centipedes and any other volunteers from the entomology department.   :lol: 

If done well, the scorpion could look menacingly fantastic.

 

For those in the know, it is instantly recognizable whereas others would mistake it for a colorful plastic pen w/ a silver trim.

 

The Franz Kafka is an excellent balance between the 'bland' 146, 149 etc. and the heavily embellished PoA series.

 

IMO, everything about it is very un-MB and that is what makes it captivating. Simplicity accentuates beauty.

 

It is also the only pen to feature the brownish-reddish color in the MB stable, IIRC.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: montblanc, kafka, writers edition, silver, red, cartridge converter, limited edition



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