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Waterman Sérénité


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29 replies to this topic

#1 wil

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 03:26

Background:
For six whole years, I had the Sérénité on my wish list. In fact, it was this very pen along with the Delta Dolce Vita that got me started with fountain pens in the first place. Fast forward to December 2005, I had funds sitting in my Pay Pal account that I didn't want to convert back to Canadian. Wish only one pen left on my list, I was soon waiting for the package to arrive from Pam.

Here goes, the Sérénité with a slightly different perspective.

:) What I liked about the Sérénité:

Unique Shape: there is no other like it, it's Waterman's effort at an anti-torpedo shape writing instrument

Designer Suave (although subjective): I am guessing that a lot of engineering went into this. I personally think it's a work of art. The Sérénité has so much attention to details yet it's simple at the same time. I am personally fascinated by how the nib mechanism is locked-in by the rotating metical section. All of this wrapped in perfectly balanced package, capped or uncapped.

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<_< And now, what I didn't like:

(Blah) Nib: Aesthetically pleasing nib design that really compliments the rest of the pen. However, its performance leaves much more to be desired. It's probably the stiffest and most lifeless nib of all moderns that I've tried (move over Duofold, the Sérénité takes gold in the stiffest modern nib in my books). I might go so far as comparing the writing experience to a rollerball (yikes). More importantly, there is no excuse for the skipping and hard starts as well even after an intense flushing session and experimentation with different brands of inks. Whenever Sanford Canada returns my call, I am shipping it back first thing to have the nib tweaked. It's very frustrating and disappointing considering that this is close to Waterman's flagship model.
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Tricky Capping Mechanism: Unlike other click cap designs, the Sérénité requires the cap to be turned to a very specific way before you are rewarded with a satisfying click. The same goes for posting. The whole capping and uncapping process takes quite a bit of time and extra attention. Because of this, I don't think I can be using the Sérénité at work to quickly uncap, jot down a quick note or check off a completed task on my agenda. Another unusual aspect is that there is this rather shoddy looking unfinished plastic that extends from within the interior walls of the cap. This allows for the cap to sit within the metal section, holding it in place.

Over the top Packaging: I think this is where a good portion of the sticker price went towards. Curved box similar in shape with the Sérénité with two booklets, little capping instruction card (also die-cut into the Sérénité shape).

To sum it all up:
If I could go back in time, I'd probably do it all again and purchase the Sérénité. It's one of those enigmatic pens that I simply had to discover on my own. I really wanted to love the Sérénité but unfortunately, it's all show and no go (for now). Perhaps, my perspective may change once I get the nib looked after by the folks at Sanford. Until then, it'll have to serve as a piece of desktop decoration.
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Edited by wil, 05 January 2006 - 03:40.


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#2 Blade Runner

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 03:51

Beautiful pen!
It looks Oriental to me.
Sorry it didn't meet all of your expectations at the getgo, but who hasn't disappointed with a pen? Hopefully it will work out.
This one is certainly worth the effort.
Thanks for sharing your frank opinions, and I hope to hear of a happy resolution.
Very nice photos as always.

J

#3 southpaw

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 03:58

Definitely get the nib fixed. Sorry to hear it was less than what you expected. Keep us posted. Nice review, btw.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#4 wil

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 04:09

I think I was a bit harsh with the roller ball comment. To rephrase, I think the stiff nib would satisfy just about any bic/rollerball/non-fountain pen user.

Jeen, I was always under the impression that the designers at Waterman were inspired by an Asian influence when coming up with the design.

Edited by wil, 05 January 2006 - 04:10.


#5 Michael Wright

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 05:11

wil

That was very much my impression with the Serenite (sorry no accents). I've always assumed it was meant to look a bit like a Japanese sword in its sheath. Looks intriguing, anyway, and when I first handled it, I thought the balance was very good (and sorry, those Sheaffer puns weren't intentional).

Then I had a bit of cash, and spent a fair bit of time with one in the pen store, perfectly prepared to do the deed. I, too, found that the capping and posting mechanisms just didn't seem durable enough for the price, and the manipulation was too tricky for me as I get a bit clumsy with arthritis. And on that occasion, the balance in the hand didn't seem right, either.

So for me, it's one of the might-have-beens -- almost a great pen, let down by a few details. But you can expect decent writing, and modern Waterman pens have a reputation of being great writers, for a nail, so good luck with getting it fixed.

Michael

#6 theshainun

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 08:35

I've always liked the design, though I've nevr handled one, because it's way out of my price range! Thanks for the review though.

Shaun
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#7 Karin

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 12:50

Hi Wil,
That`s a shame :( I still have mixed feelings about my Liason, but it does write well.
There was a Mikado on the green board awhile ago :P
I hope there`s a Toronto pen show this year, and that we will meet again.


Kind regards,
Karin
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#8 Slush99

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 15:55

It was on my wish list and still is. :P

I love the unique design. It does look Oriental, I shall have to get one. :P

Can the cap actually be posted?
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#9 wil

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 16:34

Update, tried Sanford again and got the same women's voicemail. Will try the operator if I don't get through tomorrow.

Karin, can't wait for the next pen show. I am excited because it's been steadily gaining momentum each year.

Slush, yes, the cap can be posted, very comfortable to write with, posted or not. You just have to be careful as the cap can only be posted in a specific way, where the clip points to the waterman logo.

Michael, I've flirted with the idea of purchasing the Serenite several times over the years. I think I was just exhausted from the "should I" or "should I not" struggle.

#10 Stylo

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 20:28

As I mentioned in the What is your favourite pen brand? thread, I have come to the conclusion that most modern Watermans have both stiff nibs and dry writing characteristics. Such a combination requires exerting fairly high writing pressure, which suits only certain styles of writing. In contrast, while my Duofold has also a fairly stiff, or perhaps even stiffer nib, it glides effortless on the paper laying a nice wet line.

#11 wimg

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 22:38

As I mentioned in the What is your favourite pen brand? thread, I have come to the conclusion that most modern Watermans have both stiff nibs and dry writing characteristics.  Such a combination requires exerting fairly high writing pressure, which suits only certain styles of writing.  In contrast, while my Duofold has also a fairly stiff, or perhaps even stiffer nib,  it glides effortless on the paper laying a nice wet line.

Hi Stylo,

How did you get to the notion that a stiff nib and/or drier flow requires fairly high writing pressure? :unsure: Corrrect me if I am wrong, but I reckon that may just be so only because in your mind you may think that you can get it to write wetter with more pressure. Let me assure you that that isn't the case. Actually, you'll end up with a pen that skips, or at worst, one with a bent nib.

I can assure you I use any of my modern stiff-nibbed Watermans (including 2 edsons) only applying very light to no pressure, and the things just race incredibly smoothly over any more or less fountain pen friendly paper faster than any other pen in my possession, vintage to modern.

You may have to use different inks (like Waterman inks), or adjust the ink flow, to get the best results for a specific ink, yes, but jeez, the performance is like magic.

BTW, the Duofold nib's is not as stiff as a Waterman's, IMO, unless you hold it almost vertical. It feels stiffer then, yes, but it isn't. A modern Waterman, IME, writes best under lower angles of writing, say 45-60 degrees, and a Duofold at much higher angles, about 80 degrees, in my experience, unless adjusted, of course.

Anyway, just my 2c. :D

Warm regards, Wim

the Mad Dutchman
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#12 Stylo

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 23:10

How did you get to the notion that a stiff nib and/or drier flow requires fairly high writing pressure? :unsure: Corrrect me if I am wrong, but I reckon that may just be so only because in your mind you may think that you can get it to write wetter with more pressure. Let me assure you that that isn't the case. Actually, you'll end up with a pen that skips, or at worst, one with a bent nib.

Don't worry Wim, I haven't managed to bend a single nib in 30+ years of writing, unless you count the couple of pens I have dropped on their nibs :blush: :lol: The amount of pressure I am talking about is well below anything that could do damage. Let me explain better what I meant. Under very light pressure, such as just the pen's own weight, some pens stll lay a visible line, others don't write at all. It seems like Watermans usually fall in the latter catgory. It seems like Watermans require just a little bit more pressure than say Parker or Shaeffer pens. Again, I am just talking about the threshhold pressure where the pen transitions from a faint/no line to a normal line.

You may have to use different inks (like Waterman inks), or adjust the ink flow, to get the best results for a specific ink, yes, but jeez, the performance is like magic.


I do need to experiment with more inks, and perhaps even venture at adjusting flow. But so far, I haven't gotten hold of a Waterman whose performance I can call magic. but then again, I only have four.

A modern Waterman, IME, writes best under lower angles of writing, say 45-60 degrees, and a Duofold at much higher angles, about 80 degrees, in my experience, unless adjusted, of course.


My only Duofold, that I have with me right now, seems to write OK at almost any angle. My new Liaison puts barely enough ink at any angle, and I am using Waterman BB. I think I need to do some more aggressive flushing and run a brass sheet between the tines. It had ink dried in the feed channel (perhaps used as a demo or was a return to Sanford) and I probably didn't flush it well enough. We'll see.

#13 wimg

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 23:19

Hi Stylo,

Well, I must say I have a completely opposite experience to yours. I don't have that many Waterman's currently, about 12 or so, from very cheap to very expensive, and they all write with the lightest touch, their own weight that is.

Now, my Duofold on the other hand... don't get me started on that one :lol:. I have never bought another Parker after that one, oh no, not true, a few Parker Reflexes, to get even more disappointed :D. Oh, and I received a modern Parker Sonnet as a gift. After several very scratchy experiences with different inks (I really tried :D ), I put it back in its box. That was over a year ago :D.

Different experiences, I guess... :D

Warm regards, Wim

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#14 Stylo

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 23:56

Wim,

Every time I write an opinion on a pen, I almost feel like I should put a big disclaimer that my experiences should not be taken as representative of that model or brand, because I feel there is just too much performance variation from one sample to the other of the same exact model. I suspect that is partly what killed the FP as a mainstream writing tool. People just didn't want to put up with the fuss.

For example, some people gush about their wet writting Sonnets, while others cannot curse them enough for constantly skipping and not starting. Such drastically opposite opinions cannot be due to simply subjective perception. The performance of these pens is simply not consistant. There is a lotto factor involved in purchasing FPs. We always hope that we will get "a good one." You don't do that when you buy a Bic :)

Which brings me to one thing: how worthwile is it to have a nibmeister adjust your pen before shipping it? I dip tested a Taccia at a pen show, and it skipped badly. But in the end, I convinced myself that a pen that had been dip tested all day long could have a lot of dried up crud on it, and I took a chance and ordered one from Richard Binder. It turned out to be one of the best writing pens I have. Was it luck? Was it Richard's adjustment (if he did any)? I don't know. I haven't ordered from Richard enough times yet to draw any statistically valid conclusions :) But it sure makes one hopeful, or at least wishful? :lol:

#15 wil

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 16:21

More trouble in paradise... as the hard start is slowly improving, a new problem develops. It appears that with the tight snap capping mechanism, ink splat from uncapping is becoming an issue.

With all snap capping pens, I usually have the nib pointed up whenever I cap and uncap. Still experimenting with different inks amongst carts and converters.

Andy advise from any other Sérénité users?

#16 wimg

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 19:02

Hi Stylo,

Wim,

Every time I write an opinion on a pen, I almost feel like I should put a big disclaimer that my experiences should not be taken as representative of that model or brand, because I feel there is just too much performance variation from one sample to the other of the same exact model.  I suspect that is partly what killed the FP as a mainstream writing tool.  People just didn't want to put up with the fuss.

For example, some people gush about their wet writting Sonnets, while others cannot curse them enough for constantly skipping and not starting.  Such drastically opposite opinions cannot be due to simply subjective perception.  The performance of these pens is simply not consistant.  There is a lotto factor involved in purchasing FPs.  We always hope that we will get "a good one."  You don't do that when you buy a Bic :)

I was just amazed, because I don't normally hear people complaining about problems with Watermans, that's all. It wasn't meant as criticism. My apologies if I gave that impression.
I have bought quite a few Watermans over the past 2 years, cheap ones to give away, helped people decide on any, did some smoothing, nib grinding, etc., and so far I have come across only 1 that was faulty. That was an Allure with a too narrow cartridge nipple, due to which it leaked. Just took it back a few weeks later, and it was changed without any questions.
And all of them wrote great right out of the box. Granted, using Waterman inks anyway, certainly initially.

Which brings me to one thing: how worthwile is it to have a nibmeister adjust your pen before shipping it?  I dip tested a Taccia at a pen show, and it skipped badly.  But in the end, I convinced myself that a pen that had been dip tested all day long could have a lot of dried up crud on it, and I took a chance and ordered one from Richard Binder.  It turned out to be one of the best writing pens I have.  Was it luck?  Was it Richard's adjustment (if he did any)?  I don't know.  I haven't ordered from Richard enough times yet to draw any statistically valid conclusions :)  But it sure makes one hopeful, or at least wishful?  :lol:

I think it is a great idea to have your pen checked by a nib meister, before using it. I always have any pens I order via the internet checked. I specifically ask for that, and even indicate at times what to look out for.

Of course, with a B&M store it is a lot easier, because you can check the pen out on the spot, or exchange it relatively simply, provided the store is reasonably close by.

In the olden days, pen store owners and their personnel generally knew how to do the simple things in pen maintenance with fountain pens, like adjusting ink flow, checking if a pen wrote well, aligning tines, etc. Of course, these days that is much more difficult. 2 out of the 3 stores I frequent, have people in their employ who know these things, so that is wonderful. The third store allows me to check out things and adjust anything, right there in the store, as they somehow seem to trust me :D.
And all of this makes for a great writing experience, right out of the box, as they say. Or rather, right from the moment I unwrap the pen at home :D.

I hope this explains why I was a little amazed.

BTW, all of the pens that I ever had that didn't perform well, were either bought before I discovered fountain pens on the Internet, or were bought by someone else, who didn't know, and who didn't visit any of the 3 shops I frequent. :D

Warm regards, Wim

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#17 Richard

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 19:36

Okay, I'm going to be the grouch here.

The Sérenité is a nice pen. If you like Japanese swords, that is. In terms of its being a writing instrument, I don't like it at all. The general look is annoying; the silver gripping area is cast to simulate tsukaito, but to me it just doesn't look good. I most especially dislike the fact that the pen isn't straight, as it doesn't feel comfortable in my hand. And I have to wonder if a left-hander can even use it (but am perfectly willing to be answered in the affirmative). I don't like the lockstep capping design; you can cap it only in one orientation. Ditto for posting.

As for the writing qualities of the Sérenité, it's a Liaison under the hood (same nib and feed, differing only in that the Sérenité has an indexing notch on the feed to ensure that it can go into the pen only one way), so it'll write like a Liaison except that it weighs less. A lot less. (This, actually, is an official Good Thing in my book, as I find the vast majority of modern pens to be too heavy for all-day use day in and day out.)

At the initial MSRP, the Sérenité was a joke. (So was the Parker 51 SE, but that's another story for another time.) If someone gave me a Sérenité, I'd probably keep it as a curiosity -- and as the foundation of a new area of collection, that of pens I won't use of my own free will. :)

All the above said, I have no problem in working on the Sérenité -- it really is a well made pen, and it handles just fine when I test it with the barrel off. (It's straight then, you see...)
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#18 Guest_Denis Richard_*

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 22:45

It's a love-or-hater :D

Wil, I heard several people complain about splashing when uncapping. It never happened to me. Make sure you uncap using only one hand, as all snap caps should. Tie the other hand behind your back if the temptation is too big to draw it out like a sword :lol:

#19 Slush99

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 23:12

Tie the other hand behind your back if the temptation is too big to draw it out like a sword :lol:

Errr... :blush: That is exactly what I planned to do with mine (when I get it in several years)

:lol:
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#20 wil

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 02:58

Denis, thanks for the tip on uncapping with one hand, definitely not as messy as before.

Richard, with the way how Sanford customer service is handling this, you will probably work on this stubborn Serente at the next Toronto pen show.






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