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  1. Almost since its inception, the Porsche Design Studio under the direction of its founder, F.A. Porsche (grandson of the original Ferdinand Porsche), experimented with modern designs in modern materials, chief among them titanium. Although F.A. Porsche is best known for designing the Porsche 911, he also designed other iconic objects like the 1972 Chronograph I (the first product of his studio, made by Orfina), the 1981 Ocean 2000 diver's watch (made by IWC), and even sunglasses. An official listing of their 51 greatest hits of the past 50 years is here. Curiously, the only pen it lists is the Mikado ballpoint! I say "curiously" because, in my opinion, the studio's very first fountain pen from the mid-1980s represents a level of uncompromising design coupled with bleeding-edge engineering that was at least 30 years ahead of its time. For a very detailed review of the original fountain pen (just called, with staggering self-confidence, "The Fountain Pen" -- see the full-page magazine ad below from 1986), see this superb thread (and do not forget to read the illuminating discussion in the follow-up posts to the review). A 1986 full-page magazine ad for "The Fountain Pen" [from an eBay listing]. This is the top-of-the-line sterling silver model. The original fountain pen came in three versions: the top-of-the-line was sterling silver, and is very rare today. The more common model is the full-titanium one (the box says "titanium 41032"), available with either 18kt gold or steel nib, and when I say "full-titanium" I mean everything except the clip is titanium, while the clip is polished stainless steel. Here are a few details from my pen (note the "W. Germany" on the underside of the clip, the logo on the top of the cap, and the fact that the nib width is not marked -- this is a Fine). This pen is not in pristine condition, but given its age it is remarkably free of damage. Although it looks like there is writing on the clip, a closer examination revealed them to be just scratches. The clip itself is spring-loaded, so it easily angles up to accommodate thicker fabric This beautifully chamfered finial allows for secure posting of the cap -- a plastic insert in the cap prevents metal-on-metal contact. It is clear that the pen is heavily influenced by the iconic Aurora Hastil, shown below for comparison. However, unlike the Hastil, the Porsche Design fountain pen accomplishes everything, including posting of the cap, without any plastic visible on the outside of the cap, grip section, or barrel -- it's all titanium, all the way. Comparison with Aurora Hastil, another design icon. Note the little black tabs at the end of the Hastil barrel to allow for posting the cap without metal-on-metal contact. Then there is the matte-black model (box says "black 41031") with a PVD coating that is probably similar to the "TiCon" (Ti carbide + oxide + nitride) coating on Porsche Design's 1985 Ocean 500 watch (by IWC), except that unlike the watch, this pen body is not titanium but most probably brass, as suggested by the difference in weight between the matte black 41031 (33g) and the full-titanium 41032 (27g) pens. The black pen has a matching PVD-coated black steel nib. Although my black 41031 is just as old as my titanium 41032, it looks newer and the black PVD coating shows no signs of wear at all -- a testament to the cutting-edge techniques used in its manufacture. Note the crisp printing of "Porsche Design" on the cap, and the helpful (for readability) white color used to write "W. Germany" on the underside of the clip. Alas, no-compromise design and manufacturing calls for "cost no object" buyers, and these are few in number. After a substantial price hike in the early 1990s, the titanium 41032 fountain pen (with steel nib) was listed at $550 by the mid-1990s, according to the review I linked to above. The original line of pens evidently did not do well enough for the original studio (while F.A. Porsche was still active) to release more pen lines after one follow-up line called the ARC1, which is similar (but less clean, to my eyes) in looks but has an arched clip. Starting in 2003, shortly before the founder's retirement in 2005 for reasons of health, the studio went through several corporate reorganizations under the Porsche umbrella and resumed designing pens in 2011, this time in partnership with Pelikan (the original pens were made by Faber-Castell). They did not forget the original mid-1980s fountain pen, and used it as inspiration for their Slim Line P3125 line of fountain pens. Unfortunately, the P3125 is not made as a "no-compromise" design, although it was certainly not a cheap pen either. Mine (purchased new, but on clearance) is called "titanium" but it is actually a titanium coating over a brass body. It is slightly girthier than the original fountain pen but still slim (hence the name "Slim Line"). There is no way to make the grooves on the cap and barrel to line up because the cap is snap-on. OCD owners need to do so manually. Cap does not post! The section is black plastic -- mine turned out to be cracked at purchase and needed to be replaced under warranty. Note the change to the company logo on the cap. The logo is also engraved on the nib, and for a change, so is the nib width (EF), but such that it is only readable when the nib is viewed in the orientation shown, i.e., "upside down." In other words, the Slim Line is objectively worse than the original (in losing the pure design language of titanium only with the use of plastic) and the Hastil (in that the cap does not post), while offering only a slightly wider diameter to recommend it. Prospective customers seem to have agreed with my assessment, because the Slim Line pens went off the market in a few years, enjoying a shorter run than the original line, and now the original and Slim Line pens cost about the same on eBay. At least the 18kt EF nib (Pelikan) on my Slim Line writes very well indeed, albeit rather wide for an "EF" width. As you can see from the line widths below, the new EF is wider than the original F nib. Line-width comparison on Iroful paper. Original titanium: Montblanc Kipling Jungle Green. Original black: Montblanc Le Petit Prince Sand of the Desert. Slim Line P3125: Montblanc Glacier Blue. The best nib of the three is the steel one on the black pen. Go figure! And there you have it -- the original ("titanium 41032" or "black 41031") fountain pens by Porsche Design are masterpieces of design, engineering, and execution but they do have the disadvantage of being thin. If that bothers you, then none of these pens is for you, because the later Slim Line P3125, although wider than the original, is still a thin pen while having other design weaknesses probably induced by the desire to manufacture to a particular price point (a high one, nevertheless). For similar "no-compromise" design in modern materials but in a girthier pen, I recommend the original Lamy Persona (which, coincidentally, is also available in a full-titanium body and a titanium nitride PVD coated black body). Once more, the later reissue model called the Imporium (revisited by the same designer, Mario Bellini) is not nearly in the same class, although the gap between the Persona and the Imporium is not as great as between the original Porsche Design and the later Slim Line.
  2. This is a short review of the Porsche Design P'3100 fountain pen. The P'3100 comes in a nice looking black box, probably cardboard covered with some synthetic material. Nice, but not comparable to the luxury boxes that some other fountain pens come in. The pen looks big and somehow technical, probably of the cable design and the little spring-loaded dots at the bottom of the pen. The material is TecFlex, a stainless steel borrowed from motor racing, which provides the unique weaved pattern. My motorcycle has something which is similar, so I quite like this. The pen feels really smooth and although it is quite heavy, it feels very comfortable when you hold it for writing. The nib is ... well different. The Pd mark can be clearly read whether the pen is held up or down and the other text on the pen (750 M 18 ct) is upside down compared to what most other fountain pens have. On the cap it says Porsche Design and Germany and the nib has the markings as described above. Apart from that the bottom half, once unscrewed, shows the number 201 in black. I am not sure what that stands for. The metal parts on the pen are covered with a layer of palladium, to give it a silky finish and the material is said (by Porsche Design) to be hard wearing and almost everlasting. We'll see about that ;-). The nib is 18 ct gold and rhodinized. The clip looks pretty common and is spring-loaded. It has a bit of move to the left and right, but feels quite sturdy. The cap comes off with a short quarter turn. I like screw on caps, but usually the turn is longer (e.g. the turn on the TWSBI is about a full turn and a bit). Compared to the TWSBI Diamond 580 the Porsche Design pen is slightly bigger and definitely heavier when picked up. This is the stainless steel version of the pen. It is also available in a weave of gold and stainless steel and in black. I am not a fan of black and gold and stainless steel might be a bit too flashy for my taste, so I am quite happy with this material. The pen feels nice and cool to the touch and the overall impresion is one of quality and smoothness or silkyness. I am not sure about how well the weave pattern is dirt resistant and once dirty it might prove difficult to clean.I am not sure why you would do it, but if you drop this pen it can probably stand a lot of abuse. When the bottom half is unscrewed you see that the bottom half is all metal on the inside. The weave covers that and the combination makes it a big pen. Both bottom half and nib section are stainless steel and both parts feel heavy. The screw thread here takes about 5-6 turns to unscrew, much more than the cap needs. The screw thread on the nib section is covered entirely and not immediately visible, a nice touch. The pen has a good grip, the palladium providing me with enough resistance. Towards the nib the grip narrows a bit, so depending on hand size I think a lot of people can hold this pen comfortably.Writing is incredibly smooth. I am pretty enthusiastic about my old S.T. Dupont Classique pen which is smooth, but this is much smoother.The 18 ct nib is covered with rhodium (Rh), a member of the platinum group, just like palladium. It is silvery-white, very hard and chemically inert. Its resistance to corrosion makes it suitable for fountain pens. You all know this of course. This is a modern looking pen, but at the same time you know you have something of a classic at hand here, because of its unique look and the material used. The pen moves over any paper in an effortless way. I like to use it uncapped, but even when capped (the cap is secured by pushing it over the three pins on the bottom half) the balance is very good. The pen does not realy feel too heavy even then. It might be because both nib section and bottom half are quite weighty, it keeps the balances in check. The nib is a Medium size, on the narrower side of medium. Very pleasant to use, just right for me. The nib is made of 18 ct gold, covered with rhodium as I said before and has 750, M and 18ct stamped on it, upside down. The nib doesn't have a hole on top, it is just cut. Ink flow is without any problems. The nib is broad and looks massive. The underside is ribbed, nothing really stands out there. As I understand it, these pens are designed by Porsche Design and produced by Graf von Faber-Castell. The pen takes the international cartridges or the Graf von Faber-Castell converters. As far as I know I can't easily remove this nib to service it or replace it. I'd go through a service centre in all probability. From the writing example you can see that the pen does not have any hiccups in terms of ink flow. Writing is very smooth as I said before and this might be the one point that some people like less about the pen. If you like a bit of resistance in your writing, this might be too smooth for you. For me it works, but I do notice that my letters come out slightly less clean-cut than with the TWSBI. I bought this pen about 170 euro. Not really cheap, but I feel it is good value for the money paid. A review of the other pen I mentioned above, the S.T. Dupont Classique can be found here.

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