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The Diplomat Excellence A - Another Great German Fountain Pen


Jamerelbe
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The Diplomat Excellence A is a pen that’s been on my radar for the past year or so – a beautiful looking pen, with a reputation for being a smooth writer… but it was just a bit too far above my budget. Enter Kevin from the JustWrite Pen Company, who’s provided me with pens for review in the past (including the Diplomat Esteem – see https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/271382-the-diplomat-esteem-conservative-german-styling-great-writing-experience/). In June 2015, Kevin was offering a 25% discount on all products listed on his website – on top of the (comparatively) competitive pricing he’d already put on these pens. The only option available (from memory) was a pen with chrome and black finish – but an email enquiry revealed that he also had stocks of the Marakesh finish. He kindly agreed to list one so I could take advantage of the discount… and here we are.

 

True confession: the Diplomat Excellence A is probably the most expensive pen I own – but I have no regrets about ‘splashing out’. I’m not normally a fan of M nibs (I prefer fines and stubs/italics), but even so writing with this pen is a sheer pleasure. After 3 months (and a few other pen purchases), this is still up there in my top 2-3 (along with my matte black Vanishing Point and my TWSBI 580 with custom ground cursive italic).

______________________________________________________________________

 

1. Appearance & Design (10/10)

From the moment I opened the parcel post envelope, I was impressed with what I saw. The Diplomat box (with aluminium wrap-around lid) is large and imposing, and speaks of quality.

http://i.imgur.com/CailtrQ.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/Fp77kci.jpg

And as for the pen? I liked the Diplomat Esteem I was provided for my previous review, with its ‘piano’ black lacquer and chrome accents – but the Marakesh finish on this pen is just beautiful. A deep coppery-brown colour that’s hard to capture – becoming darker or lighter depending on the way it catches the light, and with a definite metallic ‘shimmer’ to it. The pen does come in a variety of finishes – so if the colour of the Marakesh is not your thing, there are plenty of other options – and the black finish is available in chrome or gold trim – but the basic shape remains the same. The Diplomat logo on the finial is black on white plastic – simple and understated; the shape of the pen is (like the Esteem) fairly standard and conservative.

http://i.imgur.com/oebpGpV.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/4fgk8FE.jpg

2. Construction & Quality (9/10)

Like the Diplomat Esteem, the Excellence A is solidly constructed, beautifully designed, and flawlessly executed. The cap and body are made of metal, covered in a ‘metallic’-looking copper brown lacquer; the grip section is made (mostly) of plastic, but is pleasant to hold.

http://i.imgur.com/wscVXl1.jpg

The pen clip is attractive and sturdy, with a little bit of give. I admit I do baby this pen a bit, but the lacquer shows no signs of scratching or chipping. My only slight quibble is that you have to be careful capping the pen – unless pen and cap are lined up perfectly, the wings of the nib seems to ‘catch’ against the plastic inner cap. The pen posts fairly deeply, but doesn’t appear to be designed for it – and it upsets the balance of the pen (back-weighted) while writing.

http://i.imgur.com/FRRizDh.jpg

3. Weight & Dimensions (10/10)

There’s no doubt about it, the Excellence A is a substantial pen, with a reasonable ‘heft’ to it. If you like your pens ultralight, this won’t be for you – but I love the way it feels. The pen weighs in at 42.3g capped (with half-filled converter), and 14.6g uncapped – which means that much of the weight is in the cap. The diameter of the grip section is 12mm (at its widest – it tapers towards the nib), which is comparatively wide – I think that’s part of what I enjoy most about the ‘feel’ of the pen.

http://i.imgur.com/zWN9tzz.jpg

The pen is 139mm capped, and 129mm uncapped; posted, it’s a rather unwieldy (and back-weighted) 155mm. At its widest (just above the band), the cap diameter is 14mm, compared with ~13mm for the barrel (just below the cap band).

4. Nib & Performance (9.5/10)

When I first received the Diplomat Esteem, I had lots of problems with the nib – it was slightly misaligned relative to the feed, and even after adjusting was prone to skip. I had no such problems with the Excellence A nib. The pen I purchased came with a stainless steel M nib (no other options available at JustWrite, though the manufacturer makes stainless steel and gold nibs, in F, M and B.). The M was beautifully wet and juicy – it laid down a fairly standard medium line. With moderate pressure it’s possible to get a bit of line variation – but with no pressure applied the pen glides so sweetly across the page, I wonder why anyone would want to mess with the writing experience! I’ve been using Diamine Ancient Copper as my ink of choice in this pen – it’s a fairly good match, colour-wise.

http://i.imgur.com/hZS04t4.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/LNUnZ1z.jpg

5. Filling System & Maintenance (9.5/10)

The pen takes standard international cartridges (the barrel will fit two small cartridges back-to-back, or a single larger cartridge) – and a good quality (Diplomat-branded) cartridge converter comes standard. Nothing innovative or imaginative here – but I’m perfectly content with the limitations (and advantages) of this filling system.

http://i.imgur.com/xp589en.jpg

6. Cost & Value (9/10)

The RRP of this pen is around US$225 (much higher for the rhombus and guilloche finishes) – though a few Australian vendors are selling the black-and-chrome pen for AU$195-225. Given the weakness of the Australian dollar, that’s pretty good – I managed to get mine for under $150, which was just spectacular.

Whatever the price, this is a beautiful pen – and available at significantly cheaper prices than (say) a Montblanc or a Pelikan of comparable size. My thanks again to Kevin from JustWrite Pens for agreeing to list the pen so I could buy it at the discount price.

7. Conclusion (Final score [sUM/6]: 9.5)

The score I’ve given this pen reflects my enthusiasm for it: it’s a conservatively-styled pen, no doubt about it, but is so comfortable to hold and write with – and I really love the unusual colour of the Marakesh finish. It would be just as good a pen if it were black… but a little less attractive (for mine) to look at. If you’ve got the cash to spare (hey, it was my birthday!), I’d thoroughly recommend this pen as an option to consider.

Edited by Jamerelbe
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Thanks for the feedback - I was feeling a bit 'rusty' writing this review (it's been a while), so I wasn't confident it was all that clear.

 

A couple of things to mention, additional to this review:

 

(1) Diplomat now have a 'new improved' version of this pen, called the Diplomat Excellence A Plus - which has a half-turn screw-on cap (I think) rather than a snap-cap - and I think has resolved the problem with the nib catching when recapped off-centre;

 

(2) The 'cousin' to this pen, the Diplomat Aero, is a very different beast - with a couple of design flaws to boot - but a strikingly unusual pen, and I think attractive in its own way. I've just uploaded a review (https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/296623-the-diplomat-aero-aka-the-zeppelin-pen/) - which hopefully is a little more coherent than this one!

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Nice review.

These Diplomat pens are not as well known as the usual German suspects (Montblanc, Pelikan, Lamy) but their pens write at least as well. Quite an underrated brand and at great prices to boot.

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Nice review.

These Diplomat pens are not as well known as the usual German suspects (Montblanc, Pelikan, Lamy) but their pens write at least as well. Quite an underrated brand and at great prices to boot.

 

That's been my impression too: their metal construction makes them heavier in the hand than (say) the resin pens produced by Montblanc and Pelikan - but they're very comfortable to write with. I just can't justify the expense of purchasing a Pelikan M800 or a Montblanc, well, just about *anything* - but my two higher-end Diplomats were affordable (just barely!), and in my view a really good deal, even at the normal retail price...

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I'm still using my ultralight weight Travellino with F nib which has about "10% flexible". It seems that M nib is a nail and F nib is quasi-nail, or maybe I'm lucky to have a good F nib. Well, I'm thinking about upgrade to Excellence B but the weight is a big factor from my point of view, any suggestion?

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I'm still using my ultralight weight Travellino with F nib which has about "10% flexible". It seems that M nib is a nail and F nib is quasi-nail, or maybe I'm lucky to have a good F nib. Well, I'm thinking about upgrade to Excellence B but the weight is a big factor from my point of view, any suggestion?

The Excellence A is definitely a heavier pen (though much of the weight resides in the cap), and I expect the Excellence B would be similar, albeit a little lighter. If weight is an issue, I'd recommend trying to get your hands on one before you commit - they're wonderful pens (IMHO) but they're hefty-ish, and not inexpensive.

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  • 2 months later...

I was lucky enough to get recently, on Amazon.fr, a Diplomat Excellence Marakesh and a Diplomat Excellence White Pearl for less than $150 for the 2 (they are new), and I have as much pleasure to write with them as with any Pelikan over $200 .

 

I appreciate their weight , the quality of their nibs, and they are guaranteed for 5 years; don't hesitate, they are the real deal!

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  • 11 months later...

Excellent review!

 

Recently read an article on Diplomat and was interested. Bought a Aero Rollerball (my first RB) just to check it out.

 

At first I was leery - but as soon as I found the aluminum case - I knew I was in for quality... And wow - Diplomat a good brand.

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Thanks for the good review.

 

What are your thoughts on the pen after one year? Still a favourite?

 

I'm thinking of trying the Excellence A but wonder if it would just become another pen that spends more time in storage than use.

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Thanks for the good review.

 

What are your thoughts on the pen after one year? Still a favourite?

 

I'm thinking of trying the Excellence A but wonder if it would just become another pen that spends more time in storage than use.

 

Definitely still a fan of this pen - thanks for asking! I'm glad I went with the Marrakesh finish, as I have more than enough black-and-chrome pens (and black-and-gold doesn't really appeal). The only down-side is I find myself wanting to colour-match ink to pen, and brown or red-brown (Diamine Ancient Copper) isn't really ideal for business purposes.

 

It's probably my favourite Diplomat (I also have an Aero, which is a close second, plus an Esteem) - I love the heft, the girth of the grip section, and the smoothness of the writing experience.

 

I sympathise with your concern though re frequency of use - I have a growing collection of pens, mostly cheaper than this one, so I don't use it as often as I'd like. I'm definitely a little hesitant at the prospect of carrying a pen that costs as much as this one - I would really hate to lose it!

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I am curious about one aspect of your review. You say the pen is metal and lacquer, and also that the cap alone weighs 27g but the pen (excluding a bit of ink) a mere 14g. The heaviest cap I own is from an Edson managing a cap of only 20g and then the pen weighs over 20 g as well, despite not having a metal body so far as I know. Only celluloid, resin or hard rubber pens I own weigh < 20g uncapped let alone < 15g. The imbalance of weights seems extreme if they are of like construction. Are they correct weights? The unwieldiness you describe for a posted pen certainly relates well to your measurements though. Is the pen in fact metal

 

This is merely my curiosity about numbers needing a scratch. :)

X

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@Praxim, I'm very embarrassed to admit, I just re-weighed the pen, and it's the cap that weighs a little over 14g, while the body is nearly 28g - not sure how I got those figures the wrong way around!

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Easily enough done I expect. Typo. :)

 

Thank you. My obsession with measurements will rest easy until tomorrow. Come to think if it, I think a bit later I will change my sig to a wonderful comment I picked up in statistics yonks ago at Uni.

X

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Easily enough done I expect. Typo. :)

 

Thank you. My obsession with measurements will rest easy until tomorrow. Come to think if it, I think a bit later I will change my sig to a wonderful comment I picked up in statistics yonks ago at Uni.

 

More likely I wrote the measurements down wrong on my Rhodia pad, then replicated the mistake in the review. Not sure if there's any way I can change it, this long after it was written... Anyway, thanks for catching the mistake!

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I wouldn't worry about it anyway. Great review. I have had the Rhombus finish A with a medium nib for what must be going on 2 years now and it has delivered in every way.

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  • 2 months later...

More than one year after my purchase of a Diplomat Excellence Marakesh in M, I can confirm that all the ratings given here in the review are valid, and I consider that for the pleasure of writing, it comes even before my MB149 bought in 1972!

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  • 5 months later...

 

Definitely still a fan of this pen - thanks for asking! I'm glad I went with the Marrakesh finish, as I have more than enough black-and-chrome pens (and black-and-gold doesn't really appeal). The only down-side is I find myself wanting to colour-match ink to pen, and brown or red-brown (Diamine Ancient Copper) isn't really ideal for business purposes.

 

It's probably my favourite Diplomat (I also have an Aero, which is a close second, plus an Esteem) - I love the heft, the girth of the grip section, and the smoothness of the writing experience.

 

I sympathise with your concern though re frequency of use - I have a growing collection of pens, mostly cheaper than this one, so I don't use it as often as I'd like. I'm definitely a little hesitant at the prospect of carrying a pen that costs as much as this one - I would really hate to lose it!

 

Seeing that you also have an Esteem: could you say a few more words about the two in comparison? They seem to be rather equally large, if I go by the photos on the 'net, but I may be wrong, and a photo also says nothing about the weight. I'm wondering whether I should purchase an Esteem or a more costly Excellence. What is your personal advice?

In current use: Cleo Skribent Classic, Waterman Expert, Platinum 3776 Century, Diplomat Excellence, Pelikan M200, Sheaffer Targa (the good old Sheaffer, not one Made in China)

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