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Next Fountain Pen: Carene Or?


cadfael_tex
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I'm starting to look at my next FP acquisition. My favorites now are my Sailors (1911s naginata togi, a Sapporo, and a Pro gear) followed closely by my Pelikan M400 and Platinum Nice Pur.

 

I really like the look of the Waterman Carene but have never had a Waterman before. I also really like the new matte blue Pilot VP and this years Platinum Kaweguchi. And of course, I would never turn my nose up at another Sailor or Pelikan.

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Another pen I've really been drawn To is the Visconti Millennium Arch.

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While I don't have any Sailor or Platinum pens, I have a Carene, two VPs, and a many Visconti. While I don't own the Millennium Arch, I have many other Visconti pens and written with the MA a few times.

 

I'll start with Visconti. I love my Visconti pens. They don't always ship with the nib perfectly aligned and sometimes they have QC issues (I bought one as a gift once and the lower cap ring just fell off), but when they're great, the nib is incredible and has a great flow and the feel is solid. I still prefer the Dreamtouch Nib, but it's still a terrific choice. That said, I don't care for the Millennium Arch. I find the arch itself to be gaudy, and I really don't care for the overall center-pinched design. That said, it's totally an aesthetic choice. Regardless of the arch, the filling system is neat (another of their updated-from-an-older-design choices), but I prefer the double vac-fill, personally.

 

I love the Pilot VP. It's a wonderful pen. People here have talked about it ad nauseam, but I can't recommend it enough. It's a unique design (not classic), writes like a dream, and is a terrific every-day option. It just depends on if you want a slightly more classic design - like your Sailors or Platinums - or something a bit more unique. If you do like the more classic design, you may want to look at the Pilot Fermo. It has an outward rotating nib instead of a clicking nib, but is still retracting. I believe it takes the same nib as the Pilot VP and is cartridge/converter as well.

 

Now the Carene. What a lovely pen. It writes a little wider, I've found, and the nib is fairly stiff, but it's really a great writer. Unique looking, fantastically styled with its large integrated nib, and a truly terrific pen. It also fits every situation; as formal as you need it or as relaxed as you choose. I've carried mine from parties to board rooms and it works just fine and looks appropriate everywhere. It's a C/C pen like the Pilots, but that's ok.

 

I hope these thoughts help in your choosing! You can't go wrong either way.

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Just as a heads up, I have never owned a Visconti and have only tried low to mid-range modern Watermans (as I'm pretty sure you're not considering a vintage Waterman here).

 

All of the options that you've listed are excellent and generally well-regarded in the community. But each does have its quirks and strong points that might sway you one way or another.

 

If you need a retractable nib, the VP (along with the Decimo, and maybe the Fermo if you can stretch your budget a bit) is one of the only pens available at a mid-range price.

 

The Visconti Millennium Arch is just a cool pen! I would personally never buy it for the fear of long-term durability of the filling mechanism (and especially sac replacement) and ink capacity. If you want a pen that writes decently well but primarily focuses on aesthetics and design, the Visconti is almost unmatched at this price point.

 

I owned two #3776 Centuries in the past and can easily say that they are reliable workhorses that remain professional in appearance. The converters don't hold too much ink and Platinum cartridges are quite limited in colour. The nibs do have a certain feedback (I'd say somewhere between a modern Aurora 88 and a fine nib Sailor) that might need some getting used to. Also note that even the soft nibs are springy at best and comparable to many standard gold nibs by other companies. Their "standard" nibs are almost nail-like—useful but not for everybody.

 

I personally had a terrible experience with modern Parkers and Watermans (but I'm a huge fan of their older products). The converters are reliable enough and hold at least as much as their standard international counterparts. The steel nibs are near manifold in terms of firmness and all were exceptionally dry out of the box. This was more of an issue with the feed than the nib, making adjustments that much harder. After skimming through the many Carene reviews here on FPN, I see that the majority of people have had good experiences with it.

 

As a huge Pelikan fan, I am obligated to push another bird to you! If you like the M400 and would like to try something slightly longer but more importantly girthier, the M600 is an excellent choice that people often overlook. You can still "retrofit" the M600 with modern M400 and M200 nibs, but they are also fully compatible with vintage 400/400N/400NN/140 nibs that offer everything from double-breather-holed manifolds to near full-flex options and true extra fines (unlike the modern blobs) to broad obliques.

 

Either way you go, it will be hard to make a wrong choice. I'd advise you to visit a local B&M store and try some of the pens out. They are often worth the price premium as it will save you a lot of headaches when it comes to returns, warranties, defects, nib adjustments, and long-term service.

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.”

Graham Greene

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I'm a Waterman's fan and a recently acquired Expert Deluxe is currently my favorite writer. A vintage Laureat was used for 30+ years (same ink and no cleaning!) before retiring. I've just acquired an uninked Carene and have yet to use it but at least two of my fp acquaintences believ that it might be their respective smoothest writers. Mine writes on everything from newsprint to Clairefontaine without missing a beat. Be forewarned, Waterman's are a little heavier and wetter than others. A Waterman M nib puts down a lot of ink. Try starting with a Fine.

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Thanks for the input. What worries me with the Visconti is that it isn't available from a source that 'tunes' the pen before shipping (Binderizing etc). I always like that little bit of reassurance that I won't be trouble shooting a nib on a new pen. That's part of the reason I haven't gotten another Lamy 2000. That's why I've bought from Mottishaw and Binder in the past and will probably give Indy-pen-dance a go in the near future.

 

If somebody knows of such a vendor in the US I'd love to hear about it.

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Love my Carene, very smooth nib. Inlayed nibs like the Carene nib are very stiff!

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