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1999 Waterman Phileas Blue Marble F Nib


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There is so little information about this pen out there. But it's THE fountain pen that got me into the hobby. You're welcome. :P .



I saw this thing in a Staples, I think. Maybe an Office max or Circuit City. I remember it was Phoenix, Arizona, 1999.


Something about it enchanted me. It was my favorite shade of dark blue. The gorgeous detailed inscription on the nib, the uniqueness of the entire concept of writing with a device I had never used. Per the rules of modern psychiatry, the 10, not yet 11 year old me was still in Piaget's period of childhood ego-centrism. What I liked, surely my mother would like. I begged my stepfather to buy it for my mom's birthday. I was either very persuasive, or very, very annoying, because he capitulated.


Be it love for her child or legitimate interest (I presume the latter) she loved it. She only ever used cartridges of blue, but it was always in her purse. About 15 years later, when I became interested in using my father's wood shop, and made her a #5 nibbed fountain pen out of Hawaiian Koa (she spent most of the 1970's as a NAUI dive instructor in the Pacific, also as an electrical engineer, designing the power grids for island regions such as Palau and Kwajelin, and had a deep personal connection with Hawaii) at which point the old Waterman was laid to rest.


About six months ago, my childhood and high school fascination for fountain pens was reinvigorated. I asked mom if she still had the old Waterman. She did, and she mailed it to me. It was gunked solid by the old long international cartridge in it, but a couple passes through my ultrasonic cleaner filled with hot water cleared the old girl right up. It has a strange little ring in the barrel that made most of my S.I. converters not fit, but the trusty old Jinhao sliding converter fit it perfectly. I filled it up with mont blanc lavender purple and tried it out. Wow. This old girl is a force to be reckoned with.


I don't like the 1-10 rating systems. My opinions are just that. Opinions. Completely anecdotal, much like male enhancement products. My word is just as objective (well, maybe a little more, since I'm not being paid), as that of Ron Jeremy's.


Steel nib be damned. It's got no breather hole and is as hard as a nail, but it's a true western F (leaning towards EF) with the most perfect, everyday paper medium flow. Shading, minor sheen, and what I consider the perfect amount of feedback a pen could have. Not glassy smooth, you feel the texture of the paper without even the slightest hint of scratchiness. Reverse writing is a hair scratchy and lays down a wet, consistent EF line. I couldn't be happier, this nib is amazing. Think Faber Castell Loom levels of perfection. Feed is plastic, but well designed, aesthetically interesting, and pulls clean out for easy cleaning.


The nib is proprietary. About a #6 in size, it has fitment fins similar to the steel pilot custom heritage 74/91, so you can't swap it for anything.


The body is full of amazing little details. The cap has two bands of gold. This one has seen HEAVY wear for the past 15 years and no brassing at all, despite a ton of micro scratches. The clip is sprung, and is by far the best clip of any pen in my entire collection, bar none. Perfect tension, perfect grip, slides in and out of a breast pocket no problem since the barrel has a very mild taper and a sharp angled bottom. The clip has a sharp taper to the rounded finneal that just looks and works amazing. I'm reminded of the detail and finish of the current visconti laser etched clips. Far more beautiful than Lamy or Faber Castell's sprung clips, and possibly more usable due to the rounded, smooth design with perfect sections for sliding over clothing.


The grip section seems smallish, but the faceted secondary grip is just as comfortable and somehow manages to create a secondary grip section without the taper that eventually forces your hands to slide down to the knurling. I normally hold a pen close to the nib, but this one, I like the parallel knurling so much, I post the cap and hold it there. The incredible fact is that the grip goes from 9.7mm to 12mm without any real feeling that you're holding the pen in a way that it wasn't meant to be held. This is truly a fascinating grip design that I'm surprised wasn't copied.


Cap posts deeply, securely, and does not change the balance of the pen whatsoever


Cap has a perfect snap action, not too tight, not too loose. The acrylic is not anything special in terms of depth, but reminds me of deep, dark, roiling ocean waves. At the bottom of the barrel is a gold inlaid brass piece that mirrors the wonderful inscription of the nib. Tiny details that add up to a pen of exquisite quality, especially considering the price.


Posted it's shorter than a pilot metropolitan, but big enough for even the largest hands without any upset in balance. Unposted, it's about as long as an unposted lamy al-star


I am not sure what it retailed for, but this pen would be an outrageous value today at $40-60, blowing everything else out of the water without a question


If you can find one used, in good shape for under $50, I highly recommend this pen. it's easily disassembled, takes standard international cartridges and converters, is very pretty, and fit and finish are nothing short of unbelievable for a pen under $200. The nib is a work of art, and is a true daily writer in every sense of the word.


When I asked my mom to send me this pen, I wondered if I was going to look at it through the rose tinted goggles of nostalgia. But when held against what I consider to be the best steel nibbed pen currently produced, the Faber Castell Loom, the Waterman Phileas just edges it out in every singly meaningful way. Truly a wonderful, insane bargain if you can find one. I'll likely pick up a few more used ones as I find them on Ebay for a good price, and give them away as gifts. They're just so much better than any other entry level steel nib pen I've seen. Even better than most gold nibbed nails out there (including the platinum 3776, the fit and finish is NOTHING in comparison to the Phileas.)

















Edited by Honeybadgers

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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You got me--now I have to dig my green marbled one out for work on Monday.

It is a very popular pen with a lot of folks--the phrase "phileas fever" gets used.

As I recall, it originally retailed for around 35.00--I bought mine in the mid 90's I think and it was one of my first pens.


A little backstory on it here: http://www.rickconner.net/penspotters/waterman.phileas.html



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What a fantastic story and a great pen!!!!


I love the Faber Castel Loom so much that I bought two (and gave one to a friend).


That Waterman Phleas is gorgeous and I would love to find one.

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Great review!


I have that exact same pen, same color.


About 5 - 6 years ago, Office Max had them on clearance with the starter pack -- pen, bottle of ink, 5 different color cartridges, converter, blotter paper in a presentation case. Get ready for it -- $9.99 each! I bought every one in stock. Kept one for myself and gave the others as Christmas presents. Wish they had more and were still available.



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I'm jealous. This was my first pen but I guess I lost it one day at school. Sucks that they're so expensive now, I'd kill for another but it's so hard to justify.

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  • 1 month later...

I recently bought two of these--blue and green marble with medium nibs--for $25 apiece at our local Treasure Mart resale shop, not knowing what they were. I was very pleased at how smoothly they write and how they NEVER hard start. Now that I see what they're going for online I feel very fortunate that I stumbled upon them.

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I like your story.


A Phileas just like yours was the pen that got me started, too, in the late 90s. I paid about $25 for the starter set. Unfortunately, that was the pen that taught me not to walk around with the cap open. I dropped it on its nib. Poor pen! Now I never walk around with an open pen in my hand.


I didn't know anything about nibmeisters or repairing nibs. I kept it a while because I couldn't bear to throw it away. I think it got lost in a move. Now I miss that pen! Nostalgia.... At least it got me into this hobby (obsession).

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I remember when the Phileas first came out. I was in Washington, DC at a meeting, and of course dropped by Fahrney's. I had collected a few modern Watermans in the Man and L'Etalon series, and liked them very much, especially the L'Etalons. The sales clerk brought out a new Phileas and asked if anyone could guess the price. Everybody was astonished that it was only $25. I bought a couple of them and still have one.


Some don't realize that the Phileas nib is actually a steel L'Etalon nib, or that the section/nib assemblies are interchangeable between the two pens. The Phileas is a great writer, in spite of its inexpensive plastic appearance. I think it was the Pilot Metropolitan of its day.

Rationalizing pen and ink purchases since 1967.

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Thanks for a great review. The Phileas seems to be stuck near the top of my all-time greats list, and not just great for the price. It's a great writer at any price.


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  • 3 weeks later...

If you can find one used, in good shape for under $50, I highly recommend this pen. it's easily disassembled, takes standard international cartridges and converters, is very pretty, and fit and finish are nothing short of unbelievable for a pen under $200. The nib is a work of art, and is a true daily writer in every sense of the word.



Thank you for your review. The other option is to buy the more affordable version of this pen, the Kultur. But even the Kultur is selling now for € 25,- or (much) more on eBay.

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I really don't think the kultur is as well made.

The Kultur and the Phileas are basically the same pen with different trimmings. The main difference is that the has Phileas a short brass tube in the barrel (the Kultur has not). Most versions of the Kultur have a plain steel nib (but gold plated versions of the Kultur exist).

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I too bought a blue marble Philéas when it first came out. Mine may have been a bit of a lemon, because I always found it scratchy and dry to write with, which is why I eventually gave up using it. I came upon it again this summer, while cleaning out my desk, and decided to see about fixing it or getting it fixed. Someone here wrote that they had sent their Philéas in to Waterman for repair and had gotten back a brand new pen. So I thought, what the heck, and emailed Newell/Rubbermaid/Waterman/EveryOtherDamnPen with a description of the problem and a request for help. They wrote back very kindly and asked for photos of the pen, which I sent back. Mind you, I have no warranty or sales receipt or anything, because life. They sent me a return item authorization, a postage thingie (I apologize for the jargon), instructions for packaging, and about a million copies of customs forms because my pen was going to France to be repaired. Be still, my beating Francophile heart. I packaged it as directed and sent it off, and about a week later I got a quote. They will replace the nib, as well as the cap and clip, which they find damaged (I didn't notice a problem), for—are you ready?—$42. Yes, it's more than I originally paid for the pen; on the other hand, it's a fraction of what the thing goes for now online. On balance, I think I'm getting a good deal. I'll post back when I get my pen back. Cross your fingers! In the meantime, I'll just have to struggle on with my Lamy Safari, my orange extra-fine Pilot Retro MR, my Kultur, my Jinhao x450 and x750, my Hero 616, my Parker Vector and 45, and my...ooly? I swear. Five dollars at my local Half-Price Books. What addiction?

Le plus gentil enseignement pour la vie, c'est bene vivere et laetari (Bonaventure des Périers).

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My second (and third) pen was a Phileas. Red marbled/fine, the other is black/medium. I no longer have the red marbled. I lost it in January 2014. Used they were going for $80-200 on eBay at the time. So I didn't replace it. I liked the fine much more than the medium.I still have it though.


"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oh joy, oh rapture unforeseen!


Today my shiny new Philéas arrived home from France, quite a bit earlier than I was expecting it. It came in a cool plastic tube that looks kind of like something out of my biology class, and it was accompanied by my old pen and a fresh cartridge (even though the old pen had a converter in it).


I flushed the nib and converter with cool water and a drop of Dawn and then rinsed it copiously with fresh water. I filled it with Waterman Mysterious Blue. Trembling, I put nib to paper.


Oh. My. God. It writes like silk. It writes almost of itself, which I've read should be the case but have never experienced. I am in love. Don't tell my other pens.


So, to recap: I inquired about repairs; received very courteous responses; sent my pen off (that's an act of faith, that is); got a quote of $42 to replace the nib and, since the clip was damaged, they replaced the cap and the barrel too without charging any more; paid them the money; and got back what is effectively a brand new pen four days earlier than they said to expect it, plus my old pen back. And this was for an entry-level pen that I didn't have a warranty for! I may be easy to please, but I couldn't be happier about this whole transaction. Now I see why everyone likes the Philéas so much!



Edited by Plumette

Le plus gentil enseignement pour la vie, c'est bene vivere et laetari (Bonaventure des Périers).

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Wow Paulette, thanks for sharing! That's a fantastic story and service I would not expect!

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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Congratulations on your experience with Waterman, and on your new-found love. I hope it is a long and happy relationship.

Isn't it wonderful to find an organization that still has a passion about their products, and cares about their customers?


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  • 2 months later...

Ron, yes, it is wonderful! I have to say I didn't expect that level of service, since Waterman had been assimilated by a giant multinational corporation that makes loads of other things.

Le plus gentil enseignement pour la vie, c'est bene vivere et laetari (Bonaventure des Périers).

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