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Otto Hutt Design 01 And 04



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There are no reviews of Otto Hutt fountain pens on FPN, and I found only one online (of a Design 06 model). Otto Hutt, we are told on various online pen store web pages, has been "delighting European hands since 1920." Well, they seem to have found a US distributor now, and so they are here, trying to delight American hands in 2017. I'd never heard of this manufacturer, but some searches on FPN did unearth brief, passing mentions of Otto Hutt in the context of Faber-Castell and Graf von Faber-Castell several years ago.

 

Otto Hutt appears to be a small, family-owned company in Pforzheim, Germany, a center of jewelry making, so they could be considered the German S.T. Dupont. Like S.T. Dupont, Otto Hutt pens are all metal. They have 7 models, called Design 01 through Design 07 (no one in the family business went to marketing school, I guess), in increasing order of price.

 

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The Design 01 is a slim model, reminding me of the Montblanc slim line, Porsche Design slim line, and the Aurora Hastil. However, unlike those pens, whose selling point is their ultra-modern design, the Design 01 is advertised as having a "purist", "function-over-form", "Bauhaus" design. I think it just means that it has minimalist design which, if executed with high quality of materials, fit, and finish, should be enough of a statement to be successful on its own terms.

 

On the other hand, the Design 04 looks a lot like a Graf von Faber-Castell Classic, except that all GvFC pens except for the Tamitio have gold nibs, whereas both the Design 01 and Design 04 are sold here in the US with steel nibs by default (one online store advertises upgrades to gold nibs). The advertising copy for Otto Hutt pens says that they are entirely manufactured in Germany, so I guess these steel nibs come from one of the usual suspects: JoWo, Schmidt, or Bock. However, these nibs then get the fancy treatment that even Faber-Castell doesn't give to its steel nibs, namely rhodium/palladium/platinum plating, and (in the case of the Design 04) gold plating as well (to get a two-tone appearance).

 

With regard to barrel finishes, Otto Hutt has taken after S.T. Dupont (its jeweler DNA is showing) rather than Faber-Castell, in that the barrels are heavily lacquered with multiple layers of lacquer. My experience (call it prejudice if you wish) is that lacquered-metal-bodied pens look and feel cheap unless both the following hold: (a) barrel has high-quality lacquer, and (b )the fit and finish are absolutely impeccable. If either of the above does not hold, then that pen is competing against, and will lose out to, the Pilot Metropolitan (a $15 pen).

 

Of course, S.T. Dupont more than satisfies both the above requirements, as we well know. Now, Otto Hutt pens have a list price about 40% lower than comparable S.T. Dupont pens (albeit, without the gold nibs that all Duponts except the Defi have, but the Defi isn't priced any lower than any gold-nibbed Dupont anyway). So, do they offer good value?

 

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The Design 01 has a nicely lacquered brass barrel. It's easy to see that the lacquer is of high quality. However, I have had slim Waterman pens (the Preface comes to mind) with barrels with similar quality of lacquer. What the Design 01 has to distinguish it is the sterling silver cap (snap-on type) and tassie (or whatever the piece at the end of the barrel is called).

 

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Fit and finish is of very high quality, comparable to a Graf von Faber-Castell (or an S.T. Dupont).

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According to one online store, the steel nib (Fine, in my case) is platinum-plated. It does feel a little different from "regular" steel nibs, and unlike its rivals from Germany and France, it writes a "true" and somewhat dry line. The filling system is pretty boring: just the usual cartridge/converter. The box for the pen includes the converter (shame on you, Waterman, for not doing so on some pens that cost about as much) and a polishing cloth (for the sterling silver bits).

 

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The Design 04 in "The Code" finish, which I have, overdoes the lacquer work, in my opinion. The barrel is coated in a black lacquer. Then the lacquer is cut away by laser in the random bar-code pattern you see (I wonder if it is different for each barrel, but it is not advertised as such anywhere). Then, the parts of the barrel exposed by the laser etching are plated in palladium. Finally, the entire barrel is coated with a few more layers of clear lacquer. Whew! This is a lot to go through in order to distinguish oneself from S.T. Dupont and their exquisite but more conventional-looking lacquerwork.

 

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As for the steel nib (Medium in my case) on the Design 04, it is also platinum-plated, but parts of it are also gold-plated to give the two-tone appearance. The cap (screw-on type) and grip section are also palladium-plated in my case, though it appears that other, more conventional finishes of the Design 04, with solid lacquered barrels, justify their price by platinum-plating the cap and grip section. Once more, the nib is excellent, but feels different from "regular" steel nibs (and is also "true" and somewhat dry). The filling system here is also cartridge/converter, and the box (identical to that of the Design 01) includes the converter and a polishing cloth (must be to keep the palladium plated parts shiny, since nothing on this pen is sterling silver).

 

I've kept comparing the Otto Hutt pens against S.T. Dupont and Graf von Faber-Castell above. I think Otto Hutt can distinguish themselves from both these prestige marques in the case of the Design 04 at least: the barrel design is modern, like GvFC or Porsche Design, but lacquered like a Dupont, while the cap is similar to the GvFC cap that I like more than the cap on any Dupont model. The steel nib helps keep costs down (maybe), but gets a bit of "bling" by being platinum- and gold-plated. At $400 list, it's not much of a bargain versus a GvFC (which can usually be had with a gold nib), but is very good value relative to an S.T. Dupont. If you want a GvFC with Dupont-style (and Dupont-quality) lacquerwork, the Otto Hutt Design 04 may be for you (but you won't get a gold nib unless you pay quite a bit more for an upgrade). Fortunately, there are sellers offering the pen at a much more reasonable price online -- I bought it right here from the FPN Classifieds, brand new, at more than a 50% discount from list.

 

The value proposition of the Design 01 is more dubious: it lists for $250, but the lacquerwork, though good, is not as superb as that on the Design 04, and the selling points are perhaps the sterling silver cap and barrel end-piece, and the platinum-plating on the steel nib. Neither S.T. Dupont nor Graf von Faber-Castell has a pen as slim as the Design 01, so the closest competition is Porsche Design's slim line (P3125), which does, however, come with a gold nib (but costs $400 or so). I have the latter, and I have to say that it is a better pen than the Design 01 with regard to both looks and construction. However, if you can get the Design 01 new for, say, $150 or lower (as I did), then it is tolerable value for money (though not a bargain).

 

In summary, I'd give the Design 04 an overall score of 8 out of 10, and the Design 01 either a 6 or a 7 out of 10. The nibs on both, however, would rate a 9, at least when compared against other steel nibs, because they really are distinctive, both in construction and in the way they feel when used.

Edited by ParkerBeta

S.T. Dupont Ellipsis 18kt M nib

Opus 88 Flow steel M nib

Waterman Man 100 Patrician Coral Red 18kt factory stub nib

Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with Masuyama 0.7mm steel cursive italic nib

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  • farazqamar

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Thank you for the review. It prompted me to look through the collection of pens my father left me and sure enough I found one. The notes say "made circa 1930's, limited" "Limited" meaning they did not specialize in pen manufacturing at that time, not that it was a limited edition. Thank you again for detailed review.

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ralphawilson

Fine review of an "off the beaten track" brand.

"The surface is all you've got. You can only get beyond the surface by working with the surface." ~Richard Avedon

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  • 3 months later...

I have been intrigued by this brand as well and have ordered one. Now waiting to receive it and see how it compares to the GvFC classic which I have grown to love for its impeccable finish.

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inkstainedruth

So, how well do they write?

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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