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VillersCotterets

Apparently, it has also a titanium body. So I expect to be very expensive.

I don't understand why the screws. If they are there only as a decoration, I find them ugly. If they have a practical purpose, they failed to advertised it.

 

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KingsCountyWriter
9 hours ago, VillersCotterets said:

I don't understand why the screws. If they are there only as a decoration, I find them ugly. If they have a practical purpose, they failed to advertised it.
 

The screws are there to serve as notice that this is an original design. It may be influenced by other things, but in terms of fountain pens, it's probably there to make it unique. 

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A Smug Dill
37 minutes ago, maclink said:

I assume this model isn't yet released since I'm unable to find any reference to them other than here?

 

I just checked, and can see it listed on Taobao, Etsy, eBay.co.uk and AliExpress (available to be added to one's shopping cart).

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I wonder if MAJOHN improved on the converter volume. Hard to tell by the scale, but maybe a few more precious tenths more ml on the piston syringe?  If so, they have a winner.

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A Smug Dill
On 9/15/2021 at 12:42 AM, VillersCotterets said:

I don't understand why the screws. If they are there only as a decoration, I find them ugly. If they have a practical purpose, they failed to advertised it.

 

That is what the pen model's marketing copy says.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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This is something that continues to amaze me. With a looooooong history of innovation, modern Chinese makers seem to be playing it safe, either making "homage" (to put it blandly) pens or, like this, simply making minor changes to a proven design (I talk design not materials, but even so, just titanium and 14k nib? give me a break, that's little to differentiate themselves from the wealth of Kaweco reference design and materials offer).

 

I won't talk the design much, whether I like it or not is a personal matter of taste (I tend to dislike superfluous ornament, but I know it'll appeal to many), but I wonder if they can't come up with a design that does not scream of kiddies playing "hide and seek".

 

I can understand that they may feel it "safer" to cater for a design already proven and accepted overseas, but, come on, they have a huuuuuuumongous internal and captive market and a huge work-force to explore and experiment and try and test and come with really innovative ideas to their hearts' content.

 

Sadly, this model reminds me of the oft' spoken about (rightly or not) low QC and their ascribed (rightly or not) search to make a quick buck with minimal investment (and even if they can get away with it, with sub-minimal investment).

Not that I say this is the case, but you have to agree that it doesn't look as if they did a real effort to come up with something new, but just to "hide similarities" barely enough to get away. I think this model does little to dispel that image of Chinese production.

 

Again, I do not say this is the case, but it still looks as if they are leaving innovation to others only to come up later with the heavy production lines to flood the market without any risks. At least, that's the impression I (surely and absolutely wrongly) get.

 

OTOH, I recognize it is a departure from the usual plain "cloning" practice and at least this time they have tried to make their changes a bit more apparent. An improvement that I sincerely and wholeheartedly applaud.

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Well, this is their modus with so many products. Make it look like the more expensive, Western products, but offer it cheaper. It doesn’t matter if it breaks quickly. After all, it’s cheap. Consumers will look at the same appearance and specs and of course, go for the cheaper product. Gradually, the pendulum swings and soon enough, only the Chinese products are available and their quality becomes the current standard. We are witnessing the same with fountain pens. 

 

Already, their value for money is being praised here and their copying defended as well. The trend is inevitable, and I think it deliberate and calculated because not many consumers will notice and many who do notice, ie, know if Kaweco, will go for the cheaper Chinese version. 

 

In a sense it fits in with the modern consumer. If your money can be used to try many different products than having to spend it on one product, then many will gravitate to the cheaper products. 

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1 hour ago, txomsy said:

This is something that continues to amaze me. With a looooooong history of innovation, modern Chinese makers seem to be playing it safe, either making "homage" (to put it blandly) pens or, like this, simply making minor changes to a proven design (I talk design not materials, but even so, just titanium and 14k nib? give me a break, that's little to differentiate themselves from the wealth of Kaweco reference design and materials offer).

 

I won't talk the design much, whether I like it or not is a personal matter of taste (I tend to dislike superfluous ornament, but I know it'll appeal to many), but I wonder if they can't come up with a design that does not scream of kiddies playing "hide and seek".

 

I can understand that they may feel it "safer" to cater for a design already proven and accepted overseas, but, come on, they have a huuuuuuumongous internal and captive market and a huge work-force to explore and experiment and try and test and come with really innovative ideas to their hearts' content.

 

Sadly, this model reminds me of the oft' spoken about (rightly or not) low QC and their ascribed (rightly or not) search to make a quick buck with minimal investment (and even if they can get away with it, with sub-minimal investment).

Not that I say this is the case, but you have to agree that it doesn't look as if they did a real effort to come up with something new, but just to "hide similarities" barely enough to get away. I think this model does little to dispel that image of Chinese production.

 

Again, I do not say this is the case, but it still looks as if they are leaving innovation to others only to come up later with the heavy production lines to flood the market without any risks. At least, that's the impression I (surely and absolutely wrongly) get.

 

OTOH, I recognize it is a departure from the usual plain "cloning" practice and at least this time they have tried to make their changes a bit more apparent. An improvement that I sincerely and wholeheartedly applaud.

+1

 

and I have tried to make this very comment so many times.

It's just not in their DNA: "a copy is better".

The screws are there IMO so they can claim it's different, just in case Kaweco raises any comments again (as they have done with Moonman and Delike...)

 

It just strikes me as a crazy practice (looking at it from our cultural point of view, which is clearly different), I'm totally convinced they have the capabilities to come up with any new design they wanted.

 

perhaps next time? or next? or next?...

 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, maclink said:

Well, this is their modus with so many products. Make it look like the more expensive, Western products, but offer it cheaper. It doesn’t matter if it breaks quickly. After all, it’s cheap. Consumers will look at the same appearance and specs and of course, go for the cheaper product. Gradually, the pendulum swings and soon enough, only the Chinese products are available and their quality becomes the current standard. We are witnessing the same with fountain pens. 

 

Already, their value for money is being praised here and their copying defended as well. The trend is inevitable, and I think it deliberate and calculated because not many consumers will notice and many who do notice, ie, know if Kaweco, will go for the cheaper Chinese version. 

 

In a sense it fits in with the modern consumer. If your money can be used to try many different products than having to spend it on one product, then many will gravitate to the cheaper products. 

I believe you are probably right, that is the strategy,

and it's sad to see the leveling of quality to lower grade becoming the universally accepted standard.

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A Smug Dill
1 hour ago, txomsy said:

… I wonder if they can't come up with a design that does not scream of kiddies playing "hide and seek".

 …‹snip›…

Not that I say this is the case, but you have to agree that it doesn't look as if they did a real effort to come up with something new, but just to "hide similarities" barely enough to get away. I think this model does little to dispel that image of Chinese production.

 

Please excuse the ‘selective quoting’ above; my intent is to reply to your entire post, but wanted to specifically address those assertions (or musings) I quoted, because… I think you're approaching it from the ‘wrong’ angle or perspective.

 

I don't believe for one moment that Majohn (aka Moonman) is trying to hide similarities with Kaweco's product design at all. Leaving Kaweco with little recourse, which is of course an implicit goal or requirement, for any perceived infringement or affront is a matter of working within the framework of applicable laws in the relevant jurisdiction(s). Market competition (or, rather, vying for an increasing share in a limited resource or pool of revenue) is inherently adversarial in the mainstream Chinese view, and not in the spirit of growing the collective wealth in intellectual property or broadening the horizons for the community of would-be users of products. If those who are holding the purse strings are more interested in buying fit-for-purpose products than rewarding original or innovative designs, then there is little value in investing a business enterprise's resources in the latter. The exception is if it is for an revolutionary initiative that promises to sink or destroy certain competitors once and for all; but the prospects of killing off others in the fountain pen market by proving their designs inferior, or outdated and not fit for purpose today, are just not there.

 

’Asking’ Chinese firms (or government bodies) to direct their energies and resources towards growing something that allow others to flourish is missing the point. At large, they aren't interested in offering consumers a wider range of options unless the option they offer is going to starve outside competitors out of the business altogether; they want ‘you’ to go with the option they offer. The easy strategy is to offer something close enough to what's already out there, perhaps slightly lesser in quality and performance (or perhaps not), but significantly cheaper, so that most consumers would find it a no-brainer assuming knowledge of all relevant options in the market; and, in doing so, avoid having to try to find some other Achilles' heel at which to direct its assault. What else could Majohn (or any other Chinese firm) do to prove Kaweco's design simply doesn't cut it today, and thus deal the competitor a potentially fatal body blow? Not much.

 

If you want Chinese enterprises to ‘innovate’ for your imagined benefit, then instead of banging on about how they have all the resources and capability but are just using those things ‘wrong’ by copying, you need to tell them what well-established brands in competition fail to deliver, and if the Chinese managed to fill that gap for you, you'll abandon their competitors altogether, so that they'll be interested in developing this silver bullet to kill others off (which you'll applaud when they succeed).

 

Until then, in the absence of opportunities for quick kills, it's going to be a drawn-out campaign to eat competitors' lunch or even bleed them to death by a thousand cuts; and coming up with distinctly different designs just doesn't fit with that strategy.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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Which is exactly what I find sad.

 

The very assertion of  'you need to tell them what well-established brands in competition fail to deliver' is just more of the same: refusing to do their homework, refusing to think by themselves, and ask others to solve their problems for them. It just doesn't work.

 

I can understand that they've grown used to creators coming to China to ask them to make something, and then underselling it themselves for their own profit. But that still leaves them at the mercy of others.

 

That approach is shortsighted and doomed to fail a thousand times as History has repeatedly proven. That someone from a people with such a long History ignores it simply amazes me.

 

More so in a modern world of quick communications. The big advantage of the Internet is in allowing people to communicate and, in so doing, to share ideas so anyone may come up with innovations faster. Censorship, closing communications, not sharing advances is just isolating yourself and missing the whole point. I can also understand pride and someone thinking they'll outsmart everyone else. That, simply, is not my experience that it ever works. There's always someone smarter.

 

That approach is wasting a hoard of opportunities. It may seem to work as an approach of 'death by a thousand cuts', 'attrition war' or 'trench warfare', but the truth is it is as shortsighted as can be and as outdated as WWI strategies. I agree that it may work in a non-competitive world, just like hunting with a hole in the floor trap, but... if anyone comes up with anything marginally better you're out.

 

Columbus, Napoleon, Alexander, Edison, Gates or Jobbs quickly overcame an established status quo of 'attrition wars' by being disruptive. I'm old enough to have seen the vast majority of companies stagnate in the 'death by a thousand cuts' wars, eroding each other, making minimal gains at huge losses in almost every field. Then came Ikea, Zara, DEC, MS, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Netflix, Airnbnb, Napster, iTunes, YouTube, Uber, Tesla, Wikipedia and so many other names (to name but a few) that blew up all their competition in a snap (or a few -very few- years) by thinking orthogonally. And most important, not always looking at making a quick buck. Something many modern Chinese seem to also be missing.

 

In other words, in a modern world where ideas flow quickly, and anyone can come up with a new, disruptive idea at any moment, sticking to stagnant strategies may seem like a good idea or an attractive option, kill your competition by outnumbering / flooding / starving them, and I can see how someone grown in a people 1-2 billion strong may feel tempted to. But it hardly works in the presence of disruptive ideas, and in the modern world, these are bound to pop up continuously.

 

With such a huge captive market, I just can't understand how they can ignore it. Do not the Chinese customer write? Do they not have needs? Do not they have any ideas to listen to? I am sorry, but I find that a ) difficult to believe and b ) difficult to understand.

 

In my most humble and illiterate opinion, that's condemning themselves to be always playing catch-up.

 

Another problem is that, in markets, once you sell yourself to customers as an 'unreliable, low quality' producer it may become terribly difficult to shake off and overcome that image. Marketing costs will skyrocket sooner or later while their competition (with a cleaner image) just sits and waits.

 

Tell them what should they do to become rich? Are we crazy? If I have a disruptive idea I will exploit it (or openly share it, at my own choice) myself and for my own (or Humanity, rather) benefit. It would be suicidal to do otherwise.

 

IMMHO, Maturity comes when one stops playing 'hide and seek' or 'catch-up' or any other children games and takes their own destiny in their own hands.

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A Smug Dill
51 minutes ago, txomsy said:

In other words, in a modern world where ideas flow quickly, and anyone can come up with a new, disruptive idea at any moment, sticking to stagnant strategies may seem like a good idea or an attractive option,

 

Sigh. That's exactly why it doesn't ‘pay’ as well to innovate if it doesn't kill off the competition. Simply sitting back and keeping an eye out for “new, disruptive ideas” that one would analyse (on the premise of one's needs, capabilities, and target market, etc.) without being passionate about them, works better than trying to develop new ideas that can be spread and benefit other providers and producers (and in turn their ‘customers’). Innovative ideas and designs that do not come with inherent or built-in high barriers to entry are OK, if you just want to make a quick buck before copycats figure out how you do it and get into the game.

 

As I said, if you're keen for the Chinese manufacturers to kill off the likes of Kaweco, Lamy and Parker (just as examples; I happen to like Lamy) — which then in turn forces them to eventually come up with their own innovations once for foreign ‘idea factories’ have been vanquished and annihilated — then they may well listen to what you have to say about what they should invest in and produce, for the long-term payoff of unshakeable market dominance. But if you're putting consumer interests in terms of choice, as opposed to spending the least to get the most in aggregate value, first and want others to come to the table to ‘grow’ or fulfil that vision, that's missing the point, in my opinion.

 

Sell them on the long-term return on investment, which as a side-effect delivers an immediate-term benefit to you as a consumer, and they will come to the table. Starving or killing off ‘foreign’ competition from more established brands in the industry will stand the entrepreneurs in every way, including with the *cough* government where they're domiciled and with which they identify. Being a key player ing finally burying Kaweco, Parker, S.T. Dupont and such will earn a Chinese manufacturer some major kudos; and I'd gladly wager that there are many wealthy investors who'd be happy to get behind striking those killing blows.

 

But if you're not prepared to at least cheer them on while they eat the competition alive in front of you, then you're not really in a position to influence how they invest their resources and efforts.

 

Is helping them dominate the market what you want? Or do you want nothing to do with it, never mind how much money and capability particular manufacturers may have access to, which you would do different if you were the CEO answering to the investors?

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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If you think in terms of world/market domination, then I (personally) think you are missing totally the point. But it might as well be me who's utterly lost. Not that it matters a iota in the great order of things, anyway.

 

All feudal warlords aimed for dominance while they spent their lives in petty wars to earn a handful of terrain. Yet, it wasn't by 'attrition wars' that Gengis or Kublai extended their dominions. It wasn't by waiting to see if someone else came up with a neat idea they could copy to apply in mass production either.

 

I truly hope they really know what they are doing. For the good of all.

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A Smug Dill
On 9/15/2021 at 12:42 AM, VillersCotterets said:

Apparently, it has also a titanium body. So I expect to be very expensive.

 

On Taobao, it's CNY 369 for the version that only has the two screws on the rectangular panel, but not on the other facets of the octagonal cross-section cap, and fitted with a Schmidt steel nib. The version with two screws on every facet costs an additional CNY 30, and the ‘upgrade’ to a 14K gold nib costs an additional CNY 170.

 

Therefore, by today's exchange rate, a unit (shown in the image you reposted) without the superfluous screws, and fitted with a Chinese-made 14K gold nib, has a list price of EUR 75.00.

 

20 hours ago, txomsy said:

If you think in terms of world/market domination, then I (personally) think you are missing totally the point. …‹snip›… 

I truly hope they really know what they are doing. For the good of all.

 

It's not as if anyone reasonably expects that the folks behind Moonman and Delike are in the business of manufacturing and selling fountain pens because it is their hobby.

 

I daresay the “good of all” is not the business of private for-profit enterprise and its investors (irrespective of nationality, identity or domicile), especially if that “all” includes competitors and their ardent fans or loyal supporters, as well as idealistic spectators who aren't putting their own wealth on the line to promote their world views and causes, hoping to strike a chord with others who will back some initiative or movement financially. Whereas flexing one's muscles to score visibly against ‘foreign’ competitors — or even vanquish them — in the arena, irrespective of which party has the longer history and/or ‘heritage’ that some would prefer to see preserved, will always win some kudos from members of the ‘herd’ that share some sort of fundamentally territorial identity.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I think the market, whether it be local or global will always have the innovators of new products as well as those who make products inspired by other products, often selling for lower prices.  The main focus of this latter group is to bring a more affordable solution to the market. This can actually be a good thing since it avoids monopolistic behaviour. 

 

Not everyone who wishes to produce a product and sell it can be a ground breaker or inventor. However, they may be able to enhance the original concept and even motivate the talented innovator to come up something new to re- establish or maintain a lead in the market. 

 

One does wonder about the balance though. I don’t really have an answer for this. For me, intuitively I think China’s blatant copying is one extreme, while monopolistic behaviour is another. 

 

On further thought, I do think it’s not only the copying but the considerable compromise of quality with pricing that’s ridiculously cheap when compared to the original product. Such an offer seems too good to be true and usually, it is. Something is typically amiss, ie, there being ‘unfair’ production and marketing tactics in the other extreme. 

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MuddyWaters

For the reason that these pens recurrently are blatant rip-offs, I would appreciate if we could have a separate forum section for the many Taiwanese and other Asian companies that don't do this. 

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A Smug Dill
On 9/21/2021 at 1:59 AM, maclink said:

It doesn’t matter if it breaks quickly. After all, it’s cheap. Consumers will look at the same appearance and specs and of course, go for the cheaper product.

 

That's one of the things I actually like about that business practice as a consumer, fountain pen hobbyist, and observer. (I don't do any paid or professional work for the manufacturing and retail industries, and I have no personal or financial investment in any of the Chinese and German companies, as far as I'm aware.)

 

Somehow, many active — or downright vocal — participants on hobbyist forums seem to want to turn their personal romanticising of fountain pen use more mainstream today. Never mind that fountain pens, as a category of retail consumer product, have been around for over a hundred years; and many were cheap ‘essential’ writing instruments for everyman that did not allude to refinement, or appeal to cultural heritage and nostalgia.

 

While the offer of cheap (below the ‘affordable’ level) fountain pen models that rely strictly on high sale volumes with low profit margins have, quite understandably in the face of a much shrunken base of interested consumers in their primary markets, largely been abandoned by European manufacturers, the boom in Chinese fountain pens that is increasingly visible and accessible to Internet shoppers globally over the past decade helps reclaim some of the general interest in cheap writing instruments but not as ‘school pens’, while colouring it with a sort of consumerism that views most everything as disposable and easier (or cheaper) to replace than to repair, that just wasn't the norm in fountain pens' heyday, coupled by an almost total lack of brand loyalty.

 

To me, bringing more people today into fountain pen use is a good thing for ‘the hobby’, even if it snuffs out some of the romanticism in the process, claims a few scalps from brands with established names and long histories in the industry, and changes the flavour of the market over time. After all, I grew up believing in democracy and capitalism, and a core premise would be that what more people in sheer numbers want, and are prepared to spend their money on, will steer the collective direction, perhaps marginalising special-interest minorities while still giving room to coexist as outliers with the new norm and not forced to conform (but there is a cost in holding out and doing/buying what is uncommon).

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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