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Porsche Design original vs newer slimline


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Almost since its inception, the Porsche Design Studio under the direction of its founder, F.A. Porsche (grandson of the original Ferdinand Porsche), experimented with modern designs in modern materials, chief among them titanium.  Although F.A. Porsche is best known for designing the Porsche 911, he also designed other iconic objects like the 1972 Chronograph I (the first product of his studio, made by Orfina), the 1981 Ocean 2000 diver's watch (made by IWC), and even sunglasses.  An official listing of their 51 greatest hits of the past 50 years is here.  Curiously, the only pen it lists is the Mikado ballpoint!  


I say "curiously" because, in my opinion, the studio's very first fountain pen from the mid-1980s represents a level of uncompromising design coupled with bleeding-edge engineering that was at least 30 years ahead of its time.  For a very detailed review of the original fountain pen (just called, with staggering self-confidence, "The Fountain Pen" -- see the full-page magazine ad below from 1986), see this superb thread (and do not forget to read the illuminating discussion in the follow-up posts to the review).



A 1986 full-page magazine ad for "The Fountain Pen" [from an eBay listing].  This is the top-of-the-line sterling silver model.


The original fountain pen came in three versions: the top-of-the-line was sterling silver, and is very rare today.  The more common model is the full-titanium one (the box says "titanium 41032"), available with either 18kt gold or steel nib, and when I say "full-titanium" I mean everything except the clip is titanium, while the clip is polished stainless steel.  Here are a few details from my pen (note the "W. Germany" on the underside of the clip, the logo on the top of the cap, and the fact that the nib width is not marked -- this is a Fine).  This pen is not in pristine condition, but given its age it is remarkably free of damage.  











Although it looks like there is writing on the clip, a closer examination revealed them to be just scratches.  The clip itself is spring-loaded, so it easily angles up to accommodate thicker fabric



This beautifully chamfered finial allows for secure posting of the cap -- a plastic insert in the cap prevents metal-on-metal contact.


It is clear that the pen is heavily influenced by the iconic Aurora Hastil, shown below for comparison.  However, unlike the Hastil, the Porsche Design fountain pen accomplishes everything, including posting of the cap, without any plastic visible on the outside of the cap, grip section, or barrel -- it's all titanium, all the way.



Comparison with Aurora Hastil, another design icon.  Note the little black tabs at the end of the Hastil barrel to allow for posting the cap without metal-on-metal contact.


Then there is the matte-black model (box says "black 41031") with a PVD coating that is probably similar to the "TiCon" (Ti carbide + oxide + nitride) coating on Porsche Design's 1985 Ocean 500 watch (by IWC), except that unlike the watch, this pen body is not titanium but most probably brass, as suggested by the difference in weight between the matte black 41031 (33g) and the full-titanium 41032 (27g) pens.  The black pen has a matching PVD-coated black steel nib.  Although my black 41031 is just as old as my titanium 41032, it looks newer and the black PVD coating shows no signs of wear at all -- a testament to the cutting-edge techniques used in its manufacture.



Note the crisp printing of "Porsche Design" on the cap, and the helpful (for readability) white color used to write "W. Germany" on the underside of the clip.


Alas, no-compromise design and manufacturing calls for "cost no object" buyers, and these are few in number.  After a substantial price hike in the early 1990s, the titanium 41032 fountain pen (with steel nib) was listed at $550 by the mid-1990s, according to the review I linked to above.  The original line of pens evidently did not do well enough for the original studio (while F.A. Porsche was still active) to release more pen lines after one follow-up line called the ARC1, which is similar (but less clean, to my eyes) in looks but has an arched clip.  


Starting in 2003, shortly before the founder's retirement in 2005 for reasons of health, the studio went through several corporate reorganizations under the Porsche umbrella and resumed designing pens in 2011, this time in partnership with Pelikan (the original pens were made by Faber-Castell).  They did not forget the original mid-1980s fountain pen, and used it as inspiration for their Slim Line P3125 line of fountain pens.  Unfortunately, the P3125 is not made as a "no-compromise" design, although it was certainly not a cheap pen either.  Mine (purchased new, but on clearance) is called "titanium" but it is actually a titanium coating over a brass body.  It is slightly girthier than the original fountain pen but still slim (hence the name "Slim Line").



There is no way to make the grooves on the cap and barrel to line up because the cap is snap-on.  OCD owners need to do so manually.  Cap does not post!




The section is black plastic -- mine turned out to be cracked at purchase and needed to be replaced under warranty.  Note the change to the company logo on the cap.  The logo is also engraved on the nib, and for a change, so is the nib width (EF), but such that it is only readable when the nib is viewed in the orientation shown, i.e., "upside down."


In other words, the Slim Line is objectively worse than the original (in losing the pure design language of titanium only with the use of plastic) and the Hastil (in that the cap does not post), while offering only a slightly wider diameter to recommend it.  Prospective customers seem to have agreed with my assessment, because the Slim Line pens went off the market in a few years, enjoying a shorter run than the original line, and now the original and Slim Line pens cost about the same on eBay.  At least the 18kt EF nib (Pelikan) on my Slim Line writes very well indeed, albeit rather wide for an "EF" width.  As you can see from the line widths below, the new EF is wider than the original F nib.



Line-width comparison on Iroful paper.  Original titanium: Montblanc Kipling Jungle Green.  Original black: Montblanc Le Petit Prince Sand of the Desert.  Slim Line P3125: Montblanc Glacier Blue.  The best nib of the three is the steel one on the black pen.  Go figure!


And there you have it -- the original ("titanium 41032" or "black 41031") fountain pens by Porsche Design are masterpieces of design, engineering, and execution but they do have the disadvantage of being thin.  If that bothers you, then none of these pens is for you, because the later Slim Line P3125, although wider than the original, is still a thin pen while having other design weaknesses probably induced by the desire to manufacture to a particular price point (a high one, nevertheless).


For similar "no-compromise" design in modern materials but in a girthier pen, I recommend the original Lamy Persona (which, coincidentally, is also available in a full-titanium body and a titanium nitride PVD coated black body).  Once more, the later reissue model called the Imporium (revisited by the same designer, Mario Bellini) is not nearly in the same class, although the gap between the Persona and the Imporium is not as great as between the original Porsche Design and the later Slim Line.


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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Thank you @ParkerBeta for this comprehensive introduction to the Porsche Design fountain pen, for the reference to the other thread and for the comparison of nibs. This was an interesting read! :thumbup:


With the first look at the photos my spontaneous association was "oh, a Lamy CP1 with Porsche imprint". ;)

I'm loving heavy, slim pens - the Porsche would had been a serious candidate, but my Lamy CP1, Kaweco Specials, Waterman Exclusives and Executive and Cross Botanica make me already more than happy. :) 


One life!

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Porsche design pens are too thin for my writing ,but I agree they are well made but maybe the price has keep them out of many pen fans. Thank you for the presentation.

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