Review: Waterman Carène

The Waterman Carène is my first proper fountain pen and the cause of my current fascination.

This pen was a gift and so has a particular sentimental value to me and so I am somewhat biased in favour of this pen.

Construction

My precious
My precious

I love this pen. I was unsure at first when I saw the unusual nib and section. Rather than being a removable nib + feed inside the section it’s one integrated unit. If you want to swap the nib you need to buy a new section completely. On first receipt of this pen it was fitted with a fine nib. It was good but not fine enough for me so was quickly swapped for an extra-fine nib.

Extra-fine gold nib, rhodium plated
Extra-fine gold nib, rhodium plated

The nib is gold and rhodium plated. Being gold there is some flexibility in the nib. I have not pushed this too far as applying pressure to the nib not only causes the tines to separate, it also causes the nib itself to separate a little from the section.

Side on
Side on

This is due to the design of the nib installation on the section but it makes me nervous not knowing how far it can actually be pushed. I am not bothered all that much by this given that the nib is an extra-fine nib; if I had wanted variation I would have installed a bold or italic nib. How exactly the nib is fixed into the section I do not know; it appears that the nib itself continues deeper into the section.

The pen has a nice weight in the hand being constructed from brass. The black colour is applied as lacquer over this brass body. For this reason the section is very smooth. At first it took some getting used to as it would slip in my hand from time to time. Now however holding the pen is second nature and I no longer have to think about it.

The cap is held in place by two “nubs” extruding from the end of the section. This is similar to the mechanism of the cap on the Lamy 2000. The “nubs” form part of the section itself, being that part of the unit with the thread for screwing into the body.

Section
Section

As this part is all metal the “nubs” are not that noticeable. The cap has a long tapered end which compliments the design of the pen nicely. The clip is sprung, another similarity it shares with the Lamy 2000. It is a tapered clip meaning that it does not grip things very well but the unit itself is strong. I think it would take a lot to break it. I have no intention of discovering its limit!

One thing I have not mentioned above is the included converter. This caused me no end of trouble, it never worked. It leaked from the very first use and despite attempts to fix – opened it up, applied silicon gel (thanks TWSBI!), closed – it has always leaked. Perhaps I got a dud. So I have always use cartridges, specifically Waterman’s own (Serenity Blue and Intense Black). I must get a new converter.

Design

A search for “Waterman Caréne” will yield a lot about the nautical design cues which influenced this pen. I have to say I did not see this when I first received the pen, I just liked the look of it. Now however, knowing the background it is quite obvious what the profile of this pen is meant to reflect, a yacht slipping through water – it works.

Writing

Writing is great with this pen. It’s very consistent and gives a sharp, wet, line. The nib is smooth and great to use on high quality paper (e.g. Rhodia) but can also deal well with poor paper. There is great feedback from the nib, giving me a real sense of the texture of the writing surface. Saying this I never tire of writing with this pen, even after extended periods.

This is a proper extra-fine nib, not as sharp as a Japanese fine nib but better than any other European nib I have used. For comparison, it gives a finer line than the Lamy 2000 EF and so is not quite as smooth as that fine pen, being a little scratchy at times. All metal on the pen is this same colour giving a nice overall effect. I have a Pilot Custom 74 with a fine nib on the way, I’ll update with a comparison then.

One note of caution: I find that the nib will often catch fibres from poor paper giving a very wide messy line all of a sudden. This will happen with any pen but I find it most notable on this pen.

Current use

This pen is returning to my everyday rotation after a lengthy period of non-use. I dropped this pen one too many times resulting in the lacquer on the cap being chipped. It is only a small chip but enough to give me pause about bringing to work. This is not to say that it does not wear very well, I used this pen everyday for almost two years without issue. Its current job is part of a letter writing project I have assigned myself. I use Rhodia webnotebook to write these letter, this pen and that paper are made for each other.

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