Here we are with part two of my London Pen Show recap. This time I’m going to talk about my new Waterman Exception, the pen which I’ve had on my wish-list for a long time but always seemed out of my reach.
This is a super pen with some great design features, most notably the square profile. This isn’t unique, but the vast majority of pens are cylindrical so those which step away from that standard instantly pique the interest. The section (where you hold the pen) is square where it joins the body but rounded off towards the nib which makes for a comfortable grip so long as you don’t hold your pens lower down towards the body. The square profile has a practical value in that the pen and/or lid don’t roll away when they lie on a desk. Other than the profile, this is a very classic-looking pen. The dark blue finish has a lovely depth and sparkle to it in the sunlight and looks great with the chrome trims. The clip is more squared than regular Waterman clips, but sports the usual cut-out. The nib is 18 karat gold and a medium which I am happy to say is fine enough for me to write with on an everyday basis.
Regular readers will know that I am a great fan of Waterman pens, I think they are consistently good writing instruments, though they don’t push the boundaries of design. They are also pretty keenly-priced and even the Exception, which sits at the top end of their range, generally sells new for around £350-£500 from well-known sellers, depending on the finish. I can’t speak for prices at the ubiquitous big-box online retailer of everything known to man, or to traders on well-known auction sites, because both are arenas I strive to avoid. All I can say, is in the years I’ve had this pen on my radar, I’ve never seen it below the £250 mark and, even at that price, I haven’t felt quite comfortable enough to commit. When I saw pre-owned examples – this one, and the equivalent red version – for £175 at the show, I was pretty certain that fate was taking a hand in the matter. Even so, I looked round the whole show twice before going back, on the basis that if they hadn’t sold then one or other was supposed to be mine. As it was, both examples were still available, forcing me to choose between them. In the end it had to be the blue one because that is the colour I have always dreamed of. I would have been happy enough if I had chosen red, but I wonder if a pang of regret might have hovered.
This pen wrote straight away, with no issues apart from a slight tendency to skip on downstrokes. From my experience with a similar issue in my Parker Sonnet, I’m sure that will ease off with use. I wonder if it is a common issue with gold nibs. As a pre-used pen, there are a few cosmetic flaws – scratches in the finish which you can see if you go looking for them and which would have developed by now if I’d had the pen myself for a couple of years. I think you have a choice of either paying full price for a mint condition item or paying a price you’re more comfortable with and loving any little dings it may have gathered on its journey to you. I am not collecting pens for any resale value or rarity, so perfection is nice, but not necessary.
For a first try, I just bunged in a cartridge of Diamine Burgundy Royale ink and the writing experience with this nib is good. It would have looked superb with the red Exception! I generally faff about with different inks in a new pen and then gradually settle on one or two which work particularly well with it. I’m looking forward to that process with the Waterman Exception.
Of the three pens I bought at the Pen Show, this is far and away my favourite. Next time, I’ll touch on the pen purchase I haven’t got to grips with, and introduce the miscellaneous items that I also picked up at the show. Plus, I will reveal why there are five pens in my ‘haul’ photo when I only bought three pens!