|WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW|
|Nib Material||18k gold, rhodium plated|
|Dimensions||Capped Length: 5.7″ / 145mm
Barrel Ø: .5″ / 13mm
|Notes||Available in many different colors and styles.|
|Price||MSRP $275, Street $275|
The Waterman Carène is a pen I didn’t fully appreciate until I got my hands on it. One day, after using it off and on for a few months, I sat it down and picked up a Parker 51. I was startled by how similar the two pens were and thought the Carène could very easily be a modern interpretation of the 51. Before I get into the details of the pen, if you’d like to read a little story of how I acquired it, or to be more accurate, how my wife acquired it, check out this post.
The Carène is a svelte, well made fountain pen that sits very comfortably in the hand. It comes in a variety of colors and styles and is made by a company with more than 120 years of experience with fine writing instruments. The pen is well made and feels like a high quality product. Waterman has paid strong attention to the details as nothing wiggles or wobbles and tolerances are tight all around. Nothing annoys me more than seeing large or uneven gaps between parts. One great example is the cap closure mechanism. It’s a snap cap that holds the cap on securely and makes a satisfying “snkt!” when opened or closed. But the most important part is that when the pen is capped, the cap doesn’t wiggle or move back and forth. It feels as solid as a single piece of rod stock.
The clip is spring loaded and due to its shape, allows it to be easily slid into place in a shirt pocket, pen case, or over the lip of a jeans pocket. The tension is sufficient enough to keep the pen wherever you place it.
There’s no doubt the star of this pen is the nib. It’s an 18k gold, rhodium plated, inlaid nib in medium width that is so smooth it has raised the bar for smoothness. I didn’t know a nib could be this smooth. It really is rather amazing. Don’t expect any flex or give from the nib though. The only downside about the inlaid design is that if your finger rest on any part of the nib you’re likely to get a little bit of ink on your finger. I’ve experienced this same issue with Sheaffer’s inlaid nib on the PFM. I don’t see this being a problem for most people but it’s something that should at least be noted.
The cartridge/converter filling system in the Carène works just as well as any other c/c system and uses the common international sized fitting. The included Waterman branded converter does seem of much higher quality than almost any other converter I’ve ever used. It’s solid and the action is smooth, which is very different from some of the super cheaper converters that feel like they’re going to break when I’m just trying to fill the pen.
Getting to the converter involves removing the barrel, of course, and Waterman decided to include a couple of o-rings near the section threads. I’m not sure of their exact purpose as I’m fairly certain Waterman didn’t intend for this pen to be used as an eye-dropper. If I had to guess, I would say the o-rings are there mostly to enhance the feeling of attaching and removing the barrel. It really feels like the barrel is sealed tight when screwed to the section. Whatever the reason they’re there, I haven’t discovered any drawbacks.
The only critique of this pen that I can find has to do with posting the cap. On this pen, I think posting the cap is mandatory. The cap sits deep down on the barrel and I’ve noticed that unless I really shove it on, it tends to loosen itself while I’m writing which becomes very annoying. The inside of the cap is all plastic and the finish on the pen is supposed to be some kind of lacquer, but I don’t know how durable it is. The good thing is that I haven’t noticed any wear from having to post the cap with more force than I’d like to use.
Waterman has build a heck of a good pen with the Carène and with the number of available finishes and styles, everyone should be able to find a version they like. My only hesitation with this pen is the price. At $275 it’s a bit steep. But, you will be getting a very well made, high quality writing instrument.
Early on I mentioned that the Carène could be considered a modern interpretation of the Parker 51. Try not to read into that statement too much. I know Parker introduced a special edition of the 51 in 2002, but as far as I’m concerned they completely ruined it. Now, I’m not saying that Waterman copied the 51, or that the Carène is better or worse than the 51. I’m merely noting the striking similarities. Maybe the Carène is so similar because it’s such a good design. Who knows?
Take, for instance, the cap system. The 51 used a slip cap with a clutch and the Carène improved on that with the snap cap. Take a look at the images below and you can see the similarity between the two when capped, uncapped, and posted. I can hear some of you screaming, “But what about the nib?! It’s not a hooded nib!!!” You’re right. But the biggest complaint I’ve heard against the 51 is that it looks too much like a ballpoint because you can’t tell there’s a nib. The Carène solves that by putting the nib on the outside and matching the profile of the section.
The point I’m trying to make with this comparison is that if you like the idea of the 51 but want something modern, the Carène is probably the answer. Although, there’s always the Lamy 2000 which cost half as much as the Carène.