Pen Class: Premium ($200-499)
Street Price:: $265
Body Material: Aluminum
Nib Material: Gold-plated ceramic coated stainless steel
Nib Size: Medium
Cap Type: Screw On/Off
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge/Converter
Ink Capacity: 1.0mL
Overall Weight: 25g
Body Weight: 16g
Overall Length Capped: 136.4mm
Overall Length Posted: 143.8mm
Length Uncapped: 127.8mm
Nib Length: 18mm
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 13.8mm
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 16.2mm
Section Diameter: 9.5mm
Barrel Diameter: 11.5mm at widest point
If this pen were a movie, it would be…
Reflections of the Past (2010)
The outer white, heavy paper sleeve, with a gold logo, slides away to reveal a high gloss black lacquer box with the same gold embossed logo. Overcoming the magnetic force that keeps the box securely closed unveils the pen which is held snugly in a plastic tube. The tube rests on a removable tray that’s covered in poly-fleece, a fine, very soft, fur-like material that’s exceptionally soft.
Tucked in a corner pocket in the lid is a warranty card and information booklet that contains such interesting material that this is the first one I’ve read cover-to-cover.
The introductory experience of opening and going through the packaging, makes it evident that the people behind the new Wahl-Eversharp company are serious about delivering a high quality, well thought out product. The attention to detail in the packaging and literature, which most people just disregard, is unmatched by any company for any pen I’ve reviewed thus far. If the packaging is this good, I can’t wait to see what the pen is like.
6.75 – All of the new Wahl-Eversharp Skyline fountain pens use the common, international sized cartridge/converter filling system. It’s simple, convenient, and boring. However, it does comes with a threaded converter, which helps ensure a secure and solid connection to the section.
It should be noted that only the Technik and Award Collections feature barrels that unscrew at the section, revealing the entire cartridge/converter. On the six other Skyline Collections the last ⅓ of the barrel is removed to allow access to the turning knob of the converter. In this configuration, long Waterman style cartridges must be used in place of the common short cartridge.
9.0 – My first moments with this fountain pen were filled with fun and excitement. Much of that was due to seeing a pen that was so massively popular in its heyday come back to life.
The packaging made a strong initial impression which was solidified as I began to inspect the pen. Within the first few minutes of handling this modern Skyline I could tell it was a high quality piece with lots of attention to detail. There were no gaps or loose parts, and pieces threaded together tightly.
The nib as a whole was by far the most exciting aspect, though. It was smooth and slightly wet, but with lots of character. When I applied a bit of pressure the tines would open up to create wonderful, whimsical line variation and in this early stage the flow did not disappoint. Things were looking very good so far.
8.0 – The Skyline Technik in Cobalt Blue comes with a #5 size medium semi-flex, gold-plated, ceramic coated, stainless steel nib. If you opt for the black or natural aluminum pen you’ll get a fine-to-medium semi-flex, ceramic coated, stainless steel nib with a black finish.
The nib is complemented by a feed that is, according to Syd Saperstein,
“the rebirth of WAHL/EVERSHARP Personal Point originated interchangeable nib/feed assembly of 1928 but with a new internal construction.”
In addition, these new feeds feature a computer aided design with ink channels capable of providing enough ink for the semi-flexible nib. The nib and feed can be removed from the section by pulling them straight out. When additional nibs become available in more sizes, you’ll be able to easily swap them. Also, the section is keyed so that there’s only one way to insert the nib and feed.
The nib and feed are held in a black plastic section with a comfortable profile that’s long enough that the threads on the barrel shouldn’t impose on your grip. However, if you hold your pen a little further back, like I do, it’s easy to span the threads with your thumb on the small diameter portion of the barrel and your other fingers holding the section. The smooth transition from the section to the barrel should be comfortable enough for all but the most critical of users.
When asked about the ceramic coating, Syd of Wahl-Eversharp had this to say,
“It is an extremely durable, high-temp spray application that creates a mirror smooth writing surface.”
While that may be true, I didn’t notice it to be any smoother than any other nib I’ve ever used. In actuality, the Skyline nib felt rough – not scratchy – like I was using a graphite pencil with a thick piece of lead. When I looked at it through a 10X loupe and compared it to several other factory nibs, I noticed the finish on the Skyline nib was dull, while the other nibs were very smooth and shiny. Some of the other nibs are so smooth it feels like you’re writing with a stick of butter on a sheet of glass, which is what I was expecting the Skyline to feel like after hearing Syd’s quote. The Skyline definitely isn’t that smooth. There’s more resistance; more drag. But don’t take that as it being scratchy or unpleasant. The Skyline is far from being either of those. It’s smooth, just a different kind of smooth.
The semi-flex nib in the Skyline is actually very good for a modern steel nib, just be prepared for a workout. You can get decent line variation ranging from about 0.7mm to 1.25mm, but you really have to press into it. If you’re used to vintage semi-flex then you might not be prepared for how much effort is required to exercise the Skyline’s nib. I was most disappointed in how scratchy the nib felt while being flexed. The inside edge of each tine is very sharp and you really feel it as soon as the tines start to spread. Simple vertical strokes are bearable, but if you try even the slightest bit of horizontal movement before the tines are completely closed, as you might with long, descending swoops from the letters ‘j’ or ‘g’, it will feel like you’re writing with the tip of a knife.
I’ve used several modern semi-flex nibs from Omas, Stipula, and Edelberg that were all much smoother when being flexed. The difference between the Skyline and those other pens is that those other pens have an intentional “baby’s bottom” profile to the tipping. This rounds the inside edge of each tine just enough to remove that sharp, scratchy feeling without creating any hard starting or skipping issues.
However, compared to products from Noodler’s or any other similar pens, the Skyline is practically a dream to use. There’s no tweaking required. The new feed supplies enough ink to prevent the nib from railroading in most situations. I could write several sentences flexing the nib before I experienced any railroading. Sometimes it would only occur for a letter or two and I continue without any interruption. Other times it would railroad on a single stroke every other word requiring me to cap the pen and let it sit for just a moment while grabbed a beverage or a snack. Never did I actually have to use the converter to prime the feed.
Beyond that, the new Skyline performed admirably. The clip has sufficient tension to keep the pen exactly where you place it, yet is still easy to use with one hand. Posting the cap is actually very gratifying. It’s almost like the rear of the barrel sucks the cap into place. I wish every pen posted as well as the Skyline.
UPDATE: Syd noticed the poor performance in my initial video review and was adamant that none of the Skylines should behave as mine did or feel like you’re writing with a lead pencil. He quickly sent me a new section with a nib and feed tuned to how the pen should feel and perform. The tipping on the new nib was much smoother and more polished. You can see the difference below.
The feed also performed much more reliably in the new unit. Syd mentioned that my removing of the nib and feed on video could have had a negative impact on the performance if I didn’t get them re-inserted properly, but I was experiencing these issues during my usage before the video review. Since the section is designed to accept the nib and feed in a certain orientation, I’m not sure how one could insert them incorrectly without using so much force to cause alarm. I’m also a little puzzled that if there’s such concern over the possibility of inserting the nib and feed incorrectly and it having such a dramatic effect on performance, why did they bring back the Personal Point system that’s intended for users to swap the nib and feed?
The video below is my much improved experience with the new nib and feed. Syd says every pen from the factory should perform like this and if yours doesn’t, you need to contact Wahl-Eversharp right away.
8.25 – In 1941 Henry Dreyfuss designed the Eversharp Skyline. Sixty-two years later, not much has changed with today’s Wahl-Eversharp Skyline. The length has increased and the lever filler has been removed, which one could argue is a small refinement of Henry Dreyfuss’ ‘cleanlining’ design philosophy.
The new Skyline measures in at 136mm when capped, 5mm shorter than the vintage Executive and 3mm longer than the Senior. The additional length is welcome as it was one reason I never became interested in the vintage pens. Wahl-Eversharp has tossed around the idea of producing an Executive Skyline, but I wish they had gone that route from the outset. It’s still just a hair on the petite side and in today’s market of “oversize” pens being standard, the 141mm length of the Executive would seem about perfect.
What hasn’t changed, though, is nearly everything about the cap, which is a good thing. The Derby and Clip, Clip Retaining Ring and clip reinforcement on the new Skyline are perfectly interchangeable with the vintage Senior Skyline. Soon, you’ll be able to buy these parts from Wahl-Eversharp to restore vintage Senior Skylines. That’s awesome!
10 – I could not find one single issue with the fit and finish of the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline. The blue anodized finish on the Technik is flawless and the plating on the clip and clip retaining ring was perfect. There’s no unsightly gaps or loose fitting parts anywhere. Even the engravings on the clip and clip retaining ring are crisp and clear, which is really an accomplishment considering how tiny the engraving on the clip retaining ring is.
Wahl-Eversharp is really setting the bar high here. Of the thirty-some-odd pens subjected to our Awesome Review, the Skyline is only the second that’s earned a 10 in Detailing.
7.75 – To test the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline I filled it with their new, not yet available, Wahlberry ink and laid out some Piccadilly, White Lines, Rhodia, and Clairefontaine paper.
For the first half of the Road Trip I wrote in cursive and in all caps across each sheet of paper without flexing the nib. The pen was comfortable and performed beautifully. No issues with ink flow and ten minutes in, there was no fatigue. Basically, I was cruising with the top down just enjoying the ride.
Once I started flexing the nib, though, it was like hitting a detour onto a gravel road with flat tires. Fatigue set in within minutes. The sharp inside edges of the tines made the experience less enjoyable. After about 3 sentences the feed started having issues keeping up. Railroading was becoming more frequent and the only way to fix it was to set the pen down and cry grab a Coke.
After a few sips of diabetes in a can, I was able to finish the Road Trip occasionally experiencing railroading issues but not enough to cause concern or annoyance.
UPDATE: After I received the new section with the new nib and feed I redid the 21 Minute Road Trip. Using Wahl-Eversharp Wahlberry ink and a Quo Vadis Habana notebook, I was able to write page after page of flexible writing without issue. I wasn’t writing lightning fast or molasses slow. I was writing at my normal pace and only had 2 or 3 instances where the nib railroaded in 4-5 pages of writing.
|Multiple collections/price points.||Single nib size.|
|Fit & finish.||Nib is scratchy when flexed.|
|Cap part interchangeability with vintage caps.|
Famous Last Words:
It’s wonderful to see a popular, classic fountain pen revived and made of modern materials. The new Wahl-Eversharp has clearly achieved their goal with the new Skyline, but it’s not perfect. The ceramic coating on the nib seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than provide any real benefit to the user. While the computer-aided designed feed does a commendable job providing adequate flow in most situations, the semi-flex steel nib will leave you wanting for true vintage semi-flex. But, that’s true for nearly every modern so-called flexible nib.
Some may wonder what advantages this new one has over the vintage version. You’ll definitely save some money on a user grade vintage Skyline, but one in NOS condition will easily put you within reach of the Technik Collection. Another benefit is the removal of the lever filler. It cleans up the look of the pen and you don’t have to worry about wearing off the plating on the lever when you post the cap. The only reason I can think of to go with a vintage Skyline would be to get a true flexible nib or to get the larger Executive model.
In the end, none of the issues I encountered during the review are deal breakers, even with my experience with the original nib and feed. If you do run into issues, the customer service at Wahl-Eversharp is second to none. The new Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen is a fantastic writing instrument and more than worthy of your hard earned cash. The toughest decision you’ll have to make will be which color to buy.
This pen was on loan to us for review from the Wahl-Eversharp Company.