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Thread: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

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    Default Nahvalur/Narwhal Nautilus Review

    I was introduced to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea like many boys - through Disney. I watched the movie whenever it was on TV, and even went on the ride as a kid at the Magic Kingdom / Disneyworld. I read the book twice.

    I don't keep up with new pens and whatnot anymore, but when the TWSBI/Narwhal fight was in pen forum news; I checked out their pens. Wow, they have a Nautilus, with portholes for an ink window? Just the name conjured images of James Mason and Kirk Douglas on Captain Nemo's submarine, and a little boy peering out of a porthole at Disneyworld, bubbles rising to create the illusion of descending into the depths, looking at divers with brass helmets and hoping to see a giant squid. It was enticing, but *sigh* I didn't need another pen, and figured it was probably going to be a box of Chinese disappointment my fond memories shouldn't endure.

    I forgot all about it until 12 days ago, when stevekolt started a thread about it

    I found myself back on their site, looking at it again. The Bronze Corydoras and its Victorian/Steampunk/Captain Nemo's organ vibe was too much. stevekolt mentioned that version specifically too. TSherbs said he was jonesin for one. If they only knew...

    I ordered it on a Thursday, and got it the following Monday. Here's the review. I'd be interested in stevekolt's take as well.

    The Pen

    Narwahl - 1.jpeg
    Narwahl - 2.jpeg

    It's substantial, in both size and heft; but not overly large or heavy. The cap is where most of the weight seems to reside, and there's a bronzed bit of metal for a finial. The clip is sturdy and springy, and not cheap feeling. In hand, you can feel the weight bias slightly toward the piston mechanism, which is metal. It sits comfortably. It feels right. The lightweight of ebonite and added weight of the metal works to create a nice balance. The ebonite is warm, smooth, and nicely polished. Did I mention it has portholes! The only complaint is that I thought the clip was hammered, which in the pics looked cool. It isn't, and has a faux patina, which still looks nice. The execution of the porthole rings isn't perfect, but you really have to look closely and it's not so obvious that I can't live with it. The piston is very smooth, and it holds a lot of ink.

    The company's name changed, but the cap ring still says "Narwhal". I like the wave and bubble design, and it fits with the theme.

    Narwahl - 3.jpeg
    Narwahl - 4.jpeg
    Narwahl - 5.jpeg

    Here it is compared to a Lamy Safari and Montblanc 146. It's not a small pen.

    Narwahl - 6.jpeg
    Narwahl - 7.jpeg

    The Nib

    Narwahl - 8.jpeg

    Made in house, blah, blah, blah. I ain't buyin' it. It's a massed produced nib that looks curiously similar to other Chinese pens. Those O-rings in particular look familiar. Bock and Jowo don't do that, as far as I know. I'd guess Moonman, or whoever makes their nibs. If China can assemble millions of i-devices every year, nibs shouldn't be too difficult. I like the imprints, although they're a little shallow compared to other makers.

    Narwahl - 9.jpeg

    But it's a really good nib. The first thing I did is check alignment and the gap. It was perfect. Maybe I got lucky, but it is exactly how I would have adjusted it. I got a fine, and it's somewhere between a German and Japanese "F". I like it. Smooth, but a hint of feedback depending on the paper. No real springiness or line variation, but that's ok with me. It's very precise in the ink delivery, and very usable.

    I disassembled and cleaned it, 'cause that's what I do...; but I suspect a quick flush should be fine or even inking straightaway.

    Narwahl - 10.jpeg
    Last edited by dneal; January 1st, 2023 at 05:06 PM.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Writing / glamor shots...

    I have an old bottle of Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris, which is like a dark/saturated Parker blue/black (sort of teal). Seems to work with the ocean theme...

    Narwahl - 11.jpeg
    Narwahl - 12.jpeg
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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Nice review, great pics. I guess you consider it worth the money. Your description of the feel of weight/balance and the ebonite is enticing to me. That nib is too fine for me, tho. I can't imagine that they make their own nibs, either, but what do I know. Thanks for the review.

    Inkquiring Minds states that the Moonman #6 nib/feed combo is identical fit (swappable) to this one, but makes no claim contrary to Narwahl's
    Last edited by TSherbs; November 22nd, 2022 at 07:27 PM.

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    "Worth the money" is one of those weird subjective things, but yes I think this pen was worth the spend. I could think of many "better" pens (more utilitarian, proven, etc...) for the money, but I don't regret getting this one. If I have any issues, I'll post them; and if I remember, I'll do a "reviews, revisited" in a year.

    If I really like a pen, I'll usually get a gold nib for it. Brown swirl M200? I'll pick up a monotone 14k M400 nib for it. I've even got 4 or 5 Kaweco branded Bock 060's for Dia II's and "Art" Sports. I'm not ready to drop another $150 on one for this pen though. Make of that what you will, and I haven't figured out what that means either.

    This pen is a treat to a little boy that lives somewhere in my head, and it makes me smile. Based on the way it feels and writes, it'll be one of those few always inked up.

    Yeah, it's worth it to me.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Excellent review. Thank you both.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    "Worth the money" is one of those weird subjective things, but yes I think this pen was worth the spend. I could think of many "better" pens (more utilitarian, proven, etc...) for the money, but I don't regret getting this one. If I have any issues, I'll post them; and if I remember, I'll do a "reviews, revisited" in a year.

    If I really like a pen, I'll usually get a gold nib for it. Brown swirl M200? I'll pick up a monotone 14k M400 nib for it. I've even got 4 or 5 Kaweco branded Bock 060's for Dia II's and "Art" Sports. I'm not ready to drop another $150 on one for this pen though. Make of that what you will, and I haven't figured out what that means either.

    This pen is a treat to a little boy that lives somewhere in my head, and it makes me smile. Based on the way it feels and writes, it'll be one of those few always inked up.

    Yeah, it's worth it to me.
    Thanks, I get your point, entirely.

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Nahvalur is a young and dynamic company. I hope that the pens will soon be available in more countries.

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Great review! I agree with you regarding this pen. You hit the nail on the head regarding the "portholes". Very pleased with this purchase...

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Nice summation of a solid pen, dneal. I have a similar model to these Nautilaus pens, one that I believe may have been a limited edition for their anniversary. It was called the Narwhal (then) 365 Cano Cristales, and was made from Jonathon Brooks "Primary Manipulation" material. The basic design is the same, with the biggest difference being no portholes but an ink window near the end of the barrel; it is visible just below the end of the cap (photo below is not mine but from a site). I did replace the nib with a preferred one but the pen functions and writes well, holding a good supply of ink.


    If I'm honest, though, it just doesn't have the same... uh, hand feel for me, which is very subjective, and not a detraction on the pen. As such, I tend to not go for it as often.

    However, a pen they put out either a year or two years before, on another anniversary, was the Narwhal Schuylkill 365 in ebonite. I absolutely love this pen, as the balance, unposted, is perfect for my hand, with the hard rubber giving just another ounce or two to the pen. Again, an ink window is a nice feature, the pen is well-crafted and - for whatever reason (perfect match on section/inner cap?) this sucker virtually never dries out, no matter how long between writing sessions. Again, I oped for a nib swap, using an old Sheaffer Lifetime nib. I've actually kept my eyes out for a 2nd one of these but they are hard to find. The one below is mine.

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Did Narwahl do the nib swap at your request, or did you commit the blasphemy?

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Did Narwahl do the nib swap at your request, or did you commit the blasphemy?
    Me. Spare nibs from beater/broken pens purchased... for the nibs! They use screw-in nib units, so you can replace nibs fairly easily.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    @ JonSzanto - Yeah, it's weird what pens "work" and which ones don't. I've tried a Pelikan M800 several times, and never keep them. The nib length of a 149 keeps my hand at a weird angle. Most pens with a Bock #6 do this (mainly a bunch of Conway Stewarts I've ended up selling). I'm good with an Aurora 88, but not an Optima. Probably the weirdest case was a Nakaya Neo-Standard didn't feel right, but a Naka-Ai did.

    I honestly didn't think the Nautilus would work for me. Somewhere between Pelikan M800/M1000 dimensions, #6 sized nib, etc... At worst, it would be something I looked at in the display case.

    But... I like it.

    There's no rhyme or reason I can find.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    There's no rhyme or reason I can find.
    Excellent, you can stop looking for one now.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; November 25th, 2022 at 02:26 AM.
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    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Thanks guys! The Nautilus certainly has an attractive design, but the Ebonite is probably the main trump card. I also recently reviewed Shyookil 365, although I like Nautilus better)). By the way, your ebonite pens still smell, because mine is very strong despite the fact that it is 2 years old. Vintage ebonite smells only when polish it.

    ps: 365 Cano Cristales is morphing between Nautilus and Schuylkill ))
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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    I get a faint whiff of ebonite when I uncap it, but thatís it.

    It could be worse. The Noodlers ebonite Ahab(?) smelled like fishing tackle, and never did go away.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Did Narwahl do the nib swap at your request, or did you commit the blasphemy?
    Me. Spare nibs from beater/broken pens purchased... for the nibs! They use screw-in nib units, so you can replace nibs fairly easily.
    That red one of yours is gorgeous.

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Almost got the jonesing bug with this one. Almost. Having a hard time balancing costs agin what is gotten for the money. Steel nibs, meh. Piston filler, ok. Materials, some are ok. Overall design, nice. At this point in my collecting a new purchase nearly always boils down to a formula for cost vs desire vs utility. Does that make sense?

    The swirly red one put up by the other fella is interesting to me, the wood grain one not so much. Preferences being what they are and all.

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    Senior Member dneal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by Monsoon View Post
    Almost got the jonesing bug with this one. Almost. Having a hard time balancing costs agin what is gotten for the money. Steel nibs, meh. Piston filler, ok. Materials, some are ok. Overall design, nice. At this point in my collecting a new purchase nearly always boils down to a formula for cost vs desire vs utility. Does that make sense?

    The swirly red one put up by the other fella is interesting to me, the wood grain one not so much. Preferences being what they are and all.
    These sort of internal debates arenít uncommon. Hereís a thread with similar struggles, and lots of suggestions.
    "A truth does not mind being questioned. A lie does not like being challenged."

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Quote Originally Posted by dneal View Post
    I was introduced to Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea like many boys - through Disney. I watched the movie whenever it was on TV, and even went on the ride as a kid at the Magic Kingdom / Disneyworld. I read the book twice.

    I don't keep up with new pens and whatnot anymore, but when the TWSBI/Narwahl fight was in pen forum news; I checked out their pens. Wow, they have a Nautilus, with portholes for an ink window? Just the name conjured images of James Mason and Kirk Douglas on Captain Nemo's submarine, and a little boy peering out of a porthole at Disneyworld, bubbles rising to create the illusion of descending into the depths, looking at divers with brass helmets and hoping to see a giant squid. It was enticing, but *sigh* I didn't need another pen, and figured it was probably going to be a box of Chinese disappointment my fond memories shouldn't endure.

    I forgot all about it until 12 days ago, when stevekolt started a thread about it

    I found myself back on their site, looking at it again. The Bronze Corydoras and its Victorian/Steampunk/Captain Nemo's organ vibe was too much. stevekolt mentioned that version specifically too. TSherbs said he was jonesin for one. If they only knew...

    I ordered it on a Thursday, and got it the following Monday. Here's the review. I'd be interested in stevekolt's take as well.

    The Pen

    Narwahl - 1.jpeg
    Narwahl - 2.jpeg

    It's substantial, in both size and heft; but not overly large or heavy. The cap is where most of the weight seems to reside, and there's a bronzed bit of metal for a finial. The clip is sturdy and springy, and not cheap feeling. In hand, you can feel the weight bias slightly toward the piston mechanism, which is metal. It sits comfortably. It feels right. The lightweight of ebonite and added weight of the metal works to create a nice balance. The ebonite is warm, smooth, and nicely polished. Did I mention it has portholes! The only complaint is that I thought the clip was hammered, which in the pics looked cool. It isn't, and has a faux patina, which still looks nice. The execution of the porthole rings isn't perfect, but you really have to look closely and it's not so obvious that I can't live with it. The piston is very smooth, and it holds a lot of ink.

    The company's name changed, but the cap ring still says "Narwahl". I like the wave and bubble design, and it fits with the theme.

    Narwahl - 3.jpeg
    Narwahl - 4.jpeg
    Narwahl - 5.jpeg

    Here it is compared to a Lamy Safari and Montblanc 146. It's not a small pen.

    Narwahl - 6.jpeg
    Narwahl - 7.jpeg

    The Nib

    Narwahl - 8.jpeg

    Made in house, blah, blah, blah. I ain't buyin' it. It's a massed produced nib that looks curiously similar to other Chinese pens. Those O-rings in particular look familiar. Bock and Jowo don't do that, as far as I know. I'd guess Moonman, or whoever makes their nibs. If China can assemble millions of i-devices every year, nibs shouldn't be too difficult. I like the imprints, although they're a little shallow compared to other makers.

    Narwahl - 9.jpeg

    But it's a really good nib. The first thing I did is check alignment and the gap. It was perfect. Maybe I got lucky, but it is exactly how I would have adjusted it. I got a fine, and it's somewhere between a German and Japanese "F". I like it. Smooth, but a hint of feedback depending on the paper. No real springiness or line variation, but that's ok with me. It's very precise in the ink delivery, and very usable.

    I disassembled and cleaned it, 'cause that's what I do...; but I suspect a quick flush should be fine or even inking straightaway.

    Narwahl - 10.jpeg


    What did you mean in the first post about a faux patina? Is that like a covering or something, or a method of treating metal to look like it has aged? In either case is it a permanent feature or will it wear off with use?

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    Default Re: Nahvalur/Narwahl Nautilus Review

    Although Narwhal is an ordinary pen for me, but I couldn't resist yesterday and ordered Nautilus, probably after your review)). Because I have already come to terms with the fact that I will leave Schuylkill))

    ps: By the way, Shuyulkil 365 is not red or dark-red, as I would like (I love Red Woodgrain design), but red-purple or red-violet, which is very difficult to photograph, but it is clearly visible by the eyes.

    With M800.

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