Pen Review: Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières

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Waterman is a well known fountain pen brand, and has a long history of pen manufacturing. Waterman offers a wide range of fountain pens, but most of them don’t look appealing to me. However, there is one pen model that is very interesting. The pen to be reviewed is one example from the line. It is the Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières.

Basic Information:

Fountain Pen: Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières
Nib: 18K gold fine nib
Filling System: International cartridge/Waterman proprietary converter
Production: Special edition

1. Packaging (9/10):

IMG Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières - 1
The Waterman Carère comes with a sturdy cardboard box. The dark blue pen box has a light blue ribbon decorated on the top. It looks very simple and elegant. The pen is securely placed inside the box, and the Waterman converter is provided with the pen. Considering the size of the pen, the box can be smaller, but it’s not wasting too much space anyway.

2. Pen Design (8/10):
The Waterman Carère has a great design, and this special edition finish makes it even more attractive. The pen has a very streamline shape. The clip of the pen also has a matching style, narrow and simple.

IMG Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières - 2
The cap of the pen is in black, but the finish on the barrel gets a lot more interesting. From the side at the grip section to the end of the pen, the pen shifts from entirely black, to the black dots sprinkled onto the white background, and eventually to just white, finished by a decorative end piece. The change of the patterns and the colours is implemented nicely here.
One outstanding feature of the pen is the 18K gold inlaid nib. Unlike many common modern fountain pens, the nib is not inserted into the grip section. Instead, it’s right on the top of the grip section, and it’s essentially integrated to the section as one unit. The tapered shape of the nib matches well with the rest of the pen, and the silver coloured plating ensures that the pen remains its cool colour scheme. The grip section is in overall a tapered shape as well, which may look slippery to hold onto. But the material used here ensures that this is not the case.
Much of the pen has a metal construction with lacquer coating. That gives the pen a decent weight. The Waterman Carène is not an oversized pen, but still has a good length, so that the barrel sits comfortably in the hand.
While the design of the pen is well done, I found one issue with the pen. The nib should align with the decorative barrel end piece. However it’s disappointing to see that it was not this way out of the box.

3. Filling System (2/10):
The Waterman Carène can accept international cartridges, but it only takes the proprietary Waterman converter. And this is the problem.
To begin with, the Waterman converter doesn’t even work well with the pen. With my limited use of the pen, multiple converters had been damaged. The opening of the converters cracked, causing ink leakage. There seems to be some design or quality improvements that can be greatly appreciated.
In addition, the Waterman converter is not very easy to use. The converter piston doesn’t operate very smoothly, and ink occasionally gets trapped behind the piston seal. This filling system doesn’t offer much convenience, and has a pretty low quality. The execution here is just poor.

4. Nib Performance (9/10):

IMG Waterman Carère Ombres et Lumières - 3
This Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières has an excellent nib. The nib writes without any issue out of the box, and the ink flow is consistent with different inks. The fine nib writes a true fine line, and offers almost no line variation. It’s extremely rigid, considering that it’s an 18K gold nib. Overall, this nib provides a very reliable and enjoyable writing experience.

5. Pen Cleaning and Maintenance (9/10):
Despite that the poor quality of the converter, the cartridge/converter filling system makes the pen easy to clean. Perhaps due to the design, the grip section seems to have the tendency holding quite some ink, which makes cleaning the ink longer than usual, but the process remains simple and straightforward.
The lacquered finish on the pen seems to be strong. There’s barely any visible wear and tear on the barrel. However a pen case or a pen pouch to protect the pen is always recommended.

Summary:

Packaging: 9/10
Pen Design: 8/10
Filling System: 2/10
Nib Performance: 9/10
Pen Cleaning and Maintenance: 9/10

Total: 37/50

The Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières is a great pen model with beautiful designs. It has a top quality nib in its price range, but the poor converter design and quality make me use the pen less frequently than I wish to. This may not be a common issue on all Waterman Carène fountain pens, but still something to be noted. Nevertheless, the Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières provides an interesting option to the market, and it is certainly worth considertation.

 

For the list of pens currently for sale, please visit here.

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2015 Favourites – Part 1

This is my second year coming back to use fountain pens and starting my small collection of pens and inks. It’s a year that I was able to better understand what I truly love for this hobby.

I had very limited knowledge about fountain pens before I decided to come back to the hobby. I had no idea about the huge varieties of filling systems, pen materials, nib materials, and so on. And I guess these are just the basics of any fountain pen design. At the very beginning, almost any kind of design combinations look attractive to me. As the result, I was adding pens that differ vastly into my collection. As I become more knowledgeable about fountain pens, I was able to slowly figure out what particular design directions work the best for me. Therefore I am now having a better focus on what to collect. Also as different pen companies have different designs and how their pens also do not perform in the same way, this makes my collection of pens and inks lean towards certain brands. But before talking about all those details, I think now would be a good time to start listing what my favourites are. Here are my top 10 fountain pens:

  1. Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White (14K Gold, F)
  2. Pelikan Souverän M805 Stressmann (18K Gold, EF)
  3. Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla (18K Gold, M)
  4. Pelikan Souverän M600 Pink (14K Gold, F)
  5. Delta Dolcevita Oversize (14K Gold, F)
  6. Pelikan Souverän M620 Chicago (18K Gold, F)
  7. Lamy 2000 (14K Gold, F)
  8. Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières (18K Gold, F)
  9. Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight (18K Gold, M)
  10. Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Platinum Line (14K Gold, F)

By now you can probably see that I really love Pelikan and this brand is certainly the most favourite. My preference for the filling system is the piston filling mechanism, and I think Pelikan does the best job in this area. The pistons are always smooth and the barrels hold a lot of ink. While many other pen companies also offer piston filling pen options, Pelikan makes the basic pen maintenance super convenient by designing the nib units to be easily removable and swappable.

Each other pen has its own advantage. The Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla has a very smooth and springy 18K gold nib. Its trip to the nib meister turned it from an average medium nib to a wet nib that writes a bit similar to an architect’s point. The pen looks classic and sits balanced in the hand. It is just so fun to use. All the other pens in the list are also good writers and the ones from Delta, Waterman and Pilot are particularly beautiful pens. Being a smooth and reliable writer, my Lamy 2000 is rarely out of rotation. Last but not least, the Montblanc Meisterstück Classique has always been one of my favourites, since it is my first fountain pen. And of course it writes equally as well as the others, if not even better.

These pens are the ones that I love the most and use the most often. There are some honourable mentions that I want to list below. While they could not make it to the top 10, these pens are either very interesting to use, or offering great values for the money:

As for inks, below is my top 5:

  1. Montblanc Lavender Purple
  2. Sailor Jentle Souten
  3. Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-Matsu
  4. Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
  5. Montblanc Toffee Brown

I love cool colour inks in general, except for the Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin. These inks all flow well, easy for pen maintenance and offer excellent performances on many types of paper. The best part is, they all have a decent amount of shading combining with most paper types and pens.

Once again there are some honourable mentions in each colour range. Please feel free to check out this page.

That’s it for my top 10 fountain pens and top 5 inks for 2015. In the next blog I will continue to talk about other things that made this hobby wonderful, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading!