Waterman Phileas

In Europe, where fountain pens are still widely used (especially by students), there has always been a considerable market for low-priced fountain pens, a market that Waterman has been successful in supplying with reliable steel-pointed pens in fanciful, colorful designs. This Phileas, which lists for about $40 here in the U.S., is one of the first of these to make its way across the Atlantic.

The Phileas is named for Phileas Fogg, the hero of the Jules Verne novel "Around the World in Eighty Days". Appropriately, the U.S. publicity campaign for this pen has so far generated enough hot air for several trips in Mr. Fogg's balloon. We are told that this pen recalls the vintage designs of some remote and unspecified era in the last century, presumably when M. Verne was doing his prognosticatory writing. Never mind that no one made good fountain pens back in those days (even Waterman wasn't yet in business), and that even if they had, those pens wouldn't have looked anything like this one, we won't let mere facts stand in the way of a good marketing pitch.

To be fair, however, the Phileas does have decidedly "retro" look, although it bears no obvious resemblance to any vintage pen, or at least not to any Waterman of which I'm aware. There's a hint of Eversharp Skyline in the derby and clip, and a soupçon of Parker button fill in the blind-cap-like barrel end.

The colored portions of barrel and cap are made from a milky opaque plastic to which a marble-like finish has been applied. The finish looks like the effect you get by floating oily inks on water (the technique used to create marbled endpapers for books) The effect is to make these pens very luminous and intensely colored, coming as close as I've seen lately to the kinds of colors found on celluloid pens, much more striking than the run-of-the-mill marbled acrylic on higher priced pens. This pen is tagged as "blue" but is actually more of a deep purple with multicolored veining. The barrel is partially reinforced with a brass tube to give the pen some weight; it is quite light but well balanced, comfortable to write with.

The point has a gold-masked fan motif which is playfully repeated on the barrel band. The pen fills with cartridges (a nice vivid Florida blue is included), or you can use the excellent Waterman piston-fill converter (also included) if you prefer nursing your baby from a bottle. The Phileas writes very well, tho' I hear there is some variability in the finish of the points, so try out a couple before you put down your money. As is typical of newer pens, the Phileas nibs run rather broad; this one was labeled as a medium but writes with a bigger line than most other makers' medium nibs.

Waterman didn't skimp on the packaging, as the Phileas comes in the same luxurious blue gift box as many of its more expensive pens. Waterman's informative multilingual instruction booklet is also included, but could probably use some update since it refers to the Gentleman series, which has been out of production for some time.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network