I have a soft spot in my heart for modern Waterman fountain pens, even though their line has become a bit stale since they were acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid in 2001, with fewer models introduced into the lineup. To me, the pens that Waterman manufactured during the 1980s and the 1990s are excellent--I think of them as "vintage" in the sense that they aren't available anymore, but "modern" in that they use contemporary Waterman cartridges and converters. The term I use to describe pens like these is "near modern," and they are a fixture in my collection.
History of Waterman Pens
The name "Waterman" has a storied history in the fountain pen world, with the lore (repeated on the Company website) being that Lewis Edson Waterman invented the modern fountain pen. Others have recently cast doubt on this version of history, but the story still sticks. However, what many people don't know that the modern Waterman Pen Company is not the same company that made many of the classic Waterman pens from the 1930s and 1940s, but rather is a descendant of Jif-Waterman, the French subsidiary, which is now owned by Newell-Rubbermaid. Waterman has an interesting timeline on their website that shows various events from the history of the French and American companies, including all the major pen models introduced over the years. Of all these designs, the classic "Le Man 100" (known simply as the "Man 100" stateside), first introduced in 1982 for the company's 100th anniversary, is my favorite.
Design and Build
The Waterman Man 100, at first glance, resembles a larger version of the Laureate and other more modern Waterman pens. It is solidly built using the typical Waterman lacquer-over-brass construction that gives the pen some weight. The style is classic Waterman, with the traditional "Waterman clip" the French company has used since the 1960s and the large 18k "Ideal" nib (borrowed, of course, from the early days of the Waterman "Ideal" fountain pen). The Man 100 was introduced in 1982 and intended to serve as Waterman's flagship luxury pen, competing with Montblanc and Pelikan. What makes this particular version unique, however, is the cap band.
The band on this version of the Man 100 is modeled after the Waterman Patrician fountain pen from the 1920s and 1930s. Waterman manufactured these "Patrician" Man 100s as special editions from 1992 to 1994. If you shop around, they are starting to command what I consider to be extremely high prices. I'm glad I bought when I did: I love my two Man 100 Patricians, but I'm not sure that I'd be willing to pay what people are asking these days. One thing I will say--if you can find these new-old-stock, the packaging on these older pens is gorgeous. It comes with a nice wooden box. The faux-leather on the inside is a bit worn, but hey, it's almost 25 years old.
Now for the writing experience: Waterman nibs are on the stiff side. The stainless and gold-plated nibs are definitely nails, but the 18k gold nibs have the tiniest bit of spring to them--just enough to keep the writing interesting. I have two of these pens: a coral ("Cardinal Red") and a green. Both of my pens have fine nibs and wrote adequately out of the box. My coral pen was N.O.S., so the fine nib wrote like a dream. My green pen was used, and the nib was slightly worn in (to someone else's writing style), so I had Mike Masuyama tweak it. No big deal. Both are now very nice daily workhorses.
Further Reading (and Shopping):
I use my Waterman pens a fair bit, but I haven't written much about them, probably because I'm just as liable as the next person to get caught up in the latest "craze" to the detriment of my workhorse pens. A while back I did write a piece for Maybelline over at her blog On Fountain Pens discussing my first "nice" pen, the Waterman Laureate.
As I mentioned, the Patrician models of the Man 100 pens are becoming difficult to find. Occasionally, they come up on Gary Lehrer's GoPens newsletter, which is where I purchased mine. I'm still looking to acquire the blue version to complete my collection. If anyone has one they are looking to unload, please reach out!
Waterman pens from the Company's current lineup can be purchased from our sponsors Pen Boutique and Pen Chalet. Waterman also sells a lot through larger retail channels like Staples and Amazon. You can occasionally find Waterman pens in big-box office supply stores, if they still have a "fine writing" section.
The pens featured in this review were purchased with my own funds for my own collection. I was not compensated for this review.
DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, through which I may be compensated a small amount if you purchase a pen from certain sites linked to in this article. While I'd greatly appreciate it if you use these links to purchase something you are interested in, you are, of course, under no obligation to do so. Many thanks!