There are good ways and bad ways to relaunch vintage pen brands. We all know the bad, but I don't see a lot written about brand revitalizations done correctly. In 2013, Syd Saperstein did just that - acquiring the rights to and manufacturing pens under the name of a vintage brand that he had collected and loved for years: Wahl-Eversharp. I won't go into a full history of the brand here, but Wahl-Eversharp was a major American pen brand until the advent of the ballpoint in the 1950s, at which point it failed to keep up, fell by the wayside, and ultimately disappeared.
The new Wahl-Eversharp chose to launch with the Skyline collection, an updated version of the vintage pen of that same name. For those unfamiliar with vintage pens, the Eversharp Skyline features iconic 1940s design, taking inspiration from city skyscrapers, hence the name. Skylines are great little pens - I've restored several myself - though as the years go by the plastic on these pens becomes brittle, and many people dislike having to deal with the often temperamental sac and lever-filling system on the original.
Here, the new company has taken the Skyline's original design and modernized it. They retained the oversized cap and slim, tapered barrel, but have utilized modern materials such as anodized aluminum and transparent acrylic (though they also have a gorgeous series of celluloid pens as well). The pens use a cartridge-converter filling system, and the barrel accepts the long Waterman-style ink cartridge.
Ceramic Coated Nibs and Optimized Feeds
The new Wahl-Eversharp nibs have drawn much of the attention around the brand. The nibs are stainless steel, but they've been treated with a ceramic coating that makes the nib not only super smooth but gives it some bounce. The company describes these nibs as "semi-flex," and claims that they writes from a fine to medium line. I'm not a flex-pen aficionado in any sense, but I'd caution against expecting a true "flex" experience - if that's what you're looking for, save up for a Decoband. Regardless, the nib on this Skyline has some nice variation, and I would describe the fine-to-medium range as accurate.
Wahl-Eversharp also pairs these nibs with a specialized "magic" feed. I'm not exactly sure what exactly the company has done to the feed to optimize the ink flow, but the result is impressive - I experienced no dry writing or railroading, and the nib wrote a pleasantly wet line throughout my test-drive of this pen.
Overall Takeaways and Where to Buy
- If you're a fan of the original Eversharp Skyline's design, but don't want to mess around with often-temperamental vintage lever-fillers, you now have a cartridge-converter option.
- Sturdy construction
- Smooth stainless steel nib that's on the softer side - not flexible, but most should be able to coax out some line variation
- Gorgeous presentation in a lacquered box
- The slim barrel might make this pen too small for some to use comfortably over longer writing sessions.
- This particular pen (the Skyline Technik) sits at a high price point, though other versions of the Skyline fall into the $160 range.
I can absolutely appreciate the new Wahl-Eversharp Skyline: it's more than a tribute pen or an homage to the vintage brand - it's a full-on modernization of an iconic piece of 20th century design, which arguably retains the best aspects of the original and improves upon its faults. It's a well-made pen that writes well, especially if you like a little bit of spring in the nib.
At the same time, I probably won't be acquiring one of these pens, for the same reason that I'm not a big fan of the original Skyline - the look of the oversized cap paired with the tapered barrel just doesn't do it for me, and I find the pen a touch small for my hand, especially since this nib is one that I'd want to use for longer writing sessions. Now, if Wahl-Eversharp ever makes a normal-size version of their oversized Decoband, or brings back the faceted Doric from the 1930s, then I'm all in. (I've heard rumors on the pen show circuit that both are in the works, but it might just be wishful thinking on the part of Wahl-Eversharp enthusiasts.)
You can purchase the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline directly from the company itself, or through retailers nationwide. Anderson Pens currently offers most of the Wahl-Eversharp product lines, including the Skyline Technik Collection featured here. Price-wise, the various Skyline models range widely from $159 for the "Skyliner 50 Collection", to $280 for the aluminum Technik Collection, to $289 for the "Empire Celluloid Collection". There are even more expensive special/limited edition models, some of which have crazy cool packaging, but those are beyond the scope of this review.
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Anderson Pens for making this review possible. Brian Anderson loaned me this pen from his personal collection. I was not otherwise compensated for this review.