If I had to pick one “small-batch” maker who has seriously impressed me with his ability to consistently produce high-quality pens at a relatively small scale while still maintaining an accessible price point, it’s Ian Schon and his company, Schon DSGN. You’ll recall that I reviewed the Schon DSGN Classic Machined Pen last year, but this particular pen - my Classic Model in PVD DLC Stainless Steel - was not featured in that review. Why? Unfortunately I had “misplaced” it at the time, and I was despondent. As it turns out (and as frequently happens when you have hundreds of pens lying around your house), I found it in the pocket of some shorts that I had stored away last winter and didn’t pick up again until the June. This beauty is now firmly back in the rotation.
What is “PVD DLC”?
Let’s get that out of the way first. “PVD DLC” refers to a process by which items such as pens and watches are coated to make them darker and more durable. The “PVD” part of the process ("Physical Vapor Deposition”) actually refers to the process, and I’m not about to delve into the technicalities because it’s way above my head. You can read more about it here. “DLC” (“Diamond Like Carbon”) refers to the coating itself, which darkens the look by bonding to the steel and hardening the pen even further. Needless to say, it will be very difficult to damage a PVD DLC stainless steel pen, especially one that’s already as durably built as a Schon DSGN Classic.
I picked up the PVD DLC Classic at the 2017 D.C. Pen Show, which I believe was the first time that Schon DSGN attended. Why did I pick this particular pen to take home? Because during my conversation with Ian, he was showing it off as the pen he designed for himself, and at the time, the PVD DLC model wasn’t a regular part of the lineup. If I’m at a pen show, talking directly to a maker, and they tell me, out of all their pens, which one they built for their own use, 9/10 that’s the one I’m buying.
Despite the heft of this pen, I still find it comfortable to use for it’s intended purpose: short notes and marking things up in the course of day-to-day activities. While it may not be the best choice for novel writing, I had no issues posting the pen and using it to write out a full page of notes for this review. Like the other Schon DSGN Classic pens, this one accepts the Fisher Space Pen refill, and I swapped in the burgundy version.
Side Note: Did I mention that the DLC coating is super hard and durable? To the point where it. will. scratch. anything. Don’t carry a DLC-coated pen in a bag or pocket with something like a phone unless you want a big scratch down the center of your screen. Personal experience here.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
When I purchased this pen in 2017, Ian wasn’t sure that he was going to make PVD-DLC a standard option, since it’s (1) a fairly “hardcore” EDC choice, and (2) expensive to make. I’m glad to see that the PVD DLC version of the Schon DSGN Classic is now available for purchase at a relatively accessible price point of $150. If you don’t want/need the added “boost” of DLC durability, Schon DSGN also makes a polished stainless steel version of the Classic priced at $108. While the default refill on this pen is the Fisher Space Pen refill, Schon DSGN also sells a D1 refill adapter.
Unfortunately I was unable to break away from the table long enough to pick up one of the new Schon DSGN fountain pens that were released at the 2019 D.C. Pen Show. These will be released to the general public on the Schon DSGN website August 20th. I would expect the first run to sell out quickly so keep your eyes peeled and act quickly if you want one!
Disclaimer: I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own collection. This post contains affiliate links.