Regular readers of Monochromatic Outlook may recall mention of the Waterman Edson Diamond Black fountain pen. It was the pen I wanted dearly but thought I would never own because it was indeed too dear. At a MSRP of an even thousand dollars, its lovely platinum trim and inset nib seemed out of my reach.
I had a chance to write with one at the Flax pen fair, and its smooth writing cemented its place as the pen that I really must have. Pen collectors have a name for such a desirable and unattainable item: they call it one’s «grail» pen.
Back in 2007 I must have been making more money than I am now because I was able to secure one. It was purchased at a significant discount, but it still remained my most expensive pen until… well, I’ll talk about that pen another time.
The Edson arrived and I found that 1,233 people had ordered one before me, as I had gotten serial number 001234, a number I thought auspicious. I was very excited to have this pen and the writing did not disappoint. The Edson proves that a nib need not be flexible to provide a pleasurable writing experience. The Edson is large and much heavier than most pens. Its fine point is ultra-smooth and the pen is generally impressive.
Pictures (at least my pictures) fail to do justice to the beauty of the Edson Diamond Black. The shape of the clip is mirrored in the inlay just behind the nib, making it very tempting to use with the cap posted. It’s bold but understated (despite those attributes being seeming antonyms) and elegant while being masculine. The Edson with its silver cap and black acrylic-over-brass body reminds me of the white jacket over black pants tux Sean Connery wore in Goldfinger. How’s that for high praise?
However, a couple of days after the Edson arrived, my thumbnot my thumbnailcaught a rough edge on the side of the clip on the cap. I rubbed my thumb gently back over the area to see what the matter was and found platinum plating flaking off on my thumb. So after just a few days with the pen I had to send it to be serviced.
Waterman’s service department did not replate the cap or do anything to preserve my serial number. When the pen came back to me, I no longer had number 001234 but instead 001659. I reconciled myself to the fact that it is better to have a different number than a peeling pen, but it was still disappointing to be reassigned to a higher and less-desirable number.
The pen was returned to me with a piece of paper indicating that the section had been replaced, but functionally nothing had changed. I was understandably disappointed that the leak continued and was immediately noticeable. This indicates to me that Waterman Service had not even tested the pen to see if there was a leak. Disgusted, I put the pen on the shelf and tried not to remember that it existed.
On May 25th of 2010 I sent an email to the Waterman service center explaining that the pen was still leaking and asking what they were willing to do to correct the situation. I waited for a reply that never came and the Edson continued to sit on the shelf unused.
This is a terrible fall: from my favorite pen to not even being used. I don’t even like thinking about the fact that I own the pen. I can’t even sell it in good conscience with the leaking clutch cams. But last week I remembered that the situation was never resolved and furthermore I never received a reply to my polite but understandably upset email of May 25th 2010.
Waterman’s service page indicates that Waterman can be contacted for service only by email, so once again I wrote an email and sent it to Waterman’s Service department on 10 March of 2011. As of this writing (15 March) I have yet to receive a reply.
I would love to report that the Edson is the amazing pen that it should be. However, I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone buy products from a company whose standards of workmanship and service have fallen as low as Waterman’s under the wings of their parent corporation, Newell Rubbermaid. They took a pen I was predisposed to love and turned it into a painful memory.
So leads to the sad occasion that I write a post that ends up both in the Writing Instruments and Caveat venditor categories. I’d hoped this day wouldn’t come. Buyers of fine pens, beware both Waterman and Parker, as these penmakers are not their former selves. They have been reduced to brands bought and sold by a corporation best known for plastic food containers.
Of course, this is not the end of the story. If I cannot get satisfaction from Waterman, I will send the pen to Richard Binder at Richard’s Pens. He can fix just about anything that holds ink. It will end up costing a little bit of money, but I’ll know that when it comes back to me, it will behave the way it should. Then perhaps it will once again be my grail pen.
Waterman Edson Diamond Black: 42 grams.