The Waterman Charleston may be the fountain pen that started it all for me. And by “all”, I mean the sickness that is pen collecting and the idea that spending more than $5 or $25 or $50 or…I better stop there…on a pen is an acceptable use of money. I don’t remember exactly, but I think I’ve had my Charleston for nearly 10 years and I’m pretty sure I bought it at the now defunct Joon Pen in NYC. The Charleston is definitely one of the first two or three nice fountain pens I bought. In the years since buying it, my fountain pen purchase habits have ebbed and flowed, favorite pens have come and gone, but there is something a bit nostalgic for me when it comes to the Waterman Charleston. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite pen. In fact, it’s probably not even in the top 5 at this point; however, it was something of a gateway pen for me and for that, I’ll always appreciate it.
The MSRP on the Charleston is around $200 with a typical street price around $170. At that price, there are other pens I favor but the Charleston does have a lot going for it. First, the Art Deco style along with the black and silver finish make the Charleston one handsome pen. The 18k gold, fine nib is a solid performer. I would say it’s a quarter of a step behind the writing experience I get from my 14k gold medium-nib Sailor Sapporo. Even though one is a fine nib and the other is a medium nib, there are definite similarities between the two pens with the Charleston offering just a bit more feedback than the Sapporo. The posted length of the pen, about 17.5 cm, is nearly ideal for my hand but the weight, 25 grams, is a touch light for my preferences. Hey, if you know of a pen that is around 16-18 cm long when posted with a weight of 30-35 grams, let me know. The width of the pen is pretty spot on for me as well.
All-in-all, the specifications of the Waterman Charleston really should work for me and, for the most part, they do. Having said that, the writing experience falls just a bit short of the feel I get from many of my other fountain pens. Perhaps if I made myself write only with the Charleston for an extended period it would grow on me even more but I typically gravitate to other pens before too long. Also, there is one little thing about the pen that causes some minor annoyance. There is an ever so slight wiggle to the grip section. It feels like the section is loose even though it’s fully screwed in. I’m not sure where this very, very slight wiggle originates but it’s definitely there. It seems I’m not the only one to notice it.
I really should love this pen. The style, size and writing experience are all solid but the sum here is just a bit less than the parts. Don’t get me wrong; the Waterman Charleston is a winner and you should definitely give it a full audition. If I were forced to use only this pen for several weeks I’d be perfectly happy. But, nobody’s forcing me so I don’t. Overall, a weak “Carry It” or a very strong “Desk It” option for me.
The Waterman Charleston is like the pizza from your second favorite pizza place. The pizza is great. You don’t mind giving the folks who run the joint your business and you can’t recall ever getting a bad pizza there. That said, it’s still your second favorite pizza joint that you order from only when your first-choice joint is closed for vacation or if you just need a change of pace.
Weird. I couldn’t find many other reviews of the Charleston. If you did one or know of others, please let me know.
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