review: pelikan m205 aquamarine - ink between the teeth

Apr 16, 2018

review: pelikan m205 aquamarine

Every year, Pelikan develops an ink based off of a mineral or gem for a special, limited edition release known as the Edelstein Ink of the Year. Since 2015, there has also been a demonstrator tinted to match the ink. In 2016, this pen and ink combo was Aquamarine: a blue-green that's more dark than light.

The M205 Aquamarine had been on my radar since its release: teal is one of my favorite colors, and it's not one that you can find in pens very often. Once 2017 came around and dragged itself to its demise and I still didn't own this pen, I was pretty sure that I wouldn't manage to pick it up unless I could find it secondhand. However, I was lucky enough to find it new at Ty Lee (小品雅集), a very well-known fountain pen store in Taipei. After a bit of hemming and hawing, I decided to spring for it.

The reason why I passed on this pen when it was first released was that it just didn't have the value I was looking for. Consider this: I purchased a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 for about $100 on the gray market. It's a piston filler just like the M205, but it has the added benefit of a springy gold nib. Sure, the Aquamarine is in a gorgeous color you don't see very often, but if you removed the name "Pelikan" from the pen, would it still be worth the price? In my view, $150 is too much to spend on a manufactured pen with a steel nib.
That being said, I think the discounted $110 is fair, particularly because I purchased this pen at a brick and mortar store. I was able to physically feel this pen in my hand, and speak with a knowledgeable clerk who showed me Pelikan's nib selection and helped me find the nib size I was looking for (Pelikan's nibs run broad and juicy, which I love, but I definitely didn't need a BB). I think that definitely helped justify the price tag. If I had to buy this pen online, I don't think I would have ever purchased it.

The means by which this pen came into my possession aside, let's go ahead and start discussing the pen itself. The M20X is one of the smallest in the Pelikan M line, along with the M40X, but that doesn't mean it's uncomfortable in the hand. Indeed, it's what I would readily call a "standard"-sized pen. It's fairly light, especially without the brass fittings of its larger brothers, but I don't mind this. It fits nicely in my larger-than-average hands, so I don't feel the need to post (I also never post my pens).
The clip is shaped a bit like a pelican's bill, which I think is cute. The Pelikan logo is on the cap's finial, but other than these two distinctive elements I don't believe there is any other marking. I've heard some rumblings that the silver fittings don't look as good on a pen of this color, but I don't mind it and I think it looks quite snazzy1. I don't think silver or gold furnishing would have changed my thoughts on how this pen looks to me, anyway! It's a very interesting blue-green that's quite difficult to capture; sometimes it looks more blue than green, though I do think this is a teal that is quite blue. It's a Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris, not Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro. I've compared it here to two other teal pens that I own—the Pilot 78G and the Lamy Petrol—and you can see that they're three very different blue-greens.

The first ink I filled this pen with was Nagasawa Kobe Arima Amber. Sorry Pilot Black: this combo is what I needed. I definitely did not want to fill my pen with any ink that could be destructive, especially since my retailer is located halfway across the world. In my experience Sailor inks are quite gentle on pens2, and since Nagasawa Kobe inks are made by Sailor I felt it was quite trustworthy. It's a beautiful ink, and I quite like the contrast.
With a full fill, expelling as much air as I possibly could, the pen holds about... say, 1.5ml of ink. It's not a lot. As shown in this extremely scientific, incredibly accurate image above, I would say that it holds about as much as my Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (the barrel of the M205 is thinner). Despite the little tank, the piston is very smooth, and I was quite surprised at how little air the pen sucked up. I pretty much filled the pen to the brim with just one fill.
I had already tested the nib at Ty Lee, but it was dipped rather than filled. Regardless, I was expecting a smooth and wet writing experience, and I was definitely correct! Even without the added wetness that gold nibs tend to provide, this pen puts down quite a bit of ink. It's a great nib.
I'm a big fan of this pen, which I hope shows in the fact that I actually purchased it despite my usual indecision on pens that cost more than $50. It's a great color that I love, and it writes very well. I do believe it's a little overpriced for what it is—after all, who's to say that another company won't come out with a teal piston-filler in a few years?—but I think if you can find the Pelikan M20Xs for about $100 it's much more worth it. Regardless, this pen is one that I'll definitely treasure in the years to come.

1 And to be fair I've always been partial to teal and silver.
2 I'd imagine inks marketed or manufactured in East Asia have to be quite gentle, since the overwhelming majority of fountain pen users there have extra-fine and fine nibs. Pens with finer nibs may carry a tank for a long time, and misbehavior will settle right into the foundations, you know? I don't actually know if this is true. It sounds logical to me, okay.

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