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Waterman "MAN 100"
From the fountain pen of Giovanni Abrate

Waterman "MAN 100"

The rebirth begins.

by Giovanni Abrate 


After many years in which fountain pens had gone out of fashion and the only decent pen that still had a market was the ubiquitous MontBlanc Meisterstuck, the end of the 1980s saw a renewed interest in high quality fountain pens.

Two pens can be credited for this renaissance in fountain pen interest: the Waterman Man 100, a beautiful pen made in France and the Parker Duofold Centennial, a British pen.

This review looks at the French pen and explores its origins and the features that made it an instant classic.

The Man 100 actually dates back to 1983 and it was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its parent company (hence the Man 100 moniker).

It is well known that the US Waterman company was unable to compete with a market that shifted away from fountain pens and embraced the practical and maintenance-free ballpoint pen and went out of business in 1954. The same fate befell the British branch of Waterman, which was bought up by the Sovereign Royal Pencil Company.

Only in France, the JIF Waterman Company was able to stay in business and flourish. The wife of Jules Fagard, the man who in 1926 had founded the JIF company (named after his initials) and who had taken over the French distribution (and later production) of Waterman’s pens saw the potential of the new-fangled ballpoint pens and introduced a model, the Pantabille, as early as 1947.

Mme Fagard, who took over the management of the company from her husband after his death introduced the C.F. in 1953, one of the most successful pens using plastic ink cartridges.

When  Mme Fagard passed away in 1964 the reins of the company were taken by her daughter, Elsa and later, in 1969, by her daughter, Francine Gomez.

In the early 1970s, Francine Gomez purchased the rights to the Waterman Brand name from Baron Bich (of BIC fame) who had acquired the Waterman Company in the US. She later also acquired the Brand name rights for Canada and the UK. A new era for the Waterman company was about to begin.

Under Francine Gomez, Waterman grew and flourished, thanks in great part to the sophisticated design of its pens, created by famous French designer Alain Carrè and to the management and marketing skills of Mme Gomez..

In 1983, Mme Gomez decided to produce the “ultimate” fountain pen: the Man 100.

Man 100 2

The pen she created is finished in a glossy black color, with richly gold plated accents. The body of the pen is made of brass and the black resin of the barrel and cap is reinforced with carbon fiber. The clip takes its inspiration from the classic clip of the Waterman C.F.

The nib is beautifully hand made in 18K gold, with Rhodium accents. The iridium pellet is hand polished and every nib is tested for smoothness and flow.

Man 100 1

The section is machined from brass and the threads that mate with the barrel are fitted with an “O” ring. The complete pen weighs 30 grams.

In order to produce a Man 100 pen, 52 manual operations are required.

The pens are made in the Waterman factory in Nantes and are assembled by hand by expert craftsmen.

The cap mates with the barrel with a positive “click” and it uses a metal spring in place of the more common and less reliable nylon inner cap of most modern pens.

The clip is made of a Copper-Beryllium alloy, for strength and flexibility.

The Man 100 writes smoothly, without hesitation. The trace is even, but not overly wet. The nib is very rigid, with no trace of flex.

The pen balances very well in the hand, especially when unposted. The cap can be posted and clicks into place at the top of the barrel.

I find this pen very stylish and elegant, in an understated way.

Man 100 3

Some variants, like the Opera and Harlequin add surface chasing to the pen, adding a retro touch that reminds one of the classic ebonite Waterman pens of the 1920s.

In conclusion, the Man 100 is a modern classic, designed and built with no compromises, to be hailed as the best in class.

It is no surprise that the Man 100, together with the Parker Duofold Centennial was instrumental in creating the rebirth of fountain pen interest and use of the late 1980s and early 1990s. 


  2014 Giovanni Abrate - all rights reserved

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