Waterman "MAN 100"
The rebirth begins.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
In 1983, Mme Gomez decided to
produce the “ultimate” fountain pen: the Man 100.
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.
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
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
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.
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