By Bill Riepl
The Conway Stewart Windsor is a limited edition that really stands apart in my book. Of course, the company has chosen a theme that's close to my heart, so I'm a bit prejudiced in this regard!
The new Windsor begins with a basic sterling Duro. These pens are the same size and profile as the regular acrylic Duro, but the cap and barrel are turned from a solid chunk of sterling silver. A thin acrylic overlay is then fitted to the cap, barrel, and section of the pen.
Although the acrylic used for this overlay is the same color as that used for the basic model Duro pens, the fact that it is machined so thin as to end up more or less translucent, and then applied over bright sterling silver, make for a completely different appearance for the pen when all's said and done. The light passes through the acrylic, then reflects back from the sterling silver underneath, giving a result that glows with reflected light.
In the case of the Windsor, the blue material
chosen is a very sober, classic dark blue marble when used on its own.
When used in the Sterling Duro model, however, it positively glows with
It's a great choice to go along with the silver trim that sets the Windsor apart from other sterling Duro pens. The Windsor departs from the regular line of sterling Duros in the fact that all of the trim on the pen (excepting the clip) is completely covered with a hand engraved scroll pattern. Conway Stewart has contracted with an English engraver known for his work on fine shotguns, and the results are extraordinary. There's a vast difference between hand engraving and machine-cut engraving, and while the latter can be beautiful, it's hand engraving that comes into its own as an art form.
The cap top, cap band, and barrel blind cap are all completely covered with the scroll pattern. It's just enough to serve as an accent and set the Windsor apart, but not so much as to make for an ostentatious or flashy-looking pen.
What am I saying?! Let's be honest. I'd
love nothing more than to have the entire pen covered with engraving!
I just don't see this form of engraving as flashy or over the top. It's
classic, stylish artistry, and in my book, you just cannot have too
Personal feelings aside, the work on the Windsor is first rate, and the result is definitely a good-looking writing instrument. With the emphasis on writing. Unlike some modern limited editions, the Windsor is actually suitable for daily use. Granted, at just under two and a quarter ounces, it's on the heavy side, but no more so than other all-metal pens. It's right up there with pens such as the sterling pinstripe Mont Blanc 146, the Montegrappa Cosmopolitan, and the Waterman sterling Edson as far as weight goes.
In terms of balance, the Windsor has no
problems at all. With one caveat ... although the cap posts very securely
on the end of the barrel, you're probably not going to want to use this
pen with the cap posted! Writing sans cap proved to be quite pleasant,
with the weight well enough down in my hand to make for comfortable
use. Removing the cap also drops the weight to by a full ounce, making
it quite a bit lighter as well. The barrel is long enough that not posting
the cap doesn't seem to be an issue.
The Windsor carries on the Conway Stewart tradition of offering a nib for almost anyone. It's available in the full range of nib widths, from extra fine through double broad, and three italic widths. Our sample was a medium, and while it proved to be a nice nib, very smooth and with a nice, even line, it was, all in all... well, medium. A pen like this screams for something more distinctive, such as a medium or broad italic, something with flair! Conway Stewart's italic nibs are great, cut sharp enough across the tip to provide good line-width variation, but still enough softness to be usable under everyday writing conditions.
The button filling system works well, and it's easy enough to operate. Just unscrew the blind cap at the barrel end, immerse the nib in ink, and push down on the button. Leaving the nib in the ink, release the button and give it half a minute for the sac to fill, then pull the nib out of the ink and blot it off.
Simple enough. When pressed, the button levers a pressure bar against the ink sac and on release, the sac fills with ink. Ink capacity with a system like this is larger than with a comparable-sized pen fitted with a cartridge/converter style filler. Although to be fair, I usually find that I'm changing inks for a new color well before I simply run out of ink!
Overall, the fit and finish of the Windsor proved to be excellent. It comes across as a very elegant pen, and one that would look equally at home in a gun club lounge or the boardroom. Or if, like me, you hang out in neither of the above, it'll do quite well in a plain old pocket!
The Windsor is issued in an edition of
100 pieces in each of four writing modes, fountain pen, rollerball,
ballpen, and mechanical pencil.
copyright 2005 William Riepl
Images copyright 2005 William Riepl