By Mike Stevens
Waterman's newest offering looks to be a replacement for the venerable Man 100 series of pens. The Man 100 has served Waterman as a flagship model for years, and managed quite well. Will the new Exception be able to take over from the Man 100 series? Time will tell, but at first look, I think the answer is going to be "yes"!
The Exception is one of those designs that is at once conservative and radical. In terms of overall looks, it's simple enough. Available in two sizes, and three basic versions, the flashiest of them is still pretty quiet; basic black and gold, with subtle engraved lines accenting the cap and barrel.
It's the shape that takes the Exception a step apart from most other pen designs. Instead of a simple cylindirical tube, the Exception is square in cross section, only slightly rounded at the corners. Add to this shape accents in the form of engraved panels running down two sides, and you have a pen that stands out. Yet, thanks to the understated lines, it's an elegant pen.
Even the two tone gold and black version manages to come across as subtle. The basic black version is even more quiet, without the contrasting gold side panels to distract the eye from the severe lines of the shape it comes across as almost a stark design. The slim version in plain lacquer finish is the simplest of all, with nothing at all to pull the eye away from the slightly rounded square cross section.
The three versions give you quite a choice with the Exception. As a flagship design, it's very good, it should give Waterman the ability to compete quite nicely with the other "big names" in the modern pen line today. For those of us who have been waiting since the Man 100 for this to happen, the Exception takes on even more meaning than just a "new pen".
This is a big pen, in the full size version it measures a full 5 9/16 inches closed, and another inch longer if you post the cap for writing. If you write sans cap, the barrel is still 5 3/16 inches long. The barrel is 1/2 inch across. The large exception weighs in at 1 3/4 ounces.
Measurements are just a bit less for the smaller version, at 5 3/8 inches long closed, and 6 7/16 inches with the cap posted. Barrel length alone is 5 inches, and it's 7/16 of an inch across the barrel. Weight is only slightly less, at 1 1/2 ounces.
The nibs used fall in line with what we've seen from other Waterman pens of late. Very smooth, but equally rigid. If you're looking for feedback, you likely won't be finding it through these nibs! On the other hand, if you prefer a nib that skates across the paper, you should be very happy.
It's with the section that I expect the most trouble to arise... The sections taper radically from the same rounded square cross section of the barrel to a more conventional round shape at the front end.
Depending upon where your fingers hit the section as you grip the pen, this may be anything from barely noticable to downright annoying. It didn't bother me at all, while some users have reported it as a definite "no-go" for the Exception based strictly upon the section. This might well be one of those pens that require you trying out in person before making a purchase.
In all other aspects, the Exception seems to be quite a usable pen. The weight is nicely balanced, although I found it to be easier to use the Exception without posting the cap, it's not unduly out of balance posted. The cap clicks snugly into place when closing, and feels very secure.
The Exception fills via cartridge converter, and has a neat bayonet style mechanism to secure the section in the barrel. It comes free from the barrel with just a half turn of the section. A pair of pins mounted on opposite sides of the section ride in cut out channels inside the barrel to lock the section closed when you put it back in place on the barrel.
It's a simple and elegant method of closing things up. Although it's true that it doesn't really offer any "real" advantages over the traditional screw fitting (aside from only requiring a half turn to open), as with the system used on the old S.T. Dupont Montparnasse, it's undeniably cool.
When writing about the Exception, it seems that particular adjective comes up quite a lot. Above all else, the Exception might best be described as a "cool" pen. Maybe not the most practical, or the "best" pen out on the market, but without a doubt, a very stylish, very classic very cool pen!
copyright 2005 Mike Stevens
Images copyright 2005 William Riepl