No, I didn’t forget how to spell original, the Origional is what Narwhal calls their pen. I know, because it was on the box so kindly sent to me by Goldspot Pens.
Up until now, I have to admit that Narwhal had always meant Monodon monoceros to me. That is, a small to medium-sized arctic whale, nicknamed the Unicorn of the Sea because of its nice line in tusks.
Check out Ice Stories: Dispatches from Polar Scientists—Arctic Whales for a bit more of an idea of what our sea-faring mammalian relatives are all about. But don’t forget to come back here to read about their stationery namesakes—because they’re really cool too.
It turns out that the pen company called Narwhal, have a rather nice line in fountain pens (as opposed to tusks), and the Origional is an attractive and eye-catching example.
As you can see, the Origional is available in three—kind of—aquatically themed colours: Poseidon Blue, Merman Green, and the odd one out, Hippocampus Purple. No, I have no idea why it’s called Hippocampus Purple, because I can tell you—many years ago—I dissected one of those, and it wasn’t purple. Not even close. I rather fancied looking at the purple though, which, when it arrived, my wife immediately called pink; and it isn’t really. So, to summarize, it looks nothing like a fatty lump of brain tissue, a marine mammal, and nor is it pink. But it is a rather bold, attractive purple, like at least one part of its name would suggest. On to the pen…
You see, I really did get the model name right, it says so on the box. Which I should also say, is a basic, but sturdy and serviceable, cardboard affair. It’s just right in terms of size, weight, and probably how many trees were felled in order to package the pen. And it manages to tread that line of green economy and good-for-a-gift-design very nicely indeed.
Inside the box, the pen is snugly nestled in a foam insert, along with a small metal wrench for disassembly of the piston filling mechanism.
Okay, it looks a bit pink here, but that’s only because of my lighting. It’s purple, really; trust me, I’m a biologist not a photographer. First impressions were that the Narwhal Origional was a well-made, solid, acrylic pen. The colour was vibrant, with the swirled pattern adding to its appeal, and where the acrylic is clearer for its demonstrator appeal, then it is very clear and not at all cloudy. It’s a highly polished product, and cap threads, bands and the clip are tight, precise, and give you some confidence in its overall build quality. At first heft (a smidge over 19g including a bit of ink), it didn’t feel like it was a particularly large pen. But as we’ll see, I was a bit wayward there.
The cap is adorned by a fairly stiff, polished steel clip, embedded in the acrylic. I’m not usually very fond of that sort of fixing, but if the clip stays in good working order—and I’ve no reason to think it won’t—then it feels secure, and shouldn’t be an issue.
There’s a Narwhal branded band just below the threads and the tapered section, through which the base of the friction-fitted nib unit can be seen.
The nib on the Origional is made in-house by Narwhal, and is a #6 steel, available in medium or fine; no broads or stubs to be found here. The scroll-work and the cute Narwhal logo make an attractive decoration, but there is no indication of the nib size anywhere that I could find.
The polished acrylic gives a clear view of the piston-filling mechanism, which allows for a better volume of ink than you would get from a cartridge or converter.
The mechanism slid up and down the inside of the barrel extremely smoothly, and for routine cleaning and maintenance, Narwhal include a mini wrench for disassembly… in the same manner as TWSBI supply with their piston-filled fountain pens.
In fact, this isn’t the only similarity between the Narwhal Origional and, for example, the TWSBI Eco line. The Narwhal is very much in the same price bracket as the premium Eco models like the Smoke or White and Rose Gold ($49.99US, about $63.66CAD), but at $45.00US ($57.30CAD) is just a little cheaper. And, in my opinion, makes for a jazzier, more colourful alternative.
Contrary to my first impressions, the Narwhal also turned out to be quite a large pen in comparison to most of my regular rotation, and very near to the chunky TWSBI models with which I think it competes favourably.
Taking another look at those measurements above, the diameter of the Narwhal may be a little large there, as I think I measured it over the span of the ring below the section, or even the outer edge of the cap. All the same, you can see that it is considerably bigger than the Pelikan M600, and the inaccurately named Sailor 1911 Large.
Inside the Narwhal’s box, you’ll also find a user guide to filling the pen with the piston mechanism…
… and one-year warranty card.
Although, a brief search of the interwebs revealed no corporate offices or main web site that I could find for the manufacturer, if you have a fault with your purchase, your first point of contact would probably be the dealer from whom you bought the pen. Fortunately, despite scouring with a magnifying lens, I could find no faults in this Goldspot-supplied whale of a pen.
As it turns out, my brief search of the interwebs was wayyyy too brief. A great review of the Narwhal Schuylkill 365 by good friend of this blog, Rupert, over at the Fountain Pen Blog, pointed out their web site (narwhalpens.com) in his second paragraph! I stand corrected! Thank you Rupert!
Finally, last but most certainly not least…
What Does it Write Like?
It’s beautiful! Straight out of the box (are you listening Lamy??!!?? Are you listening Visconti??!!??), this $45.00 pen with an in-house, made-in-China, medium steel nib, wrote incredibly smoothly. Not a blip, not a false start, not a skip, and not a rough edge, it just glided across the paper like an aquatic mammal cleaving the surface of the water. It left a faultless (the quality of my handwriting excluded) line across the page, and even started immediately after I left it lying uncapped on my desk while I answered a phone call. Just the sort of thing that appeals to me greatly.
After a quick flush through with some clean water, I filled the Narwhal with Rohrer and Klingner’s Solferino violet ink, which seemed to me to be an excellent match for that vibrant purple (pink – Lorraine). The paper I tested it on was Clairefontaine’s Triomphe, white, lined and weighing in at 90gsm.
What more can be said when the nib performs perfectly? Or at least, it performed a great deal better than my experience of many highly established and often premium brands (see above). I suppose the medium line might be considered a little broader than some might expect, but I think it’s definitely on a par with Western medium nibs from the likes of Edison, Pelikan, and TWSBI in terms of width and ink on the page.
This is an extremely good pen for its low to middle-end price point. As a piston-filler at $45.00US, it’s obviously a competitor of the higher-end TWSBI Eco’s, but it undercuts TWSBI on price, and—for my tastes—looks prettier and sleeker. The Poseidon Blue, for example, I think looks quite classy; and at least darling spouse and I agree that it’s actually blue. My thanks go out to Goldpsot for passing this one along to me!