As anticipation grows for the upcoming M800 Grand Place and M805 Vibrant Blue, I thought that it would be fun to start off the new year with a close look at the last Souverän released in 2015, the M800 Burnt Orange. Pelikan reported in their last newsletter that stock sold out very quickly with this model, so much so that a second run is planned for sometime in April 2016. The Burnt Orange boast a beautiful combination of rich, warm colors that were well suited to its fall release. To achieve such a beautiful looking pen, some design choices had to be made and form appears to have won out over function as I’ll describe below. This is the first time that we have seen a shade of orange make its way into Pelikan’s high-end Souverän line since the M320 Orange Marbled debuted in 2004. Many other manufacturers have effectively incorporated similar colors into some of their models, the Montblanc Hemingway and the Delta Dolcevita quickly coming to mind. Read on to find out if Pelikan’s implementation on the Burnt Orange hits the mark or goes astray.
Appearance & Design (9/10) – All of the elements work well here but the lack of an ink window will be an issue for many
The pen arrived in Pelikan’s standard G15 gift packaging. An outer cardboard sleeve gives way to a sturdy box holding a leatherette pouch which houses the pen. It has a very nice feel to it and makes for an extra special presentation if the pen is being given as a gift. As for the pen itself, the Burnt Orange brings a unique splash of color to the Souverän line. Historically, there have not been many releases from Pelikan in such a shade of orange. The cap, piston knob, and section are done in a dark brown which compliments the orange barrel nicely, much more so than if they had gone with standard black in my opinion. The brown appears to be the same as that of the M800 Tortoiseshell Brown and is very difficult to photograph as it is such a dark brown. The gold furniture also lends to the overall look of the pen and is well suited to this color scheme. As is standard with the Souverän series, you will find two trim rings at the piston knob, a trim ring at the section, and two cap bands. The cap band is inscribed “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” The cap top is 24K gold-plated and depicts the single chick logo employed since 2003. The nib is made of a two-toned 18C gold which is standard for the M800 line.
All of the elements work well here but there is a conspicuously missing design element instantly familiar to anyone who is acquainted with the brand. The M800 Burnt Orange is lacking any type of ink view window. We have seen Pelikan employ some form of an ink view window across their lines going back to their earliest models. This has largely been accomplished in one of three different ways. Striated barrels often show translucency between the stripes (except on the M600 pink), dedicated ink windows stand at the end of the barrel, or the barrel itself has possessed translucency. There is no such convention here which will be a limiting factor for many. The M640 series was the last wide release that I can recall lacking an ink window and now we see two releases in 2015 where this is missing. It is one of my favorite things about Pelikan pens so I hope that this does not mark a trend towards phasing the ink view window out entirely. That said, I love the aesthetics of this pen and can’t quite see how an ink window could have been implemented without compromising the design’s aesthetics. The Montblanc Hemingway which is similarly styled has an ink view window which I do not find particularly tasteful. This is the only downside I can pinpoint in the pen’s design and I love the look of this pen so much, I find it hard to take too much away from it based on this.
Construction & Quality (10/10) – Craftsmanship that is built to last
I can offer no qualms about the construction of the Burnt Orange. The pen is solid in the hand and feels like quality craftsmanship. There are no discernible seams and the pieces fit together nicely. The nib arrived well aligned and smooth out of the box which is always appreciated when one invests in a pen of this caliber. The furniture is 24 carat gold-plated. The piston knob snugs securely against the barrel when retracted and the piston has a very smooth travel. The cap sits securely on the back of the pen when posted and I have had no issues with it coming unscrewed in the pocket. I would fully expect this pen to last for the foreseeable future with reasonable care and maintenance.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – Not the size for everyone
The Burnt Orange is 5.59 inches closed, 6.57 inches posted, 0.52 inches in diameter, and weighs 0.99 ounces. The brass piston of the M8xx series is what provides the added weight which is a noticeable step up from the lower models of the Souverän line. While the size is not suited to everyone’s taste or comfort, I find that the M800 is very comfortable to use, even for extended writing sessions. As I’ve previously stated in other reviews, I find that the M8xx series does not comfortably fit in all of my shirt pockets and the Burnt Orange is no exception to this. I expect there to be some trade offs when using a larger sized pen but this should be a consideration if the shirt pocket is your preferred method of carry.
Nib & Performance (9/10) – Uninspired sizes but unbeatable performance
The M800 has a two-toned 18C- 750 nib with the typical scroll work and Pelikan logo that has long been standard. The entire line continues to suffer from a lack of nib variety and the M800 Burnt Orange is no exception. Available nib size are the standard EF, F, M, and B. While the sizing is uninspired, the nib delivers excellent performance. Even when left capped and stored for a prolonged period, I have no concerns about the pen writing on the very first stroke when I reach for it. This is a testament to the design of Pelikan’s feed. I have long contended that the generous amount of tipping on Pelikan’s modern nibs results in a line that is 1-1.5 sizes wider than its designation. Consequently, I usually counsel people new to the brand to consider a nib size one or two sizes smaller than the line width they are looking for so as not to be disappointed. This has been a good rule of thumb that I find holds true more often than not. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the EF nib on this pen actually provides what I would call an EF line. It is smooth with just a bit of feed back. The nib was perfectly aligned out of the box and the feed provides a generous flow of ink. I’m not sure if this accurate sizing is peculiar to my example as there is inherent variation in production but I’m very happy with it.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Arguably the best out there
Pelikan’s piston filling system is arguably one of the best out there. The implementation is smooth, requires little maintenance, and is very durable. In general, Pelikan’s piston mechanism provides nearly a full fill with a single stroke though that cannot be gauged on the Burnt Orange due to the missing ink view window. The piston knob secures snugly to the back of the barrel with the piston retracted. Pelikan quotes a 1.35 mL ink capacity in their catalog. Should the piston become stiff, it is easily serviced at home with just the tiniest dab of pure silicone grease. The piston assembly on this model is threaded which can facilitate removal should it be necessary. It is important to point out though that it is rarely necessary and should never be considered a part of routine maintenance. The interchangeable nib on these models is also a boon to the user allowing for greater flexibility within a single writing instrument. This facilitates repair/replacement of damaged nibs as well as the swapping of other M8xx nibs to provide for different writing experiences.
Cost & Value (7/10) – The lack of an ink view window will lower the value for some
The MSRP for this pen in the United States is $845. Street prices are usually 20% less than MSRP which correlates with what we have seen asked here in the US. Vendors are offering the Burnt Orange at around $676. Better deals can be had for US purchasers looking overseas with savings of up to several hundred dollars when compared with US retailers. Relating the cost is easy but what about the value? Always such a subjective question. I love the coloring of this pen and the way that the deep rich brown in the cap plays off of the orange of the barrel. Looks aren’t everything though and functionality needs to be considered. We have lost the ink view window, arguably one of the more functional components on a fountain pen. This will certainly lower the value of this pen in the eyes of many. The bland and uninspired nib options will also provide issue for some. If you can get past those two bones of contention, then you might be able to justify the asking price.
Conclusion – A beautiful pen if you can get past the missing ink window
M800 Burnt Orange: 54/60 or 90%
The M800 Burnt Orange has a striking look, one that I’ve been enamored with since I first laid eyes on it. The warm and pleasing colors serve to remind me of the Autumn months every time that I use it. There is something comforting about that. There were some trade offs made between appearance and function but I personally don’t begrudge Pelikan that though I know some people might. I’m not sure how an ink window would have fit into this aesthetic without taking something away from the overall look. Do I miss it? Yes, but it is not a deal breaker for me. This pen has so much charm in other ways that I can easily look past what it might be lacking. With the Grand Place and the Vibrant Blue on the horizon, I think Pelikan is really showing that they can turn out some truly stunning pens. I only hope that the company will pace itself and not saturate us with too many of these high-end beauties in such a short span of time. For those that have been on the fence about picking one of these up, I would encourage you to do so soon as the second run in April is likely to be more limited. If you can’t decide between this or one of the announced 2016 releases, I can only sympathize with your plight. Whichever you choose, it’s hard to be disappointed.
A Look At The Pelikan M800 Burnt Orange
Pelikan M800 Burnt Orange Writing Sample
*The pen utilized for this review is my own from my personal collection and therefore the opinions expressed are also mine and free of any undue influence.