If you mentioned the Pelikan Grand Place (pronounced ɡʁɑ̃ plas) just a few months ago, those in the know would have assumed you were referring to the M620 of the same name released in 2006. Despite the rumors of Pelikan’s 2016 line up that abounded at the end of last year, I’m not sure if anyone saw a new M800 of the same name forthcoming. Similarly styled but with very clear differences, the new M800 version of the Grand Place is destined to sell out quickly. Pelikan has released many special edition M800’s in recent years and this one appears to go a step further by being geographically limited to just a few countries with the United States, Netherlands, and Italy making the short list. Hopefully that is enough geographic distribution, with the global economy being what it is today, to allow anyone who wants one of these to get their hands on one. Rumors have suggested that the production run is more limited than usual but specific details as to just how many pens have been produced are unavailable. However many were made, it certainly feels more exclusive than most of the other recent special editions. The pattern is undeniably beautiful with rich, vibrant shades of brown intermingled with deep, lustrous blues swirled throughout. The outer box describes the model as “Water Soil” which is a fitting description of the pen’s design. Interestingly, this is the same description that accompanied the ultra limited release of the M201 Bayou last year and the material for both pens appears to be identical. The pen reviewed here was purchased for my personal use from Goldspot Pens who provided competitive pricing, excellent communication, and fast shipping for which I would highly recommend them.
Appearance & Design (10/10) – The black section and piston knob create a nice contrast
The pen is shipped in Pelikan’s standard G15 gift box. The packaging is well designed and houses a leatherette pouch in which the pen is contained. Everything about it gives a sense of luxury and quality and makes for an attractive presentation when given as a gift. Packaging aside, the M800 Grand Place is stunning. Each pen produced has a somewhat unique finish but all are beautiful. The vibrant blue swirls evoke a sense of water flowing amongst the earthy deep browns to create a visually stunning piece. Parallels will inevitably be made with the M620 which preceded this model 10 years earlier but there is a lot here to distinguish the two. First off, the M620 had a more coppery/reddish tone to it than the M800 version which appears to be more of a true brown. The section and piston knob of the M620 were done in that same shade of brown as the body whereas the M800 has a black section and piston knob. I actually like this new aesthetic better as it creates a nice bit of contrast and allows the finish to stand out even more. The gold furniture compliments the rest of the design nicely. Adorning the M800 are two trim rings at the piston knob, a trim ring at the section, and two cap bands bearing the inscription “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” The cap top is 24K gold-plated with the single chick logo. The nib is two-toned 18C gold with the typical logo and scroll work of the M800 line. One important consideration here is that the ink view has returned. Absent on the Burnt Orange, the M800 Grand Place employs a translucent barrel rather than a dedicated window. By holding the barrel up to a light source, the remaining ink level can be assessed. While I understand that solution would seem less than satisfactory to some, I think that it’s a good way to have your cake and eat it to, so to speak. We get the convenience of a way to gauge the remaining ink without interfering with the pen’s aesthetic.
Construction & Quality (9/10) – A solid build from a brand known for their durability
The construction of the Grand Place is like most other Pelikans that I have encountered. These are durable pens that don’t break easily when used with care. The pen has a nicely polished appearance without any visible seams. The pieces fit together securely providing a sense of quality craftsmanship. The Grand Place, like every other M8xx, has a trim ring at the section sometimes referred to as a “rust ring.” Depending on your level of care and the nature of the inks that you use, there is a chance of corrosion of that ring at some point in the future. I wouldn’t let that deter you from making a purchase but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. If you read the pen forums, you will see posts from time to time about Pelikan’s quality control, particularly as it relates to their nibs. It is unfortunate that nibs may come poorly aligned or with significant baby’s bottom, especially for the price paid but this can be true of any manufacturer. Overall, I have been satisfied with the quality of the nibs that I’ve received and the Grand Place’s tines were well aligned and smooth out of the box. The furniture is 24 carat gold-plated. The cap posts securely on the back of the pen and there has never been an issue with the pen and cap becoming unscrewed in the pocket unintentionally. That said, Pelikan’s caps are quickly and easily unscrewed when needed to allow one to deftly get to the business of writing. With proper care and maintenance, this pen should last a lifetime or more.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – Comfortable for the long haul without feeling too heavy
The Grand Place is no different from any other M800 as far as its dimensions go. It measures approximately 5.59 inches closed, 6.57 inches posted, 0.52 inches in diameter, and weighs 0.99 ounces. The added weight is compliments of the brass piston assembly not present on the lower models of the Souverän line. The M800 is quite comfortable during prolonged use and I’ve never found the added weight to be fatiguing. I know that many find the M800 size a tad too large for comfort which is why Pelikan makes Souveräns in 5 different sizes. Unfortunately, these special edition finishes don’t often get incorporated in the other lines which means some are necessarily going to have to pass on this one. The M8xx series are larger sized pens that do not always fit comfortably in all shirt pockets but this is a relatively small issue.
Nib & Performance (9/10) – Reliable performance backed by a generous feed
The M800 Grand Place is equipped with the line’s standard two-tone 18C- 750 nib and is available in the pedestrian sizes of EF, F, M, and B. While you’re not likely to get any significant line variation, the nib does it’s job faithfully, producing a smooth, wet line of ink effortlessly. Looking on the bright side, the generous tipping of Pelikan’s modern nibs easily lends itself to after sales grinding from one of the many skilled nib meisters out there today. The feed provides a generous flow of ink and resists drying out. When uncapped for several minutes between writing, I have not had any issues with the nib being able to instantly lay down a nice line of ink. Taking that a step further, even when stored inked for several months (quite unintentionally I assure you), I have not had any issues with M800s in general starting to write without a moment’s hesitation. As an added bonus, my example has an EF nib and like the Burnt Orange that I recently reviewed, I actually find this nib to be true to its designation. It puts down what I would consider an extra fine line and does so with just a hint of reassuring feedback without being scratchy. A sample size of two is hardly enough for me to declare a change in Pelikan’s nib sizing practices but it sure is nice to get the nib width that is expected rather than one or two sizes larger as has long been the case.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Still the filling system to beat
Pelikan’s piston filling system is difficult to critique. The piston travel is smooth, the mechanism is durable, and I’m provided nearly a full fill in just a single cycle of the rear knob which secures snugly to the back of the barrel with the piston retracted as it should. The ink capacity is reported to be 1.35 mL. One nice feature is that the piston is easily serviced at home when it becomes stiff. A very tiny dab of pure silicone grease applied to the barrel wall is all that is usually necessary. The piston assembly on the M800 is threaded which facilitates removal should it be necessary though it is rarely ever indicated to do so and is not part of routine maintenance. The interchangeable nib facilitates repair/replacement of damaged nibs as well as the swapping of other M8xx nibs to provide for different writing experiences.
Cost & Value (8/10) – A very limited edition that is sure to be in demand
The MSRP for this pen in the United States is $850. Domestic vendors are asking approximately $679 which reflects the standard 20% discount. Overseas vendors prices vary but the Grand Place can be found from retailers for around $540. This pen has limited geographic distribution and is rumored to be produced in lower quantities than the usual special edition runs. As such, these will likely disappear quickly so don’t spend too much time shopping around if you truly want one. Looking towards value, your money buys a beautiful pen which is likely to be quite durable throughout your lifetime. If it makes you happy and you can afford the price of admission, than it may just be a good buy. I expect that these will only appreciate in value over time as they become more scarce in the market. The M620 and all similar Cities series pens have appreciated significantly since their original release.
Conclusion – A gorgeous pen that distinguishes itself from the M620 of a decade ago
M800 Grand Place: 55/60 or 92%
The M800 Grand Place has a visually stunning appearance. The swirling pattern of blues and browns can’t help but draw you in. It is more than just a rehashing of the older M620. The barrel translucency which allows one to gauge the ink level is welcomed and we are seeing this translucency on more models these days. Unfortunately, this is being released as a fountain pen only so there are no companion ballpoints or rollerballs for those that enjoy those other styles of writing implement. The Vibrant Blue M805 is due to land next month and I again hope that the company paces itself with these wonderful releases. Given the limited nature of this run, you may want to commit to a purchase now should you have the opportunity. There are many that regret missing out on the M620 when it was released and those pens currently command a significant mark-up compared to their original asking price.
A Look At The Pelikan M800 Grand Place
Pelikan M800 Grand Place 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.