It isn’t easy deciding which pens to review here on The Perch. I like to focus on those pieces that bring something new to the table or tell a story. I mean, there is only so much you can say about another M800 with a different color scheme. That line of thinking is what lead me to today’s review. The recently released King Michael fountain pen stands out as unique in Pelikan’s catalog for a couple of reasons. The official name of this model is the King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition and was only sold through Herlitz in Romania making this an ultra-exclusive regional edition that was not available through the usual retail channels. In fact, acquiring one required registration on the web, being selected, and then facilitating payment via a direct bank transfer. Honoring King Michael I (10/25/1921 – 12/5/2017), the last king of Romania, this edition is limited to just 300 pieces. While the underlying bones are clearly recognizable as those of a standard M800, this model incorporates a few design elements not previously seen. That allows this edition to stand out as an example of what good can come from local distributors partnering with the company to put out a unique product. While the opportunity to own one has largely passed at this juncture, I think that this pen is worthy of a closer look.
Appearance & Design (9/10) – A regal pen that is both subtle and stately
The King Michael is presented in its own unique gift box which actually arrives gift wrapped with a wrapping paper made just for this edition. After getting though the wrapping paper and two outer boxes, you arrive at a slim, white rectangular box that uses a magnet to keep the top flaps closed. Opening the box reveals a fountain pen, a golden plaque denoting the “Royal Edition,” and a bottle of specially labeled 4001 Royal Blue ink. Obviously, the details for this one have been well executed, right down to the packaging. The pen is built off of the M800 chassis and is constructed from a highly polished black resin which is nothing that we haven’t seen before. Where things start to get interesting are the embellishments that long time users of the brand will quickly notice. The first element that struck me was the golden signature of the King, “Mihai,” emblazoned on the side of the cap (Mihai is Michael in Romanian). Halfway down an otherwise desolate barrel is a circular brass medallion depicting the King’s crown, plated in 24 carat gold. Much of the rest of the trim is as you would expect from a Pelikan. There is a single chick logo on the cap top, the standard beak clip, a single trim ring at the section, and double cap bands, all plated in 24 carat gold. The trim on the piston knob was reimagined and is comprised of a single thick gold plated ring rather than the usual thinner double trim rings. That large ring bears an engraving of the royal motto of the Kingdom of Romania, “NIHIL SINE DEO,” which is Latin for “Nothing Without God.” The pen’s looks are rounded out by a dark green ink view window just beyond the section and an 18C-750 two tone gold nib in medium width. The look of this one is quite appealing all told as it is regal without being overtly flashy.
Construction & Quality (9/10) – Pelikan leaves little to critique when it comes to quality
The King Michael embodies Pelikan’s high production standards. The black resin appears highly polished with no visible seams apparent. All of the pieces fit securely and the medallion appears to be well anchored to the barrel. How well it will hold up with daily use remains to be seen. The nib on this example wrote well out of the box. The gold-plated trim ring at the section remains at risk for corrosion with prolonged exposure to caustic inks but this is no different from any other post-97 Souverän model. The cap post securely for those that prefer writing with a posted pen and is able to be unscrewed very quickly in order to get to the business of writing. As is the case with most Pelikan pens that I have used, I have not had any issue with the pen becoming unintentionally unscrewed when carried in a pocket or case.
Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – A bigger pen that won’t suit everyone’s taste
The King Michael will feel instantly familiar to anyone who favors the size of an M8xx model. It measures 5.59 inches capped, 6.57 inches posted, 0.52 inches in diameter, and weighs in at 0.99 ounces. Pelikan’s brass piston assembly which is found on the M8xx and M10xx models is what gives this one the extra heft. Unfortunately, the extra size and weight is not well suited to everyone’s taste and those who like a smaller pen will be disappointed.
Nib & Performance (8/10) – Nothing extraordinary but a dependable writer none the less
The King Michael comes equipped with Pelikan’s standard, two tone 18C-750 gold nib in a medium width. As I stated earlier, my example was without any issues out of the box. While only medium nibs were included at the time of purchase, there is nothing unique about this one and any M8xx nib could be swapped in depending upon your preference. Pelikan’s feed easily resists drying out while writing or even when capped and stored for a prolonged period of time. The nib lays down a generous line of ink that is devoid of any intrinsic variation. Still, the pen is a reliable writer that can be customized down the road for a more personal and fun writing experience.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Second to none amongst piston filling pens
Pelikan’s differential piston filling mechanism continues to impress. The pen quickly and easily achieves nearly a full 1.35 mL fill with a single stroke of the piston. Intermittent maintenance usually only involves lubricating the piston which is easily accomplished by unscrewing the nib and applying a very tiny drop of pure silicone grease to the inside of the barrel (usually only once every couple of years). The piston can be unscrewed and removed from the barrel of the M800 though this is rarely necessary and should not be done routinely.
Cost & Value (8/10) – An expensive pen but one that might actually justify its price tag
The King Michael is unique in that it was not widely available through the usual retail sales channels. It could only be had through Herlitz Romania SRL, Pelikan’s regional distributor, and only acquired via a direct bank transfer of funds. The sales price excluding VAT was 3800 Romanian Leu or 800 Euro which roughly equates to $890. Of course, the bank transfer is likely to add additional fees to any transaction. This is certainly much pricier than other recent M8xx models. I think that when you account for the ultra-exclusive/limited nature of this one and the fact that there are unique design elements not previously seen, there is more value here than in many other models that have been released in recent years. Each buyer has to make up their own mind though if the pen justifies the price. Given the hurtles that needed to be overcome to obtain one (registration, selection, and payment), I’m not sure many of these will be found outside of Europe. I would anticipate that the King Michael will retain its value and perhaps even appreciate a bit over time.
Conclusion – A regal pen that wows without being gaudy making it fit for a king
M800 King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition : 53/60 or 88%
The King Michael was an unexpected release this year. It takes a very basic canvas and applies elements that we haven’t seen Pelikan use before. The result is a stately looking pen whose most unique elements are subtle and well executed making for a fitting homage to a king. I love the variety that this brings to the line-up and only hope that other models with similar inspiration are released in the future, perhaps to a larger audience. Check out this post for more details about the pomp and circumstance surrounding this pen’s release.
- One of the most unique M8xx models in recent memory
- This model continues to embody Pelikan’s high standards of quality
- The piston filling mechanism remains second to none and infrequent maintenance is easily accomplished
- Time will tell how well the crown medallion on the barrel will hold up
- Factory nib options are limited to a medium width only (but the nib can be swapped out at a later time)
- The plated ring at the section can be prone to corrosion with repeated use
- There were several challenges to actually acquiring one which must be overcome
A Look At The Pelikan M800 King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition
An Unboxing Of The Pelikan M800 King Michael I of Romania – Royal Edition
*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.