The subject of today’s review is the new Pelikan M205 Petrol-Marbled, a model that has already managed to generate a bit of controversy despite its relatively brief existence. First announced in March of this year, the M205 began shipping to consumers in late April. Right around that time, Pelikan released an apology when it came to light that the pre-release photos did not properly depict the actual product being shipped. The pen was initially shown with a chromium plated cap ring (technically the clipschraube/clip screw or crown cap nut) but, as it turns out, the actual product sports an un-plated, black plastic ring. A minor detail to be sure but one that affects the overall look of the pen in a rather meaningful way. Pelikan passed this off as a simple oversight but not everyone has taken that explanation at face value. Controversy aside, the Petrol-Marbled joins an expanding line of marbled finishes, predominantly found on the company’s Classic line of pens, though this is only the second M205 to flaunt a marbled finish. The first was the M205 Blue Marbled from 2016. Other, more recent entries in that style include the re-introduced M200 Green Marbled (2015), the M200 Brown Marbled (2017), and the M200 Gold Marbled (2019). The marbling of the Petrol’s finish has a dark but lively feel to it and really plays well with the light though there are inconsistencies that will mar the pen for some. It’s also hard to look at the Petrol-Marbled and not be reminded of 2017’s M805 Ocean Swirl which sports a similar color scheme, all-be-it, in a different pattern. The M205 Petrol-Marbled may well have enough going for it in the looks department to be able to rise above any small controversy over some trim. Read on to learn if it might be a good fit for you or if this is one you should sit out for the time being.
- Appearance & Design (8/10) – The marbling has a wonderful liveliness in the right light
Like most of the models that hail from the Classic series of pens, the Petrol-Marbled is more likely than not to come in Pelikan’s standard G5 gift packaging. This simple set-up features a faux leather sleeve enclosed within an outer box with a sliding drawer type mechanism. It’s nothing elaborate or ostentatious but it does make for a nice presentation, particularly if your intention is to give the pen as a gift. Once unwrapped, the Petrol-Marbled can be rather unassuming, particularly in poor lighting. In fact, a low-lit environment can reveal a pen full of wispy blacks and muddy blues. Turn the lights on, however, and the experience is wholly different. The marbled coloration has a lively dynamic and a chatoyance that really promotes a feeling of depth in the blues, nicely offset by swirling rivers of black. The effect is carried throughout the barrel as the ink window itself is also a dark, petrol blue. As one enthusiast put it, the coloring is “consistently inconsistent” and that by and large is a good thing. That variation though means that some models are likely to incorporate more areas of black, much the same as we experienced with the M805 Ocean Swirl, which could be off-putting for some prospective owners. The resin components are black and include the piston knob, section, and cap. The nib is comprised of un-plated stainless steel and simply depicts the Pelikan logo along with a stamp indicating the width. There isn’t much furniture on Pelikan’s Classic line but the silver color of the chromium plating on the trim ring, cap band, and clip works really well with this one, complimenting the marbling nicely. This is where my personal disappointment shines through just a bit. I really think that the original pre-release photos depicting a chromium plated cap ring elevated the look of the pen. It’s not that the black ring of the shipped model takes anything away per se, it’s just that the chromium would have added another dynamic element to the look. While I would like to take Pelikan at their word, some part of me can’t help but wonder if supply chain issues as a consequence of the pandemic resulted in the abrupt change rather than anything related to, what in retrospect, is such a glaring oversight. Not counting the Petrol-Marbled, there have been 17 M205 releases and 15 of those have had a chromium plated ring. Only 2005’s Clear Demonstrator and 2009’s Light Blue Demonstrator stand out as notable exceptions. With 88% of the product line being plated, it seems an odd design choice not to go that way with this one as well. It would be a shame if a supply chain issue did force Pelikan to call an audible at the last minute with this M205. Still, in the right light, the pen has more than enough charm to overcome any such quibble.
Pelikan’s standard G5 gift packaging
Move the slider to see how the barrel’s finish can vary between light blues and darker areas of black
- Construction & Quality (10/10) – Quality craftsmanship without much to fault
The Petrol-Marbled doesn’t leave much room for criticism as far as the fit and finish are concerned. While it is true that the Classic line is slightly less polished compared with the more upscale Souverän models, that hardly takes anything away from these entry level pens. You may notice a small seam at the section, something that is polished out on the Souveräns, but this is hardly intrusive. The piston knob snugs tightly to the barrel when retracted and the cap posts very securely to the back of the pen, my preferred placement in most usage scenarios. The cap can be quickly removed with 3/4 of a turn which is convenient for when you want to quickly get to the business of writing. That said, I have yet to experience the cap coming unintentionally undone in my pocket, a scenario that can have disastrous consequences for an unsuspecting shirt. The stylized beak clip also works well to keep the pen securely in place. The M205 is light in weight and some lighter pens can come off feeling cheap but I don’t think that is the case here and this one definitely exudes a feeling of quality craftsmanship. That is not to say, however, that I think the pen would fare well from fall of any significant distance onto a hard surface but that is not a bar any fountain pen should be held to.
The pen above is how the M205 Petrol-Marbled ships. The one below is what the pre-release photos incorrectly advertised
- Weight & Dimensions (9/10) – A smaller pen that is nimble and comfortable to write with
The M2xx models are essentially the same size as the M4xx models which means they are a smaller pen by today’s standards. That is a big negative for those that prefer larger pens such as the M800. For those that can write comfortably with a smaller pen, I would strongly recommend posting this one. It’s not that posting is necessary for a comfortable encounter, rather doing so imparts an incredible balance to the pen that really improves upon the writing experience. Because it is light weight, weighing just 0.49 ounces, the M205 is very nimble and does not cause any issues with fatigue even when used for lengthy writing sessions. The pen’s actual dimensions include a capped length of 4.92 inches, a posted length of 5.71 inches, and a diameter of 0.46 inches. If you like the color of the finish but hanker for a bigger pen, then the M805 Ocean Swirl is likely the closest thing you’ll find from Pelikan.
The M205 Petrol-Marbled (2021) next to the M805 Ocean Swirl (2017)
- Nib & Performance (9/10) – A solid performer that can write for days without drying out
As I have written about many times before, Pelikan’s current nib line-up lacks any real pizzaz. The out of the box options are bereft of the character that just seemed to come so freely to their vintage counterparts. Part of that is due to the limited nib selection. The Petrol-Marbled can only be purchased with nibs in the standard widths of EF, F, M, and B. Some retailers will grind a nib for you at purchase or have their own bespoke options to choose from but that is something that you have to seek out and will vary greatly by vendor. The nib itself is made from stainless steel and lacks any plating giving it a silver-colored finish to match the rest of the trim. My pen’s nib came well aligned out of the box and writes without any hard starts or skipping. I freely admit that may not be the same experience for everyone as no quality control is infallible. Still, my experience with factory nibs has largely been a positive one. While the nibs may be devoid of character, that doesn’t mean they don’t excel elsewhere. Pelikan’s feeds are incredibly wet, thereby imparting a significant resistance to drying out. Whether uncapped for prolonged periods while writing or put away for a week or two without flushing, the nib just seems always ready to write. They also put down a generous line of ink, something that can be a bit of a problem depending on your paper selection. If that is a source of trouble for you, using a drier ink can often times tame Pelikan’s wet and generous feeds. Also, I should point out that my experience over the last few years is that these steel nibs write pretty true to their designation, so I encourage you to purchase accordingly without feeling the need to size up or down. If you’re looking for any type of flex, look elsewhere. These steel nibs do have a pleasant bit of spring but nothing more than that. While they may not take best in show, they certainly won’t let you down and that reliability is perhaps their biggest strength.
Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Easy to fill, easy to clean, and easy to maintain
The Petrol-Marbled utilizes Pelikan’s differential filling mechanism and functions the same as any of their other modern piston fillers. Turning the piston knob to the left extends the piston towards the nib. With the nib submerged in ink, turning the knob to the right retracts the piston while drawing ink into the reservoir. The piston has a smooth travel along the barrel and generally only requires one cycle to fill the pen to its stated capacity of 1.20mL. After extended use, should the mechanism become stiff, it can be easily revitalized with a tiny drop of pure silicone applied to the inside of the barrel. The frequency with which this needs to occur is largely based on your usage habits, but it is not particularly frequent. The assembly is not designed to be removed as it is snap fit to the barrel and attempts at removal can risk damaging the pen. That is not a major issue however since removal of the assembly is rarely ever called for and is not considered a part of routine pen maintenance. The nib is removable, however, allowing for customization, repair, and maintenance which is a great boon to the end user. Pelikan’s are relatively low maintenance birds and this M205 is no exception.
Cost & Value (7/10) – Pricing in the US is a big black eye for this one
The M205 Petrol-Marbled carries a US MSRP of $260. When the standard 20% discount is applied, most domestic vendors are asking $208. In Europe, the RRP is €147 (~$179.23) and retail for non-EU consumers is €90.08 (~$109.83) when the VAT is excluded. That is a $100 difference, a divide that feels as wide as the ocean between the two regions. This disparity continues to be unfortunate for both US consumers and vendors alike who are saddled with competing in this global economy. For a steel nibbed entry level pen, the US pricing continues to feel too steep, and this ever-rising trajectory will see Pelikan continue to price themselves out of this segment of the market. Of course, that is just my opinion, and I will let you be the judge as to whether or not the Petrol-Marbled is a value buy. The EU pricing feels much more reasonable for a pen of this caliber. Of course, I would encourage everyone to support their local brick and mortar vendor should they have the means as there are too few pen shops left in the world today and we need to keep those remaining in business with our patronage.
- Conclusion – An excellent pen that will intrigue and delight when used in good lighting
M205 Petrol-Marbled: 53/60 or 88.3%
The Petrol-Marbled’s finish, in general, doesn’t disappoint. There will be significant variation in the marbling and not all customers will likely be happy with their pen, particularly if they get one that skews blacker but that is the nature of Pelikan’s manufacturing process. The pen probably would have been fine as is but the visualization as to what it would have looked like with a plated crown can’t help but leave me feeling as if something is missing. I certainly think that a chromium crown would have elevated the overall appearance and I encourage Pelikan to think long and hard about this again in the future. The dark, petrol blue of the marbled finish really makes for an attractive pen but one that isn’t too ostentatious making it versatile for a number of use scenarios. I do think cost is an issue, particularly for US customers looking to purchase domestically but that is a plight without a remedy at the moment. If the look of this one appeals to you and it is within your means, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up. You will get a handsome looking pen that should provide years of dependable service.
- The chatoyance of the marbling gives the pen a wonderful depth and liveliness
- The finish of each pen is unique meaning no two are quite alike
- Pelikan’s feed is wet and generous with a tremendous resistance to drying out
- It is a smaller pen in general that really shines in terms of weight and balance when posted
- The ink view window allows for easy observation of the remaining ink within the pen
- Some of the marbled patterns may skew too black and not be to everyone’s taste
- The “missing” chromium plated cap crown will be a disappointment for some
- While very dependable, the nibs lack character and require a custom grind to really shine
- US pricing remains a bone of contention due to an entry level pen being saddled with a premium price tag
A Look At The Pelikan M205 Petrol-Marbled
Pelikan M205 Petrol-Marbled 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.