Review: M205 Petrol-Marbled (2021)

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

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.

“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.”

  • 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 M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

Pelikan’s standard G5 gift packaging

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

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.

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

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.

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

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.

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

  • 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.

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

  • 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.

Pelikan M205 Petrol Marbled Fountain Pen

  • 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.

PROS

  • 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

CONS

  • 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.

29 responses

    • That is a fair assessment. I don’t think that this one brings anything to the table that the M805 doesn’t already. Still, it’s a nice option for people that aren’t comfortable with the M800s size and weight.

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  1. The silver cap ring (nut), does add a nice balance to the look of the piece, but probably brings it too close in appearance to the Sovereign range. Nice, but still too small for me to get excited about.

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  2. The moment I saw you put that Blue Marbled cap onto the Petrol Marbled in your video, my tears…

    I debated with myself for days after Pelikan officially announced the oversight. I canceled my pre-order because I cannot persuade myself of the cap design change. Again, it could be a killer release of the year in my humble view.

    Thanks, Joshua!

    Like

    • Of course, there is always the work around of placing another M205 cap on the pen, one with the plated cap nut but that is certainly an additional incurred expense.

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  3. It’s brutal to place that M805 Ocean Swirl next to the M205, take a picture, and display it in a blog! Not very nice to make fun of poor relations. Kidding aside, the Ocean Swirl is following the City Series San Francisco in reputation and pricing and both well deserved IMHO. As for the chrome switcheroo on the M205 cap, let’s hope Pelikan learned not to pull a fast one again in the hopes their customers aren’t bright enough to notice.

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    • For all of the issues that the M805 had with its uneven finish, I think it stands out nicely in the flock and is one of Pelikan’s more unique endeavors. If I could only pick one of the two, I think that the M805 wins hands down.

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        • I too have seen some crazy prices for that one. I don’t think that the pen necessarily warrants some of that pricing but it certainly hasn’t lost any value in the (relatively few) years since its release.

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  4. I thought the change from a chrome cap ring to black plastic was a minor point at first but now I cannot look at the pen without staring at the place where the chrome is missing. Sometimes ignorance is preferable and if the pen had only been presented this way it may not have mattered. But I’m afraid I just can’t un-see the chrome version and now it looks wrong and almost defines the pen.

    Maybe in years to come it will be a collector’s piece – the one where the chrome ring was omitted for reasons that we may never know with certainty.

    And how ironic that the colour should be so reminiscent of the Ocean Swirl, which had its own controversy.

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    • I totally agree with you. If it has been presented this way in the first place, all would likely have been fine. I just can’t unsee what I have seen and it seems others can’t either. There is definitely irony given that controversy surrounded both pens.

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  5. I must admit I bought my M205 Petrol-Marbled from an overseas vendor and saved a nice bundle of cash compared with the U.S. price. Then I bought a 14K M405 nib for it from nibs.com. I practically held my breath till I got the pen and discovered that it has plenty of that gorgeous, chatoyant blue in the barrel. I would’ve been very disappointed if it hadn’t. Funny thing, I ordered it with a B nib, and it came with an EF. I was not pleased with the way the EF nib wrote; kind of scratchy. However, I didn’t really care, since I replaced that nib with the M405 stub I got from nibs.com. The black cap top doesn’t detract from the pen’s appearance. However, I would’ve preferred it with the chrome; that would’ve added a nice accent and nicely carried out the theme of the trim. All in all, though, I am very pleased with this pen. I use it often, and I frequently hold it up in the light just to admire the shimmery blues in it. This pen is fast becoming one of my favorite Pelikans.

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    • It’s nice that the savings could go towards the upgraded nib. That’s a nice upgrade and one that I’m sure looks sharp. I completely agree that the black doesn’t detract. It’s not, in my opinion, that anything is made worse by it. It’s just that things could have been that much better. Oh well, a lost opportunity for Pelikan. Enjoy it in good health.

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  6. In contrast to Sailors order-produced shop specials tsunami, Pelikan releases the colors in a trickle.
    I imagine in 2050, Joshua will present the rainbow colored marble of the 205 series – after Pelikan went through the whole series of colors.
    🤣

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    • You jest but, if done tastefully, I wouldn’t mind seeing a rainbow marbling. But, you are correct. Given their conservative sensibilities, we’d have to go through at least 10 different shades of blues and browns before even venturing out into anything else.

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  7. You wrote: “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.” …
    I agree totally with You !

    Like

    • I think it’s a growing problem for the company but not an insurmountable one if they start taking steps to remedy the discrepancies. Not saying there shouldn’t be regional variations in prices just perhaps ones less stark than what exist today.

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  8. Hi, thank you for your extensive review, which is very detailed, well-organized and completely in accordance with my own experience with the pen. I agree with you on everything except for one thing, which I see here in the comments as well: that it is an entry-level pen. If the M205 as a piston-filler pen is an entry-level pen, then what are the much more affordable TWSBIs or inexpensive Pilot Metropolitans that are the first pens people usually get when starting with the hobby? I think that upgrading to a Pelikan M200 or M205 from the aforementioned pens isn’t entry level. Perhaps it could be an entry-level Pelikan, but in general it is not my definition of an entry-level fountain pen.

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    • Fair point and I thank you for you comments. Certainly there are other brands which are more accessible to the newcomer and I did not mean to imply that Pelikan’s Classic or Souverän models should be anyone’s gateway into the hobby. But the M200 was at one point positioned as that entry level as far as Pelikan goes and perhaps I should have been more clear to point out “entry level to the brand.” Still a steel nibbed M2xx pen from the USA has now pulled within only $75 of an M4xx Souverän purchased from abroad therefore the value proposition is getting increasingly dubious.

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  9. The blues are lovely, but I was disappointed by the amount of black on the barrel, and the change from the chrome cap ring. I can live with the cap change, but had I realised that the marbelling would echo the issues with the Ocean Swirl, I would have asked my retailer to check the pattern, and, if possible, choose one with more colour. Such is life.

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    • I was afraid of that happening pre-release. It seems to be an unavoidable by-product of the way the material is made. Sorry your copy of the pen failed to meet expectations. Definitely disappointing when that occurs.

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      • Actually, if I understand the process correctly (of course I don’t have much knowledge about it), it seems to me that Pelikan could make their pens with more blue in them. Not sure exactly how these are made, but if they’re made from a poured “core,” wouldn’t they just have to put a proportionately larger amount of blue in the mix? I think a company of such long standing like Pelikan should be able to control the color better.

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        • I am not certain as to what their manufacturing process entails either. They may not be looking for a balance at all but rather the variety which will inherently have pens produced across a spectrum of looks. I agree though, more blues would have been nice but I can also see how that may be a hard balance to achieve.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Sadly, I received my Petrol yesterday and it has 2 ugly black thick “stripes” opposite each other. This was a reason that I didn’t purchase the Ocean Swirl . This Petrol is a huge disappointment.

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    • I can honestly feel your disappointment. Nothing worse than the anticipation of a new pen only to have it fail to meet expectations. Sounds like your issues are particularly pronounced. Hopefully it grows on you (as my Ocean Swirl did) or you’re able to return it.

      Like

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