Review: Pelikan’s Epoch P36x (2004-2007)

Pelikan Epoch P360, P361, P362, P363, and P364

My ongoing work as a physician on the front lines of this pandemic and the demands that the most recent COVID-19 surge placed upon me sapped my will, leaving me with precious little time and even less energy for other tasks. Now that we are at the tail end of the Omicron variant’s destructive toll, I’d like to turn my attention back to the blog, seeking some solace in the pen community, and diving back into my passion for Pelikan’s pens. I thought it only fitting to kick the year off with an absolutely Epoch post. If my little play on words was lost on you, allow me to introduce you to Pelikan’s Epoch (2004-2007). First released in 2004, the Epoch spanned five different models covering a total of eight unique finishes in its short production run of just three years. Every one of the fountain pens is a patronen-füllhalter or cartridge pen that has a unique cartridge tray, the same design that would later be utilized with the P3100 Ductus that launched during the Epoch’s final year, marking the Epoch line as a progenitor of sorts for the Ductus. Like most of Pelikan’s cartridge pens, each tray can accommodate one large or two small international cartridges imparting an ink capacity somewhere around 1.5mL. What the tray does not easily accommodate is a cartridge/converter. The Epoch’s design was named a reddot award winner in 2004. The company’s promotional literature described the Epoch as a symbiosis of tradition and modernity, a design that transcended its era, and technology ahead of its time. The marketing hype lays it on a little thick, but I think that there is more than enough here worth exploring. This post will focus on the line’s fountain pens but it should be noted that the Epoch was available as a pencil (D), rollerball (R), and ballpoint (K) in the same form factor. We’ll tackle each of the five models head on and then look at the octet as a whole, dissecting out their strengths and weaknesses. Whether you are already well acquainted with the line-up or are seeing them for the first time, there is plenty to learn about the various models.

Click on an image to view the gallery

First up is the P360 which has the honor of being both the first and last models of the series. In 2004, Pelikan released the Titanium-Silver, Sapphire-Blue, and Emerald-Green. The series was closed out in 2007 with the Jade-Green. Three of the four pens sport a stainless steel nib featuring palladium plating. The Emerald-Green has a gold plated stainless steel nib commensurate with the rest of its trim. Nibs were only available in the standard widths of extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M), and broad (B). The nib itself is somewhat short in stature and lacks any significant embellishment. The width is stamped on the left shoulder and the top features the company’s logo situated just below the breather hole. The nibs tend to be firm across all of the models in the range, lacking anything in the way of flex. All of the P360s feature trim with a high gloss finish. The furniture is palladium plated, imparting a silver appearance, except for that of the Emerald-Green which features gold trim. What furniture is present is rather simplistic, featuring nothing more than a cap clip, a single cap band, and a ring at the handle on the end of the barrel that houses the cartridge tray. The cap top displays a screened, single chick logo and the cap bands are engraved “Pelikan Germany.” With a lot of cartridge pens, the barrel unscrews from the section to reveal a nipple at the back of the feed upon which you would insert the cartridge. The P360 deviates from that design by having what Pelikan refers to as the handle at the back of the barrel unscrew to reveal a plastic tray that would seat the cartridge once inserted and replaced. The company touted that as a fast, convenient, no-mess alternative. Each model incorporates a slip fit cap that locks onto the barrel in a reassuring manner while also posting very securely. The P360’s barrel flares outward where the section would normally be found and the nib assembly actually protrudes from the end, a look not dissimilar from the Rotring Core. These models have an all plastic construction making them light weight, weighing in at just 0.74 ounces. The pen also boasts a capped length of 5.11 inches, a posted length of 5.77 inches, and a diameter of 0.51 inches. To put that in perspective, the dimensions most closely resemble those of a Souverän M600. When posted, the Epoch has a great balance and is very comfortable to write with. Based on old price lists, when released, the P360s were just slightly more expensive than a piston filling M200.

Click on an image to view the gallery

Click on an image to view the gallery

The P360’s all plastic construction and stainless steel nibs made them more of an entry level model with a price tag to match. Each of the subsequent models that followed sought to elevate the design with new looks and upgraded hardware. The first of these was the P361 from 2005. This came in only one finish, the Zircon-Silver. The P361 has an upgraded 14C-585 gold nib with full rhodium plating. The gold content is stamped on the right shoulder of the nib, an area that is blank on the P360. The barrel is made from anodized aluminum with a pattern of concentric circles along its length, once again flaring out at the would-be section. The cap and handle are made from a matte anodized aluminum and the furniture features a matte palladium finish. This pen retains the dimensions of the P360 but has a much more robust feel thanks to the P361’s 0.88 ounces. Despite the added weight of this and subsequent models, none of the Epoch pens featuring aluminum components feel heavy. As you might imagine, with each ensuing model, the retail price was higher than the ones that came before it.

Click on an image to view the gallery

Also out in 2005 was the P362 Onyx-Silver. The P362 has the same rhodium plated gold nib as the P361. For this model, the barrel is a brushed aluminum in a matte silver finish. The cap and handle are also aluminum but are covered in a matte black coating that is soft to the touch. The rubber-like feel gives those pieces a unique, non-slip texture but also makes them a bit more prone to attracting dust and pocket lint. That’s not to say, however, that the finish is tacky by any means. The matte silver appearance of the furniture compliments the black components nicely. The Onyx-Silver is a tad lighter than the Zircon-Silver, coming in at 0.78 ounces.

Click on an image to view the gallery

The following year, the P363 Granite-Silver joined the line-up as only one of two pens in the series to feature gold colored furniture, the other being the P360 Emerald-Green. The nib is once again 14C-585 gold but bi-colored with rhodium plating on top leaving shoulders of yellow gold. The barrel is lacquered with the look and feel of leather. This textured feel is hard to describe but it is clearly different than what we find on the P362 Onyx-Silver. The cap and handle are made from a matte anodized aluminum and the furniture also has a matte finish. The Granite-Silver weighs 0.92 ounces making it one of the heavier models in the line.

Click on an image to view the gallery

It was also in 2006 that we were given the P364 Nutwood Brown, perhaps the most sophisticated pen of the lot. The nib keeps the same bi-colored styling of the P363 but is made from 18C-750 gold instead, giving it the highest gold purity of any pen in the Epoch line. The wooden barrel is made from American walnut, and you can actually feel the texture of the wood. I cannot recall too many models put out by Pelikan in the last 90+ years that feature wooden components. The cap and handle are once again made from anodized aluminum. The furniture has a glossy appearance, and the Nutwood Brown is the only Epoch model to feature a trim ring at the end of the barrel. The unique design of the P364 also gives it the most heft of any of the models, weighing in at 1.16 ounces. The Nutwood brown would ultimately prove to be the most expensive model amongst the Epoch line-up.

Click on an image to view the gallery

There are some drawbacks to the Epoch’s design. First off, the plastic construction of the P360 line is much more vulnerable to damage from scratches and other wear. Also, all of the pens struggle with the use of a converter. While technically feasible, a converter would have to be filled from a bottle or with a syringe before insertion into the cartridge tray as the very design of the tray renders the use of such a device impractical, a drawback for those that like to use their cartridge pens in that fashion. Also problematic is that the remaining ink in the cartridge cannot be assessed without having to separate the cartridge from the feed. When using cartridges, Pelikan’s own seem to work best. Other standard international cartridges will work as well but some are rather finicky and don’t seat on the feed very well resulting in an experience that is commonly not as smooth. One final issue of note is that when a new cartridge is inserted into a clean pen, it takes an average of 3 to 5 minutes before the ink saturates the feed thereby resulting in a delay before a fresh pen can be made ready for use. Without access to the cartridge while seated on the feed, there is simply nothing that can be done to speed that process along. As you can see, most of the quibbles fall around the implementation of the cartridge system. Beyond that, it’s an otherwise fine design.

Pelikan P361, P362, P363, and P364 caps

Epoch P361, P362, P363, and P364 anodized aluminum caps

Pelikan P360 cap tops

Epoch P360 cap tops featuring Pelikan’s screened single chick logo. Note that the P360 Emerald-Green is the only Epoch with a gold colored logo

There you have it, eight pens, all with varying degrees of posh. The finishes differ significantly between models making for a nice variety within the same model line. Personally, I appreciate the care which Pelikan took to craft such an assortment. Many of the finishes, particularly amongst the higher end models, are very unique for the brand and also tend to be the hardest ones to locate on the secondary market today. Even more impressive is that Pelikan was able to accomplish that mix of modern finishes while retaining some of their classic styling. The anodized aluminum components and the matte furniture are standouts that not only look sharp but impart a reassuring degree of durability to those higher end models. The lack of cap threads and the flared barrel end near the nib make the pens very comfortable to hold and none of the finishes are slippery when writing. Another boon here is that the nibs are removable if need be though the pens will only accept nibs specifically designed for the Epoch. If you can get past the criticisms about the cartridge system, these are all great pens that are frequently overlooked amongst Pelikan’s vast catalog of models.

Pelikan Epoch P360 Titanium-Silver (2004), P360 Sapphire-Blue (2004), P360 Emerald-Green (2004), P360 Jade-Green (2007), P361 Zircon-Silver (2005), P362 Onyx-Silver (2005), P363 Granite-Silver (2006), and P364 Nutwood-Brown (2006)

Pelikan’s Epoch line of pens. Left to right: P360 Titanium-Silver (2004), P360 Sapphire-Blue (2004), P360 Emerald-Green (2004), P360 Jade-Green (2007), P361 Zircon-Silver (2005), P362 Onyx-Silver (2005), P363 Granite-Silver (2006), and P364 Nutwood-Brown (2006)

PROS

  • The aluminum components of the higher end models feel very durable
  • The Epoch’s feed is wet and resists drying out once primed and the nib lays down a generous line of ink
  • There are a lot of unique and different finishes/materials to select from

CONS

  • The Epoch’s cartridge system leaves a lot to be desired
  • The plastic construction of the P360 line doesn’t wear as well as the higher end models
  • Only standard nib widths were available and these were very firm, lacking in any character

A Look At Pelikan’s Epoch line of fountain pens

Pelikan’s Epoch Writing Sample


*The pens utilized for this review were my own from my personal collection and therefore the opinions expressed are also mine and free of any undue influence.

15 responses

  1. I never knew about this line of pens. Thanks for showcasing them. I particularly like the Emerald-Green; it looks like teal to me. Very pretty!

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    • That is a good point which you raise. If one had multiple models in the Epoch line and were so inclined, mixing and matching of parts is certainly a possiblity. Also, a very astute observation about the barrel threads being different for the P364 compared with the rest of the line.

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  2. I’m glad writing about your beloved Pelikan pens can help with the toll of COVID-19. Only those who share in your work can truly know this toll. I thank you for what you and your fellow doctors, nurses, and all the others in healthcare did during the most wretched times.

    The Epoch is a nice looking pen. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your review and photos — the Epoch looks gorgeous! The detail of the logo on the pen cap is lovely.

    Thank you, too, for your tireless work on the front lines. My husband is a frontline healthcare professional as well, and I’ve seen the toll of this lingering public health emergency firsthand. It’s heroic work.

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  4. First and foremost, heartfelt gratitude to you and your fellow medical professionals who have worked so long and so hard, often under very adverse conditions (there are crazies out there), to try to help us get through Covid-19. Wishing you and your colleagues health and safety and a respite.

    Secondly, many thanks for a fascinating review! I acquired a Titanium-Silver Epoch a couple of years back and enjoy using it. Your summary of its strengths and shortcomings is spot-on. It makes a worthwhile addition to any Pelikan fan’s collection, though it’s not the easiest thing to find.

    Thirdly, in the unsolicited advice department: have you ever gotten your hands on a Pelikan Celebry? I’d love to read your thoughts on it, another lesser-known Pelikan model. I’m very pleased with mine.

    It’s always a day-brightener to get a notice of another posting in The Pelikan’s Perch. Thank you for your website.

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    • Thank you for the warm sentiment. Glad to hear that your experience with the Epoch mirrors my own. I’m well acquainted with the Celebry. Haven’t really pursued it though because it is just not to my taste. It just looks so ungainly to me and does not suit my taste at all but that doesn’t make it a bad pen. I’m sure that I’ll circle around to it at some point in the future. So many Pelikans, so little time. Thanks for reading the blog.

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  5. Hi Josh! Would you say the Epochs are chunky-looking compared with the Souverans? I’d be curious to see a side-by-side comparison.

    (Not that I’m looking for another line of pens to collect. Just curious.)

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    • I would not say that they are chunky looking. They are very M600 like though with a distinctly different look. Judge for yourself. Here is a new style M600 Green-Black next to the P363 Granite-Silver.

      M600 vs Epoch

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  6. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 20, 2022 | Fountain Pen Quest

  7. The P360 are made with an anodized aluminium barrel as well. Only the cap and the end cap are made of plastic. I own two pieces: one in emerald-black and one in light green-silver. I’ve used them a lot at the time. (In fact I wrote a whole novel with it. ^^)

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