Review: M605 Tortoiseshell-Black (2022)

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

Few pens in recent memory have generated more excitement or buzz than the newly released M605 Tortoiseshell-Black. Part of that elation comes from the fact that the design is a refreshing new take on an old favorite. Never before have we seen the classic tortoise finish, a style that goes back decades, executed in this fashion. That fresh coat of paint is a welcome disruptor and honestly makes the M6xx series one of the more active and exciting Souverän lines in production today. Looks aside, there are some features that are less endearing, chief amongst those being the lack of a dedicated ink view. The M6xx also sits in a precarious position, too big for those that like smaller pens and too small for people that like to play with the big boys, à la the M800. Still, the M6xx does hit the sweet spot for countless Pelikan aficionados. The Tortoiseshell-Black will join the ultra-rare M600 Tortoiseshell-Brown (1999), the M600 Tortoiseshell-White (2012), and the M600 Tortoiseshell-Red (2020). It should not go unnoticed that this latest tortoise is the only x05 release across any line to wear the tortoise coat. The palladium plated trim is very complimentary to the palette of colors embodied within the barrel’s stripes but, I can’t help feeling that something is just slightly amiss with this one. Something about this tortoise finish is maybe not quite as captivating as some of the others that we have seen. Read on to learn about all of the nuances of the M605 Tortoiseshell-Black and find out if this is one you should rush to add to your flock.

“It has a Radenesque appearance reminiscent of pens like the M805 Raden Royal Platinum (2018). The effect is sure to appeal to a great many, particularly for those seeking that Raden look at celluloid prices.”

  • Appearance & Design (8/10) The pearlescent stripes are beautiful and unlike any other tortoise, skewing towards very cool undertones

The first thing worth pointing out is that the M605 is one of the first releases to come with the new G30 presentation box. The packaging consists of an outer box giving way to an inner box with a magnetic lid closure. Flipping that open reveals a white sleeve with the Pelikan logo stamped alongside resting on top of a tray which pulls out to reveal the instruction and warranty booklet beneath. It’s a mature and subtle evolution of the prior G15 gift box and makes for an unassuming presentation. Pulling the pen out of the sleeve reveals a tortoise unlike any other. First and foremost, this is the only modern tortoise to feature black resin for the piston knob, section, and cap. The furniture consists of a trim ring at the section, two trim rings at the piston knob, two cap bands, a beak clip, and a plated cap top featuring the company’s single chick logo, all plated in palladium imparting a silver colored appearance. The cap bands are of varying widths, the larger one bearing the stamp, “Pelikan Souverän Germany.” That’s all pretty standard fare for a Souverän. Where this M605 distinguishes itself is the barrel and I think that the pre-release photos actually did a decent job portraying this one. Pearlescent stripes with varying hues of blues and grays alternate with thinner strips of black. Those black stripes are a bit thicker than what we’ve seen on some other models like the Stresemann for instance. The stripes capture the light well which is where the pen really stands out. It has a Radenesque appearance reminiscent of pens like the M805 Raden Royal Platinum (2018). The effect is sure to appeal to a great many, particularly for those seeking that Raden look at celluloid prices. My only quibble, which I fully expect to be an unpopular opinion, is that I find the blue-gray hues tend to be just a little muddier and dull than I would like, and I can’t help but wish they were a little brighter in order to liven up the overall look. The cool tones are essentially a 180 from every other tortoise that we’ve seen released to date. Somewhat marring the pen’s appearance are random, thick strips of near blackness which breaks up the pattern in an asymmetric and slightly jarring way. We’ve seen this with other releases so it’s not surprising to find it here as well, and I presume that this is just how the material is manufactured. Some pens may be affected more than others, but you can be certain that each pen will have a unique finish. The barrel is fairly opaque and lacks any translucence. Even holding the pen against a strong light does little to reveal the inner workings but this is now expected from Pelikan these days. When all is said and done, the appearance is beautiful and sure to please but just not quite as beguiling as I would have liked.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black & G30 Presentation Box

Pelikan’s M605 Tortoiseshell-Black shown atop the new G30 presentation box

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black & G30 Presentation Box

Pelikan’s G30 presentation box

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

The varying appearance of the Tortoiseshell-Black’s barrel. Note the darker bands that intermittently appear between the blue-gray stripes

Pelikan M800 Raden Royal Gold, M605 Tortoiseshell-Black, and M805 Raden Royal Platinum

The stripes of the Tortoiseshell-Black have an almost Raden-like appearance. Left to right: M800 Raden Royal Gold (2017), M605 Tortoiseshell-Black (2022), and the M805 Raden Royal Platinum (2018)


  • Construction & Quality (9/10) – A quality product that is clearly built to last

The M605 Tortoiseshell-Black is solidly built through and through. The design is seamless, and all of the components demonstrate a quality fit and finish. The piston knob snugs securely to the back of the barrel when retracted and the cap post securely for those that prefer to do so. Like most Pelikans, the pen can be uncapped with just 3/4 of a turn which allows one to quickly get down to the business of writing. Despite this, the pen resists coming undone in the pocket which provides peace of mind if that’s how you carry your pens. There is always the risk of corrosion developing on the trim ring at the section, particularly when exposed to more caustic inks over a prolonged period. You can see examples of this on older models from the 1990s, but it should not be a concern of any immediacy. Good pen hygiene should negate this issue to nothing more than an afterthought. At the moment, the Tortoiseshell-Black seems to be free of any quality concerns and should provide decades of reliable service with normal use.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black
Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

A look at the M605 Tortoiseshell-Black (2022) compared with the M605 Stresemann (2019)


  • Weight & Dimensions (10/10) – A medium sized model perfect for most use cases

The M6xx line sits within a somewhat awkward niche. It is neither a small pen nor a particularly large one. Despite its middling size, it frequently disappoints those who prefer the larger M800 and runs just a tad too big for those who routinely reach for an M400.  Because of its size, however, it tucks neatly into most standard shirt pockets as well as most cases providing versatility and making transport a non-issue. Its light weight makes it a very comfortable writer and unlikely to induce any fatigue, even with prolonged writing sessions. Still, it will feel far too light for those that prefer a heftier pen. The pen balances well when posted but fits nicely into the hand even without posting. For those that like specs, the M605 measures approximately 5.28 inches when capped, 6.10 inches when posted, and has a diameter of 0.49 inches.  It weights 0.57 ounces, just a few ounces more than your typical AAA battery.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

  • Nib & Performance (8/10) – Always wet and ready to write thanks to a generous feed

The M605 Tortoiseshell-Black comes with a 14C-585 gold nib that is entirely plated in rhodium to impart a silver appearance which fits in well with the rest of the pen’s looks. Available nib widths include the standard assortment of EF, F, M, and B. The nib is nothing if not dependable, ready to write even when left unattended for a prolonged period. This likely owes to the wet and generous feed. The nib puts down a solid line of ink that is relatively true to its designation (e.g. fine does a good job of approximating the expected width of a western fine nib). Be aware that the lines will run broader than similar widths found on many of the Japanese makes. The modern Pelikan nibs are devoid of any inherent line variation so the writing experience should be similar, no matter what size you choose. The top of the nib is stamped with the typical scrollwork and logo of the Souverän which makes for an attractive design. I purchased a fine nib which came well aligned out of the box and free of any hard starts or skipping. That admittedly may not be everyone’s experience, so it never hurts to ask your preferred vendor to check the nib over prior to shipping. Of course, Pelikan’s nibs lend themselves nicely to custom grinds should you wish for something a bit more exciting. One final point regarding the nib is the interchangeability, a longtime hallmark of the Pelikan brand. The nibs can be removed and replaced at will in the event of damage, a desired swap, or even for the infrequent lubrication of the piston. It should not be undertaken lightly due to the potential for disaster but it’s a gratifying option to have none the less.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black


  • Filling System & Maintenance (10/10) – Quick to fill, easy to maintain, but no ink view in sight

The M605 Tortoiseshell-Black features Pelikan’s standard piston filling mechanism. For the M6xx line, that is a plastic assembly which is snap fit into the barrel. That means it is not easily removed and any attempts to do has the potential to damage the pen. That inability to remove the piston bothers some but I see it as mostly a non-issue since there is little to no occasion to ever legitimately do so. All of the pen’s limited maintenance needs, short of a failed seal, can be easily accomplished through the section. With proper lubrication, the piston assembly smoothly travels the length of the barrel and fills the pen nearly full with just a single cycle of the piston. The M605 holds approximately 1.30mL of ink which should fill a decent number of pages depending on your ink/paper/nib combo. Unfortunately, there is no ink window on this model and the stripes lack any meaningful translucence. Holding the pen up to a strong light does give a hint about the remaining ink in the pen but this is far from an ideal or desired solution. This now splits the field, giving us two M6xx tortoises with ink view solutions and two without. This may or may not be a gripe for you, but it is certainly disappointing when Pelikan’s entire fountain pen heritage was built upon the transparent ink view. The filling mechanism allows for easy flushing in order to facilitate storage or the swapping of ink colors. When the piston does get stiff, the tiniest drop of pure silicone grease along the inside of the barrel can get things going again. Depending on your usage habits, this becomes necessary perhaps every few years and is easily accomplished thanks to the removable nib. The new Tortoiseshell-Black Souverän’s piston filling system should provide a low maintenance, hassle free experience for years of writing.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black


  • Cost & Value (7/10) – The best pricing continues to be found overseas

The newest M605 runs into the same issue that we’ve become accustomed too, namely the large discrepancy in pricing between the USA and Europe. The US MSRP is $690 which is actually a $30 reduction over last year’s Green-White model. With the standard 20% deduction, that gives this M605 a retail price of $552. A similar minor reduction was also seen in Europe where the RRP is 430 (~$452.36). For non-EU consumers, these can be had for a retail price of 307.14 (~$323.11) from certain vendors when the VAT is excluded. That makes the Tortoiseshell-Black nearly $229 cheaper when sourced abroad, a savings which is hard to overlook. The persistent regional disparity in pricing will continue to mar the cost vs value assessment but it is somewhat heartening to see the MSRP reduced from prior models, even if only slightly so. If the cool tones of this unique tortoise appeal to you, then your best value will come from shopping abroad. I would encourage you to shop local and support our domestic vendors whenever possible if you have the means and the inclination. There are seemingly so few left today, and they don’t have an easy go of it, having to compete in the skewed global market.

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black


  • Conclusion – A new look for the tortoise with just a few downsides

M605 Tortoiseshell-Black: 52/60 or 86.6%

The M605 Tortoiseshell-Black breaks new ground and that is always exciting. I think that this is one of those models that will either appeal or not, depending on your aesthetic sensibilities. The warmth of prior tortoises is abandoned for a much cooler look, further accentuated by the palladium plating of the furniture. The lack of an ink view window and the middle of the road sizing will be major detractors for some but most of the quibbles are minor. Obviously, those on the fence might be swayed by the more advantageous pricing found abroad. Looks aside, what is certain is that this Souverän will likely go on to provide decades of trustworthy service.

Pelikan M600 Tortoiseshell-Brown, M600 Tortoiseshell-White, M600 Tortoiseshell-Red, and M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

The M6xx family of tortoises (post-1997 models). Left to right: M600 Tortoiseshell-Brown (1999), M600 Tortoiseshell-White (2012), M600 Tortoiseshell-Red (2020), and M605 Tortoiseshell-Black (2022)

PROS

  • An original finish that features a wonderful pearlescence when viewed in good lighting
  • A wet and generous feed that resists drying out and is always ready to write
  • Hassle free maintenance thanks to the piston assembly and removable nib
  • A lighter pen that is well balanced in the hand and comfortable to use either posted or not

CONS

  • There is no easy way to view the remaining amount of ink in the pen
  • The blue gray stripes are just a little too muddy and dull
  • There are random stripes of black that mar the overall look
  • Domestic pricing in the US remains hundreds of dollars above foreign offerings

A Look At The Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black

Pelikan M605 Tortoiseshell-Black 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.

28 responses

  1. I’d seen a couple of YouTube videos before watching yours and reading your (as usual) very thorough review. They had left me somewhat underwhelmed, but I think you put it more precisely: the Raden likeness is a plus, while the overall impression of the tortoise pattern is one of coolness. I can’t help but think that this dual effect might work better in the M1000 model, or rather an M1005. Had I not already owned the M600 in the traditional green-stripe pattern, I would have gone for the red tortoise – to my mind, the most attractive of tortoises to date.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree and I too would love to see how this pattern shakes out with a bigger pen such as the M1000. The red tortoise definitely has a leg up on this one for me but that’s just my aesthetic preferences. I’m sure that opinions will vary widely on that.

      Like

  2. Joshua – Great report. I’ll look for this pen in the wild over the next few months. From the photos it looks like a stunner. One question: the photos show Pelikan 4001 Blue Black ink. Isn’t that the one you wrote about a while back that wasn’t being brought into the US because one of the chemicals wasn’t on the US approved list? I have that ink on my “look-for on my next trip to Germany” list because as much as I like the Royal Blue it looks wimpy and watery when scanned/copied.

    Like

    • Thanks! The 4001 Blue-Black is not sold in the USA but it can be easily bought and shipped from overseas vendors which is what I’ve done. It’s a great ink if you get a good bottle of it.

      Like

  3. I do miss the ink viewability, and the broad black stripes detract a little from the overall look of the barrel. Still, it is a gorgeous pen in my favorite size, and I’ve enjoyed using it since it arrived a week ago. Lucky you, to have nabbed the elusive M600 Brown Tortoise!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very nice review, Joshua, as usual. I waited a little while to pull the trigger after your first look at this model (based on marketing photos), but after so many positive comments started flowing out of the fountain pen community when this model started to ship, I went ahead and ordered before your review came out, in case supplies are smaller than expected.

    I must admit, I had a little FOMO with this tortoise. I was particularly surprised (in a positive way) how many folks mention how this pen looks at home next to the Raden models.

    I have a fountain pen and ballpoint set of this latest M605 tortoise on the way from a retailer of high repute in Tübingen. I agree, the “European discount“ is too large to ignore, which is a shame.

    My very first Pelikan back in the late 1990s was the then-newly re-sized M600, and I have found the M6xx to be an excellent size, weight, and balance for my needs ever since. I am now more excited than ever to see this one in person when it arrives (which if I believe the tracking information from DHL, could be sometime this week)!

    Like

    • Thank you. I hope that your pen arrives early. The size of the M600 is nice and doesn’t bother me any. I think vendors were expecting this one to sell very well and I know several that placed big orders in anticipation of that. I haven’t heard about any issues with availability yet but we’ll have to see.

      Like

  5. In my opinion the best 60x of the last years, I also opted for a F nib thinking to regrind it, but surprisingly the line is sufficiently small for me so as I will leave it as is (I have other nibs I can mount if I desire a thinner line).
    All in all a must have for a Pelikan collector.

    Like

    • I can give you that. I think its more interesting than some of the pastel-white models. I think my fine is quite satisfactory as well. I’ll be curious if they bring this finish out in another size later on down the road. If this one sells well, I could certainly see that happening.

      Like

  6. It’s funny — I have even more of the darkened bands than you do, and I really like the variations. It’s a neat combination of the hyper-precise pinstripes of Pelikan’s usual design language with the randomness of emulating a natural material. Maybe the fact that my pen has more dark areas makes the effect seem more intentional. With only a few, it could look like a flaw in the material.

    My minor issues with the pen may come from the fact that I have only used m800s before. The diameter of the binde is thicker than that of the piston knob; as a result, there is a noticeable step down from the binde to the knob. On the m800, it’s flush. Also, The piston knob has some play even when the piston is fully retracted, whereas on all my m800s, the knob doesn’t wiggle. Is that true for all m600s, or is this something I should be concerned with?

    All in all, I”m very happy with the design, and others have commented on it as well.

    Like

    • Interesting to hear about the play in the piston knob. That is not something that I have experienced, not just with this model but most modern Pelikans. It definitely shouldn’t have any play out of the box, at least not in my experience. It is something that I would look into if that is something that you’re experiencing.

      Like

  7. It’s an odd looking pen, but better looking than the two on either side of it where the three are pictured. I’ve given up on owning a Pelikan bigger than my 205. The cost of the wee birds have caused me to flock to Italian pens with lower prices but that writes smoothly.

    Like

    • Yes, sadly I think the pricing has driven a lot of people to less expensive but no less competent alternatives. The M2xx still has a special place in my heart.

      Like

  8. I am really in two minds about this new Pelikan. I have a large collection of Pelikans which have generally been my favourite brand for many years (with Sailor Pro Gears and 1911 Large as “joint firsts”). But this time I have serious hesitations due to the lack of an ink window or transparency of the barrel to check the remaining ink levels.
    I bought the M600 Red Tortoiseshell, which I find a very attractive pen, and it does write flawlessly. But, like the new Black Tortoiseshell, it offers no means of checking the remaining level of ink and I find it starts drying up without warning as the ink supply comes to an end. Frankly, I would use it more if it was like the other M600s in my collection. I feel this new opaque barrel design is simply a cheaper way of producing pens, and a sign that Pelikan are cutting corners. Another example is the re-issue of the M800 Red Black striped design, again with an opaque barrel. Fortunately I own an old model with translucent stripes…
    I am therefore increasingly thinking I won’t add this Black Tortoiseshell to my collection on simple grounds of writing practicality. And I hope this is not the start of a new policy at Pelikan as otherwise I may have to stop buying this wonderful brand…

    Like

    • I too lament the lack of an ink view and see it as an increasingly bad trend. To me, its turning their back on a 90 year heritage. I think the lack of an ink view will put a bunch of people off to this one but probably not enough to have a major impact on sales so I don’t see the lack curbing Pelikan’s future behavior.

      Like

      • It might be somewhat of an exception, but i just received the Tortoise White pen i had on backorder with Pelikan since March 2022 (three months wait). I was expecting an opaque binde but to my happy surprise it’s transparent! This is unlikely to be new old stock as i presume the the pen was made to fulfill the backorder.

        Like

        • The back orders have been rough unfortunately. I know that they continue to scramble to fill those and I have heard of others waiting longer than 3 months. Glad your order got filled to your satisfaction in the end.

          Like

  9. I quite like the black stripes. They remind me of ink. But I agree with Jon R–mine has more black stripes than yours, and I could see how it might look worse if there were just a few. I like the looks of this model more than expected, but it would be dynamite if it were transparent. My F nib writes more like a nail than any of my other many Pelikans. I like it but it has less character. I wonder if Pelikan have changed their nib production or oversight as well.

    Like

  10. Congratulations on a prestine copy of the Pelikan M605 tortoiseshell black. My copy had 5 complete black bands and as a result I send it back.

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that your pen was so affected by the black stripes. Interesting to hear that it was bothersome enough to have you send it back. Exchange or just abandon the pen all-together?

      Like

  11. Follow up: my M605 Tortoiseshell Black arrived today, and for me it met and perhaps slightly exceeded expectations. The pen does seem to have a lovely raden shimmer. It is not only a lovely tortoise, but I find it also a nice alternative to a plain black Mx05 with the black cap and piston knob.

    The pen came with a bottle of Fritz Schimpf Zwischenlicht ink in the box, which is also a pleasant surprise—to my eye a subtle blue-black or perhaps blue-grey.

    This is a happy purchase.

    Like

  12. I haven’t considered the size of the M6XX so far, so I probably won’t buy it.

    It is sad to think that the opacity of all stripe models will not further enhance the beauty of this kind of fountain pen.

    However, despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 virus and changes in the manufacturing process, the traditional and attractive Tortoiseshell pattern seems to be a positive sign that Pelikan will get off to a good start in 2022.
    The advent of the new pen made me happy and I hope the next news will quench my thirst.

    Thank you for the good review.

    Like

  13. This is such a helpful and well-written review. I always look forward to additions to your website, and hope that you may someday publish a print version. Your description and analysis are second to none, and truly add to my enjoyment of Pelikan writing instruments, and pens generally.

    Like

    • Glad to hear that you liked the article. A print version is a dream that is still many years away yet but I’m hopeful that it will come to pass one day.

      Like

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