What is better to most petrol heads than one Pininfarina designed car? Two Pininfarina designed cars. Perhaps the same may be the case with the products of their Segno subsidiary and perhaps I should be nervous if they expand their range of fountain pens, for having bought a PF Two on International Fountain Pen Day, come the Black Friday week and a PF One followed its way in to my collection.
So impressed was I over the writing experience of the larger pen that I did not think twice when the PF One was reduced at Cult Pens as part of the retail industry discount week. With three colour options, black, silver, and blue/silver, the contrasting colours of the latter option drew my eye and was the variant I went for. Nib wise I decided on a broad, partly to compare it with the medium in the PF Two.
In case you’ve not seen the Pininfarina pens together before, I need to point out any thoughts of a single design language can be dismissed. While the PF Two has hints of Art Deco inspired automotive inspirations, this pen is much more Italian flair meets Bauhaus. Side on the pen appears to be a tear drop, but this is partly an illusion brought on by the finials and in fact the cross section is actually hexagonal.
The hexagonal shape carries on to the section as well, though it is shorter, almost as if the top of the tear drop had been removed. It is not central in the pen, which at first looks a little odd, but it does line up with the barrel finial and visually all works well, partly as the step to the barrel is more sloped at the top than else where. Additionally, while the clip is flush with the body, the tear drop shape proves to be a very effective roll stop.
It is weird. This is ‘just’ a pen yet with it being designed and produced by Pininfarina you find yourself looking for the design language. It feels as if you have donned a black turtle neck sweater and some rimless glasses. The shape does draw your eye to the little details, the subtle curves on the shorter edges, the way the shiny blue of the section, clip and finial contrasts with the matt brushed aluminium. It is slightly different and visually the design works really well. It is something to look at, something to talk about, and something tactile to use.
The cap pulls off and pushes on with satisfying clicks. The only adornments are the clip, which is part of the finial, and subtle branding. The clip is flush with the body, though it does angle up ever so slightly towards the end. To use it simply slide it anti-clockwise and it will rotate round 180 degrees, with the pear drop shape meaning you now have a small gap between it and the cap. All very clever, stylish, and different, however there is no texture on the underside, and as with it’s sister pen the PF Two, it will slide over a pocket seem with no problems and then back off again as there is nothing there to provide traction. Stylish yes, useful, no.
With the pen following a straight near seamless design, it is no surprise that the cap will not post. This should not be an issue, for the barrel is comparatively long so even if you were to hold the pen further back (as I do) then it will still sit comfortably in the hand. The barrel finial has a shiny blue disk, flush with the surround. It lines up neatly with the section, nib tip, and axial point of the clip.
The section initially worried me for two reasons. First is it thin, second it is shiny. Reality is neither proved to be a problem. I had been concerned from the start that the pen would be too thin for me. I get on well with triangular shaped pens and my OMAS 360 Vintage is one of the most comfortable fountain pens I have ever used, however the PF One is on the narrower side and with the section being much smaller I was not sure I would be able to cope with it. I find myself, however, holding the pen at the point where the section meets the barrel with my top fingers holding the step and the back of the section resting on my middle finger. I can hold it further forwards for quick note taking, and when I do I get a decent grip. I can feel the difference in textures, but it is not slippery.
While I use the classical tripod grip and the shape of the section and barrel should in theory force that grasp, I have experimented with other ways of holding the pen and have found the hexagonal shape means four finger and reverse tripod gripping of the pen work equally as comfortably as the more traditional one.
The balance point is midway along the pen, though when angled down it moves forwards as expected and I feel the weight resting on my middle finger. At 33g this is not a heavy pen especially when uncapped, and comparable to many other pens made from aluminium.
The nib appears to be a JoWo #5, though sitting more deeply in the section when compared to the same nibs in a Franklin Christoph 45 CDLI and a Faber Castell Ambition. The feed is different, almost like a shrunken version of the one JoWo use with their larger nibs, which does make me wonder if I’ve got the maker right. Both could have been made to order by JoWo, as is the case with the Faber Castell pen. As with it’s stable mate there is no breather hole, but where as the PF Two has the Pininfarina crest and nib size on it, this one has a scaled down version of the crest and an outline. The nib size is actually impressed on the feed.
The writing experience is smooth and buttery. As with the PF Two it feels well tuned and provides a nice wet line. There is a little tooth to the feel if the nib is rotated a bit too far, though I can see nothing through a loupe. This does not detract from the writing experience and I only seem to notice it if I’m sitting at a slightly odd angle, not square on. I ordered this pen with a broad nib, though it does show how nib size affects the line as the one produced is very similar to the results of the size #6 medium nib in the PF Two.
The pen uses standard international cartridges and converters and comes with a screw thread Schmidt K6 pre-installed, though you will need a bottle of ink at hand to use this pen as no cartridge was included. The Cult Pens and Pininfarina Segno websites only mentions the PF One coming with a converter, but then they say the same about the PF Two and that did come with a couple of cartridges as well.
The packaging at first appears simple and traditional. A plain white box with basic branding on it, however open it up and inside is a triangular open ended pen case which uses magnets on the outer fold to keep it closed. Very simple, but of limited reuse, though the elasticated loops do mean you can use this case with other pens, including larger ones. On processing the above photos I suddenly noticed the indented patterns on the inside of the case which are actually 3-D CAD designs for the pen. A rather nice touch.
Price wise the PF One is cheaper than the PF Two, with Cult Pens selling it for £125 (RRP £140) before discounts. As with it’s younger sister pen I think this is good value for what you get. The build quality is superb, we’re talking Teutonic levels, not what you would expect out of Italy based on most the other pen makers over there.
Am I happy I bought this pen. Yes. I must admit I prefer the PF Two to write with, but visually I think I prefer the PF One (it is a close run thing). While writing this piece it did cross my mind that I would be love for Pininfarina Segno to introduce a new model and that if they did I would consider buying it. When I checked their website over the included filling mechanisms I discovered they had recently launched a new fountain pen only range, the Novanta. Crumbs. Guess I ought to start saving now as it appears to cost about twice as much as the PF Two and there is a limited edition with a gold nib that is double that (and with just 100 available of the latter).
Would I recommend the PF One to anyone? Well if you’re happy to spend over £100 on a fountain pen, then yes. It is unusual in suiting both people who prefer thinner pens and larger ones despite it’s looks, added to which the pear drop hexagonal shape means that there are a lot of options with how and where you hold the pen.
- Stylish pen, showing why Italian (and French) designers and architects are always in high demand.
- Consistency of design language through out the pen.
- Cross section shape means most people will be able to comfortably hold the pen regardless of grip type.
- Smooth writer.
- Italian flair with build quality making it seem German.
- Pen may be a little too thin for those who like pens with a lot of girth.
- Clip mechanism is interesting, but clip itself is useless.