My first introduction to S.T. Dupont was back in December when I was creating Instagram posts featuring our store elf admiring different products. Pen and notepad in hand, I posed this question to one of my colleagues, Fana: "What's your dream pen? If you could own any pen that we sell, which one would you want?" She immediately went to the S.T. Dupont case and unlocked it to show me one of the Line D pens, saying, "If there's a fountain pen that writes like butter, this is it." She went on to describe how it was so well-balanced, even unposted, and that it had a "good," substantial weight to it. She described it as not flashy, but very elegant, with a look of royalty and good taste.
Fana rhapsodized about the 14k gold nib, which she said was "so smooth," and made me dip test the pen so that I could experience it for myself. As I tried the Dupont, she pointed out the feel of its cap, which she said had a "very satisfying snap" when you put it on. This was one of her favorite things about the pen. Although I ended up never featuring S.T. Dupont in my holiday season elf posts, her enthusiasm made a very strong impression on me and I kept the notes I had made. As I learned more about the pens we carry, I often showed S.T. Dupont pens to customers who were looking for a special gift and wanted to consider an alternative to Montblanc. When Raj suggested I write this week's blog about S.T. Dupont, I was ready for the challenge.
The most well known luxury pen brand in the world, of course, is Montblanc, and many people buy Montblanc purely for the status of the name, but S.T. Dupont has been internationally famous for making luxury goods for even longer. S.T. Dupont was founded in 1872 by Simon Tissot-Dupont, who opened a leatherwork shop in Paris. His personalized travel trunks and briefcases soon became the ultimate accessory for Europe’s elite, from the nobility to diplomats and businessmen. S.T. Dupont went on to produce high quality lighters and other smoking accessories, pens, wallets and other leather goods, fragrances, watches and jewelry.
After recruiting Georges Novossiltzeff in 1935, S.T. Dupont became the first luxury house to master the Asian lacquer technique on metal, and has held the secret ever since. They are famous for this beautiful polished natural lacquer finish, which is very strong, durable, waterproof, and smooth. Dupont's skilled lacquerers apply up to ten layers of lacquer to their brass barrels to create the perfect high tolerance finish.
In 1973, the Maison S.T. Dupont designed the first luxury ballpoint pen, the “Classique S.T. Dupont,” to satisfy a request from Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and, based on their choice of limited-edition pen tributes, I would say that S.T. Dupont aligns itself with cool. Pen Boutique carries a $1,200 James Bond 007 ballpoint, and I was amused and delighted to discover there are also Tony Stark/Iron Man pens, as well as a tribute to my favorite Enlightenment composer, Mozart. Dupont has always been closely linked with the art world, including Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, and has also made pens to honor Art Deco, Art Nouveau, the Taj Mahal, Fifth Avenue in New York, Shanghai, Versailles, Space Odyssey, and Star Wars' TIE Fighters and X-wings, among many other topics. Their style has a certain je ne sais quoi that just seems effortlessly smart.
Although S.T. Dupont's pens are in many ways comparable to Montblanc's, they have a very different feel to them. When I was in the store earlier this week, I laid out a collection of classic Montblanc pens side by side with their S.T. Dupont "equivalents." As you can see, they are very similar in length and girth.
The pens in the photo (left to right) are: Montblanc Meisterstück Classique vs S.T. Dupont Liberté (smaller pens geared toward women), Montblanc Meisterstück Midsize vs S.T. Dupont Line D (medium sized version), and Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand vs. S.T. Dupont Line D (larger sized version).
Although both brands are very high quality, sophisticated, and expensive, the Montblancs are made from Precious Resin and are lightweight, while the S.T. Dupont pens are natural lacquer and much heavier.
Here's a weight comparison between the pens:
I generally prefer writing with lighter pens myself, but this is a highly personal matter and many people like a more substantial feeling pen. If you prefer a weightier pen, S.T. Dupont may be the brand for you! S.T. Dupont pens are also not quite as pricy as their Montblanc equivalents, although both use precious metals like silver, palladium, platinum, and gold.
Here's a photo I took in the store of S.T. Dupont's gold version of its Line D lineup, with the various sizes and styles of pen (ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain). These are the perfect elegant gift pen.
When trying to choose which pens to bring home and photograph for the blog, I had a lot of trouble deciding. There are so many different cool S.T. Dupont lines, and each line has many variations in size, finish, and color. It was overwhelming! I didn't really know which ones would appeal the most to customers or be most helpful to focus on. Finally my colleague Joy advised me that I should just pick the ones that appeal to me the most, for--as she wisely pointed out--it's my enthusiasm and delight in sharing the pens with you that makes my blog fun to read. That made it a lot easier, and on Wednesday evening I quickly grabbed my selections and packed them up in my Yak Leather pen case to bring home. Needless to say, if reading this makes you curious about S.T. Dupont, there are many other lines to explore that I don't mention in this article at all!
Earlier in the week I had already decided that I would definitely pick a few Line D pens, because Line D is what I picture when I think of S.T. Dupont. I admired all the different beautiful diamond guilloché finishes in the store during the week as I pondered which was my favorite.
This diamond guilloché finish is showy and spectacular, especially as it moves in the light! To create it, the diamond design is formed using an engine turning process that engraves very precise, intricate, geometric patterns into an underlying material, which is then overlaid with sumptuously colored Urushi lacquer. The pens are solid brass underneath with gold vermeil or palladium trim, and 14K yellow gold or white gold nibs.
I settled on the Line D Large fountain pen in Ruby and gold vermeil because I felt like it was the boldest! This is a very charismatic pen. It's too heavy and large for my hand, but I can't stop admiring it.
I also love the more subtle Aquamarine version of this pen, with its silver palladium and white gold. It has a completely different feel--softer and less sparkly--and reminds me of fish scales and the ocean. It's like a mermaid or merman pen, in a powerful, mythical kind of sense. The color is calm and cool.
I also adore the Liberté line, especially the new “HER” series in rose gold and white lacquer "to celebrate the modern, successful woman." We just got these in a few weeks ago and I immediately loved both the tapered shape and the wave design on the cap. S.T. Dupont describes this as a "subtle, minimalist" design that is "reminiscent of morning ocean waves accented by warm rose gold hues, evoking the morning sun."
So beautiful! It's hard to capture in a photo, but the white lacquer finish on this pen has a pearlescent depth and luminosity to it. Of all the S.T. Dupont pens, this one also fits my hand the best, and the curvy shape of the grip is both sensual to look at and comfortable to hold. I loved writing with it.
I am fascinated by the faceted shape of the cap on the Liberté, which reflects light in sun-like rays as you turn in. The pearlescent white is extended to area behind the D logo on the cap as well.
Another variant we got in at the store fairly recently is the Line D pen in Sunburst Bronze and Starburst Blue. They are both very striking, but I settled on the bronze and brought home the smaller size version. The lustrous finish on these pens is created by adding an additional pearlescent lacquer coating on top of the 9 layers of natural lacquer that is hand-painted on the brass barrel. The pearlescent lacquer is sprayed on in small spurts, giving a unique "burst" effect. The Starburst version has silver pearlescent spray on blue lacquer with a 14k white gold nib, and the Sunburst has black lacquer with gold pearlescent spray and 14k yellow gold nib.
This pen, in the smaller size, was my father's favorite of the ones I took home with me. He liked both versions of the Line D but decided the smaller version was more comfortable for his hand. The Sunburst Bronze is a very elegant, sophisticated pen and although I posed it with men's accessories I feel it would suit a stylish person of any gender. There's something timeless, confident, and intelligent about this pen.
I'm not usually into ballpoints, but when I was looking through the Dupont case at the store, the Défi line got my attention. S.T. Dupont describes the pen this way: "The highest-performing and most precise pen of its generation. Designed as a truly sophisticated object, like a fighter jet, its dynamic, vigorous and elegant design makes it both contemporary and masculine at the same time." I really like this pen, and couldn't decide between the brushed copper vintage trim version with textured matte black body, or the shiny black lacquer version with smooth and soft feeling matte black trim.
The two pens, although the same shape, have very different personalities and also a very different feel in the hand. The matte black material on the black one is slightly grippy feeling, and although the pen is heavy (41g), it rests very comfortably in my hand. The balance feels perfect. Its body is extremely smooth and shiny, a beautiful contrast.
The copper version is a hair weightier (42 g) and the metal is smooth and cool in the hand, while the recessed body of the pen has a slightly rough sandblasted feel that is irresistible to touch.
The Défi writes very smoothly, without that oily feeling most ballpoints have. It glides over the page, and feels insanely smooth on nice paper like Rhodia or Tomoe River, but also performs perfectly on yellow sticky notes and coffee shop napkins. I guess what Fana told me about S.T. Dupont being a "pen that writes like butter" applies to ballpoints as well! Plus, it just looks cool.
I think the black version looks like it should belong to an architect.
This pen just reads "creative genius with style" to me. (And yeah, I could also imagine Tony Stark scrawling down the plans for some invention with the Défi.) But even though S.T. Dupont says this pen is masculine, I think it would suit a woman just as easily. The sleek shape and slim profile with juxtaposed curves and angles is made for a confident person of contrasts.
There is one final pen that kept catching my eye when I saw it in the store. I looked it up in our inventory and was dismayed to see that we only had one in stock. I asked Joy about it and she said it was a retired pen so we wouldn't be getting more. Crestfallen, I remarked that I probably shouldn't mention it in the blog in that case. Joy said if I love it I should share it--maybe someone who reads the blog will admire it as much as I do, and it will find its perfect home!
So, here's my favorite S.T. Dupont pen (for now, at least): the smaller variation on the Line D in Duo Tone with a diamond textured silver palladium cap and and pearlescent black barrel. The nib is medium.
The black barrel sparkles like a black sand beach in the sunlight, or the finish on a brand-new sleek coupe waiting to drive you off on an adventure. Maybe the cap is a little too shiny or turns too many heads, but I can handle it.
I probably didn't talk enough about how these pens write, but I feel like Fana covered that for me when she made her memorable introduction. S.T. Dupont nibs glide. Although the pens have weight, they seem to fly over the page, as if the nib is barely touching the paper. At the same time, they do provide feedback. It's not like a cushy luxury sedan where you can't feel the road. The gold has a little bit of bounce, a slight flexibility if you press lightly, and the ink flow is wet. They use a converter or standard international cartridges, and I borrowed one that I had filled with Waterman Harmonious Green for my Otto Hutt. Once I started scribbling with the Liberté pen, I found it hard to stop.
S.T. Dupont, you have a new fan.