Waldmann -- Tradition and Beauty from Germany's Black Forest

Waldmann -- Tradition and Beauty from Germany's Black Forest

Laura's First Pen Show! Reading Waldmann -- Tradition and Beauty from Germany's Black Forest 19 minutes Next Laura's First TWSBI! -- Exploring the World of TWSBI Fountain Pens

Discovering Waldmann

The moment I found out that Pen Boutique was going to be carrying Waldmann pens, I knew I wanted to write a blog article about them. I had never heard of Waldmann until early March, when Joy brought the Jubilee 105 fountain pen up to the store for me to display in our limited edition case. She told me it was designed to celebrate the German brand's 105th birthday and is an edition of only 105 pens. Intrigued, I opened the packaging and gently removed the hinged cherry wood  gift box inside.

Right away, I was stunned by its restrained elegance. Many of the pens in our limited edition case are flashy, eye-catching elaborate works of art. The skill and materials that go into creating them are truly impressive, but they are not to my personal taste because I prefer a more subtle look and a more moderate size. The Jubilee 105 looked nothing like the others. It had the stylish simplicity of a vintage pen, and its beautiful container looked like a jewelry box, complete with push-button latch. I immediately knew that if I could have chosen any pen in the limited edition case for myself, this writing instrument would have been it.

I looked at the pen closely before locking it behind the sliding glass doors of the display case. I loved the contrast between the pinstriped-textured rose gold plated cap and the guilloché wave pattern of the pen's body shining through warm transparent brown lacquer. The straight lines and gentle waves gave me a feeling of peace, and seemed to effortlessly convey an intriguing combination of order, creativity, stillness, and motion. Like Otto Hutt, Waldmann pens are made in Pforzheim, the traditional German jewelry capital at the rim of the Black Forest, and the rich tones of the pen made me think of dappled golden light rippling over a stream running through the woods.

The solid sterling silver underlying structure of the pen's body and cap gave it a weighty feel, but it was perfectly balanced, and as I held the pen in my hand I admired the shape and the attention to detail. It definitely felt like a product of Pforzheim, which has been known as "Goldstadt" ("Golden City") since the 1700s because of its international reputation for manufacturing jewelry, watches, and useful household objects made from gold and silver. (Even to this day, about 80% of the jewelry exported from Germany comes from Pforzheim.) The precious metals and meticulous craftsmanship reminded me strongly of Otto Hutt, which is one of my other favorite brands, but the style seemed a little more warmhearted.

I knew the pen was out of my price range, but it made me think of one of my favorite customers who often shares my taste in elegant pens. When I showed her the pen, she immediately fell in love with it, too, and bought it.  I missed the Jubilee, but I was delighted to know it was going to the perfect home! 

 (A few days ago, we got another Jubilee 105 in stock, so now I can admire the new one until someone buys it!)


Tango Imagination

Not long after I sold the Jubilee 105, Joy told me we were going to be carrying a lot more Waldmann pens very soon!  In fact, they had been delivered to the warehouse, but we hadn't been able to open the boxes yet because it was the Thursday of our store event with Bill from Pilot Pens. I was eager to see the new Waldmanns, but the following day was the beginning of my wonderful adventure at the Baltimore Washington International Pen Show, so I had to wait until the next week when I returned from the show.

I encountered more Waldmanns sooner than I expected, though.  Shortly after I entered the pen show's grand ballroom, I stopped in my tracks at Luxury Brands' table, enraptured by their spread of gorgeous Waldmann pens in pretty colors, sparkling under the lights. Luxury Brands is the US distributor of WaldmannPlatinum Pens, and Colorverse, among others, and they are a very friendly family-owned and operated operation. The national sales manager, Bryce, made me feel instantly welcome, and was extremely helpful answering all my questions about Waldmann both at the show and when I was working on this article.

I don't remember all the Waldmann lines that Luxury Brands had on display at the show, because I couldn't take my eyes off the ones shimmering in front of me. When I asked Bryce and his father John if we were carrying them at Pen Boutique, they said yes, and told me they are called Tango Imagination. (I LOVE that name!) All the colors were beautiful, but my absolute favorite was the Lilac one and I kept staring at it and commenting about how much I loved it. I think it was actually my favorite pen from the whole show, although I saw many that were far more expensive, rare, and elaborate. I quickly recorded a short video of the pens to remember them by, dreaming of the near-future when I'd get to try them for myself more intimately. When I got to the store on Tuesday, I checked out our new Waldmann display right away and took out all the Tango Imagination pens. My favorite is definitely the Lilac, but I really can't decide amongst the other colors. I love them all.

(From top to bottom:  Dark Teal, White, Black, Lilac, Aquamarine, and Burgundy.)

We have the Tango pens in both fountain and rollerball, so I brought a mix home to try out.  The Dark Teal rollerball wrote extremely smoothly and felt nice in my hand both posted and unposted, with exceptional weight and balance and a comfortable curved grip. As I used the pens, I loved watching their intriguing guilloché catch the light in different ways as I capped and uncapped them, moved them in my hands, and wrote with them. This is something that's very hard to capture in a photo, because it changes constantly. 

When I asked Bryce from Luxury Brands about the Tango Imagination finish, he told me Waldmann uses a very special guilloché technique to create the beautiful effect, which can look very different depending on how the light hits it. 

1. First they guilloché engrave the pattern into the sterling silver cap and barrel.
2. Then they use opaque lacquer, and coat the entire pen with color.
3. Next, they use the same engraving machine to remove the lacquer from inside the engraving only, so you can see both sterling silver from the engraving and the colored lacquer.
4. They finish by clear lacquering the entire pen so it protects the engraving and so it doesn’t tarnish.

Here's a very detailed closeup photo of the engraving on a limited edition Tango Imagination. Thank you for allowing me to use this photo, Bryce!

When you run your fingers over the surface of the pen, you can feel very subtle vertical ridges from the engraving underneath. This gives the pen a slightly grippy texture, almost like extremely fine wale corduroy. I love the feeling!

This guilloché technique gives the pen a unique appearance that sometimes looks very silver and other times is more dominated by the color of the lacquer.  As the pen moves in your hand, patterns emerge and disappear, like on the scales of a fish moving through water. At certain angles, I see a triangular motif of three silver dots. Other times, stripes, squares, or fish scale patterns are more dominant. As Bryce commented, "It really does play upon one's imagination, which is where the pen got its name."  So cool.

I had a lot of fun pairing Tango Imagination fountain pens with different inks.  The delightful Aquamarine color looks perfect with Diamine Spearmint Diva, and even the ink's silver shimmer matches the pen.  I love how different the cap and body of the pen look in this photo.

The Imagination Burgundy color works beautifully with Diamine 150 Anniversary Burgundy Royale ink, and the extra fine steel nib writes smoothly and precisely. I found that all the nibs wrote very nicely after I first cleaned them with mild soapy water and rinsed them thoroughly, something that is recommended for all new fountain pens but that I don't always get a chance to do before I try a new pen. Bryce told me that both the steel and 18K gold nibs are made in Germany by JoWo, and that Waldmann tests every nib before it goes out.

Both the steel and gold nibs felt nice, but the gold nibs were the most fun to write with because they are very wet and slightly flexible 18K gold. I loved the luxurious feel of the Imagination Lilac pen with Sailor Ink Studio 735. The ink's beautiful deep lilac color and green sheen looked decadent in my Tomoe River notebook and I loved the subtle sound of the nib moving across the paper.  The nib produced slight line variation, with a horizontal line that looked a little narrower than the vertical one. 

The medium 18K nib and ink combination were so wet, I knew it would feather on lower quality paper, but on Tomoe River and Cosmo Air Light paper, writing was such a pleasure, I kept drawing lines and swirls just for the sheer enjoyment of it. The sheen from the Ink Studio 735 gleamed in the low evening light of my writing studio.

Since I'm so in love with the Lilac Imagination pen, I couldn't resist taking lots of photos of it while I had it home with me, and I also recommended it to my customer who had bought the Jubilee 105.  On my advice, she ordered one with an 18K fine nib, and later wrote to me sharing her delight with the purchase, "Every day for the past three weeks I have wanted to express how much I LOVE Love Love the Lilac Waldmann Tango fountain pen! The Lilac color is gorgeous. It was quite thrilling to open the pen box, but the immediate surprise of the Tango's striking simplicity and color was pretty impressive." I haven't seen any other pens that match this beautiful shade, and I am so happy that she loves it. 

Like all Waldmann pens, the Tango fountain pen is thoughtfully packaged.  The elegant black box has a soft feel and is adorned with a silver Waldmann nameplate. Inside the box, an internal tray lifts out to reveal a box of standard international cartridges, silver cleaning cloth, emblem indicating that the pen is made in Germany from 925 Sterling Silver, and a worldwide warranty card. Waldmann pens purchased from an authorized dealer have a 10 year international warranty against any manufacturing defects.

The sterling silver of the pens is also noted on each pen's cap by a small 925 indicating the purity level.  Bryce told me that Waldmann's pens are actually made of 935 sterling silver but the process to provide proof of this purity of silver being used is very strenuous, so they mark it 925 to avoid any issues. 

All the Waldmann models that I chose to try were filled by converter, and each pen came with the converter inside the pen. As I disassembled the pens to clean them, I discovered that the nib unit easily unscrews from the silver grip. Each component is precisely and beautifully made.

By the way, the Aquamarine Imagination pairs perfectly with an Oasis ProFolio Summit Notebook in Dark Turquoise!


Xetra Vienna 

I asked Bryce what the most popular Waldmann models are, and he told me that Tango Imagination is #1 and Xetra Vienna is #2. I am not surprised!  Like Tango Imagination, the Xetra Vienna is beautiful and unique. It is hand engraved in the Viennese style by a master engraver at Waldmann. The cap of the Black, Green, Pink, and Blue models is solid sterling silver, and the White model is sterling silver plated in rose gold. 

To create the amazing Viennese design, Waldmann lacquers over the barrel with the colors, and then the master engraver chinks and sculpts the cap into the work of art that we see. The colored lacquer is taken off by various tools revealing the sterling silver or rose gold underneath the lacquer. When finished, the cap is clear lacquered to protect the engraving. 

When I showed these pens to Shirya, Leena's daughter, she said the design and colors remind her of an Indian traditional garment!  Very interesting!  I had a lot of trouble deciding which Xetra Vienna to take home, and asked multiple people which one was their favorite.  Several said the Green, while I thought the White paired with rose gold was particularly beautiful, and thought the Black looked the most elegant in my hand.

In the end, I decided to go with my gut instinct, and chose Blue because it was such a striking color that I thought would be fun to photograph in nature.

The 18K fine nib on the Xetra I brought home ended up being my favorite, and I really enjoyed writing with it, although I was surprised by how small the pen was when uncapped.  Although the Tango and Xetra are about the same height with their caps on, Xetra's cap is proportionally taller, and the body of the pen (not including nib) is only 10 cm. The grip section and #4 nib are also smaller, and as I used the pen I realized that it was designed with women in mind.  It can be posted, but the heavy silver cap made the pen feel unbalanced in my hand, so I preferred to write with it unposted, the cap set aside on my desk to admire as I wrote.  

I love the rich blue Xetra Vienna paired with Iroshizuku Asa-gao, a near perfect match. The combination writes beautifully--just like the medium 18K nib on the Tango, but less wet and with a thinner line.  Like the other 18K nib, this one has a little bit of flexibility and line variation. I adore the feel! 

The details of the hand engraved cap kept catching my eye as I used the pen, and I love how each gouge cut into the faceted silver catches the light differently. From a distance, the design looks refined and delicate, but up close the traditional craftsmanship is evident, and the metal sparkles more brilliantly because each engraving stroke's internal angles and textures are unique. 

The design feels like it's alive and part of nature, at home in the forest.



I couldn't write about every Waldmann model, so I decided to narrow my selection down to four. Tuscany appealed to me for its elegant simplicity, and because we carry a fountain pen and matching mechanical pencil. I like the idea of a matched set, and I know it's something customers often ask me for.  This model is inspired by Tuscany's magnificent slim cypress trees reaching up to the sky.

Cupressus sempervirens, also known as Italian cypress, Tuscan cypress, Persian cypress, or pencil pine (perfect name for a tree that inspired a  pencil!), is a species of cypress native to the eastern Mediterranean region.  It's very long-lived, with some trees reported to be over 1,000 years old, and is famous for its "exclamation mark" shape, with a narrow crown often less than a tenth as wide as the tree is tall.  These beautiful chocolate-colored writing instruments are a wonderful tribute to the tree, and I love that, once again, Waldmann managed to capture the natural world in its design.  

The pinstriped rose gold plated solid sterling silver caps thoughtfully include a smooth area to allow for engraving, a design feature that is so subtly executed that I didn't even notice it until I read Waldmann's catalog. You can see it clearly on the pencil in this photo.

Leena's daughter Shriya loves pencils, so I asked her to try writing with the Tuscany.  She loved the weight, size, beauty, and the very usable 0.7mm lead width. Both the fountain pen and the pencil felt great in my hand, too.  I preferred the pen unposted, and enjoyed the feel of the broad steel nib.

I took the pen and pencil for a walk in my horticulturalist neighbor's yard, a shaded oasis of unusual cultivars. While he told me the scientific names and unique characteristics of some of his favorites, I admired the fallen petals of a large mauve magnolia tree, one of my favorites. The richly colored Tuscany pair seemed made for the Golden Brown Oasis ProFolio Summit notebook and shimmering bronze Yule Log ink from the 2022 Diamine Inkvent Calendar! I'm not sure how to describe the shiny PVD-coated barrels. They are not a solid brown, but instead the color has a mysterious depth and sheen.



Just for variety, I decided to bring home one Waldmann pen that was totally different from all the others that had attracted me. We carry quite a few Waldmann models, but I can't write about them all, and most of my favorites were on the slimmer side.  Not so the Grandeur, a pen Waldmann describes as a "magnificent and sophisticated writing instrument full of dignity and grandeur." 

Like its smaller siblings, the Grandeur is sterling silver and 100% made in Germany, with a solid spring supported clip and smooth screw cap, but, at 58 g, it is 20 g heavier than the Tuscany fountain pen and 30 g heavier than the Tuscany pencil!  (The Tango and Xetra Vienna fountain pens are 39 g and 38 g, respectively.)

Waldmann calls this pen "impressive and monumental in appearance and at the same time delicate and ornamental in detail and workmanship," and I think that's an accurate way of putting it. The Grandeur fountain pen features a large #6 nib (available in both steel and 18K gold), and the pens are available with either a multilayered transparent burgundy lacquer or a multilayered brilliant black lacquered finish, each with a different guilloché pattern on the cap.

Joy told me she thinks the burgundy version is beautiful, but, just to be different, I decided to choose a rollerball pen in black!  I like the bold simplicity of the solid shiny black shaft and top ring, the gently rounded shiny platinum-plated end finials, and the wavy silhouette guilloché pattern on the cap. Although the cap is solid silver with no colored lacquer, the pattern seems to change as you move the pen, reminiscent of the fish-like effect of the guilloché in the Tango Imagination finish. I think the pen looks very handsome on our Oberon Design Van Gogh Boats leather journal.

When I tried the rollerball, I was quite surprised by how comfortable I found it, despite the heft. It was much too long and weighty for me when posted, but, with the large, heavy cap set to the side, I loved the weight and slightly chunky shape, which felt nice and solid in my hand. I was amazed to discover that I actually liked the feel of the Grandeur rollerball more than the Tango rollerball!  I also loved looking down at the elegant cap sparkling in the evening light.

The more I tried to figure out the patterns on the cap, the more the pen intrigued me.  They're waves, but they're also zigzags, and, at other angles, appear as a fine metallic grid, or thousands of tiny sparkling dots--diamond sand in an ocean.

I think the Grandeur pen would look great on a desk, making a bold statement, ready to record important thoughts and feelings you never want to forget. 

It's not a show-off pen, but it's a pen with integrity and personality. I like it, and I like Waldmann. I'm glad Pen Boutique is carrying this brand, and I loved exploring it for the past several weeks while I was working on this article.

As per their website, Waldmann has been made in Germany since 1918, by skilled craftsmen with many years of experience using traditional handcrafted techniques still painstakingly and lovingly doing manual work. An enthusiasm for innovation, modern techniques, and filigree handcrafting has been Waldmann's longstanding tradition.  There are many more models of Waldmann pens to explore, and I hope the others give me the same feeling of connection to nature and fire my imagination the way these did. 

-Laura P.

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