Waterman Carene marine amber fountain pen review.

This was my last pen purchase of 2018 and I mentioned it at the end of my 2018 round up.


This is not a new model. The Carene has been around for a while but I have not had one before and am late to the party. It is made of brass, with an attractive lacquer finish, an inlaid nib in 18k gold and gold coloured fittings.

Inlaid nib of the Waterman Carene, in 18k gold.

I remember looking at a number of reviews of the pen, a few years ago. These were mixed, with many commenting on the smoothness of the nib but a few reporting problems such as leaks or a barrel end finial which did not line up with the nib. One particularly enticing review recently was by Paul Godden in his blog Writing For Pain and Pleasure, in September 2018.

They are available in our local John Lewis, Brent Cross in north west London and I continued to keep an eye on them. I once handled a gorgeous black version with a handsome Palladium cap but stopped short of buying it. Currently the marine amber model is still at John Lewis at around £235.00, which is the maximum damage you can do to your wallet in their fountain pen department (not counting the Parker Fifth Generation which I would not class as fountain pens). A Cross Townsend in quartz blue is about the same price. In November, John Lewis offered a generous 30% off most fountain pens but at the time, I chose to buy a Cross Townsend instead. A week or two later, when I was still hankering after a Waterman Carene, the offer had ended.

But as luck would have it, Cult Pens then offered the Carene for sale at £149.00 and had a promotion, giving a further 10% off. The bad news was that they were waiting for stock, but you could register your interest to receive an email when they were back in stock. I did so and about a week later, got the notification. Without a moment’s hesitation I put in my order.

Waterman Carene, Marine Amber fountain pen.


The main feature of the pen is its inlaid nib, which is uncommon these days. Also the profile of the pen with its sweeping prow and corresponding slope of the barrel end finial, is said to evoke the contours of a luxury yacht. It is a medium sized pen, elegant rather than flashy and the lacquered finish adds appeal. Other finishes are available, including black, blue or red but only the marine amber finish offers this mottled effect.

The snap on cap is bullet shaped and no bigger than it needs to be, to fit the contours of the tapering grip section and nib within. The pocket clip is simple but with a gentle wave form and is sprung. A gold plated cap ring bears the name Waterman and (on the reverse side), France.

The cap can be posted on the barrel. You do not need to and many will find the pen long enough without posting. Personally I prefer to post and grip the pen higher up, although the cap then hides the gold plated end button and you lose part of your “boat”.

The boat waits patiently whilst a decision is made on ink choice.

The barrel unscrews with nice metal threads. Two rubber o-rings give a reassuring hold as you tighten it in place. This prevents the barrel from coming loose but also deters me from undoing the barrel too often as the o-rings may perish eventually.

The pen came with a Waterman converter although you may also use Waterman cartridges. (I believe standard international cartridges may also fit but have not tried). One slight mystery is that the housing for the cartridge or converter has a separate, smooth surfaced gold plated collar which can be unscrewed and removed. I am not sure of the purpose of this.

Two rubber o-rings on the threads. Not sure what the removable gold ring is for.

Weights and measurements (approximate).

  • Closed: 144mm
  • Open: 128mm
  • Posted: 148mm
  • Grip section, max: 11mm.
  • Weight uncapped: 23g
  • Weight cap only: 10g
  • Weight posted: 33g

These figures all look close to ideal, for me. The weight has some heft but is not burdensome. The grip section is very comfortable, having no cap threads and only a minimal step down from the barrel. There are two tiny lugs to secure the cap but these are less noticeable than those of the Lamy 2000. The section tapers and so the grip is slightly narrower if you hold closer to the nib.

The nib and writing performance.

As almost every reviewer says, the nib is very smooth. Mine is a Medium although writes on the broader side of a medium. It also writes a little stub-like having narrow side strokes and wider down strokes. And it has a luxurious softness to it. It is not stingy with the ink and the flow is on the generous side but not gushy. The smoothness of the nib, the lubrication from the ample ink flow and the softness of the gold nib all make for a wonderful writing experience. I have been using Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai ink.

Writing sample with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai on Leuchtturm A5 journal paper.

Likes and dislikes.

This pen seems to have it all: beautiful looks, (uncapped), exceptionally comfortable to hold and with an impressively enjoyable writing experience. And it does not have the disadvantage of being overly expensive.

I have only my one example to go on but I have not had any of the issues that some have complained of. There have been no leaks. I did worry for a moment that the barrel end would not align with the nib but soon realised that I had not tightened the barrel enough. Once you get to the very end of the threads, it all lines up perfectly.


For some reason, this pen does not seem to get a lot of attention from fountain pen reviewers. Perhaps it is considered too mainstream or not exotic enough. Perhaps some examples do have issues and I have been lucky to get a good one. Personally, I think it is great pen and I struggle to find anything bad to say about it. Yes, there are plenty of more expensive fountain pens on the market but I doubt they would offer a significantly better writing experience. Mine has ticked all the boxes and it just remains to be seen how it stands up over time. I strongly recommend it.

17 thoughts on “Waterman Carene marine amber fountain pen review.

  1. Thanks for the thorough review. I have to confess that Waternan pens don’t really figure much on my pen radar. I tend to lean more towards resin-bodied pens and may have been deterred from lacquered brass by one too many cheap Chinese pens. Perhaps I should think again?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think both your review and the above comment support my own feeling that Waterman is an underrated brand so far as fountain pens go. I much prefer metal-bodied pens to resin, and I currently have two examples of the Hemisphere model which I absolutely love, they are almost constantly in use. I used to have an Exception and adored that – should never have let it go, and still intend to replace it. My “grail” pen is Waterman’s Exception Slim in the blue colourway. My main criticism of the brand is that over recent years they haven’t produced any pens in irresistible colours – the most recent one to really grab my attention was the Rose Cuivre colourway of my second Hemisphere.


      1. Thankyou and it is great to hear that you are enjoying your Hemispheres. I used the Waterman Experts a lot at work in the 90’s and still own three, plus a new one in blue and chrome which I have just bought. Good dependable sturdy pens!


  3. Excellent review as always. I’ve yet to meet a Waterman nib, vintage or modern, that I did not like. I have always liked the lines of the Carene, and that lovely inlaid nib, but the weight of brass keeps me away: I returned a Waterman Perspective for that very reason. But I’m sure that nib is a pleasure to use.

    n.b. Waterman cartridges are a few hairs narrower than standard internationals; thus a Waterman cartridge will fit any intl. cartridge pen, but an intl. cartridge will not fit a Waterman pen. It will pop in fine, but the barrel will no longer screw on to the section. Very sneaky of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A mi me sucede en la Waterman Carenea y en otras más antiguas como la Concorde, tanto la de plástico lila, como otra Concorde, con cuerpo plástico y capuchón chapado en oro y otra, que no se el nombre, pero que tiene el cuerpo cromado cepillado, parecida a la Waterman Goute, que los clips, que se entiende que están bañadas con oro de 23 quilates, se han descascarillado en alguna zona.

    Igualmente me ha sucedido con la terminación del barril, tanto de una pluma Cross Century, fabricada en USA como en otra, en la terminación del barril de una pluna Townsend, también hecha en Lincoln, de 18 quilates.

    Por otro lado, el bolígrafo Cross Townsend, gold filed de 18 quilates, fabricado, aunque no lo indica el producto, como si que lo haría si fuera fabricada en Lincoln o en Galway, Irlanda, fabricado en la República Popular de China, ha perdido oro en la parte superior del mismo, en la pieza que lleva el clip; ?Están cada vez fabricando las marcas peor que en la época de los 60, 70 y 80 del siglo XX?

    Yo creo y veo, analizando y comparando los productos y los materiales y parece que si. Sustituyen metal, latón y acero por plástico (nada de eufemismos de resina o acrílico).

    Comenten al respecto.

    Un forofos de las plumas y bolígrafos de calidad y prestigio de Alicante, España.


  5. Coming to this a few years later…

    The removable gold ring on the section allows one to adjust the position of the section thread, to allow one to line up the barrel angle with the nib. The section thread is on a removable collar keyed to the section and butting up against a rubber O-ring; the barrel’s alignment relative to the nib when screwed tight can be adjusted either by changing how tightly the threaded collar is forced up against said O-ring, or by reversing the threaded collar and locking it in place with the gold ring once everything is lined up to one’s satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to explain how to align the barrel finial with the nib on a Carene. I was not aware that the threads were on a removable collar, whose position could be re-set and locked down with the locking ring.
      I have just tried this on my two Carene’s with a bit of trial and error. I had not seen this explained before and am grateful to you.


  6. Oh my word, I have just inked my brand new Carene Amber Medium and it is amazing. I am seeing the same stubby characteristic which makes me so happy, and the amber lacquer has such depth. I have a Pilot Metal Falcon (black), Platinum #3776 (Bourgogne) and Lamy 2000, all medium nibs, and the Carene might just be the finest of them all. Thank-you so much for the review, which helped me decide to purchase. It was 20% off too, which brought it down to £159. Now filled with Waterman Serenity Blue. How fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Richie, that is great to hear.
      Since writing that post, I have been informed that the separate securing collar that you can unscrew, can be removed to allow you to lift out the threaded ring below, thus allowing you to offset it slightly before reassembling. This may help you align the barrel end finial with the nib.


      1. I understand now, having examined my Carene and read the comments above. The collar controls the tension of the threaded ring against the smaller rubber o-ring. This in turn allows you to tweak the alignment of the barrel. Too little or too much collar tension and the barrel alignment will be off one way or the other. A bit of trial and error and you can get it just right. That is a very clever design, but they really should explain as it’s not at all obvious.
        I am seeing some ink on the section when uncapping, which seems to be a symptom of filling to the brim with the converter and the suction of the snap cap. Apparently the feed holds an unusually large amount of ink. Backing off about 5 drops of ink once full and leaving nib-up for 5 mins after seems to help.

        Liked by 1 person

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