A look at the discontinued Waterman Phileas fountain pen.

Buying a new fountain pen is tempting and exciting. However, during the past few months of lockdown, I have also enjoyed looking back over my accumulation and, in a few cases, making some simple nib adjustments. So having an old fountain pen is nice too. Some benefits are (1) saving your money; (2) reducing waste; (3) avoiding additional clutter in the home from stored pen boxes; (4) using and appreciating what you have and (5) connecting with some memories and associations from the past.

Today I am looking at my old Waterman Phileas. I remember buying it, a long time ago in a department store in Shantou, China, chosing it from the selection in the glass display counter. I cannot now recall what year it was. It could have been late 1990’s or early 2000’s. It was not very expensive by UK standards, possibly around the same price as a Lamy Safari at home but, as my wife pointed out, quite expensive for the locals.

Waterman Phileas


This is a plastic pen, taking Waterman cartridges or a converter. It has a vintage look from its red marbled patterns on the cap and barrel and gold coloured furniture. The cap has a rounded black top, with a sprung metal clip bearing the Waterman logo. There are two gold coloured rings on the cap which add to the elegance. It is a snap cap. The black band next to the gold ring, is stamped with the name Waterman and (on the back), France.

The section is black plastic, tapering slightly towards the nib but with a combination of a smooth area near the nib and a ribbed grip area higher up, which has a comfortable girth of approximately 12mm. I noticed that although the Phileas is discontinued, this section appears to have resurfaced for the new Waterman Embleme fountain pens.

Showing black plastic section with ribbed grip area.

The barrel has two more gold coloured rings but the most elaborate part is an inlaid gold coloured badge with some decorative engraving. This seems to echo the golden area of the bi-colour nib.

Decorative badge on the barrel.

Unscrewing the barrel, on plastic threads, it can be seen that there is a metal liner inside the barrel, for about the rear two thirds of its length, presumably for added weight, strength and to help with balance. There is still room for a converter inside the barrel.


The cap can be posted, both deeply and securely which I appreciate.

The nib.

The bicolour nib is stainless steel but with a large area of gold coloured plating. It bears the logo and name Waterman, Paris, M, for medium. The nib and the plastic feed are friction fit.

Bi-colour nib.

Size and weight (approximate).

This is a medium sized pen and relatively light weight which should be comfortable for most people. Closed, the pen measures about 136mm; open 126mm and posted 146mm. Weights are about 21g in all (not including a cartridge or converter) comprised as to 14g for the pen and 7g for the cap.


My vague recollections of the pen when I bought it, are that it was a little disappointing, a bit plasticky and not the best of writers as the nib was smooth but on the dry side. Whatever the reason, I did not make much use of it.

I am glad that I kept it. Recently I got out an old Waterman Kultur, blue demonstrator, which is very similar to the Phileas but with a simpler, less ornamented cap and barrel and an all-silver coloured nib. I was able to tweak the nib of the Kultur to open up the tines and improve ink flow. The result was to rediscover a very enjoyable pen.

And so with the Phileas I performed the same trick, (once again with thanks for SBRE Brown for the old instruction video “How to make a nib wetter in seconds”) bending up the nib just a little to widen the tines and to introduce a glimpse of daylight between them at the tip, for an easier flow of ink without pressure for my lefty overwriting preferences.

Just a little tine-gap widening work.

Perhaps, around 20 years ago, I had looked down on this pen for trying to appear vintage and of better materials than it was made of. But with older eyes and a little more experience to perform some easy nib work, I now appreciate the pen for what it is. Waterman succeeded in producing a pen which had timeless, classic looks (even recalling the decoration of old Waterman Ideal pens) and some elements of feel-good luxury in the gold coloured fittings, but at a modest cost. The metal liner inside the barrel is a particularly nice touch and marks this pen out as a quality tool in its own right. And so whilst I still enjoy buying a new pen, it sometimes pays to keep the old ones too.

The adjusted nib in profile. The upward bend is barely noticeable.

32 thoughts on “A look at the discontinued Waterman Phileas fountain pen.

  1. Lockdown seems to have the same effect on many of us! I have also unearthed some old Waterman pens I seldom use (or had forgotten about). Your Phileas is a very attractive pen, reminding us what great pens that manufacturer produces. I sometime feel Waterman are not ambitious enough, and fail to compete with the brighter coloured, more exciting Visconti or Leonardo pens by continuing to produce very reliable but rather “officey” pens. That said, like you I have “rediscovered” a Burgundy-coloured Waterman Carene my wife bought me many years ago, and am currently playing with a Waterman “Ideal” which has a great 18c gold nib. And I still remain very fond of the Waterman Laureat pens, which appear to have become sought after by collectors.

    Thanks for a very entertaining review!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I have not seen a Carene in Burgundy…it sounds lovely. I have the amber and a dark pink version, both with super medium nibs.
      I see Waterman has some new offerings in the Embleme and the Allure. The Allures have appeared in our local WH Smiths.


  2. I love Waterman pens and I wouldn’t call my Hemisphere Rose Cuivre officey in the least. I appreciate the reliability and construction quality of the pens from this brand. I keep an eye on the vintage side as well, maybe one day I’ll fall down that rabbit hole.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I noticed the cap located below the decorative badge is removable, which suggests the possible use of an eye dropper fill. Is this possible?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The black end cap can be unscrewed. However I do not think eye-droppering this pen would be advisable. It does not look as though designed for that. There would be a risk of leakage from both ends of the barrel and a risk of ink coming into contact with metal fittings and causing corrosion.


  4. I still have my Phileas too – bought in Chicago in the spring of 2001. It’s green marble, with a fine point, and still writes beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have an older Phileas in green. I love the look and feel. But I too, have noticed that it writes quite dry,..so after watching the video you suggested,..I’m heading back to see if I can’t improve the flow ! Thank you for posting this ( I literally stumbled over it today )
    Best regards,


    1. Thankyou! Sometimes a few minutes spent on widening the gap between the tines can transform a dry nib. Recently I did this with an Aurora, using brass shims and even a craft knife to wriggle the tines apart very slightly. This was successful but remember to proceed carefully and check the results frequently. Good luck!


  6. I just finished playing around this, and had some decent success. But I think that I can work on it some more..maybe with a craft knife as you did. I also do watchmaking, so I have small tools and some skill with small objects. Wish me luck !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I bought a blue Phileas in 1996 and enjoyed it a lot. It led to a more serious interest in fountain pens. I’m a writer, so it’s important that I like the way a pen writes. I was pleased with this one on that score. I just learned that it had been discontinued. It’s too bad, as I would like to recommend it to people just discovering the joys of fountain pens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting the blog. Yes, it is sad to find that something you liked is no longer made. Thankfully there are plenty of other good pens out there which write well and feel comfortable, as I am sure you will have discovered in the last twenty five years.


  8. Hello, great article. I have a question. I recently was gifted a green Phileas, without a converter or cartridge. I tried a cartridge I had laying around and it did not fit the barrel, I also ordered a standard converter as per someone’s recommendation on Reddit, again with the same issue. The converter is too long to fit the barrel. Can you please enlighten me as to which cartridge or converter you are using? Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comments.
      The Waterman Phileas will need a Waterman converter or a Waterman cartridge. The Waterman converter is available from Cult Pens for £6.49 and so you can see what it looks like from their web site.
      A standard international cartridge will not work with this pen. Although the nozzle size gives a good fit onto the pen, the barrel will not fit over the cartridge as the cartridge is too wide. However, Waterman cartridges should fit. (Waterman cartridges may also be used in pens which take standard international cartridges, but standard international cartridges may not fit in Waterman pens!)


    2. I have two Waterman Phileas fountain pens. Each one has its own standard Waterman coverter. I recently bought a red Phileas fountain pen on Ebay and purchased the Waterman converter for it from Fahrneys Pens online for about $15. It fits and works great. I never cared much for cartridges. All my fountain pens have their own converters.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you so much for this~! I stumbled upon a green one in my pen case and was googling all over the place trying to identify this pen. I have no recollection at all of ever having purchased or acquired it. Your take on it mirrors mine and I have had such a huge grin on my face reading this. The only notable thing about it for me was the art deco plate on the cap which looks very cool. I have been nudged into making it wetter and seeing if it pleases more by reading this. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know that this post was helpful! It is always a pleasure to get such good feedback. Thanks for visiting the blog. I am curious now as to what else you have in your pen case! I hope your nib work on the Phileas works out well.


  10. I still have mine in red, though I’ve barely used it in the past 20 years. A rather extravagant gift for an almost 11 year old me from my grandmother on our trip through Grand Central Station in mid 2001. My dad had recently gotten into pen collecting and I was tagging along. He has the blue version, though I don’t remember who got his first.

    For some reason the gold band on the bottom has a sort of bubbly texture, almost like paint ready to peel. I can’t remember if it was always like this or maybe I accidentally left it in the sun.

    I’ve recently felt like getting back into hand writing things after years on a keyboard has left making righting even a postcard feel painfully tedious. So I just got a Lamy Safari and Air-Corp Blue-Black Noodler’s Ink. I probably won’t return to the Phileaus’ medium nib, as my poor handwriting is helped by a fine nib for clarity, but I still cherish the box’s presence on my shelf.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great story. Thank you for sharing these memories. Sometimes the pen’s associations are just as important as the pen itself and add extra, sentimental value.
      I am guessing that you live in the US. It’s good that you have somewhere to buy a Safari and some Noodlers ink to get you back into enjoying fountain pens.


  11. My blue Phileas is virtually unused. Like you, I thought it looked good so bought it. Once the provided cartridges were exhausted, since none of my others (or my convertors) would fit, it fell into disuse. I’ll have to try Cult Pens for the Waterman convertor. As the nib’s rather broad for me, I’ll probably move it on, as they go for quite a premium on the ‘bay. By the way, another notoriously dry writer, the Pilot Vanishing Point, drove me mad until I tried the tine-pressure trick. Now, it writes very nicely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Keith. I was not aware that the Phileas is sought after on ebay. The modern Waterman Embleme is a similar level pen although I have not tried one and they have the same grip section. I am glad to hear that you had some success with making nibs wetter. I do have a Pilot VP, the stealth black edition, but mine wrote very well without any adjustment.


  12. Thanks for the post. Enjoyed it.

    I have a Phileas in each of blue, green, red, and black (and, being a bit OCD, bought them because I like to use the corresponding color ink in each pen.

    My blue one has a finicky nib, so I will check out the video you referenced and see if I can resurrect it.

    Be well and stay safe in these challenging times.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I found a Waterman Phileas listed locally on Facebook Marketplace, and after reading your wonderful review, I bought it. (This was my third fountain pen.) True to your description, it’s a wonderful pen and I enjoy using it immensely. Thanks for your helpful words and beautiful photos!

    Liked by 1 person

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