Early thoughts on the Waterman Emblème fountain pen.

This is a current but not new model in Waterman’s range. It is one of their lesser spotted models, at least here in the UK. I remember first seeing them online a few years ago and that they were available in a choice of black, red, white or blue. There were also grey and a gold coloured “Deluxe” versions with a more lustrous finish.

I did not buy one at the time, but having spotted a Deluxe grey one online last weekend at a very attractive price, I went for it. It has been with me for only five days and is still within the honeymoon period but I shall try to give a balanced opinion.

Waterman Emblême fountain pen, Deluxe grey.


The pen came in a small and simple cardboard box, with a white protective outer box. Inside is a pen tray where the pen is gripped by an elastic band under a white sash. The tray lifts out and underneath is a sheet with filling instructions and an international 3 year warranty. One Waterman blue cartridge was included but no converter. Full marks for the presentable packaging which can be kept or recycled.

Simple cardboard gift box.


This is a smart, elegant pen with a plastic barrel and a brushed stainless steel cap. The cap finial is flat and plain. The pocket clip is firm and functional with a gap down the middle and the Waterman logo at the top. The glossy polished cap band reads Waterman Paris on the front and France on the back.

Brushed stainless steel cap and finial.

The cap and barrel are almost flush and the transition is smooth and tactile. The barrel tapers gently and ends in a shallow conical point.

The snap cap closes tightly with a reassuring click. It could be carried in a jacket pocket, with confidence that the pen will not drop out of the cap.

The Emblême (left) next to an older-style Waterman Hemisphere.

Removing the cap, you have a stainless steel nib, featuring an Eiffel Tower image and Waterman, Paris, and the nib grade, “F” in my case. There is a black plastic grip section, ridged at the top end and smooth at the lower end with a lip which serves to stop your fingers sliding onto the nib and to secure the pen in the cap. The plastic grip section design is the same as that which was used on the Waterman Phileas and also the Kultur and so is well tried and tested.

Eiffel Tower!

Beneath the barrel, which unscrews on plastic threads, there is a plastic collar in which to insert a Waterman cartridge.

Inside the barrel, a brass liner can be seen, which is a very nice feature and adds a little more heft and strength to the pen. There is still room to fit a Waterman converter in the pen if you prefer.

Brass liner adds weight to the barrel.

The nib.

According to Waterman’s web site, the Emblème has the largest nib in the Waterman range. It is engraved with a unique Eiffel Tower design. There is no breather hole. The tines were even and level. The tipping was smooth and symmetrical. It might have been an ideal set-up for the majority of users with an “underwriting” style, but my personal preference is to have a very slight gap between the tines at the tip, so that ink flows as soon as the nib touches paper, without needing any pressure. This is preferable for an “overwriting” style. I therefore spent a few minutes in flexing the tines up and down a little just enough to get daylight between the tines at the tip. Having checked that the tines were still level, I then smoothed the tipping, with the very minimum of wear, on Micro-mesh pads.

Nib and feed, before adjusting.
And now with a visible tine gap for pressure-less writing.

Writing performance.

The result, once I had tweaked the nib to my preference, was that it wrote wonderfully: smooth and effortless with a fine line and good flow. I was very happy with this outcome.

Size and weight (approximate).

Closed, the pen is 141mm long: uncapped, about 125mm, and posted 152mm. It can be posted quite deeply but I did not like to push the cap on to the back of the barrel too firmly for fear of damaging either the barrel or the inner cap. The result was that the cap when posted soon worked loose. In fact I prefer to use this pen unposted.

It weighs 26.5g in all, as to 15g uncapped and 11.5g for the cap alone.

Likes and dislikes.

I very much like the overall smart look of the pen. I have always liked pens with metal caps, with a Parker 51 vibe. It also makes me happy to think that the nib would be protected in its cap if the pen were to be accidentally dropped or stepped upon. Also I like the Eiffel Tower engraving. The section is of a good width and can be gripped comfortably. The brass liner in the barrel is very nice benefit. You are buying into the Waterman heritage and reputation and even the name harks back to the early Waterman Emblem Pen model, dating from around the 1930’s.

Comparison: Watermans Emblême, Phileas and Kultur.

There is not much that I dislike. The featureless cap finial is perhaps a missed opportunity. A coloured jewel insert to match the barrel would have been lovely but given its modest price there is nothing wrong with the simple steel disc as it is. The same might be said for the barrel finial: a metal finial would look nice but then you are not paying for a Waterman Carène here. For the price I have no complaints.


The pen, at the price I paid, is great value, costing about the same in the UK as a Cross Bailey Light or a Lamy AL-Star. The full price should be around double that. I am delighted with mine and am very glad to have bought it. Whilst at work during the week, I looked forward to coming home to my Waterman Emblème. Perhaps here I am allowing myself to be overly biased in this honeymoon period but honestly my heart did a little leap whenever I thought of it. I have enjoyed letter-writing with it and have written plenty of paragraphs just for the simple and inexplicable pleasure of writing with a smooth, fine, wet nib.

A few peripheral fountain pen accessories.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our fountain pen hobby could be condensed down to a single pen, a bottle of ink and one current journal? There is an attraction to a more minimal, less wasteful lifestyle as we grow older. Perhaps it is also a subconscious desire to rediscover our ten-year old selves.

However a glance around my writing space reveals that this is not where I am at, at least not yet. Over the years of acquiring fountain pens and blogging about them, I find myself surrounded by a host of extra items, more or less related to the use and enjoyment of the pens themselves. Here is a quick A-Z of some which spring to mind.

1. Apps.

These do not take up any space, other than on my phone. I use one called Memento Database to keep a virtual card-index record of my fountain pens, with dates of purchase and price, nib details and a record of when they were inked and with what. The records can easily be sorted alphabetically by brand or in order of dates of purchase. I use ColorNote, a long-term favourite, to make lists and sort them. This could be of writing prompts, memories of something or someone sorted by key words, or just a list of points such as for this blog post. Also, a Magnifier app can be very useful to inspect pen nibs and also has a camera facility.

2. Book stand.

If you aspire to transcribing a book by fountain pen, it is useful to have a means to prop it up and hold it open. I bought one when I decided to tackle Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, inspired by Kimberly of @allthehobbies on Instagram.

3. Bulb blower.

This device was purchased originally to blow dust off camera lenses, but has since been re-purposed as a means of flushing nib sections with warm water.

4. Brass shims.

Thin sheets of brass, in various thicknesses, used to floss the tines of a nib to clean out accumulated paper fibres and dried ink. Also useful if widening tines to improve ink flow.

5. Craft knife.

The next step, when you become frustrated that the brass shim flossing is not widening the tine gap and decide that more extreme action is called for. Sometimes inserting a blade from the breather-hole end and lowering it into the tine gap and giving it a gentle wiggle, is what is needed.

6. Dremel 3000.

Ok, this is stretching it a bit, to list under fountain pen accessories. This is a rotary, power tool used for drilling, grinding, cutting, or polishing and lots more. Mine was bought in an extreme case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome with the intention of smoothing the rough end of the deliberately broken-off pocket clip on my Pilot Capless. I have not yet dared attempt it though as I will very likely damage the surrounding area of the pen body.

7. Ferrero Rocher chocolate boxes.

The square, clear plastic lidded boxes are very handy for keeping fountain pens if not in current circulation. Someone does need to eat the chocolates first.

8. Glass nib dip pens.

Excellent for sampling a number of inks in quick succession. A quick dip in water and a wipe with a tissue and it is ready for the next ink. I have two: one is an all-glass design with a long slender glass handle: the other has a plastic body and screw cap meaning it is easy to transport.

9. Grippy material.

A sheet of rubbery material, sometimes sold to help unscrew jars, but which can be useful when pulling out a friction-fit nib and feed from a section, for cleaning or maintenance.

10. Ink bottles.

Empty bottles can be useful. The tall, square Aurora bottles are good to hold the barrel of an eye-dropper pen, for filling.

11. Kitchen roll.

For drying nibs and other parts of a pen after cleaning. The absorbent paper wicks away the moisture from the nib and feed. Alternatively you may wrap the whole section in several layers of paper and give it a few deft shakes to get the water out by centrifugal force (pro tip learned from Brad of the Pen Addict). Large rolls of blue paper from hardware stores, are cheap and last for ages.

12. Loupe.

A powerful magnifier, to closely examine a nib before attempting adjustment. My favourite is an “Eschenbach Mobilux 7x28D 60” with an LED light. Lives permanently on my desk and is used frequently.

13. Magnifying glass.

I have lost count of how many I have bought now, in all shapes and sizes. The newest, called Fancii, has a huge, 130mm diameter lens in lightweight plastic, an LED light and a powerful x10 lens in the handle. It can be used to hold in one hand, while you write with the other, to observe the exquisite sensation of glistening wet ink and shading on the page. Unfortunately it suffers from pin-cushion distortion in the centre area, which makes you want to smooth-down a bulge in the paper which is not really there.

Fancii magnifying glass. 130mm diameter lens.

14. Micro-mesh craft kit.

A box of grinding pads of assorted grades, used for smoothing nibs.

15. Pen cases and pouches.

Mine range from zippered faux-leather cases holding 24 pens to leather pouches to carry one, two or three pens. I use a Waterman two-pen pouch mostly.

16. Pen cups.

I keep a couple of these, in stiff cardboard, each divided into four quadrants, on my writing desk – just for the inked fountain pens. All other writing implements have their own cups.

Pen cups for the currently inked.

17. Pen rest.

An essential desk accessory in which to place an uncapped pen so that it will not roll off the table. Mine are handmade from the blocks of black squashy sponge material that come with certain ink bottles – Pelikan Edelstein I think.

18. Pen roll.

A rolled up pen storage pouch, to hold around 6 – 10 pens. Good for pen club meet-ups.

19. Pen tray inserts.

These are moulded plastic trays, with a sort of felty surface, in which to keep pens apart when in storage (eg in a Ferrero Rocher box as above). They can be cut to size.

20. Pipette.

A handy “eye-dropper” type device to transfer ink from a bottle, directly into the barrel of an eye-dropper pen.

21. Portable photo-studio.

A white plastic foldable box with one open side, and a ring of LED lights in the top, usually powered by a USB charge pack and so can be used away from a mains power socket. Great for small product photography such as pens, at any time of day or night when you need a stable light source for photos.

22. Self-seal clear plastic envelopes.

Small clear envelopes to keep tiny bits and pieces, such as fountain pen converters, cartridge adaptors, spare nibs etc.

23. Silicone grease.

A grease to lubricate a piston, in a piston-filling pen such as a TWSBI or Lamy 2000. Purchased from a diving shop.

24. Storage chest.

A chest of drawers, as a storage solution for pens, bottles of inks and even the note-book stash. Mine is a plastic tower unit of four, deep drawers. The bottom two are ink.

25. Travelling ink well.

A means of transporting a smallish quantify of ink. Mine is a Pineider, and holds up to 10cc of ink. Useful to fill a pen on the go if you do not wish to carry a whole bottle. Visconti also make one.

26. Weighing scales.

Digital scales to weigh pens, for descriptive and comparative purposes in blog posts. Bought from a kitchen supply shop.

So it can be seen, that the pen that you bought yourself as a present, itself needs a present, and so it goes on. There are no doubt many more accessories that I have missed in this quick round up. Let me know some of your favourites in the comments!

Further thoughts on the Jinhao X159 fountain pen.

I am still besotted with these. Following the success of my recent purchase of two Jinhao X159 fountain pens, I found myself tempted to add more, in other colours.

They are available in a variety of editions. Most colours have the option of gold-coloured or silver-coloured trim and a choice of a Fine or Extra Fine nib. Depending upon your preferences the prices ranged from £7.49 up to around £20.00 and the estimated delivery times also vary.

Lingering repeatedly over the online photos, I contemplated adding a couple more to my existing pair. Readers may recall, I had started by ordering a black one, with silver trim and a Fine nib. This was swiftly followed by a blue one with gold trim and Extra Fine nib.

For my next order, I went for a dark orange with silver trim, Extra Fine nib and also a dark red one, gold trim and Extra Fine nib. Two pens in one order. See how this escalates!

A dark orange edition, with silver colour trim.

They arrived within 24 hours of ordering. Again, each pen was packed in its own simple padded envelope. Each comes with a converter fitted. No cartridge is included although they take standard international cartridges.

New pen induction ritual.

Again, I had the happy prospect of inspecting and preparing my new pens. Starting with the orange pen, and in what has become a familiar routine with my Jinhao flock, I started by examining the nib under a loupe. It looked to be set up well. I unscrewed the nib housing, separated the nib and feed and gave them a good rinse in warm water. In each of my Jinhaos from the seller Erofa, I have noticed a little blue ink residue in the water at this stage, a sign that the nib has been tested before sale. This is very admirable for its modest price.

I reassembled the nib, taking care to centre the nib over the feed and to hold it to the feed tightly as I pushed it back into the housing. I like the dark orange colour. It is not bright and showy, but more of a terra cotta.

A lot of nib for your money.

Using cartridges.

I had given some thought to what ink to use, pondering a brown perhaps. But when the time came to ink the pen, I decided on trying a black cartridge. I have a stash of these, having bought WHSmith bags of 30, when they were about £3.00. I found that this ink actually performed very nicely and flows well. Somehow, this humble and inexpensive ink seems right to pair with the budget priced Jinhao – to keep the theme of getting the job done at the lowest possible price.

One big advantage of using these cartridges is that a pen will often have room in the barrel to carry a spare, great if you run dry while away from your supplies. I popped a spare one in the cavernous barrel of the X159. There was ample room for the barrel to be screwed back on, so much so that the spare cartridge could be heard ratting inside.

I thought of cutting a small piece off an eraser and putting it at the back of the barrel. I tried this, but on screwing it back together with the spare cartridge inside, the piece of rubber got stuck in the pen. I had also cut it too large, as the barrel would not screw on all the way. Having something stuck in the pen, or the risk of it happening, annoyed me and after eventually dislodging it, I decided on a different option, that of using a scrunched up piece of kitchen roll paper, (about 1 inch square, rolled into a ball) and placing it between the two cartridges, rather than behind the spare. This worked nicely: no rattle, and it could be removed easily. The cartridge did not get stuck either (a common issue with the Cross Bailey Light, incidentally).

Nib tweakery.

I had saved the red Jinhao for the next evening. When I inspected the nib, it was quite a way off the centre line of the feed, but this is very quickly and easily corrected. Again, I took out the nib housing and separated the nib and feed. I flexed each tine up and down a few times to loosen up the tine gap a bit, before rinsing and drying the parts and reassembling. I took my usual care over centering the nib and put it all back together.

A dark red edition, with gold colour trim and bicolour nib.

I then noticed that the tine gap was a bit wider than it had been. Important lessen to self: make sure the nib is correctly centred symmetrically over the feed BEFORE widening the tine gap. It may be that once centred, the tine gap will be wider.

Now centred on the feed. Tine gap a bit on the wet side, but good for lefty overwriters.

To ink the dark red pen, I got out six bottles of red ink and sampled them all with a glass nib dip pen. I settled on Pure Pens Cadwaladr, a lovely dark red. The colour reminds me of my favourite wax crayon as a child, in primary school “wet play” times!

I now have four Jinhao X159s each inked with a different colour. Here is the collection (so far!):-

Pen colourTrimNib Ink
BlackSilverFineMontblanc Royal Blue
BlueGoldExtra FineDiamine Tavy blue black
OrangeSilverExtra FineWHSmith black cartridge
Dark redGoldExtra FinePure Pens Cadwaladr red

When you buy more than one of a pen, the downside is that you may find yourself liking one over the others. Currently, I tend to bring the orange one if going out, since its spare cartridge means I will not run out, away from home. With the prices being so attractive, it is tempting to gather up one of every colour, perhaps to use with corresponding inks. I would fancy a dark green and a brown next, if I were to buy any more. Then there are the white or ivory editions.

Mixing and matching parts.

There is also the useful option of being able to mix and match the pen parts and make your own colour combinations. For example I could put a black cap on my orange pen, and give it a Delta Dolce Vita vibe. Also the black pen, given an orange section, looks rather special. Mixing has a practical purpose as well as an aesthetic one, in that you can chose what ink colour you want to carry and then put the nib section with its converter or cartridge, into whichever barrel you wish. Don’t want an orange pen in a courtroom? Clothe it in a black cap and barrel!

If you have more than one X159, you can pull off crazy stunts like this.

So, four new pens for me before January was out. The black version is probably the most versatile to take any ink colour but if you want to treat them like a set of colouring pens, with every colour carrying a matching ink, then the Jinhaos are probably the most economical way of doing so.

My Jinhao X159 family.