My relationship with the Otto Hutt Design 06 fountain pen had the best possible start. I bought the pen whilst on a short break in the beautiful city of Porto, in one of the most delightful pen shops I have ever seen, namely Araujo & Sobrinho founded in 1829. So, being abroad, in holiday mood AND being in a pen shop, I was very open to the possibility of finding a new fountain pen to take home.
The brand Otto Hutt, of Germany, was unfamiliar to me. I had heard the name and seen a few reviews of their pens online, notably from Anthony of UK Fountain pens, but had not seen any of their pens in the flesh. I had not come across them in any shops in London although I have since learned that they are available from the online seller Cult Pens. Another excellent review can be found on The Gentleman Stationer.
At the time of my visit, the shop had two glass display cabinets featuring Otto Hutt pens. First, an eye-catching display in the counter as you enter the shop, contained the Otto Hutt Design 08, a stylish metal pen with a grooved barrel and a distinctive black grip section with with rather sharp-looking backward pointing ridges. These looked grippy, if rather uncomfortable, rather like a sharper take on the Lamy Imporium. Next to this was an Otto Hutt Design 07, which I learned is made from sterling silver and a little more conventional in shape than the Design 08.
Next I spotted a range of Otto Hutt pens in various colours, and which I now know to the be the Design 06. I must admit that at first sight, I was not tempted by these by reason of the polished metal grip section and secondly, the step down from barrel to section. I have found that metal sections can be slippery making it difficult to control the pen without it rotating left or right in your hand. Also a step can be sharp and uncomfortable under your fingers. I had a good browse around the shop and its attractive displays but left without buying anything.
However, I returned a few days later, being the last day of our mini-break in Porto. This time I met Miguel Araujo the proprietor who kindly allowed me to take a few photos in the shop, which I included in my recent post Travelling with ink: Porto, Portugal. I then asked to take a closer look at the Otto Hutt Design 06, perhaps hoping to convince myself of its unsuitability.
A series of revelations ensued. First, whilst the polished metal section is undoubtedly slippy if you were to grip it there, I found that I naturally held the pen with the section resting on my second finger, my first finger over the cap threads (which are not sharp) and, crucially, with my thumb on the lacquered metal barrel, which was not slippery and which allowed me to anchor the pen and prevent it from turning inwards or outwards. Held in this way, unposted, and with its centre of gravity being located towards the front end, it actually felt strangely comfortable. I say “strangely” as it felt different from my other pens and with it cradled in my hand it almost felt like an extension of my body (if my hand had been designed as a writing tool).
The step down from barrel to cap threads and section, which looks quite pronounced and sharp, was not a problem for me in practice. As I said, my thumb rested on the barrel and my first and second figures were on the section and so my grip was formed either side of the step.
The next revelation occurred when I asked to try the pen. Miguel produced a bottle of ink and some paper. I tentatively dipped the nib, and put pen to paper. There was literally a “Wow” moment as soon as I wrote and noticed the soft springiness of the nib, such as is sometimes found in gold nibs. Yet the Otto Hutt Design 06’s nib is stainless steel. Aside from the softness of the nib, it was also beautifully tuned to write smoothly and with an optimal flow. The bi-colour nib with its imprint also happens to be very pretty.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled with the pen and was keen to buy that very one. Miguel cleaned the nib for me, found the box and the converter, and gave me an Otto Hutt catalogue plus a post card with an old black and white photograph of the shop and a tote bag in which to take it all back to my hotel.
Having used the pen for almost two months I am pleased to say that I remain just as pleased with it as I was on that first day, if not more so. I have used it so far only with Graf von Faber-Castell cartridges in Cobalt Blue.
Size and Weight
The Design 06 is a medium-sized pen. It measures 139mm capped, 122mm uncapped and 156mm posted. It weighs around 47g in total, comprised as to 32g uncapped and 15g for the cap alone. Personally, I prefer to use it unposted and in this mode it feels nicely front-weighted. However the cap does post, quite deeply and securely if desired, making the pen quite long and shifting the centre of gravity back a bit.
There is a great deal that I like about the pen. As I write this at home, I have ten fountain pens in my ink cups, plus a further three Delike New Moon pens at hand with inks to match their colours. Of my currently inked pens, the Otto Hutt is the only lacquered metal pen and so its heft does make it stand out from the rest. Here is what I like about it:
- The nib is the main attraction, being soft, smooth, with a pretty imprint and bi-metal, shiny plated finish. It is a medium but writes a line which is on the fine side of medium.
- The smooth, flush body, from barrel to cap (achieved at the expense of having the step down from barrel to section mentioned earlier);
- The stylish, disc finial bearing the initals o|h;
- Having a serial number, laser etched around the finial, mine being 06-11332;
- The long, straight, pocket clip, which pivots when the top is pressed;
- The stylish cap ring, with “ottohutt” on the front and “GERMANY” on the back.
- The shiny metal barrel ferrule.
- The surprisingly quick cap threads, needing literally only a half a rotation to remove or replace the cap;
- The ability to use standard international cartridges, with room for a spare in the barrel.
- It is, in my humble opinion, great value for a top-quality, steel nibbed fountain with a nib that is amongst the best that I have used. I paid 145 Euros for mine.
- The clean and smart look of the polished metal section, next to the glossy black of the barrel; the hardwear components, according to the catalogue, are plated with platinum in the black version, whilst some other colours feature rose gold plating. Whilst I tend to avoid metal sections, who doesn’t like platinum?
- The pen comes in a white cardboard box, (a bit like a mobile phone) with a black outer sleeve. Inside you find, in cardboard inserts, the cartridge converter, a cleaning cloth (a rare luxury) and the user guide and card to note your serial number and date of purchase. The packaging is ideal and makes a good impression but could be easily recycled or used for other things.
- Overall, the pen is tactile, stylish and attractive, whilst also subtle.
In two months of ownership, I have genuinely not found anything to dislike about the Design 06. One could perhaps wish that it was slightly longer and/or that the grip section was not of shiny metal plating or tapered the way that it is. But if you take away those features, you would be left with a pen like the Diplomat Excellence, clearly a great pen and one of my favourites but which can look slightly plain next to the Design 06.
I would like to visit Pforzheim one day, the city in south west Germany from which the Otto Hutt business had its origins in 1920. Some history can be read in the Otto Hutt website and Pforzheim was famed as the Golden City and jewellery capital of Germany. The city was the target of a notorious and controversial bombing raid by RAF Bomber Command during World War II on 23 February 1945 in which much of the city was destroyed with huge loss of life. When the city was rebuilt, the rubble from the destruction was formed into a hill, or Wallberg, to create a scenic memorial and viewpoint. Today, Otto Hutt is located at the nearby municipality of Konigsbach-Stein.
When asked to name a German fountain pen maker, I suspect that most people here would first think of Montblanc or Lamy or Faber-Castell. Otto Hutt is a much less well-known name here but its distinctive Bauhaus-inspired designs and quality workmanship are deserving of greater attention. Certainly if you are fortunate enough to find yourself in a pen shop which sells Otto Hutt fountain pens, it is well worth taking a close look at one. You may be pleasantly surprised and smitten, as I was.