Waterman Carène

The Carène is fairly unique among modern pens with its inset nib. I am a fan of streamlined pens and I appreciate the aesthetics of this pen. Carène is the French word for hull–as in the hull of a ship–so the name makes sense.

The snap cap is very similar to the Lamy 2000’s cap. It has lugs that engage the cap and lock it into place very securely. Unlike the Lamy 2000, the lugs are discrete and unlikely to bother anyone. The pen caps with a satisfying *click* and posts deeply without impacting the balance of the pen. It also sports a functional spring-loaded clip, which is a nice touch.carenecappedbyscotchThe body is lacquered brass, so the pen is a bit heftier than the average resin pen. My pen is the Marine Amber finish, and the lacquer job on it is very smooth and aesthetically pleasing. Black, blue, and red finishes are also options, and there are a number of other metal bodies and cap styles available.

My writing experience with the Carène has been basically positive with no problems with the nib out of the box. The Carène’s 18k gold nib units are commonly available in fine and medium, but one can still find extra fine, medium, broad, and sometimes factory stub nibs. My pen is a fine and is very rigid and smooth with moderate wetness.

carenenib
Lovely and smooth fine nib. Note the lugs by the trim ring which engage the cap very securely.

I did have some other issues with the pen, though. For one, I feel like the end of the pen’s barrel should align with the nib. It’s not a deal breaker, but it bugs me. To be fair, I always use the pen posted so I don’t have to look at it but I know it’s not aligned. Technically there is a way to align this–the user can undo the piece that retains the threads on the nib unit, flip the threads, and adjust them until the barrel aligns the way the user wants. But I’m stubborn and don’t want a work-around. I want it correct. Interestingly, not every pen suffers from this; I’m guessing that the Waterman factory just applies/machines the threads willy-nilly without thinking about it to save costs or whatever, so some pens come out aligned while some come out a little weird.

carenemissalign
The gold end does not align with the nib, creating an asymmetrical pen. This bothers me a lot.

Expensive Waterman converters kept cracking on me, specifically along the lip of their openings, causing ink to leak everywhere. Technically Waterman uses a proprietary cartridge/converter system that is very similar to the standard international system, so the user is often forced to replace their converter with a Waterman converter that costs twice as much as a standard Schmidt or similar. I found a generic Chinese converter that fits, and I haven’t had a problem since. I do not know if it was an issue with my pen or Waterman’s converters, but it’s worth pointing out. Despite the Carène’s use of a (technically) proprietary system, it is still close enough to use standard international cartridges–including some long cartridges. The user may also place two short cartridges back-to-back inside the barrel for greater ink capacity.

carenecappedaloneFinally, something about the design of the Carène makes it more susceptible to ink splatter and other inky weirdness compared to other modern designs. Storing the pen in a pouch and not jostling it about mitigates a lot of these issues but, again, it’s worth mentioning.

The Waterman Carène is often overlooked, likely because it’s simply too expensive at around $240. Simply put, the Carène floats in a very strange place in the fountain pen world–in between the usual “step-up” pens in the sub-$200 range, but still below the luxury level. Potential users can track them down for much lower prices, but one would have to really want one as they are just aren’t carried at as many retailers anymore. I think it’s somewhat of a shame because if it were around $150, this pen would be a very strong competitor among intermediate-level pens. At $240, this is a fairly meh choice, especially with the weird issues I encountered. I paid much less for mine, so I don’t mind so much; had I paid full MSRP, I’d be rather upset with it.

Pros:

  • Good writer out of the box.
  • Lovely pen.
  • Technically it uses a proprietary system, but it’s close enough to standard international to make it work. Sometimes.

Cons:

  • I had weird issues: barrel misalignment and cracking converters.
  • The user is (maybe) stuck using Waterman converters that cost twice as much as commonly available standard converters.
  • The MSRP is simply too damn high.

Specs:

  • Cap:
    • Snap cap. Push to post.
    • Spring-loaded clip.
  • Nib:
    • Carène 18k nib units.
    • It’s easiest to find fine and medium nibs, but extra fine, broad, and factory stub nibs are around.
  • Body:
    • Marine Amber Lacquer over brass.
    • Many other finishes are available.
  • Filling system:
    • Waterman cartridge converter. Basically standard international.
    • I measured a 0.8mL ink capacity with my (non-Waterman) converter.
    • Some long international cartridges fit just fine. Some don’t.
    • I was able to fit two standard international cartridges back to back in the barrel–one inking the pen, one in reserve. Mileage may vary though, depending on the size of one’s specific cartridges.
    • Of course if one’s into cartridges, Waterman long cartridges are cheap, available everywhere, and perform fine in the pen.
  • Length:
    • Capped: 145mm
    • Uncapped: 130mm
    • Posted: 149mm
  • Weight:
    • Total: 34g
    • Pen: 23g
    • Cap: 11g
  • Section diameter:
    • 10-11mm

Alternatives:

carenecompare1
carenecompare2
carenecompare3
carene_1
carene_2

Published by

MatB

I am a fountain pen enthusiast.

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