This may perhaps be a harsh criticism, but Kaweco for me has always been a brand that’s “just been there”. A little bit like Diplomat and Caran d’Ache for example – not that there’s anything wrong with either brand (the Diplomat Aero is an amazing pen and I am very fond of the Chromatic ink series by Cd’A). Kaweco remains as a brand that I think “oh, yeah. That’s a thing.” Which is bad, because their pens are actually quite good – I praised the Kaweco Liliput in my review of it. So I am excited to have the opportunity to review another Kaweco product and explore what the brand is, this time in a new flavour with the Kaweco Student; particularly in the 70s Soul finish. So here we go, the Student reviewed by a student.
The Student is a pen that throws me on design. I think the best way to describe this is uncanny because it looks as though it’s something traditional, but it just has these odd quirks that make me feel as if this is something new to me. I enjoy the hourglass section (which isn’t anything revolutionary, granted) and the sleek untapering barrel. The cap also offers some level of ‘interest’. While the bottom of the pen is flat ended, the finial of the cap is conical and also bears the Kaweco logo – a logo of which I am not a huge fan of, but it is nice that there is branding without it being obnoxious. The clip is rather unique, also. It isn’t tough and it functions well, I also like the design. It has an overarching top and then at the base of the clip you have a nice arrow shape with a simple motif.
As I have the 70s Soul, I will mention this particularly. The pen is appropriately named. While I am a 90s child, I just feel that this pen is very retro. I do actually want to say that it’s probably because the barrel is an off-white, almost cream, colour and it works nicely with the ugly dull flat orange cap. Again, this may sound harsh (well, it is) but it works! I actually like it! I often avoid orange, but I just cannot help but enjoy this colour combination. Imagine a shar pei dog – it’s so ugly that it sort of becomes cute. My younger brother would also be an apt example……! (/s) I imagine the pen as a house, with the orange as a weird curtain colour choice, or perhaps the carpet, and the off white cream to be the wallpaper, slightly stained from cigarette smoke. It invokes a retro feeling and I like it.
These nibs appear to be made specifically for Kaweco by Bock. I had to do a bit of research because the motif on the nib indicated neither Bock or JoWo when considering the “stock” nib design. However, it does seem to be the case that Bock manufacture the nibs, rather than Kaweco making them in house. While the two big German brands Pelikan & Lamy spring to mind as companies that make their own nibs in house, you’re still getting a German nib on a German pen, if this is something that matters to you (it doesn’t to me). Bock nibs write perfectly fine, and I have said this many many times – I’ve never had a poorly working Bock nib; this simply adds to that statistic.
The nib has a good flow, there’s no skipping either.
There is a nice degree of line variation and if it matters to you, reverse writing is very smooth and while you get a much drier (as well as finer) writing experience, the nib seems to be able to hold up for quite a number of words. If this is something that is important to you (I know in times when I have had to use maths for classes it can be useful) then this would be a good pen to go for. Especially if you’re a student…….. (c’mon, I was going to reference it at least once).
One upset I do have with the nib, however, is the line width. This is a fine, and I do prefer finer grades, but I think the nibs outside of Japan have it wrong – their nibs in my opinion are too fat for what they are advertised. This feels too much like a medium for me to be called a broad: it is a “skinny medium” at best and I don’t think there’s enough difference between fine and medium European nib grades to even bother making a distinction. If you want a fine nib, get an extra fine.
If you want to go to the other side of the spectrum, there is the opportunity to get a double broad nib – which is nice because not many brands offer this width anymore. I believe it was either 2016 or 2017 in which Pelikan discontinued their double broad (they also did triple broad if I am not mistaken). So this offering would be welcomed by some.
The Kaweco Student is a cartridge/converter filled pen. Apparently it’s standard international, but I found some converters to be hit or miss. Some would not go in at all, others would go in but then would become stuck in the barrel. I ceased testing after that incident. This means you are left with two options: small international cartridges or one of Kaweco’s utterly ridiculous small converters. It’s sort of a “best of a bad bunch” scenario. You could fit another cartridge in the barrel, however. For me, this is a serious downfall.
Cannot be filled as an eye dropper either as the threads are metal.
Most of this pen is plastic. I think only the section is metal, so this is a rather lightweight pen and therefore very user friendly. It sits well in the hand and it posts securely, though I wouldn’t want to post this pen. I rarely do, in fact. Here are a few size comparisons.
The ordinary models of this pen go for £42, while the 70s Soul has a premium of £18, totalling £60. For an upgrade to a premium, £18 isn’t that steep – if I only had to pay £18 to upgrade from the Midi size of the Visconti Homosapiens to the Oversize, I would not be complaining (they also wouldn’t sell many Midi sizes). That being said – I don’t think this is a premium version of the Student. It’s nice – don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the colour scheme and how it feels, so just add it as a regular lineup. The only thing this pen offers above the £42 models is that it is a two tone colour design (cap and barrel are different) and it has gold trims (I would assume they’re gold plated, which isn’t as exciting as actual gold. I may be wrong in this). Even me, a lover of gold trim, fails to really understand what I’m paying for here.
Would I buy it?
I enjoyed this pen, I really did. I found myself reaching for it quite often as it’s a fun pen to use and I like the colour scheme too. However, for the simple fact I am paying an extra 18 quid for what is essentially a different colour scheme and nothing else (which is already offered with yellow, red, black and various blues), I would not buy this. I’m not sure if it’s a protest or because the £18 isn’t worth it for me. Please do also take into mind that the 70s Soul scheme is actually my favourite of all the colours offered in the Student line up.
If not this, then what?
£42 is a difficult range. Instead of paying £18 for a different scheme, you could pay £5 for a different pen, I am of course talking about the Lamy Aion, which I think is a better pen. It is also of German origin. A TWSBI Eco would leave you with some change left over for an interesting ink such as Robert Oster or Platinum’s Carbon range – or you could get a whole bunch of Diamine inks to test out.