I received the Benu Scepter II during the first week of June. I’ve been remiss in writing up my This Just In post with my first impressions. When the Benu Grand Scepter X arrived last week, I decided to combine the two into one post. They are very similar fountain pens. While I expected similarities, they are more alike than I expected.
Benu names each Scepter model with a Roman numeral, rather than naming each color. The Grand Scepter continues the Roman numeral sequence right where the original Scepter leaves off. There are currently 13 fountain pens in the Scepter line, which Benu lumps into the Scepter Collection on their website. Online retailers seem to split them apart. Currently, 1 thru 8 (I – VIII) are the original Scepter, and 9 thru 13 are Grand Scepters.
Commonalities & Differences
Both have the same twisted helical design and bodies with a concave shape. Despite the “Grand” moniker, that pen is nearly the same size as the original Scepter, and both are the same size when capped and neither pen can post the cap The differences are in the gripping section and nib. I also see the Grand Scepter acrylics as more muted and subdued.
Both models have a black cap band with Benu molded into it. Both pens taper out towards the ends of the pen, reaching just over 18mm on both pens. Those big ends do make the pens a tight squeeze in some pen cases. Benu own site lists the capped pen length as the same (133mm) for both models.
Both the Scepter & Grand Scepter require 2 1/2 rotations to be remove the cap. But unlike some pens, the cap can be quickly rotated, with no friction, and needing only three quick flicks of my fingers to remove.
The biggest difference between the models is when the pen is in writing mode, which is where it can matter. The Grand Scepter has the larger #6 nib while the regular Scepter has the smaller #5 nib. The Grand Scepter a longer fountain pen than the regular Scepter when they’re in writing mode. The Grand Scepter is 125.74mm long, while the Scepter II is 121.76mm long. The gripping section girth of the Grand Scepter is also bigger, 10.38 mm versus 9.79mm for my Scepter II. I measured where I grip the pen which is near the nib, and where the section on these pens is thinnest.
The Grand Scepter has glow-in-the-dark acrylics. Personally, I don’t see the point, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Benu lists each pen’s glowing ability on their website under both incandescent and LED lighting. (Check the pen listings for the charts, I couldn’t get a reliable link to them.) My Scepter X is the least “glowy” of all the models. To my eye, the purple ends on my Grand Scepter (the part that glows) looks washed out, so I’m not a fan.
One final difference – the Grand Scepter is not available with an extra-fine nib.
One final commonality – the gripping sections are swappable between the pens.
Benu Scepter II
I’ve been using the Scepter II regularly since it arrived. The only ink I’ve used with it is Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Bordeaux.
The extra-fine Schmidt nib is a smooth writer and has been problem-free, with no skipping or hard starts. Schmidt uses nibs made by JoWo, according to the Benu website. In the past, the Benu website said Schmidt nib units used to be built with nibs supplied by both JoWo and Bock. Now, the site only mentions JoWo as the nib maker. The nib has the typical Schmidt engraving on a single-tone silver nib. Some color variations do have gold-colored nibs.
While I don’t want a lot of sparkly fountain pens, and the Benu Scepter II positively sparkles, I can handle one or two. I love the look of the Scepter II’s acrylic. Green is my favorite color, and green is the dominant color in this pen. Also, while the color varies (shades of green, blue & white), each of the colors has sparkles that appear to be embedded at different levels in the acrylic. The sparkles intensify and fade as the light changes.
The extra fine nib provides a smooth and pleasant and skip-free writing experience.
Benu Grand Scepter II Gallery
Benu Grand Scepter X
The Grand Scepter X is a very recent arrival, so it’s had minimal use. I inked it up with the long international cartridge that was included. A converter is also included. I’ve been using the Scepter II with the smaller #5 nib for so long that the Grand Scepter’s #6 nib looked weird when I started using it. I did get used to it, and my brain no longer pauses to process what I’m seeing when I first begin writing with the pen.
I found the nib to be a little on the dry side, especially when compared to the thinner extra-fine nibs in the Scepter II and the Briolette that I have. With fast writing, while the pen never skips, the line gets thinner and lighter when I write fast. I’ve used the ink in other pens (supplied in the pen box), and it doesn’t have the same problem. On the Briollete, which also has the same ink but an extra-fine nib, doesn’t have the same issues and easily keeps up with fast writing. The writing sample photos show both pens. To my eye, the nibs put down lines of the same width. While I didn’t flush the pen before inking it up, I did clean it before writing these first impressions. It didn’t change the performance.
To be clear, the pen flows consistently, just dry(ish), even when writing multiple pages at my normal pace. Fast writing results in a lighter line, but it still seems to flow consistently at with lighter line. I can’t write fast for long enough to see if the pen ever gets staved for ink.
Other than being a bit dry, the nib has been a solid performer without skipping or hard starts. I don’t feel a real difference between the grip section of this Grand Scepter X and the Scepter II. Both are comfortable.
I don’t find the Grand Scepter X (or it’s Grand siblings) nearly as beautiful as the original Scepters. The large glow-in-the-dark areas lacks the sparkle, while the color is muted and dull, lacking any pop. The sparkles also seem more subdued. On the Scepter II, they appear embedded in the acrylic, spread across multiple levels. They also sparkle in indirect lighting. On the Grand Scepter X, all appear to be on one level, near the surface. The Grand Scepter needs more direct light to get any sparkle. The exception is the small splashes of blue that cover some of the glow-in-the-dark purple which do have some vibrant sparkle in them.
Benu Grand Scepter X Gallery
I didn’t check the measurements when I ordered the Grand Scepter. I just expected it would be larger than the Scepter II. I was surprised when it was the same size in almost every measurement. Even the gripping section doesn’t feel different to me, despite some slight differences and different nibs. So while the section girth of the Grand is wider, the Scepter II has been comfortable in the 1 1/2 months that I’ve used it.
On looks, the Scepter II is a clear winner for me. While it could be my specific pens, I find the #5 EF nib to provide a more pleasant writing experience. That writing experience does transfer to the Grand Scepter X if I swap the sections (which includes the nibs). While I like dry(ish) nibs, I found the Grand Scepter a little too dry for me.
There’s a $22 difference in price between the models. The original Scepter (Scepter II) is $88, while the Grand Scepter X is $110. I have a hard time justifying the price difference. If I wanted a replacement #5 or #6 nib unit from a retailer, I’d expect the #6 to be about $5 more expensive than the smaller #5. Maybe the glow-in-the-dark acrylic costs more, I don’t know. While it’s purely subjective, I don’t like the look of the Grand nearly as much. The pen bodies are the same since there’s not more acrylic needed for the pen body. So, while I don’t think $110 is out of line for the Grand Scepter, the regular Scepter is a much better value.
When comparing the Benu Scepter II and the Benu Grand Scepter X, the Scepter II is the clear winner for me.