The Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic, in Gemstone acrylic came to my attention in a recent Franklin-Christoph email blast. I usually either just delete these marketing emails, or save them for when I want to catch up on what’s happening. I happened to open this one soon after it arrived. The photo was gorgeous and immediately caught my attention. I didn’t really read the email, just clicked through to the website and the pen. I knew I liked F-C pens and the Model 02 specifically, so I decided quickly, and didn’t take a day or two to consider it. It’s probably good that I didn’t wait since the pen is now sold out. I don’t pay too much attention to Franklin-Christoph these days, but my impression is that a lot of their pens are short runs of unique acrylics, which may or may not repeat. This is one reason I don’t pay too much attention to them, it’s exhausting trying to keep up.
It’s the green and red in the gemstone material that caught my eye. I’m not a fan of blue. While there are blue specks, it’s the least visible color. Or, my brain reflexively suppresses it. In any case, I wasn’t too concerned about the blue. I ordered the pen late Monday afternoon, and it was in my hands on Friday.
Unboxing and First Impressions
When I unboxed the fountain pen and opened the zipper pouch I was a little disappointed. The gemstone material didn’t “pop” like it did in the photos. I was in very subdued, indirect lighting. Under good photography lighting the material certainly does pop, so there was no misdirection. The acrylic also looks much brighter under my normal desk lighting. I’ve gotten past my initial disappointment and the first impression has worn off.
The Model 02 comes with a pen pouch rather than the traditional clamshell or presentation box. While I probably won’t use the pouch a lot, it’s certainly more practical packaging than a box I’ll never use. It is all in a small cardboard box that provides protection and structure for shipping, so it’s not just the pouch. A converter is provided, along with one blue and one black cartridge.
So I removed the cartridge and flushed out the section with a bulb syringe. I returned the cartridge and left the pen in my Penwell while I cooked, ate, and cleaned up after supper. So, well over an hour. Still no ink could reach paper. The ink cartridge went into the garbage. The pen got another quick flush and I shook out the water into a cloth. Then the converter went on and I filled the pen with Waterman Intense Black. If the pen has any issue with Waterman ink it’s going back.
My disappointment grew as I tried to ink the pen. I like to avoid waste and use the included cartridge as the first ink. I picked the black cartridge as the first ink and popped it into the pen. I tried a couple Franklin-Christoph inks when they first introduced their own ink line, and I didn’t like them. Because of that I almost skipped the cartridges, and I should have. Even though the pen spent several hours nib down in my Penwell, and got some help from me, the ink never reached the business end of the nib.
I was very pleased when the Model 20 wrote perfectly with the first stroke. The extra-fine nib is nice and smooth, with a line that’s true to the nib size. The pen wouldn’t be going back.
Using the Model 20 Intrinsic
The pen can be capped/uncapped in less than one rotation, about 3/4 of a turn. The threads are at the bottom of the section, just above the nib. They are thick threads. At one time F-C called them block threads although I haven’t seen that term recently. They are a bit of a pain when I bottle fill with the converter attached. The ink gets into the threads and needs to be aggressively wiped off with a soft towel. My impression is more ink is wasted than in other pens, since the ink can’t be easily swiped back into the bottle, and the threads collect more ink than a flat section. With a typical section I usually “scrape” it along the bottle top to get some ink back into the bottle. I may be overestimating the lost ink (I’m not about to figure out a way to measure it), and in any case, it’s a small amount.
I still have the original Model 02 (rev 1) which has the traditional higher, and smaller threads. I prefer it’s design over this one, but I can see where the original’s threads would bother some people. The current Model 02 (rev 2) is slightly thicker, which is a point in its favor. Although, I don’t notice a difference when using the pens. Both versions are comfortable. My longest writing session with the new pen has been three 8.25″ x 11.75″ pages, and it was fatigue free. I expect to easily duplicate the 2+ hours sessions I have with the original Model 02.
The Model 02 can be eyedropper filled, although I don’t plan to do that. I don’t need a large capacity these days, and I like changing up my inks.
My only real complaint is the clip. It’s extremely tight. I can’t slip it over any of my pen case material. That’s not a huge issue since the clip fits inside the pen slot, and stays secure. I can slip it over a thin shirt pocket, but it’s a two-handed operation. The tight grip makes it extremely secure.
Franklin-Christoph says they tune and test the nibs on all the pens they sell. I can believe it. The extra-fine steel nib is a smooth and consistent writer. The Gemstone material, while subdued in indirect lighting, really sparkles when there’s any direct light hitting it. It doesn’t have the depth of my Kanilea Kona Cherry, but it is less than half the price. I can get lost staring into the Kona Cherry. That doesn’t happen with the Gemstone Model 20, but the Gemstone acrylic still makes me smile.
Despite the initial disappointments, I’m extremely happy with the Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Intrinsic with Gemstone material and an extra-fine nib. My Lamy Aion Dark Green has been my daily workhorse for a few weeks. Once the Aion goes dry (very soon) the Model 20 will take over and it will have a chance to show me what it can do. I’m looking forward to it.