Diplomat’s Excellent Excellence

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Diplomat is a company that’s often overlooked in pen circles, and I think that’s too bad. I own four of their fountain pens—the economical Softtouch Magnum, a mid-range Optimist Loop, the visually distinctive Aero, and this classic looking Excellence. While four pens is not a large sample size, each nib writes so smoothly that I’m convinced that Diplomat values nib performance at least as much as good design and build quality, no matter the price. The same cannot be said of every pen company.

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My latest acquisition—this Excellence Rhombus fountain pen—has been getting constant use. With a medium steel nib, this pen wrote right out of the box and is incredibly smooth with just a hint of spring. Pure joy.

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The excellent Excellence has good looks, a nice weight, and a writing performance that continues to make me smile.

You can read my full review HERE.

The Diplomat Excellence Rhombus fountain pen discussed here was purchased from The Pen Company, at a discount, to facilitate this review. Views expressed here reflect my personal opinion and experiences with the pen.

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Monteverde’s One Touch Stylus 9 Function Inkball Tool Pen

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I think I’ll just cut to the chase. I love this pen. The end.

Kidding.

There’s a little more to the story and the pen.

On a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast, during an ad for Pen Chalet, Myke and Brad mentioned that Ron was running a great deal on the Monteverde Tool pens. Since I was listening in my car, I made mental note to check out the sale once I got home. And, wow, were they right…the price was awesome ($20-something, down from a regular retail price of $45). BUT—do I need another pen?

Honestly, no.

I’ve curtailed my pen buying this year as I have so much that I enjoy using already. Saying “no” has become easier and easier the more I do it. (The same restraint does not hold true for inks. Or paper.)

As I scrolled through the Tool pen models, my thinking went something like this…

“Ballpoint. Nope…I’ve got plenty.”

“Pencil. Nah.”

“Fountain. All set there.”

“What??!! Inkball?? Hmmmmm….”

The Monteverde Inkball Tool Pen is not a conventional rollerball pen, though that’s what the tip looks and acts like. This version of the Tool Pen takes international short cartridges—the kind you’d normally use in a fountain pen—rather than your typical rollerball refill. NOW I was intrigued as this little twist brought something new to the pen table. (Pen table?)

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There are plenty of great color options, but the orange and black one called my name, as orange and black often does. Two days later, I had the pen in hand.

I had an empty short international cartridge on hand, so I immediately filled it with Robert Oster’s Fire & Ice, a current favorite.

And then I couldn’t figure out how to install the cartridge. Or how to get the included cartridge out of the barrel. I’d unscrewed the front black section, the writing tip, but the opening in the barrel was too small to get the included cartridge out or my newly filled cartridge in. What the…?!

Baffled, I emailed Ron to ask him what I was doing wrong. Then headed out to run some errands and to grab lunch.

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As I sat in Applebee’s waiting for my lunch, I suddenly remembered the video overview on Pen Chalet’s page and watched that again. Ohhhhhhhhh, THAT’S what I was doing wrong! Instead of unscrewing the black section holding the tip, you have to grab that section and yank it straight out of the pen. Now the barrel opening was large enough for the included cartridge to be removed from the barrel, and I was able to install my refilled cartridge. Back in business. (A side note: Ron answered my email right around the time I discovered my error. Much appreciated.) As they say, when all else fails, follow directions.

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With that “user error” dilemma conquered, I put pen to paper—Tomoe River Paper, to be exact. Oh, my. What a smooth and lovely writing experience.

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I spent the afternoon hunkered down in our Barnes & Noble café writing letters with this pen, rarely looking up. Immersed, is what I was. Immersed and impressed.

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The tip runs fairly broad, but is perfect on Tomoe River Paper—like a good medium. The performance is excellent. Smooth and skip-free. I love the way the rollerball feels, and I like seeing my favorite ink flowing out of a rollerball-style tip. The barrel is enameled brass, which gives the pen a nice weight (37 grams). As a point of reference, a Lamy Safari weighs about 16 grams, and a Lamy AL-Star weighs 21 grams, so this pen runs about twice as heavy. Despite that, I’ve never experienced hand-fatigue, but maybe that’s because I lift weights on a regular basis and I’m strong like bull (I wish).

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But, wait…there’s more!

The Monteverde Tool Pen includes a number of additional features. The barrel, as you can see, contains a 4-inch ruler as well as three metric scale rulers—1:100, 1:200, and 1:300. Those are pretty obvious.

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The Tool Pen’s endcap is a stylus that works well on my iPhone and Kindle. Unscrew the stylus to reveal a tiny flathead screwdriver. This screwdriver insert can be removed and flipped around to access the Phillips head screwdriver.

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Should you need to repair a teeny-tiny thing, you’re all set.

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Along with the rulers, the barrel also contains a level, so you can verify that your café table is indeed perfectly level.

The one downside to the pen is the fact that the small black cap that covers the writing tip cannot be posted. When you’re using the pen, you have to keep track of this piece. So far, that hasn’t been an issue, but if you’re prone to losing things, keep this in mind.

You might call this a “novelty” pen, and I’d have to, for the most part, agree. Will I ever use the screwdrivers or the level? Probably not, though you never know. The rulers may come in handy now and then. (Edited to add: If it had a little shovel, this pen would’ve come in very handy the past two days as I’ve been trapped in the house by three feet of snow, while Fred was literally stuck at work.) Despite what may seem like gimmicks, this is a pen that delivers a really cool writing experience coupled with an interesting look and potentially useful tools. And let’s not forget that you can use any fountain pen ink as long as you have an empty international short cartridge to refill. (I don’t believe that a conventional converter will fit, though I haven’t confirmed this.)

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I really do love this pen. The end. For real, this time.

This One Touch Stylus 9 Function Tool Pen was purchased with my own funds. The sale at Pen Chalet appears to be over, but you can still find this pen (as well as the other models/colors) at a good price at Pen Chalet. I was in no way compensated for this review. In fact, it’ll come as a surprise to Ron. If you’re a listener of the Pen Addict podcast, you already know that Pen Chalet often sponsors the show and provides codes for listener-only discounts and special sales. If you’re not a listener of the podcast, what’re you waiting for?