Waterman Serenité in Cocobolo.

The only good Waterman is a vintage Waterman, unless it’s a Carene with a factory stub, or a Serenité with a cursive italic by Mike Masuyama.

Hard-won serenity

The Serenité is an anomaly in the modern Waterman portfolio. Discontinued but still available in a few shops or from online and show vendors, it was the first pen design that startled me into an awareness of what a cylinder could become. It was how a sword could dream of itself: a fell swoop of deadly elegance. It came with a stand, where it could rest in between confrontations with ink and paper.

Wood on wood on wood

A friend owns the blue version and brings it to pen meets. “I have a saber and I know how to use it.” I see the black version a touch more frequently on eBay. What I wanted, though, was the Cocobolo.
What do you know, I found one at a pen show. Thanks, Joel and Sherrell.

More pen shots because

 (Go to pen shows, people.)
W stands for Woohoo

W stands for Woohoo

My big issue with modern Waterman pens has nothing to do with what they look like and everything to do with the nails they pass off as nibs. This is why the only modern Waterman nib I like is a stub. The Serenité, like many modern limited editions, came with the most expressionless of medium nibs.

But it was a pen show, and more importantly, it was a pen show that featured Mike Masuyama. So off the pen went, to wait in his queue for its turn to be transformed.

Cursive italic goodness by Mike Masuyama

Cursive italic goodness by Mike Masuyama

Like inky water circling a drain, pen people inevitably fall for a type of pen, a theme if you will. There is also, usually, a Grail Pen, or Grail Pens, that embodies the theme in its essential glory. I avoid grails (although I’ve been known to joke about a pen or two in this regard). Such an exalted level of expectation almost guarantees the pen will not meet it. (This works for people, too.)

The Cocobolo Serenité was never in any danger of high expectations from me, and so has been free to be the comfortable, easy writer it actually is. It doesn’t perch on the stand. It stays in the Nock Co. Brasstown with all the others, ready to spill Pilot Blue Black when called to active duty.

Cursive italic writing sample

Cursive italic writing sample

Waterman released this version of the Serenité in 2002, which means this pen had to wait 14 years to come to Manila. I’ll make sure to put it to good use. 😉

PS. I see there was a Waterman Serenité Collection d’Art featuring urushi and raden work. I would love to see those in person one day.

  • Jon Buller

    Lewis Waterman was one of the great fountain pen innovators, and his patent of 1883 established many of the standard features of the 20th century pen. He was also one of the great manufacturers, and his factory in Seymour, Connecticut turned out some of the greatest pens of the 1920s and 1930s. But by the 1950s the Waterman company had begun to lose ground to some of the newcomers to the industry — Parker, Schaeffer, etc. — and in 1957 the company was sold to the Bic Corporation, the French company responsible for the $ .29 disposable ballpoint. Bic essentially just bought the name, and production was moved to France. I have a hard time accepting these French Watermans as legitimate descendants of the Connecticut company, but possibly I am prejudiced because Connecticut is where I myself live. But I am glad that you have found a pen that you like, and it is a pleasure as usual to see one of your elegant posts. I was afraid you might be turning into a noun!

  • Jean Cade

    I honestly believed I’d sated my hunger for great pens. Not necessarily “fulfilled,” since I have not found my perfect pen. Perhaps age has blunted my appetite? I need to stop reading your blog.

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