Although I couldn’t resist snapping up Birmingham Pens’ ‘Unicorn Barf’ beta pen, I’m not a man for loud colours in my pens. Most of my collection is various shades of black and grey.
Luckily, Franklin-Christoph caters to colour-minimal buyers like me, and I find their pens irresistible. The model under review here, the Model 02 Intrinsic in Smoke and Ice, is my second F-C pen. The first was a Pocket 66 in the so-called “Coke bottle” finish, properly titled Antique Glass.
I loved that pen dearly, but sold it in a misguided fit of downsizing. I almost immediately bought this pen to replace it, and I’m glad I did.
Comfort is the main reason. This is one of the few pens that really feels natural to me in the hand. My grip settles in to the sculpted section and stays there, without feeling like my fingers are too close to the page or too pinched. It’s a long and large pen, and the section is set back from the page by one of Franklin-Christoph’s most inspired and distinctive features, the cap threads, which sit right at the end of the pen.
The cap twists on in less than a turn, rolling on these unusual oversized threads. The cap itself has a very tight clip, in two-piece construction engineered much like that on Karas’s Decograph, only more elegantly done. The cap posts very deeply on the 02’s stepped barrel.
The majority of the pen is in translucent “ice” acrylic, mirror polished on the outside and left textured inside. But the cap ends with a chunk of smoke-swirled acrylic, seamlessly joined to the rest of the cap.
The edge is bevelled and the F-C symbol is engraved on the end, along with the brand’s four diamonds, which repeat along the clip.
The words ‘Franklin-Christoph 02’ are engraved around the circumference of the cap. But because the engraving isn’t filled and the material is clear, none of this branding leaps out.
With a translucent finish like this, it’s very tempting to use the pen eyedropper-style. But the texture inside the barrel catches ink, and I stained my 66 this way, particularly on the micro-cracks that form along the threads during use. So for this beauty, I’m sticking with a converter, ugly as that is.
The larger F-C models all take #6 nib units that screw in and are swappable with many different makers’ pens. Mine here is a Masuyama-ground needlepoint, a nib that I was really excited to try out and compare against my 3776 UEF and FPnibs XXF.
Unfortunately, the needlepoint was dry and, to put it bluntly, scratchy as fuck. I mean, awful. So I spent some time with a nail-buffing stick butchering the work of a nibmeister. I turned it into the wet and slightly stubby EF that you see here, which is still a bit scratchy but a damned sight more usable than it was. The nib of course is steel, but I won’t ding points for that.
From top to toe the 02 is a beautifully put together bit of kit — the joints are flush, the threads are smooth and tight, and the surfaces are finished consistently (although the style varies along the pen with different machining steps). I also think its design simply kicks arse, with classy materials and smart choices that make the pen both practical and comfortable.
Even though the converter isn’t massive, the EF nib means you’ll get pages and pages before running dry, and the clear acrylic means you’ll have plenty of notice, too — so this is an excellent pen for work. If you don’t mind being distracted from your meeting as you admire the smoke and ice.
The Model 02 is available direct from F-C. It’ll arrive ludicrously quickly across the Atlantic with a nice zip-up pen sleeve and a customs charge a few days later. The Masuyama grind brings this to $195.