This week I had the luck of travelling to Madrid on business. In case you didn’t know, Madrid is home to Iguanasell, the improbably named pen/watch/lighter/accessories store from which I bought my Dialog 3 and various inks.
I trekked my way down through the beautiful city in 25-degree heat to check out the showroom that the website so eloquently invites you to visit.
I had to ring a bell to be admitted; I was the only customer (at 4pm on a Monday I wasn’t surprised). I chatted briefly to the woman who let me in, then she left me to my own devices to wander round and pick up the merchandise.
Iguanasell has a lot of merchandise, and with the exception of a few cases — mainly Montblanc — almost everything is out in the open for you to inspect and pick up.
For me, this was a unique opportunity to get hands-on with a load of pens that I simply would never otherwise get to see. Certainly not in one place.
I spent at least half an hour squeaking my way around on the wooden floors, picking everything up, and my reaction to some of the pens really, really surprised me. At the risk of spoilers, I have managed to cross a load of pens off of my “want” list in one fell swoop.
I was there to shop, not act as some kind of roving reporter, so I kept my phone in my pocket and didn’t take any photos of my own. Sorry.
Nakaya and Platinum
The showroom had around half a dozen Nakayas in a number of different colours, finishes and models, all standing uncapped. They were pretty in person, but I wasn’t prepared for just how light they were. I completely get how labour-intensive and beautiful urushi can be, but at the price these pens run to, well… it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much for your money.
There was also a Platinum Izumo, which just seemed awful to me. Cheap feeling, large and ungainly, uncomfortable.
Graf von Faber-Castell
At last, a chance to check out the Guilloche and Classic. On the internet there seems to be hardly any difference between these two models, but wow — the Classic is so much bigger and sturdier. I liked the Classic, but the metal section is a fingerprint magnet and even though it’s bigger than the Guilloche it’s still a tiny, skinny pen. At 500 euros for the pernambuco or macassar finishes, again it doesn’t feel like terribly good value. I’ll stick with my Intuition Platino.
I got to handle the Dia 2 in its limited edition amber, which felt nice and solid but didn’t wow me. The standard black ends looked out of place. I’ll probably pick up one of the black and rhodium editions.
I’ve always been intrigued by the Tec Flex fountain pen, and sure enough the barrel texture is interesting to hold. But the section unscrewed itself just in my hand and the build generally didn’t seem that good. I’ll file it with the Hugo Boss pens as design exercises only.
There was a glass case full of Sonnets, Premiers and the like, but the only Duofold was the insanely garish blue and gold special anniversary edition slathered with cartography. I passed.
All the Montblancs were under glass, and there were quite a few gaps in the display case. I asked if they had the Petit Prince pens in yet, and while they had three on order for customers, none available for me to look at. That’s one better than the MB boutique at Heathrow where the guy had no idea what I was talking about…
Iguanasell had a good selection of LXs and Al-Stars around, a few Dialogs in the different finishes, although oddly no 2000. I would have liked to see an Imporium, but no luck.
I skipped over the Pelikans. The small classics like the M120 blue and M205 blue marbled just don’t do it for me, and I’m still in the honeymoon period with my Ocean Swirl.
Aside from the Corsani limited editions, my dream Visconti is the London Fog. No chance these days, alas. Instead there was a Jade and a Chiantishire, and I was struck by just how light and smooth they felt compared to the lava Homosapiens. They lacked some of the presence and tactile pleasure. Two more scratched off the list, then.
I’d always thought that the Conklin All American was a small pen. But it’s an absolute chubster. I still don’t want one, but I was surprised how substantial it felt.
Montegrappa I’ve always ignored. Far too many models to puzzle my way through, including the cheesy Game of Thrones editions. I picked one up, though — the Nero Uno, I think — and it felt great. Big, substantial, well built. Guess I can add it to the list.
I sneakily went to look at watches as much as pens. I’ve been lusting after a Junghans Max Bill for a long time, and sure enough in person they’re just as beautiful as I hoped. Only one Seiko Presage on display, but a stunning guilloche dial in person — definitely still on the wishlist.
What was missing?
I would’ve liked to try the Lamy Imporium, Parker Duofold, Sailor King of Pen, and some Auroras (a few were in stock, but not in colours I liked). Even a big shop with lots of displays can’t keep everything in stock, I suppose…
Notebooks and inks
Iguanasell stocks mainly Moleskine and Leuchtturm, so I left those. There was an obscene amount of ink: Visconti, Pelikan, Herbin, Parker, Montblanc, and seemingly nearly every colour of Diamine, arrayed around the bottom of the room in alphabetical order. It was a real test of will!
I contented myself with four bottles: the limited edition Edelstein Olivine and Montblanc Beatles Psychedelic Purple, and two blue-blacks: Diamine Eclipse and Herbin Bleu Nuit. I figured spending 60 euros on ink was the least I could do after the amount I’d saved in pen purchases with this visit!