The Pineider La Grande Bellezza is a confusing pen, with some head-scratching design decisions marring what could have been a great addition to the pantheon of Italian fountain pens.
Let me rattle through the basics first. This is a cartridge/converter pen, of pretty good size, with a 14k nib and a metal section. It comes in a nice premium box with some of Pineider’s writing paper and envelopes, so it would make a great gift.
The list price is about $500, but if you pay that I think you’ve been robbed — this is nowhere near a $500 pen. It feels less premium than the Visconti Van Gogh, the only difference being the Visconti has a steel nib. Compared to, say, a Graf, this falls way behind. Luckily, I paid $260 for my LGB and that’s a much fairer price.
A few things leap out at me as being inspired or nearly so. The quill-shaped, sprung clip is elegant.
The metal section may divide opinion, but I found it brought the weight balance forward and its pronounced waist gave my fingers a nice spot to rest. The size and proportions of the pen are nice.
The nib is a real success — although I say that with a caveat. I have tried a few different LGBs, including Penultimate Dave’s B, which is the nicest broad nib I think I’ve ever written with. Mine is a 1.3mm stub, and it’s comically broad, to the point that I can’t really use it day to day.
All that said, the nib is a “quill” nib, which has an attractive design and some cutaways that promote softness (but not any flex or line variation, at least not in my sample). My stub runs moderately wet and flows well, although it needs a quick tap on the paper to get it started.
Now let’s get on to the problems. First is general fit and finish. The section end of the barrel is raw and unfinished.
The inside of the cap is similarly rough, with sharp edges from the cap band.
Supposedly the various coloured resins include actual semi-precious stones to give hardness and intensity. I didn’t much like them so ended up with black, which may have been a mistake: the polish is not particularly lustrous and there’s no depth or texture.
The texturing on the section and cap band is cheap-looking and uneven.
The finial on the end of the cap is also textured, but not to a matching degree; the finial on the end of the barrel is smooth and seems to be a different metal, so it doesn’t match either.
More about that cap band. Cast into its design is the pangram ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’, which is an absolute “WTF” design decision, inexcusable on a premium pen.
Inside, the converter is generic. It does the job. “Pineider’ is printed on it, not etched as you might hope for from a premium pen.
Lastly, the Pineider has a magnetic cap. It functions OK, with a decent amount of pull, but it forces the cap to spin about 120 degrees before it will close, such that the clip doesn’t line up with the nib. This bugs me. It won’t close in any other orientation.
So there you have it: a good nib, comfortable pen, a design with potential (magnetic cap, attractive clip) — but generally mediocre quality and a couple of cheap or vulgar decisions that undermine the feeling of a premium pen. I quite enjoy writing with it, but there are better ways to spend $260. There are MUCH better ways to spend $500.