The Platinum President (PTB-20000P) is one of those pens that nobody knows about. Its value proposition is simple: it’s a slightly fancier, larger version of the 3776, with a more western-tuned nib, now in 18k gold. The only downside, on paper, is that it lacks the 3776’s wonderful sealing cap, but in all other respects it’s a step up from the 3776.
This was music to my ears. Although I loved the nibs on the three Platinum 3776s I’ve owned, the 3776 is just that bit too small for my current tastes, and I eventually got annoyed by evidence of cheap construction, like casting lines in the plastic. At £140 from a reputable UK shop (I bought mine from Cult Pens), the President is about £40 more expensive than the base 3776, but still a real bargain — from most manufacturers you would still be in steel-nib territory.
So consider it no harsh judgement when I say that the President is still not a high-end pen, in my book. Although the story goes that President Clinton used one of these pens, I find it hard to believe that he did so because it was the best pen in his budget.
Indeed, there are no noticeable mould lines (tick) and the pen is a bit bigger than the 3776 (tick), and there are a few cosmetic differences like the art deco clip, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two pens apart without them side by side.
The President still feels kinda plasticky, it’s still a cartridge converter, the clip is basic, and the engraving around the cap band is (like the 3776’s) a bit nasty. Also, the nib is far from flagship size.
Put the President next to a Montblanc 146 and although the barrel is slightly fatter, the President comes off as the smaller pen in almost all respects. The finish on the Montblanc is also a lot better, for example in the flush-fitting of the cap rings. But I recognise that the Montblanc is a lot more expensive, too.
My President is blue resin and gold trim, including on the converter. It’s a very classically styled pen, but the gold makes it actually rather blingy.
In the hand, I find it very similar to the Montblanc 146; in other words, on the small side, but comfortable. Compared to the 3776, the step down from barrel to section is much shallower, which along with the increased size and generally better finishing makes for a much more comfortable handling experience.
The nib, I’m pleased to say, is absolutely excellent. I went for a broad, which runs a hair wider than the medium in my Montblanc 146 — I’d say it counts as a true western broad, but it’s not crazy. The flow is good, not too wet and certainly not dry. It was perfect out of the box, writing without hesitation from the first touch to the page. The grind is very round, so there’s zero line variation, and the nib is rather stiff: it lifts away from the feed easily, so you get a bit of a cushioned ride, but there’s no flex at all.
One of the things I like best about the President is how the nib looks. It’s two-tone, with the word PRESIDENT beneath the usual Platinum heart-shaped breather hole, and three swooping parallel lines in rhodium forming the shape of Mount Fuji. The nib’s waist is not as pinched, and it’s top surface is not as flat, as that of the 3776. It’s a rather softer and prettier nib, I think.
I’ve rather spoiled myself over the last year with some phenomenal pens at £400+, from the Montblanc 146 and 149 to Conids, Viscontis, Montegrappas, Scribos and more. These pens are certainly fancier, with more interesting materials and filling mechanisms, greater size and weight, more craftsmanship and bigger nibs.
However: if your budget or your preference doesn’t stretch to £400 but you still want a gold nib in a proper traditional full-size pen (in other words, not a Lamy 2000 or a Vanishing Point), you would be hard-pressed to find a better option than the President. It’s not quite a Montblanc 146 (in brand, construction or filling mechanism) but it’s a very good substitute at a third of the price.