A survivor of a more refined age: the Waterman Carene

The Carene and I have passed like ships in the night a few times over the years — which is ironic, because it’s a pen designed to evoke the curves of a speedboat, and the word itself means ‘hull’ in French.

Image result for wooden speedboat

I dismissed the Carene for a few reasons. Sometimes I lumped Waterman in with brands like Cross, as being department-store fodder, brands relying on their historic names to sucker punters in to paying over the odds for substandard pens. Especially since they stopped doing “proper” pens like the Edson.

Sometimes I was put off by some horror stories of leaks around the inlaid nib, or the crazily varied prices.

But even on paper there is a lot to like about the Carene. Its 18k inlaid nib. Made in France. Unique (truly unique) design. I like my collection to be diverse in all respects — wasn’t I being remiss by leaving this pen out?

So when I saw one for a great price at the London Pen Show, I decided to jump in with both feet.


I am so, so glad I did.

The Carene feels like a truly premium pen. It is solid as a rock, well finished — all the little bits I look for like edges and converter housings and clip fit were passed with flying colours.


It’s a real looker, too, and once you’re told the speedboat inspiration you can really see it. The waves on the cap (of this version at least).

The nib is the prow, the sloping stern. It’s long and slender, streamlined.


The cap snaps reassuringly home. The clip is very graceful indeed, and functional too.


The section is long and clean, because of the snap-cap mechanism. The capping prongs don’t get in the way at all.


Inside the pen is a converter filler; a Waterman-branded converter is included, and it seats deeply into the section. The insides of the pen really show the quality.


The barrel is slender and features a chrome and black finial.

I think it looks bloody brilliant. And it’s comfortable in the hand, too. It’s not a big pen, but it’s big enough, and heavy enough.


The nib is what really won me over to the Carene, though.


Mine is a medium. It’s really smooth and moderately wet, and what’s special about it is that it’s almost a factory stub.


It has more line variation than most stubs I’ve used over the years!


I love writing with this pen — it’s free and easy, like an afternoon cruising the riviera. Pop off the cap, kick into gear, and let the wave of ink flow.

10 thoughts on “A survivor of a more refined age: the Waterman Carene

  1. Now that I know the back story, that the Carene was made to resemble a ship, the design makes a lot more sense to me. I like it. My first fountain pen was a Waterman Phileas, and it wrote unbelievably well for a starter pen with a steel nib. I was a newbie and assumed that was the way all fountain pens wrote. Then it got stolen. Thinking about adding another Waterman to my collection; maybe even a Carene.


  2. Glad to hear that you are pleased with the Carene. It’s one of my favourites. I have two inked as we speak! Both of mine have so-called medium nibs which are beautifully smooth, soft, stubby and juicy.


    • Meanwhile my Carene arrived. Ordered the cloudy amber with M nib one from cultpens. Enjoying a bit of discount, tax free for export, and free shipping. Hence quality-price is definitely good for me. Pleasant smooth writing. It does not have as much character when using it instead of just looking at it, despite the big nib. But it sure is competent.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Oh I read a few other reports and as a result swapped the medium for a fine nib. Is that a mistake? Shall I buy a medium nib just in case?


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