Although I’ve used and reviewed many Kawecos over the years, I’d never once even had the Special flutter across my radar. I wonder whether the same is true for you? The Supra, Liliput, even the Perkeo seem to attract more attention.
But when this Blue Limited Edition popped up, my attention was piqued at last, and Studio Pens, Kaweco’s UK distributor, kindly sent me one to review.
The packaging is a standard Kaweco tin, but longer… and that was a clue as to what I’d find inside.
The first thing to say is that the Special is unlike pretty much every pen I’ve ever used. It’s like a fountain pen crossed with a Rotring 600. It’s hexagonal, aluminium bodied, and long and thin, straight as a ruler.
The barrel is a skinny 10mm across, as is the cap. The proportions are what you’d expect from a woodcase pencil.
It’s light, too, although not flimsy feeling. Build quality is excellent, as it always is with Kaweco’s metal pens.
There’s no clip on the Special, but you have the facets to serve as a rollstop — this is a noticeable benefit over say a pen like the Liliput, which always rolled away from me.
The facets are not sharp-edged, they’re soft and rounded, and the surface has a nice satin-finished feel.
The product name is neatly lettered in white on the barrel. The blue colour of this limited edition is really nice. It’s a mid metallic blue, with a tiny bit of green in it. The press photos make it look more grey-blue and more matte-finished, but it’s actually quite a vibrant colour.
At the cap end you’ll find a knurled dome with the Kaweco logo.
At the other end you’ll find screwthreads for posting the cap.
This turns a long pen into a really long pen. But the cap is quite short relative to the body length, and so light that the balance is largely unaffected.
The cap is unlined, so you’ve got metal on metal.
It screws on conventional triangular profile threads, which are a little sharp.
There’s no hard stop on the threads: the cap snugs down against an o-ring over quite a wide span of rotation, which means you have to pick which facet you want to align to, if you’re fussy about that kind of thing. (This also means I can’t tell you precisely how many turns it takes to remove the cap, but it’s not excessive). I haven’t noticed any drying out of the nib, which I attribute to the o-ring.
Beneath the cap is a truly tiny section. It’s probably 8mm across. It’s pretty ineffective as a grip, and I found myself holding both the section and barrel when writing, with my grip bridging the sharp threads.
Unscrew the section and you’ll find a blank cartridge and a second cartridge hidden in the barrel. No converter, although I believe a narrow one would fit. I took advantage of the length of the pen to install a long cartridge of Waterman blue. The cartridge nipple has no sleeve, so there’s really nothing holding the cartridge in place, and it’s all a bit wobbly and loose.
The nib is standard steel Kaweco, familiar from the Sport. It’s been a little while since I’ve used one, and they’re better than I remembered.
This medium has average flow, but a good amount of bounce and it lays a really pleasant line with little effort. Gone it seems are the days of Kaweco nibs being overpolished, hard-starting nails.
The Special really messes with my head. It’s different in nearly every respect than what I expect of a pen, flouting conventions of proportion and ergonomics. Muscle-memory behaviours like closing a cap against a hard stop don’t work with this pen, and I found myself noticing it more than any other pen I’ve used recently.
So who is the Special for? Well, if you like skinny pens, or are coming from the world of ballpoints and pencils, you’ll feel right at home. If you like metal pens for their robustness and cool hand feel, but don’t want a huge chunk of mass in your hand. If you like the rather industrial aesthetic of knurling and hexagonal facets and clipless designs. And perhaps most of all if you like the Kaweco writing experience of pocket pens like the Liliput or Sport, but just want a longer pen. Essentially, the Special is like two Liliputs welded together. It’s weird, and I like weird. In a tray full of curvy plastic, the Special stands out.
This Limited Edition Special is £91, which feels like acceptable value, although it’s a noticeable premium over say an AL Sport, which are around the £50-60 mark. You can get yours from Cult Pens.