This pen rates two hexagons out of five on Waterman’s current cost-rating system, which is interesting as they make much of the connection between the pen’s styling and that of quite expensive boats on the model’s page on their site (the name itself means “hull”). To me, this placement in the heirarchy is troubling, since the cost of this pen lies at what I consider the low end of the range in which one is no longer paying for the pen’s inherent virtues and is rather paying for the right to brag about being able to afford an expensive pen. This is the sort of statement that can be irritating to those who feel the border is at a much more expensive place, and I feel I must follow up quickly by praising the Carène’s virtues.
It is, ad puffery notwithstanding, a very pretty pen. It is also a well-made one, happily, with a spring-loaded clip equal to any pocket and ink buffering which has been informally tested by an FPN member up to 10,000 feet. In writing qualities, while the point is stiff in the general modern way, it is smooth enough that one does not feel the money spent on the pen has been spent in vain. The mechanism for holding the cap in place is very similar to that found on the Lamy 2000, but the two little studs that grab the cap are hidden in a trim-ring and thus are less obtrusive than the German pen’s “ears”.
The only serious complaint generally leveled against it is that it is given to nib-creep, a tendency of ink to crawl up onto the back of the point. Since there is nothing between the back of the point and rest of the section, inks that are given to abetting this sort of behaviour are best avoided. I have personal misgivings about the durability of the finish on the lacquered models, which are not specific to this pen but general to lacquered metal pens of any make. It is also, to my mind, rather heavier than a pen needs to be.
[important]Since writing the above, I’ve read of some long-term owners reporting wear in the ring inside the cap which engages the little locking tabs. If one is very consistent in aligning the cap specifically (for example, making sure the clip lines up with the top of the point), the tabs will eventually knock down the raised ring, and no engagement happens. This can be put off indefinitely by making sure to not line up cap and pen in a particular way, but if you’re like me, this will probably take a little effort. Once the cap is on, you can rotate the pen to line up the tail however you like, without worries.[/important]
Production Run: 1997 – present.
Cost When New: Waterman is a bit cagey about current MSRP (two hexagons!), but a quick survey of sellers on the internet shows a 2011 range of $265 to $365 depending on trim level. Update: The hexagons vanish from Waterman’s site, but the price range remains about the same. A recently unearthed 1999/2000 price list shows a more modest range of $200 to $225, reflecting upon the Essential, Contemporary, and Deluxe trim ranges which appeared in 2013.
Size: 14.5 cm long capped, 14.9 cm posted, 12.9 cm uncapped.
Point: 18k gold.
Body: Metal in various sorts of finish.
If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.