I’ve seen this model described elsewhere as “yet another tubular metal Waterman,” and this is accurate if slightly unfair. The Préface is actually a rather good example of tubular metal Waterman-hood, evidently the lowest in the lineup at the time to carry a gold point. Unlike the roughly-contemporaneous, similarly-shaped but lower-end Super Master and Lauréat, both of which have fixed clips, the clip on the Préface is spring-loaded, which makes it a little more capable of handling thicker fabric and a little less likely to pull free of the cap. When posted, the cap locks firmly onto tail, instead of merely clinging though friction.
It is instructive, at least if one is in the same room with them, to compare this pen with the Pelikan New Classic. They are extremely similar in design, right down to the purely decorative gold band at the front of the section and the tazzie which brings to mind (for some) a crusader’s helm, and aimed at roughly the same price bracket. The Waterman, in line with some prejudicial notions regarding national character, is a rather more elegant and airier expression of the notion, despite being slightly more squat in its on-paper dimensions. The Pelikan will appeal to those who like a heavy pen, while this will not. Paradoxically, though, the point of the Préface is rather stiffer, although it is no less smooth and is rather less broad relative to its indicated size. Apart from possibly confirming those national notions, the differences between these two pens might also illustrate the different points in corporate life each company found itself; Pelikan was regrouping after a foolish dalliance with diversification, while Waterman had stuck to “core competency”, if I may use a catch phrase, up to this point.
Something I have heard about the Préface which I am unwilling to test for confirmation is that the plastic on the outer shell of the section is somewhat brittle and should not be gripped too firmly. There is a photo on the Wikimedia Common showing a Préface stripped down to its components, and the section is apparently rather like that on a TWSBI Diamond, with an outer section hull as a mere wrapper for an inner feed container. Given that the TWSBI has had similar and very well-documented problems in this area, I would urge a gentle hand on this pen.
Production Run: 1995 – c. 1998 (the latter date has some foundation; it appears in a 1996 catalogue, but not a 1999 price list).
Cost When New: It should be at or slightly above the cost of the Expert (with adjustment for more elevated trim levels), but I can’t give any hard numbers at the moment.
Size: 13.4 cm long capped, 15.0 cm posted, 12.3 cm uncapped.
Point: 18k gold.
Body: Brass, with both lacquer and precious metal finishes.
Filler: Cartridge, capacity approx. 0.6 ml or 1.4 ml (international pattern).
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.