I have been looking at the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen for a while now. It has a sleek aluminium finish which looks very futuristic, however I didn’t get down to buying one as the standard nib width was Medium-Fine. I was fortunate to have won a Skyline Classic at the previous pen meet and here is the review I promised. Having enjoyed a hands-on test of the pen, perhaps I shall order a customised nib with the Technik after all!
Wahl-Eversharp’s Skyline Classic is a reissue of the vintage Skyline first introduced in 1941 – a patented lever filler designed by Henry Dreyfuss, manufactured from polystyrene and fitted with a flexible gold nib. The Skyline was inspired by the shape of a locomotive, and it was discontinued in 1950. Surviving specimens are often found in bad condition due to deterioration of the plastic.
The Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Classic pays tribute to one of the most iconic fountain pens in history – one considered by many as second to only the Parker 51. It stays true to the form of the original Skyline, but is a different beast altogether – the lever fill system is done away with, and the pen is made of modern resin which will better withstand the test of time.
The Skyline comes in a black lacquered “piano” style packaging which is rather chunky and makes a great gift box. It includes an instruction manual and guarantee card. Inside, the pen is surrounded by a fluffy white fabric platform. On first examination, the Skyline is an attractive pen which stays true to the style of the vintage Skyline. The Skyline is a great looking pen, however the resin body is rather light. This means that the pen will feel top heavy when posted, something which may take some getting used to.
The modern Skyline comes as a cartridge-converter, and is fitted with a semi-flex rather than a full-flex nib. The aluminum Skyline Technik is different in that it unscrews from the grip section while the Skyline Classic unscrews from a blind cap atop the barrel. The blind cap design may be a weakness in that it doesn’t allow the user to check on remaining ink capacity. That being said, it is also an advantage in that it allows the usage of long cartridges from Waterman.
Wahl-Eversharp says that the Skyline has a “ceramic coated, gold plated stainless steel nib”. In this case, my nib was ground to a semi-flex fine stub by Pendleton Brown. The nib would not be described as soft – it can however be pushed to a certain extent especially on the down stroke.
The fine stub is a smooth writer which produces extremely fine lines on the cross stroke and thick wet lines on the down stroke. It is rather similar to a Cursive Italic I have been using, however I found it to be sharper and more traditional in style, meaning you have to slow down when writing. A writing sample produced by Pendleton’s fine stub is attached in the gallery below.
What is pleasantly surprising is that Wahl-Eversharp offers Pendleton’s services if you’d like your nib ground or customised to your needs. It’s refreshing to see a manufacturer endorse nibmeisters – it attests to how open minded they are. I’m lucky to get my hands on one and I expect to see a more interesting selection of nibs from them in future – those who prefer customised nibs by Pendleton can put in an order online!
Wahl-Eversharp deserves a commendation for this bold revival of the brand. They have a promising future ahead – with a solid range of products and room for innovation. One can only wish them even greater success in the near future. In the meantime, the Skyline is a perfect pen for those who like vintage style without the fuss of a complicated filling system. It is refreshing to see a revival of interest in pens from the era, and I am certain the brand will continue to reinvent itself to stay relevant. I did read somewhere about a possible Doric reissue!
The Wahl-Eversharp Skyline is available locally from retailer Fook Hing Trading Co. Prices start from S$259 with tax for a resin barrel and vary depending on the finish and construction of each pen. The Skyline Technik and other editions cost more. The Skyline goes great with Wahl-Eversharp’s quality leather pouches and their signature inks.
– Modern reissue of a vintage classic
– Smooth, semi-flex fine stub by Pendleton
– Converter is very well constructed
– Can take long Waterman cartridges
– Standard nib limited to Medium-Fine
– Cannot view remaining ink capacity
– Pen is top heavy when posted
A look at the vintage Eversharp Skyline
The Eversharp Skyline is the predecessor to the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline I reviewed some time ago. As I mentioned above, the Skyline was first introduced in 1941 and discontinued in 1950. It had a lever-fill system, was manufactured from polystyrene and was fitted with a variety of nibs which included flexible nibs. The Skyline was designed by Henry Dreyfuss, who took inspiration from locomotives of the era.
I have consciously avoided vintage pens for a long time due to fear of maintenance and troubleshooting issues. Fortunately, I was able to loan a specimen of the Skyline fountain pen from a friend for review. One quirk of vintage pens like the Skyline is that they cannot be stored with the nib facing down – the Skyline burped ink into the cap and there is a lot of ink visible on the nib. On comparing both pens, what I found surprised me – though they may boast striking similarities, they are totally different beasts.
There are two aspects where the Eversharp Skyline differs from the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline of today –
Firstly, the Eversharp Skyline has a different nib. In the past, Skyline fountain pens were usually fitted with flexible 14K gold nibs which could produce dramatic variation when pressure is applied. This is one of the primary reasons why they are highly sought after by vintage pen collectors. Today’s Skylines are hardly as flexible and come fitted with Medium-Fine semi-flex nibs. This applies to most of the range, except for the commemorative edition, which comes fitted with an 18K gold nib.
Secondly, the Eversharp Skyline has a different filling system. The old pens had a lever-fill system which is operated by lifting the lever. The motion compresses an ink sac in the pen barrel and reinflates it with ink when the lever is released into its original position. It takes approximately ten seconds for the sac to fill with ink. Today’s Skylines are cartridge-converter filled, which makes maintenance a breeze and prevents the pen from burping ink into the cap.
I noticed small differences in the construction of the two pens – there are two holes in the cap of the old Skyline which served to let out air, and the old Skyline also sported a slightly shorter barrel length. When the pen is capped, there is a slight depression where the polystyrene barrel meets the metal cap. The old Skyline was also plated with gold that wasn’t as yellow in appearance compared to the new one.
On a whole, I find that the new Skyline is a major improvement especially in the area of durability. Modern plastics are much more robust, while the old Skyline is made of polystyrene and therefore suffered from deterioration, shrinkage and discolouration over time. The removal of the lever-fill system may also detract from its vintage appeal, but it prevents wear of the gold lever due to posting of the cap.