Waterman Directeur General Review.

Waterman, a brief history.Lewis Edson Waterman established the Waterman Pen Company, in New York, in 1884.  While working as a pen salesman in 1883 Lewis found himself in the position of being able to take over the firm when the owner, Frank Holland, walked away from the company after only a few weeks.  He changed the name of the company to ‘The Waterman Pen Company’ and set to work on improving the product by designing a new feed for which he was awarded a patent in 1884.  Under his leadership the company thrived and continued to grow after his death in 1901 when his nephew, Frank D. Waterman took over the reins.  The pens were marketed aggressively and the Waterman Pen Company grew to become a worldwide market leader.  By the 1920s, however, other more innovative pen producers, notably Parker and Sheaffer had launched their own worldwide marketing campaigns and had taken a good proportion of the market share.  This, and the challenge presented by the ballpoint pen, resulted in the American Waterman Pen Company closing down in 1954.The French arm of the company, Waterman-Jif, continued to prosper and, after a takeover by Gillette was aquired by Sanford, a subsiduary of Newell Brands.  Sanford now produces pens under its own name and also owns Papermate, Sharpie, Parker, and Waterman.The Waterman Directeur General.Most sources give 1974 as the release date for the Directeur General but I suspect it may have been around a couple of years earlier.  This is my own personal opinion and may be wrong but I think there is sound, and interesting evidence for my theory which has very little to do with Waterman but a lot to do with James Bond.The Bond film, ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was on general release in 1974, it must have been in production for at least a year prior to general release.  The vilain, Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, needed a gun that could be smuggled around the world undetected and assembled as needed from ‘harmless’ items which would pass scrutiny at borders.  For some reason it also needed to be made from Gold.  For the stock of the gun he chose a Dunhill lighter and for the barrel —  a Waterman Directeur General fountain pen! QED.

The name ‘Directeur General’ translates directly as ‘Managing Director’ or ‘CEO’ in modern parlance.  This choice as the name of a pen clearly signifies where Waterman saw it in the pen hierachy, at the very top.  Furthermore this example is constructed in solid Silver, rather than the standard plated models, it is definitely ‘La Creme de La Creme’.

This paricular pen is the Sterling Silver ‘fluted’ or ‘reeded’ design, it is visually pleasing and often preferred to the ‘mirror’ finish Silver pen, partly because it is less prone to showing fingerprints.  On the other hand, the ‘plain’ Silver version is spectacular:

There is also a ballpoint version:

A slim and elegant pen, it has a posted length of 15.3 cm., 14.0cm. capped.  The fluted version doesn’t suit the panel on the barrel found on the plain pen, it is only present on the clip, in this case it is Black enamel .The most sriking feature of the design is the clip, although I use the term loosely.  It is unlike any clip I have encountered in that it is an integral part of the cap, visually attractive, very functional, and beautifully engineered.

The clip is sprung loaded in such a way that the whole thing rotates around a pivot housed in the top of the cap, no bending or straining in use.  The clip carries the French hallmark for Sterling Silver.  It also serves as a gun sight if you feel the need to construct a Silver vesion of Scaramanga’s gun.The cap is a snug push fit, closing flush with the barrel.  The smooth cap band carries the Silver hallmark along with the inscription:‘Waterman Argent Massif’’Argent Massif’ is the French version of ‘Sterling Silver’.

The barrel has a recessed band to allow the flush fitting of the cap and also bears the Sterling Silver hallmark along with the country of origin.  The barrel end stud, also in Silver, is flat ended and smooth.The nib is 18Ct. white Gold, which looks white in some lights and pale yellow in others.  It is stamped with a stylised ‘W’ and ’18K 750′.  It is intereting that the nib also bears a hallmark diamond containing ‘WAT SA’, the mark of the original American parent company.  I suspect that the hallmark was transferred, unamended, fom the American company to the French subsidiary. 

 One issue with the Directeur General, and the Waterman c/f, is that he cartridges are currently rather hard to come by.  Fortunately this example does have the original Waterman converter fitted so this is not a problem.Waterman Directeur Generals ( should it be ‘Directeurs General?), are not, it should be said, everyone’s  ‘tasse de the’.  Given the somwhat outrageous styling this is to be expected, perhaps a bit of a ‘Marmite’ pen.  What cannot be denied, however, is that it is an extremely high quality and well engineered pen with a great deal of character.  The adjective ‘fabulous’ is often used referring to the Silver Parker 75 so I’ll just settle for ‘sensational’ for the Silver Waterman Directeur General.

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