Faber Castell Ondoro Review


Specifications



Brand: Faber Castell
Model: Ondoro (Formerly known as the Mondoro in some countries)
Body MaterialOak Wood
Color: Smoked Oak (Also available in black, white, or orange resin and a lighter oak color)
Trim: None
Length (capped): 129.4mm
Length (uncapped nib-end): 124.4mm
Length (posted): 157.5mm
Nib Sizes: Available in steel EF, F, M, and B (Mine has a fine nib.)
Nib material: Steel
Overall Weight: 45g
Cap Weight: 17g
Body Weight: 28g
Barrel design: Hexagonal
Fill type: Standard International Cartridge/Converter System; A converter is included.
Clip: Spring-Loaded; easily clips onto thick materials such as jeans pockets
Ink Capacity: 1.0mL
MSRP: $165 (The resin version is only $140)
Actual Price: $165
Price I paid: I paid 130€ for mine. That was $171 at the time of purchase which is a bit higher than the MSRP, but I didn't have to pay shipping and could test the pen before buying.
Where to buy: Available from Faber Castell's website, AmazonFahrney's Pens, Anderson Pens (only in the orange resin), Cult Pens, and The Writing Desk*
*Not affiliated with any of these websites

Introduction

This is one of the pens I acquired during my recent stay in Paris. I purchased the Ondoro on my second trip to the BHV in the Marais- not a typical pen store, but the largest selection I had ever seen. If you're ever in Paris, I highly recommend visiting BHV if only to lust over some of the products there.

The Ondoro first caught my eye for several reasons- 1. The pen looked classic with its wooden barrel yet contemporary with the chrome cap and hexagonal shape. 2. It was fairly affordable in comparison to most of the pens there. 

Noticing my interest in the pen, a kind BHV employee asked me whether I would like to write with the pen. I gladly accepted her kind offer, and she dipped the pen in a blue Graf Von Faber Castell ink then handed it to me. (Every pen store I have ever visited has used blue ink for testing pens.) It wrote smoothly but with a hint of feedback, very similar to a Sailor nib. It also wrote at almost all angles: rotated 30 degrees each way and even upside down. I was also given an extra-fine nib to try, but the great increase in scratchiness wasn't worth the small decrease in line width to me. Another option was the color of the pen- Would I like the orange, black, smoked oak, or a lighter oak? (Oddly enough, I have not been able to find an online retailer with the lighter oak for sale.) Ultimately, I chose the smoked oak which initially caught my eye.

Packaging
After paying for the pen, the clerk packaged it in a fairly standard white box; then, she placed the box into a Faber Castell gift bag. Receiving it definitely raised my expectations about the pen and helped me to feel satisfied with my purchase. 


The box itself is just a plain white box with the words Faber Castell printed on the top. Unlike the standard clamshell box, the inner piece slides out, revealing the pen. A cartridge is included inside the box under the insert which holds the pen, and the converter comes fitted in the pen. This packaging is minimalistic which fits the pen's feel of contemporary yet antiquated. 




Design
As mentioned above, I adore the way this pen looks. The chrome cap provides an excellent contrast to the traditional wooden barrel, and the hexagonal shape further supports that feeling. It sets the pen above the countless wooden kit pens.

In most places, the wood has been smoothed to feel nicer in the hand, but the borders of the facets have remained untouched. This gives the pen a physical depth in addition to the illusory one provided by the wood itself and an excellent texture. As this pen is made from actual wood, no two will be exactly alike.

One fault in the pen's design is how easily the chrome cap collects dust, grime, and fingerprints. I have to clean the cap with a small cloth often to prevent this from happening. Another reason I chose the wooden Ondoro over the resin versions was that fingerprints covered the resin barrels after only a few minutes of use. Having this issue with the cap wasn't enough to dissuade me from purchasing but is still a minor annoyance.

Although it is chrome also, the section doesn't have the same issue with fingerprints: it's such a minuscule section that you only see it in the few seconds between uncapping the pen and writing with it. My fingers cover the entire section and some of the barrel while gripping the pen. If you prefer to grip pens higher than most, your fingers will rest on the edges of the facets- an uncomfortable experience. 

One expertly designed aspect of the pen is the nib. The dots give it a  modern feel, and the Faber Castell logo provides a timeless look. If you look closely, this nib doesn't have a breather hole, and the dots serve no practical purpose. For a nib also used in a $45 pen (the Faber Castell Basic) , it looks wonderful and writes just as well. 

The clip is spring-loaded and easily clips onto thicker materials such as jeans. It works very well and isn't loose like many other spring-loaded clips. 

The cap does post onto the back of the pen and does so very well despite the hexagonal barrel. I don't post the pen as it's very well balanced unposted and extremely back heavy posted. If you're reading this because the resin version interests you, the balance isn't nearly as good, and I did post the display model offered to me.

Size and Weight
This isn't a very long pen (only slightly longer than a Pelikan M200 unposted), but it does have more girth than most pens. It's close to a 149, but the concave section reduces the usable diameter tremendously. The combined short length and large girth result in a pen which seems much wider than a 149.

The weight is higher than most resin pens (45g in total; 28g uncapped) but not high enough that I experience any fatigue while writing with it. Because of the aforementioned balance, the pen doesn't feel heavy while writing with it. 

This size comparison with a Lamy Safari should help to show the pen's large girth but short length.














 Filling System


The Ondoro fills using the standard international cartridge/converter system. Faber Castell kindly included one cartridge and a converter with the pen, and at this price not including one would be a great blunder. This system isn't my favorite mainly because of the generally small capacities of converters, but it is extremely easy to clean.

An advantage to using the standard international system over a proprietary one is that the included converter will fit many different pens. You can use the included converter in cheap Chinese pens, Mont Blancs, Viscontis, Auroras, some European Pilots, and many other pens. The versatility of the included converter easily accounts for its shortcomings.


The Writing Experience
When I returned home, I immediately inked the pen with J. Herbin Lie de The. The ink was a perfect match for the pen, and it wrote immediately, never skipping or experiencing hard starts. This is one of the most reliable writers in my accumulation, and even while dragging the pen across the page very quickly, it wouldn't skip. The flow is neither wet nor dry- the Goldilocks of fountain pen feeds. 


Contrary to what I had expected, the nib offers a great amount of feedback, similar to writing with a Japanese nib. The nib also lays down a thinner line than most German fines and is comparable to an extra-fine. I was overjoyed with this discovery as I like feedback. If you prefer completely smooth, glassy nibs, try the medium rather than the fine.



Writing Sample

Ink: J Herbin Lie de The
Paper: Rhodia Ice Notepad






Pros
  • Beautiful combination of modern and classic elements
  • Easy to clean
  • Wonderful, reliable writer

Cons


  • Fingerprints
  • Higher price than many gold nib pens
  • Posting is uncomfortable

Closing Thoughts 
This is easily one of my top five pens. The steel nib writes exactly the way I like nibs to write and is extremely reliable. At $165, I highly recommend the Ondoro despite its issues with fingerprints and price. 



Gallery




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2 comments:

  1. Really nice review. I keep seeing this pen in white, but this woodgrain is stunning.

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  2. I've bought one today... Stumbled with it in a small fancy writing shop. I've got the lighter oak! By this very moment, its my best FP.

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