A Century in blue


I first saw the Chartres Blue Century behind Aesthetic Bay glass, parked beside its Bourgogne sibling. In free air, it looks better than I remember.  The first 2,000 pieces come with a numbered blotter and a rubber stamp in addition to the requisite converter and starter cartridge. As if to highlight the new Slip & Seal system, the included ink cart is Pigment Blue rather than the usual Black.

A lucky number might make this a lucky pen.

Platinum heralds the Century as an evolution in its revered #3776 series. It looks no different from its ascendants whilst capped, and reveals its distinctions only when it hangs its hat.

The modest step in the Century’s barrel betrays its slightly increased girth. It makes the pen more comfortable in the hand compared to its predecessor.

The barrel now has a slight flare near the threads, creating a step where there once was none. Trim ring has been moved aft of the section. The gold bits wear a lighter tone which agrees with the deep blue acrylic employed by the maker.

Two bands and a block font now adorn the Century’s cap. Some might miss the old school script on the older pens.

I have not made the pilgrimage to Chartres so I cannot say if the hue accurately mimics that of the cathedral’s stained glass. It is a striking blue however, with enough pop to be different but not distracting.

(Left) The Century’s nib wears a lighter tone.
(Right) The new feed shows sharper edges and closer spacing between fins.

The nib ornamentation remains all business without being bland. The feed is a new design and I hear the nib is a fresh pattern too. A test drive would reveal if these were true enhancements. A bottle of Pigment Blue provided the fuel while Midori and Kokuyo formed the track where rubber could finally meet asphalt.

Feedback is noticably reduced on this iteration. What typically hummed now whispers. None of the #3776 Fines I owned or tried felt like this and I mean that in a good way. Flow is wetter too. Not Sailor wet, but not far from it either.

The old #3776 is a race-tuned roadster. You feel every nuance of the page through the nib. This one is more Grand Touring in execution. You sense enough of what’s going on but you remain cosseted throughout the ride. I like it.

It may demand more frequent baths but I (heart) this ink.

(The pen has been filled only with Platinum Pigment Blue since it was unboxed. I noticed a bit of sluggishness after its second fill. Flushing the feed and nib with water restored its flow. Keep this in mind if you want to try inks like Carbon Black or Pigment Blue.)

It is a sincere Japanese Fine. My 90s Celluloid Medium writes a stingy line between EF to F while my ’09 Zogan Fine renders plump strokes closer to Medium. This one is dead on.

It feels more mature, like a skinny #3776 No.1 that filled out enough for a suit to get a proper drape. That suit may still be more H&M than bespoke but the Century wears it with enough chutzpah to charm.

The pen has not been idle since I got it. It has been used for mundane office chores, serious writing work and frequent doodling between meetings. I sense it will be quite a while before I find out if the Slip & Seal really works.

Related links:

  • Margana over at Inkophile did a great comparo between a Chartres Blue in Broad and a #3776 Music. You can find her post here
  • Great Gear, a TV show on Japan’s NHK, also did a short feature on the Century here

7 thoughts on “A Century in blue

  1. personalgeographic

    The color’s very appealing. I’m wondering why there’s a difference in performance between this nib and your other 3776 nibs.

    • Karlo Tatad

      I was told that this nib and feed are new designs and made on new machinery as well. There may be subtle changes to things like shoulders and position of breather hole etc…. but I have yet to compare. 🙂

      • issy.reyes

        Thanks 🙂 I can’t make it this Saturday but my birthday is in April so maybe next pen meet. I’m dying to see this pen for real. I was also drawn to the Chartres blue but decided I wanted a UP pen. What I can’t decide on is whether to stick to the original nib or have it turned into an italic by mottishaw & co. :p

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