Skyline Redux

My first vintage pen was supposed to be a double jewelled mustard “51”. Regrettably, my Veuve Clicquot tastes were shackled by a Budweiser budget so I happily ended up with a jet black Eversharp Skyline Executive instead. The Skyline had a distinctively streamlined look, while its nib was my initiation to the world of flex. It wasn’t intuitive but after cracking its code, my lines could swell from F to BB with ease. Unfortunately, my pen focus shifted and Japanese brands sentenced the Skyline to long-term storage. The time soon came when a grail needed funding so I sold several pens, the Eversharp included.

 

Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I discover that a local pen buddy is now a dealer for the Wahl-Eversharp pen company, as revived by Syd “Wahlnut” Saperstein. I message Kailash who tells me his maiden shipment is arriving in a few hours. Leigh and I rush to pick up our loot that night, and I run solely with my new prize for almost two weeks before even thinking of reviewing it on this space.

image

 

My modern Skyline comes from the Classic range. Compared to the Executive I once had, this one is a touch shorter but looks a lot more sartorial. Its silhouette remains true to the original save for two things. It lacks a filling lever and the barrel now sports a trim ring. The cap is a reprise of the Radial Engraved pattern from the ’45 – ‘48 Presentation Skylines and can understandably be mistaken for its vintage predecessor. Finish and execution are astonishing with even the famous Double Check hallmark being purposefully retained.

image
Uncapping the pen reveals gold trim on the section’s flare, a feature absent on the Skylines of old. The nib wears ornamentation that draws from Wahl’s Art Deco roots, which stands in stark contrast to the almost bare décor on the vintage nibs.

image
That isn’t tarnish on the nib. Ink smears are inevitable when you actually use your pens.

Inking the pen takes some figuring out. No seams are visible near the barrel threads and attempting to turn the section causes nothing to budge. It dawns on me that the barrel trim ring might hold the key and true enough, the ring marks a blind cap. Twisting this free reveals a piston knob. I later learn that this is actually a converter and owing to the pen’s redesign, long International carts are your only option if you don’t want to fill from a bottle.

image
There is but one nib size, a Fine-Medium, currently available. It is not a true semi-flex by any stretch but it is as supple as Nakaya’s Soft Medium or Pilot’s Soft Fine-Medium. Slight pressure readily yields sufficient line variation and throughout weeks of writing and doodling, I feel no tooth or snags, only a hint of feedback like the Japanese nibs I love.

 

Certain that this is an OEM nib from the Orient, I ask about the part’s origins. It shocks me just a bit to learn that not only is it German, it is coated stainless steel and not gold! I have previously handled stainless nibs gifted with a bit of spring, but nothing like this. It feels more controlled or deliberate in its cadence. The snapback seems calibrated instead of being a mushy afterthought. The writing performance is familiar and novel all at once. I cannot explain how Wahl-Eversharp accomplish this feat. The long sloping shoulders may partially explain the majix but I’m sure there’s a lot more voodoo going on. Bottom line: it provides a wonderful writing experience.

image
An old chevron pattern Wahl flat-top chats with our new friend.

Handling is lithe and its long section readily welcomes a host of hand sizes and grips. Some may find the unposted Skyline just a bit too light though. If you so choose to post, the cap mounts deeply and securely but shifts the pen’s balance drastically to the rear. Personally, I wouldn’t post but if it’s your pen, then it’s your rules.

P1030894
What scale means to pen geeks. From left to right: Omas 556/S Brevetto, Montblanc 1912 Heritage, 2014 Wahl Eversharp Skyline Classic, Bexley Submariner Grande Butterscotch, Sheaffer Autograph Band Snorkel, Parker UK Aerometric Duofold

Now for the $200 question: is it worth the coin? Sticker price on this model is only a few notches south of a pair of Benjamins so it isn’t exactly inexpensive. With vintage Skylines remaining available and affordable, what does this redux bring to the table?

wahls
The bottom pen is an original blue Skyline. The newer palladium capped black Classic doesn’t seem too different.

Given what I’ve seen and learned from the new pen people in my area, this is what I think. Today’s converts may want the writing experience that only a nib can bring, but seek as rich a history and pedigree as possible within a fairly attainable price point. They desire generous doses of flair but eschew having to deal with shrinking polystyrene, cracked nibs, ossified sacs and unexpected leaks. With all this in mind, the new Skyline gives them precisely what they want without exacting unreasonable tolls.
It isn’t La Grande Dame Brut. But if Gentleman Jack is ample tipple, this will wet your whistle.

 
(All pens other than the new Skyline appear courtesy of leighpod)