Review: The Pelikan M120 Iconic Blue

The Pelikan M120 is an interesting little pen, for lots of reasons, it’s also a pen I’m rather fond of and both of those reasons seem like as good a reason as any to review it.

As is the case with a lot of my pens, I bought this one second hand, although it had only been used a couple of times and still had it’s box (although this wasn’t the gift box) and paperwork, so I didn’t save loads, I think it cost me about £85 from memory. Retail these sell for around the £130 mark, depending on whether you get the gift packaging or not. This is quite expensive for a steel nib acrylic pen, there’s not much getting away from that, however I think it has enough good points to ultimately be worth it. Am I going to be suggesting this pen is a bargain any time soon? No, probably not, but I do think it does a good job of justifying it’s price tag with lots of nice little features.

To steal some film terminology ,this is definitely a ‘based on’ not ‘inspired by’ recreation of the Pelikan 120, it’s not 100% identical to the original, but it is very close, apart from the colour difference you’d be hard pressed to tell which is which. Personally I like that Pelikan decided to stay true to their original design, although saying that there are pens that are more ‘inspired by’ which I also like (like the Parker Centennial). Unsurprisingly the whole look of this pen is very vintage (or maybe more retro), either way it does a good job of not straying into old fashioned whilst still having some nice nods to Pelikan’s heritage. Personally I’m a big fan of the looks of this pen, especially the colour, which is a really nice shade of blue that I haven’t seen very often in pens, it’s unusual, but not too in your face. I think a part of the reason I love the looks of this pen so much is it’s resemblance to another piece of 50s/60s design. That piece of design would be the Bluebird-Proteus CN7, the car that Donald Campbell set the land speed record in back in 1964 at 403.10mph. I remember seeing this car at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu when I was little and being totally in awe of it, which is perhaps why I’m such a fan of a pen that bears such a definite resemblance to it.

Do you see the resemblance?
Photo Credit: Paul Hermans, via Wikimedia Commons

In the hand I really like this pen, it’s roughly the same size as an M200, which is a size that really works for me, in fact it’s pretty close to perfect. It’s also light, I find this a very precise pen you can put it exactly where you want it and it’s not going to try and fight you or run away from you. I think the fine nib also helps with this ‘precise’ feel. Personally I don’t associate weight and quality and as such this doesn’t feel like anything other than a well put together pen. Some people might find the M120 a bit small and light, personally I don’t find that, but it’s worth mentioning. The filling system is Pelikan’s tried and tested piston filling system, it works superbly, is effortlessly smooth and allows for a good fill of ink. Plus with the screw-in nib unit it’s easy to unscrew the nib and lubricate the piston when needed. As is common with Pelikans there is an ink window, which allows for a good view of how long you’ve got before your next trip to the ink bottle.

Despite the ‘EF’ this is no Extra-Fine

The nib is a stainless steel extra fine, I don’t really like extra fines, and I only bought this with one because it was second hand and the seller assured me it wrote more like a fine or medium. They weren’t wrong. As it often the case with Pelikan this nib runs about a size wider than advertised, happily this is what I wanted, but it is worth remembering, especially if you prefer your nibs on the finer side. That caveat aside I really like this nib, it’s smooth, wet and has a really nice little bit of bounce to it, not anything resembling flex, but definitely a ‘cushioning’ feel to it. I often find Pelikan’s nibs can be a bit rigid and uninteresting, so this is a nice pleasant surprise.

So what do I think of the M120 Iconic Blue? Well for me it is a perfectly sized little pen, with an excellent filling system that lets me write for ages. That coupled with a design that I really like and which invokes some happy childhood memories means that as far as I’m concerned Pelikan are on to a winner, albeit quite an expensive one.

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