Diplomat pens are exceptional! That word has a generally positive connotation nowadays, like amazing, or fantastic or brilliant, but its meant here in a more faithful sense of being a departure from the norm, not typical, different. Now it just so happens that in every way that they do depart from the norm they do so with fantastic brilliance, but i still think the distinction is important.
For starters, Diplomat pens are severely under rated. And i don't mean under rated like when somebody tells you that 'their first album is better than their biggest' just to sound hip. Diplomat pens are actually under rated. People who have used a Diplomat know this and anyone who is thinking about buying a pen should pay heed.
Admirably, the company is owned by the grand daughter of the founder so it is still a family company. At this size, at this scope, in this global market and over this period of time, this is exceptional.
I think this is really important. That whole thing about lineage carries through, it creates a sense of accountability. If you're accountable to share holders or venture capital it comes to pass that you're only really accountable to profit year by year and so you have this big old monkey on your back. If the conditions are just right (or, rather, wrong) you may start to cut corners.
But if you're accountable to a few generations of your family, then quality comes first, right? Otherwise it's wilful besmirching and nobody's doing that to their own family. This accountability is obvious, I mean, Diplomat pens still have a brass barrel inside, imparting lovely weight and longevity.
Come to think of longevity, no other pen brand that we stock gets feedback like 'I still use my dad's old one' quite like Diplomat. These pens seem to last in fantastic working order for generations! Which seems apt...they're still made in the Diplomat factory. Not just 'a' factory owned by Diplomat but 'the' factory owned by Diplomat...the one and only since 1921!
A curious little point of geopolitics intrudes on the story here as this factory happens to be located about 30km from the Polish border. In this pocket of East Germany there is really high pressure on wages, as the economically weaker bordering countries are full of people looking for work. And so it happens that without any conscious effort, Diplomat's work force is probably greatly underpaid for its knowledge and this carries on to great value in Diplomat pens. But without cutting any corners in materials or craftsmanship!
As an example of craftsmanship, all lacquered Diplomat pens have 14 layers of lacquer. That's really astonishing...this makes them great for engraving, impervious to wear and tear, and beautiful to look at, a kind of iridescence when the light is just right. Now i'm pretty sure if you put a pen with 14 layers of lacquer in my left hand and one with 4 layers in my right I wouldn't be able to tell the difference but give it 5 or 10 years and it would be pretty obvious! This is again that exceptional trait, that accountability to principles and standards laid down by the family.
Most Diplomat nibs are steel. Some are Gold. Either way, they're all really great. Everything aside, the lacquering, the brass, the beautiful design, it's the nib which is where the action happens and all the great praise that Diplomat pens get is essentially coming down to the nibs. They're rather large, invariably beautiful and consistent. So consistent. But so beautiful too. I love a good fountain pen nib and I think Diplomat engrave theirs with just the right amount of ornamentation.
But i suppose the most important way in which they are exceptional is value for Money. Grab any pen around 100-300 dollars and a Diplomat at the same price will probably beat it. Even if it's a tortoise and the hare kind of victory, Diplomat will still come out on top. Fountain pens are really great investments, they can really take on a life and story of their own after a few years of companionship and in this light Diplomat pens are a fantastic, amazing, brilliant exception.