Watches and Pens

About one year ago, I saw an ad or an image of a Montblanc Starwalker Urban Speed pen. I had loved pens since I was a kid and had been using a Montblanc Starwalker every day for the past ten years. The only difference between my Starwalker and the new Urban Speed model was a red racing stripe. Oh, but what a difference that red racing stripe made… It was a racing pen! In typical TimeCaptain fashion, I became obsessed.

I had recently purchased my 40BDP, so funds were low even though cravings for luxury goods were high. That Montblanc was awesome, but as the price made hesitate, I started discussions on our partner watch forum. Fellow members directed me to a pen store in Montreal, which led to some binge buying over the following months. In particular, I got into fountain pens. What does any of this have to do with watches? I’m glad you asked.

I am actually writing this entire blog in fountain pen. I type up my blog posts after initially writing them in a notebook, using one of several fountain pens in my collection. So basically, I have combined two passions into one activity. But let me back up and explain.

Visconti Opera Metal Monza at work

Visconti Opera Metal Monza at work

So it’s early 2018 and I have discovered this cool store in a search for less expensive alternatives to that Montblanc Urban Speed. After my first small purchase, I discovered the Visconti Opera Monza – a high-tech looking pen named after the legendary Monza racing circuit, all graphite with gorgeous red accents. I am writing with it right now. The pen was so awesome that I decided to buy it and cross into the world of fountain pens for the first time.

And here is where the relevance to watches comes in. Crossing from roller balls to fountain pens is like switching from quartz to mechanical watches. Like a mechanical wristwatch, a fountain pen requires some fiddling, fussing and attention. It requires cleaning and maintenance. It requires more care when using it. If a fountain pen sounds like too much trouble, let me point out that it also provides a whole different level of pleasure. Writing with a fountain pen is smooth and more enjoyable (to me) than a ballpoint pen. You pick, choose and change your ink and the experience is very interactive. I find that fountain pens require much less effort to write with, making them more comfortable to write for long periods than with a ballpoint or rollerball. Does any of this sound like a quartz-automatic analogy? And do you know another similarity? Just as a mechanical wristwatch is a completely antiquated device, a fountain pen would seem equally useless in today’s wireless smartphone society.

Longines V.H.P and Visconti Opera Metal Monza

At first, my pens were just accessories for the office. I would choose a pen each morning to match my watch and my suit. I would place the pen in front of me during meetings so it would look cool. I would use it to take the occasional note or to sign a report. And then I began to notice how much I was enjoying the feeling of writing with a fountain pen – especially one as cool and modern-looking as mine. So I bought a big notebook and started keeping a journal at work- goals, objectives, ideas, meeting notes… I found that physically writing stuff helps me relax and remember better. I started to enjoy stopping at coffee shops in between meetings to organize my thoughts by writing them down.

After a while, my wife and daughter gave me a really nice notebook with The Grinch on the cover. And I decided I would use this notebook to keep a journal about my daughter. Every few days, I sit down quietly by myself and spend 10 or 15 minutes writing down the things that my daughter did or said. I write about her progress at school and her activities. This is very relaxing and good for the soul. When we booked our winter vacation last year, I decided to bring my journal and a fountain pen. Yes, I have a “vacation pen” just like we all have a “vacation watch.” In addition to my journal, I got myself another notebook for watch notes to record my thoughts for upcoming blogs as I hung out at the resort. And while I was down there, I somehow got the idea to write an entire blog in fountain pen.

TimeCaptain’s writing arsenal.

We spend our days on computers and smart devices. I want to write about watches, but staring at my tablet screen makes me feel like I am at work. And smart screens may actually contribute to stress and anxiety. I have taken my pen and notebook to the park beside the lake and written blogs under the sun, with no batteries or electricity. I can tell you that was a far more relaxing and enjoyable experience than typing at my desk. One morning, before hitting my favourite barbershop, I stopped for coffee at the shop facing my AD. I listened to hipster music, sipped my latte, and stared at the watches in the window as I wrote down a blog about the features of my new V.H.P. This was a nice experience and it was greatly enhanced by using my Visconti fountain pen.

I can write a blog quicker in pen than typing because the flow is much better. Of course, I must type it up afterwards. But this goes quickly once I can copy from my notebook. Even if the overall process takes a bit longer than just typing initially, the experience for me is greatly enhanced by writing an entire piece in fountain pen.

And this brings us back to watches. We wear mechanical watches for an experience- not for a function. We can tell time more accurately with our phones than with luxury watches, but the watches provide us with a story and a statement. I can type stuff on my laptop and not fuss with expensive accessories. But the fountain pen connects me to my thoughts while providing a whole new world of luxury goods to obsess about. When my budget won’t allow a new watch, I can now shop for a new pen. As always, the fun is in the search…

Yours truly,

TimeCaptain is a self-confessed timepiece junkie.  He spends nearly all of his spare time buying,  selling,  trading,  researching, admiring and trying different timepieces. He's also a fanatic Formula 1 fan, having followed every single Grand Prix since 1991.  He switches to NFL football in the fall and roots for the Green Bay Packers. A child of the 1980's, TimeCaptain is mad about 80's music,  TV, cinema and pop culture.  Another interest of TimeCaptain is space exploration and the study of distant planets and galaxies. When asked about his favorite watch,  TimeCaptain remembers Enzo Ferrari's answer as to his favorite car- "the one I haven't built yet."