Pens of the Future, Now

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
New materials, innovative mechanisms and technical style, these aren't your traditional pens...

To a fair few of us, pens are a bit of an outdated concept; when even books are being transformed into 1s and 0s, it’s little surprise many of our wrists are unused to the hard graft of handwriting. It’s no surprise then that many pen manufacturers play up to the innate archaism of a pen, creating pieces that seem one step more advanced than a quill.

As with everything however, there are exceptions and, in an area as almost uniformly traditional as pens, those that blaze a trail to modernity seem futuristic by comparison. Bold, impactful and high-tech or simply utilising the finest in contemporary design, these are the pens that are only traditional by sci-fi standards. Just don’t try to use them as a touchscreen stylus.

Styljoux Le Calibre Sapphire Special Edition, £50,000

Styljoux Le Calibre Sapphire Special Edition

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One of the newest brands on the block, Styljoux aren’t letting the more established pen makers steal the limelight, especially when their proverbial block is one of solid sapphire crystal. All of their pens have a distinct modern feel, all the more so when you can see straight through it. This special edition is milled from a single piece of sapphire crystal, usually used in fine watchmaking.

That’s not all the pen takes from horology though; a mechanism allows you to adjust an oscillating weight inside the barrel to customise the way it feels in your hand. Simple yet inspired, there’s even a small dial to keep track of it. That said, you could always just look at the weight itself; the entire barrel is transparent after all.

Richard Mille RMS05, £75,000

Richard Mille RMS05

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Styljoux aren’t the only ones pairing together the engineering disciplines of watches and pens, though Richard Mille are coming from the other direction. Even the simplest Richard Mille timepiece is about as advanced as a watch can get and, with the RMS05, they’ve translated their bold style into fountain pen form.

Crafted from Richard Mille’s proprietary NTPT carbon – a form of the material developed at their Swiss manufacture – the novel approach here includes a retractable nib. At the press of a button, the nib will smoothly eject, ready for writing. All you need to do to reset the mechanism is pop the cap back on. The escapement that actually controls this is clearly visible and, this being Richard Mille, skeletonised – another nod to their iconic timepieces.

Montegrappa Q1, £7,425

Montegrappa Q1 Fountain Pen

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It’s not often Montegrappa are among the more subtle pens in a group; the Italian brand is positively gleeful in their creation of sensationalist pieces. Yet while the Q1 might not be bedecked in gold or dedicated to Batman, Elvis or Salvador Dali, it’s impressive in its own colourful way.

Rather than watchmaking, the Q1 takes its technical ideas from firearms. Through the same kind of chamber system as a revolver, the interior workings of the pen can rotate through a number of different ink cartridges. With a satisfyingly mechanical click, you can switch from blue to black to whatever one of a myriad colours you want. You might not find much cause to sign your name in hot pink, but it’s nice to know you can.

Montblanc M Fountain Pen, £385

Montblanc M Fountain Pen

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Modernity doesn’t always necessitate technological advances worthy of a multitude of patents, especially if you enlist one of today’s most important designers. Marc Newson’s organic shapes and smooth, flowing lines are a driving force of contemporary design, precisely what Montblanc were looking for in their first ever collaborative pen.

Montblanc’s signature black resin here is the same as that on their most iconic models. The difference is the unusual plateau, giving the pen a unique if subtle style. Magnets at both ends give the cap a wonderfully solid click, while the signature star uses a technique that puts it flush against the resin – all subtle touches, but they add up to a stunning pen. If you did feel the need to be high tech though, it also comes as a screenwriter.

S.T. Dupont X-Wing Collector’s Edition, £1,400

S.T. Dupont X-Wing Limited Edition

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You can’t get more futuristic than the world of sci-fi – we’re a fair amount of time away from a galaxy-devastating planetoid in the present – and ST Dupont have taken their inspiration from possibly the most iconic of all time. 

When placed on its stand, this limited edition pen forms the body of Star Wars’ famous X-wing fighter, going so far as to illustrate the ship’s various panels along its length. When removed it’s just as impressive, the symbol of the Rebel Alliance emblazoned on the clip. As if it weren’t stylistically advanced enough, what at first appears to be steel is in fact ceranium A.C.T., a material that’s impervious to anything short of laser fire. With a nib crafted with platinum finishes, it’s a pen ideal for collectors of pens and Star Wars alike. Needless to say, Star Trek fans need not apply.

Pininfarina Carbongrafite Fountain Pen, £1,200

PININFARINA CARBONGRAFITE Fountain Pen

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Visconti put more time into developing new materials than pretty much any other pen maker and, even if they’re generally associated with more traditional writing instruments, this collaboration with legendary Italian designer Pininfarina is anything but.

First of all, it shares the retractable nib of Richard Mille’s RMS05, the nib drawing from a well of ink rather than the normal cartridge system. In this version however the mechanism is hidden, giving it an air of mystery. The name comes from the body material, a specialised version of carbon fibre where the grain goes in one direction, creating a distinct, stealthy look. The overall shape is as sleek as the sports cars Pininfarina normally works with and, with Vicsonti’s phenomenal Smartouch nib, just as responsive.

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