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PEN PALS: Hermès on Thursday unveiled the Nautilus, a capless pen conceived by Australian industrial designer Marc Newson and developed with Japanese company Pilot. It marks the launch of a new category of objects which also includes notebooks, writing paper and leather accessories.
Made of solid aluminum and stainless steel, with a rhodium-plated white gold nib, the fountain pen is available in six nib widths. Ink cartridges come in black and carbon blue, in addition to three colors exclusive to Hermès: H red, ebony and blood orange. The pen is also available in a ballpoint version with two widths.
The Nautilus will go on sale in September in a selection of stores worldwide, with the fountain pen retailing for $1,650 and the ballpoint pen for $1,350.
Holding aloft a tiny orange box containing six ink cartridges, Hermès artistic director Pierre-Alexis Dumas noted it would be the cheapest item available in the brand’s stores, priced 7 euros, or $9.50 at current exchange.
He recalled that shortly after meeting Newson, he found out the designer used the same Pilot Capless fountain pen favored by his father, the late Jean-Louis Dumas, but had never designed a pen himself. “He is a prolific designer, but he had not touched that object, so that of course triggered an interest in me,” Dumas recalled.
Newson said that despite its apparent simplicity, the pen took three years to perfect as it involves fitting a rotating mechanism into a very small space. “This is the most complex object you could hope to design from an industrial design perspective,” he noted.
The designer always sketches his ideas by hand. “There’s nothing which is more spontaneous than using a pen and a paper, you know, because it’s so gestural. You simply can’t work like that on a computer,” said Newson, who said there was “a real concern” that younger generations are forsaking penmanship.
Dumas was more optimistic.
“I am convinced that as long as we have five fingers on each hand, we will continue to write,” he said. “It’s a moment where you are alone and when you can put your thoughts on paper. You can do that of course with a computer and we all do it, but there’s a sensuality in the experience of writing that nothing to my knowledge has replaced.”