The Retro 51 is often considered to be a gateway pen into the “higher end pen industry”. I did it a bit backwards and purchased my first Retro 51 well after I had gotten into other higher end pens, such as fountain pens – mostly because Retro 51’s don’t seem to be very common in Australia.
I took the plunge for this particular edition - the beautiful Christmas Twinkle edition released in 2015, with its etched body and rose gold accents and the pen certainly lived up to the hype. Production was limited to 1225 numbered pens. It is truly beautiful in person.
I find the body itself to be a bit top heavy during very long writing sessions, however, for quick notes or normal writing, it wasn’t an issue at all.
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Retro 51 refill – the Schmidt P8127 (which comes with a 0.7mm black refill as standard) and I was skeptical at first, having been underwhelmed by the Lamy rollerball refills (which skipped badly on me) but I have to say it is very good. It really is a very good, smooth and dark rollerball refill and all the more so on high end paper such as Fabriano, Clairefontaine, Rhodia or Maruman. However, in Australia, it is a little difficult to find and very pricy with an RRP of $15.95.
At the time of release, it was US$45 which was a bit pricey (especially with the exchange rates at the time), however, it really is a beautiful pen. On top of that, it performs very very well, I think it was worth every penny. Fast forward 4 years or so, and the pens are still available, albeit not as readily and at a significant premium – a quick search on ebay shows the pen available at US$95!
If you have ever thought about or been tempted by a Retro 51, it certainly has my vote – give it a go and I don’t think you will be disappointed.