This is a review of the Diplomat Excellence A² Skyline Red Fountain Pen. Last year, I had the privilege to review the Diplomat Excellence A Skyline in blue as my first published fountain pen review. Diplomat Pen Company was purchased in 2017, and the new owners have revisited the company’s existing lines to make improvements. I recently met Hillary and Larry Ragland from Points of Distinction, the U.S. importer for Diplomat Pens, at the Baltimore Pen Show.
A new and improved version of the Skyline came to the U.S., which they generously sent me to review and giveaway along with two packs of ink cartridges, one blue and one black. The new model is the Skyline Red Excellence A2 in extra-fine with a stainless steel nib. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment below about what pens, pencils, inks, and/or paper you would like to see reviewed next. A random winner will be selected from all entries and announced on April 15th, 2018. One entry per person please, limited to the United States.
10/10 Packaging: The pen comes in a white box with the black Diplomat logo on the front. Inside is a smaller box with a grey metal sleeve, also with the “Diplomat since 1922” logo. The box contains the pen resting on a Diplomat-branded satin pillow with a converter, two ink cartridges, and service guide.
10/10 First Thoughts: The new red finish is a knock-out. Thin repeating lines of red and darker red make the pen almost shimmer when it catches the light. The new color works well for business settings as well as an everyday carry pen. I feel the new red model is a perfect addition to the existing blue, giving the line a Star Wars lightsaber vibe. Will you choose the light side or the dark side? Sorry just letting my nerd show.
10/10 Design: The body and weight remains perfectly balanced. There is a gradual taper from the back of the grip section to the bottom of the finial, which allows the cap to post very securely. One of the improvements over the previous model is a new closure mechanism. The new closure is still a snap cap, but provides a gradual close that feels more secure and is easy to uncap one-handed. The Diplomat logo is on the cap finial and the cap band is engraved, “Diplomat Since 1922 Made in Germany.” The pen comes with a stainless steel nib, but you have the option to upgrade to a 14K gold nib for about $110 more. Nib options have also been updated for the new models and now include extra fine, fine, medium, and bold for both steel nibs and gold nibs.
There is a small stepdown from the body to the grip section. The grip section is smooth, but not slippery and is big enough to accommodate larger fingers. In the previous model, the only score down in the design was the clip, as it was very stiff and required two hands to clip it on thicker clothing. In the new model, the clip has been redesigned to include a spring mechanism, which makes it very easy to operate one-handed and clip onto thicker clothing.
10/10 Nib Performance: I requested this pen in the new extra-fine nib for two reasons. First, I prefer a fine line for both daily use and using the pen at work. Second, I have found that with many brands, extra-fine nibs are very toothy, almost scratchy, in the amount of feedback you get when writing, especially on cheap paper. That being said, this is one of the best extra-fine nibs I have ever written with! It is smooth and gives just enough feedback to let you know you are writing. Just like the previous models, there is no breather hole on the nib. It has the Diplomat ink drop engraved, “Diplomat since 1922,” and the letters, “EF,” for extra fine. It writes well for reverse writing, but becomes a little scratchy.
9/10 Filling System: The pen uses a standard international converter, which is included with the pen and is branded with “Diplomat made in Germany.” It also comes with two standard international black ink cartridges. The body is metal and has metal threads, so it is not possible to eyedropper the pen. The only score down comes from the push-in converter; I have become fond of threaded converters due to their added security against becoming dislodged and leaking.
9/10 Value: The new and improved model is still offered at a retail price of $245, which is relatively expensive for a steel nib pen. Nevertheless, I’d still consider this a good value because this pen’s steel nib writes as smooth and performs better than most of the gold nibs I have used. The finish and design of the pen is spectacular, and the new red is definitely an attention-grabber.
58/60 Overall: I thought the original Excellence was as close to perfection as you could get, but the new version is even better. The improvements made to this model show that Diplomat is committed to making the best products for their customers that are designed to last generations. I highly recommend this pen to anyone looking for a “next level” pen that is durable, always writes even after sitting for days, is beautiful in design and color, and is perfectly balanced for an always enjoyable writing session.
Name: Diplomat Excellence A2 Red Skyline
Design: Metal body, lacquer finish, red guilloche cap and body
Length: 5.5 inches (139.7mm)
Posted: 6 1/8 inches (155.57mm)
Diameter: .76 inches (19.5mm)
Weight: 43 grams filled
Nib: Stainless Steel extra-fine
Filling System: C/C
Pros: Beautiful finish, perfectly balanced, amazing nib, spring clip, soft snap closure, converter included
Cons: Price is higher than gold nib competitors
In the same price range:
Graf Von Faber Castell Tamito
Pilot falcon and Custom Heritage 92