As well as producing fountain pens, mechanical pencils and fancy
roller ball pens, Waterman also makes fountain pen ink. This is produced
in their factory in Nantes, France; unlike many other fountain pen
manufacturers, they have not outsourced production to a generic chemical
Ink produced by pen manufacturers tends to have a poor reputation, and
rightly so — manufacturer ink usually comes in a very limited range of
colours and is of far poorer quality than the ink made by specialist ink
companies. The former is true for Waterman, but not the latter. Indeed, when
describing an ink, fountain pen fans will often compare it to the nearest
Waterman ink is widely available. Unlike specialist inks, it can often be
found in stationers; it is also usually slightly cheaper. This is partly why it is used as a base for comparison
— chances are, any serious fountain pen user will have used many of the
Waterman inks at some point. The other reason is that Waterman inks are all
fairly smooth flowing and reasonably quick to dry, both qualities which are
All Waterman ink is available in bottle form. Some colours are
also available in Waterman-sized cartridges — note that
whilst most Waterman pens can take international sized cartridges, you will have
trouble using Waterman-branded cartridges in some international-sized pens. You
may also find Waterman ink in short international cartridges — these
will work in most European pens.
Waterman ink is suitable for most fountain pens. Unlike Parker ink, it does
not contain nasty solvents which can wreck pens that were not designed
with that ink in mind.
The easily available Waterman colours are:
- Florida Blue
- The canonical medium blue ink against which all other blue inks are
compared. This is a very smooth flowing, consistent ink. If you find that
your pen is not writing as smoothly as you'd like, give this ink a go. Be
warned, however, that it is not even slightly water resistant and will not
fare particularly well against strong light either.
- Smooth flowing and consistent, but rather washed out. This ink isn't a
very convincing black. If you don't mind a faded grey colour, this can be a
reasonable choice, but J. Herbin's Perle Noire is of equally high
quality and far darker. Private Reserve's Velvet Black is also good,
although not as free-flowing and with a longer drying time.
- A murky blue-grey colour. Again, a well made ink, but not especially
brilliant colour-wise. Diamine's Blue/Black may be a better choice, or
if longer drying times aren't a problem, Private Reserve's Black Magic
Blue (far more intense) or Midnight Blues (again, more intense, and also
darker) are worth a try.
- South Sea Blue
- A bright turquoise. It is lighter than most traditional turquoise inks,
and should only be used on white paper.
- Highly variable. Sometimes this is a stunning bright red, sometimes it
is closer to orange. Sometimes it is too thin, sometimes it clogs and jams
the pen. Unfortunately, Herbin don't produce a convincing bright red, and
Diamine's reds are either very brown or very pink, so it is hard to
recommend a good all-round alternative.
The following colours are also produced, but can be hard to find outside of
- Havana Brown
- A deep chocolate brown, somewhat prone to fading off around the edges of
lines. Sadly, this one is no longer sold in many countries, and the
cartridge form is discontinued.
- A medium blue-green which is somewhat dingy. Very smooth flowing. A good
ink, but not as strongly coloured (or as green) as specialist alternatives.
This is very much a token "we should produce a green ink" colour.
- Violet (sometimes labelled as Purple)
- French school purple. It has slightly more depth than the traditional
Herbin Violet Pensée, but is similarly smooth flowing and almost as quick
to dry. It is also easier to wash out, which is a mixed blessing...
Extremely common in France, but harder to find in countries where purple ink
is not widely used.
- There are reports of a Waterman ink labelled 'rose' (French for pink)
existing in France. None of my usual ink suppliers have heard of it, and
there is no mention of it on the manufacturer's website, but Google
suggests that a few French supermarkets and office supply companies sell it
in short international cartridge form. I can't really comment further on
this ink; Herbin produce a wide variety of pink shades which may be easier
My own ink collection