The metro

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 June, 2009, 12:00am

I'm a journalist but I don't have a proper pen. However, I've owned a few before. One of my favourites was a navy blue Waterman's Charleston, but I lost it.

The pen, in itself, is becoming an undervalued tradition. Once upon a time, everyone needed one to write things down, and having a nice-looking one was a fashion statement. Now everyone digs out their PDAs.

I want to reverse that trend.

Every man needs a pen for black-tie occasions, too. Imagine donning a tux at a party and then digging out a plastic biro when someone asks to borrow your pen.

A classic Montblanc Meisterst?ck is always a good choice. To raise the bar further, Alfred Dunhill has a range of accessories designed for black-tie situations under its Sentryman line. It includes cufflinks and the Sentryman Black Tie Fountain Pen. Production is limited to 1,893 units (the number represents the year Alfred Dunhill started trading). In sleek black and with a special coating on the barrel for increased resilience, the pen is completed with a mother-of-pearl cap and 18-carat gold nib.

Another limited-edition offering is the Secret Journey trilogy (below) by Swiss maison de haute ecriture Caran d'Ache, honouring authors Fran?ois-Ren? de Chateaubriand, Voltaire and Tolstoy - all of them with varying degrees of Swiss connections. I'm hardly a literary buff - the last book I read was about convicted murderer Nancy Kissel - but I really appreciate the details that go into these pieces.

The body of each pen is decorated with a map of a Swiss city, has a quote by one of the authors on the pen's surface and contains a 0.04-carat ruby. On the Chateaubriand pen, for example, there's a map of Geneva as the author was said to adore the beauty of Lake Geneva when he was posted to the Valais canton by Napoleon. A range of personalised details can be specified, including guilloch? (etching) and the width of the 18-carat gold nib.

You wouldn't take a limited-edition pen out every day, of course; for daily use, a writing implement such as Faber-Castell's Mondoro 'Design' range (second right) is ideal. The collection features a propelling pencil, a roller-ball pen, a ballpoint pen and a fountain pen, starting from just HK$1,100 each. The roller-ball pen features rapid-drying ink that does not smudge, while the fountain pen's cartridge/converter system allows ink to be filled in the traditional manner as well as by standard cartridges.

Friends know me for my YouTube addiction, urges to shop and occasional Martini-induced rowdiness, but there is also a side of me that aspires to be a politician - at least in the fashion sense. I am fascinated by the pomp of summits and the attending dignitaries: the hair, the suits and all those pens. I'm also intrigued by those moments when they are signing treaties and memorandums and the world is being reshaped - and I am sure they don't use something ordered in bulk from the stationery shop.

At Nato's 60th anniversary held in April, French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented 29 handcrafted N?o-Classique Pr?sident roller-ball pens (third right), specially made by S.T. Dupont, to his fellow world leaders. The exclusive pieces took 100 hours to make, feature a 4-gigabyte USB key integrated to the body of the pen and can perform 150 manual operations.

Something equally elegant is the brand's D?fi collection of writing instruments that also includes a multifunction pen.

Inspired by the aeronautics industry, the pen's 'fuselage' combines a palladium finish with a composite carbon fibre body (left). The lustrous white palladium is a rare metal that was once used in aircraft, including the Airbus A380.

Simplicity and the classics should form the backbone of any collection but every now and then you need to add something that is on the gaudy side. And Cartier has just the thing. Its gold, diamond-clad Prestige Fountain Pen in the form of a tiger (top) or a leopard is something to behold. Only a man with a sense of humour and enough guts could happily bring it out and show it off.

Shop list

Alfred Dunhill, Elements, TST, tel: 2196 8335

Cartier, Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 8105 5008

Faber-Castell available from Seibu, Pacific Place, tel: 2971 3888

Montblanc, Times Square, Causeway Bay, tel: 2506 9090

S.T. DuPont, The Landmark, Central, tel: 2877 4138

Caran d'Ache, The Peninsula hotel arcade, Salisbury Rd, TST, tel: 2369 1620