Ink Review: Waterman Harmonious Green

January 14, 2019


It's strange to think that something as trivial and superfluous as the weather can have such huge impacts on the ways we live our lives. I'm not speaking of the extremes of weather; of being snowed in or kept worried and anxious by hurricanes and tornadoes. I'm speaking of weather's less extreme, and less tangible effects. The subtle impacts of weather can sometimes go unnoticed, but nonetheless, it can have colossal effects on how we live each day.


When the air turns cold and damp, as it is now here in Windsor, my mood and drive to be productive lessen considerably. The darkness of the short days seem to only make things worse. The brief and intermittent sunlight, and the bitter cold and damp makes it hard to want to do anything more than stay in bed and can make laggards of us when we'd be much better off getting out there and setting down to work.


To help with the mood of the season, I thought I would review an ink that departs somewhat from the last ones I've touched on. My last two reviews (Diamine Oxblood and Montblanc Blue Hour) were both dark and serious. Indeed, the inks I review tend to reflect my patterns of use. I tend to review the inks that I write with most in a given month or year, as those are the inks at the top of my mind that I am most interested in writing about. Lately, I've returned to an ink I bought only last year to brighten up my writing and add some visual interest to the page. That ink is Waterman Harmonious Green, and it's the ink I will review now.


Waterman is one of those curious pen brands with a bit of a tragic history that has turned sour only in the last couple of years. Almost for the entirety of the 20th century, Waterman dominated the pen world along with Parker. Those two brands, up until the ballpoint pen revolution, had a near monopoly on the fountain pen market in the United States. Together they made and sold many millions of pens that covered all corners of the market. For the student, they sold affordable fountain pens that could be lost without too much heartache. They also had their upper end pens, for those wishing to show off their status to others, or give a very nice gift to someone else. The legacy of these two brands continued for decades and have only just recently begun to falter. Their names were synonymous with quality and reliability and the pens they produced are  today highly sought after by collectors of vintage pens, their stalwart fidelity to tried and true models earning them lifelong loyalists. Today, brands like Waterman and Parker have fallen out of favor among many collectors and users of fountain pens, particularly among those who started using fountain pens in the last ten or so years.


Brands now rise and fall with staccato regularity and the buying habits of today's fountain pen users tend to shy away from anything that could be called brand loyalty. The old brands that dominated the fountain pen market of the 20th century have fallen by the wayside, being replaced by those brands able to capitalise on every trend of a rapidly changing market increasingly driven by social media.


Waterman has been desperately trying to revive itself, fighting hard to find a footing in the new fountain pen market. There is a fair bit of irony in it; the very industry that Waterman helped to create is now turning its back on the pen maker with shockingly little hesitation. Waterman's line of inks, which is after all, the topic of this article, have been left unchanged for years. Many consider this to be an overwhelming positive. For many fountain pen users, Waterman's inks are their best product, and has been considered the "safest" ink for fountain pens. Ever since the renowned fountain pen nibmeister Richard Binder shared with the world his love for Waterman ink, and that he used it exclusively in his vintage pens, collectors of vintage pens have relied on it heavily.


With the success of Waterman's inks, it came as a great surprise to many when the company decided to change the names of each color in the lineup. The colors themselves would remain the same, but they would be sold under new names and a slightly altered package design. Fountain pen forums and collectors were confused as to why the company would make the changes, feeling like the old names had more character to them.


Havana Brown was arguably their most popular and applauded color, but with the new name changes Havana Brown was changed to the somewhat ambiguous new name, "Absolute Brown." Those looking for Havana Brown were frustrated to find that the only brown ink Waterman offered was named something else entirely, even though the ink itself had not changed. Waterman Harmonious Green, the ink I am about to get into was formerly called "Green," perhaps the only change that was made for the better.


All the ink name changes were similarly vague, and the new names lacked the character that the old ones had. Whether these changes play out well for the company will only be revealed with time. For now, what matters most is whether the ink is worth using. For this question I have to agree with the thousands of people who loyally return to Waterman ink again and again. Their ink is some of the best and most reliable on the market and I am happy to have it in my collection.


The greatest victory achieved by Harmonious Green lies in its consistently good performance on the page. It resists feathering and bleed through better than just about any other ink out there and from what I understand, each bottle is the same as the next. This means that Waterman is able to offer the same great performance from batch to batch, which is more than can be said of some brands. Even on cheap copy paper, the ink doesn't bleed through using a fine or even medium nib.


It's normal for pen makers to produce inks that are drier than those of boutique brands. Waterman isn't much of an exception to this rule and their inks tend to dwell on the dry side of medium. That said, I have never experienced any problems with the ink flow in any of my pens, and it performs well nonetheless. Because pen makers can't control the paper that their customer's use, they make inks that can be used on the widest possible range of papers to avoid customers becoming disillusioned with their products.


The color itself of Harmonious Green is originally what drew me in. After reading reviews and general praise for Waterman's inks online, I knew I wanted a Waterman ink, and Harmonious Green seemed to me to be the most unique of them. While not as true a green as could be said of Montblanc Irish Green, Waterman Harmonious Green is nonetheless full of character and intrigue. Subtle tones of blue soften the overall look of the ink, and its medium to low saturation gives it wonderful shading.


I won't mention the ink's water resistance because there isn't any to mention. One plus side of this is that when it comes to cleaning the pen out, it rinses out remarkably easy with just water. It only takes a couple flushes with tap water to get all the ink out of the pen, making it one of the most hassle-free inks I have come across.


All in all, Waterman Harmonious Green is a reliable, interesting ink worth the price of admission, and then some. I will be sure to replace it when I run out, as I intend to always have it on hand in my collection.

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