Pen Review: Krone Continuum Atmosphere

Material: Acrylic & Brass
Nib: 18k Gold
Appointments: Brass
Filling System: International Standard Cartridge Converter
Length (Capped): 141mm
Length (Uncapped): 123mm
Length (Posted): 163mm
Section Diameter: 11.3mm
Barrel Max Diameter: 14.5mm
Cap Max Diameter: 15.9mm
Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 22g
Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 32g

Although it may seem otherwise, I do actually have something of a personal limit to the amount of money I am willing to spend on a single fountain pen. Most people would look at my pen-spenditures and think I had lost my mind. (Frankly, I think that way half the time.)  But even I am taken aback by some of these modern fountain pens that cost several thousand dollars, and are so delicate in construction that they could never actually be used as writing instruments. At that point, they become works of fine art, not writing instruments. And while there’s nothing wrong with collecting fine art, it’s not where my interest lies.

My personal budget limits play a large part in why I had never heard of, let alone used, a fountain pen from the company Krone.  Named after the founder, Robert Kronenberger, most of the pens in Krone’s line are highly elaborate, hand-painted works that look more at home in a curio cabinet or under glass than in the board room. Some call them ornate. Others call them lurid. I generally fall somewhere closer to the latter camp. Despite my preference for flashy pens, I find most Krone designs to be too over the top even for me…especially at prices of up to and including $2,500.

When Fountain Pen Hospital had its semi-annual pen frenzy a couple of months ago, I came across what looked like a “production line” Krone fountain pen at a comparatively reasonable price. Plus, I really liked the unique design and decided I’d give it a try.

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The Krone Continuum comes in three finishes:  black with silver rings (Abyss), brown with brass rings (Aladabra), and blue with brass rings (Atmosphere.) I picked the Atmosphere version, although the Aladabra certainly intrigues me. The design features acrylic cylinders interspersed of ever-decreasing length with brass rings. The acrylic of the Atmosphere floats effortlessly between a rich, royal blue, and a shimmery, metallic sky blue with a lovely dose of chattoyance. The barrel of the pen tapers to a ridged brass finial with a flat terminus.

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The cap of the pen has a flat top with a bevelled corner. The cast brass clip is chunky, but streamlined, and features a shield with the Krone crown logo and a twisted rope motif around the edges. The clip attaches by a small slit cut into the cap and is firm while still being a bit flexible. I find it very easy to clip this pen to either a shirt pocket or the pocket of my jeans. At the base of the cap is a brass band with the same ridges that decorate the finial.

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The cap threads are superbly manufactured, and are both smooth and tight. It takes approximately 3 turns to uncap the pen fully. Upon removing the cap, you find a tapering section which leads to an attractive two-color 18k nib featuring some clean-lined scrollwork and the Krone logo. The plastic feed employed on the pen is a bit unusual, with vertical slits instead of the far more common horizontal fins usually seen on a feed.

The pen is a cartridge/converter pen, and comes with a fairly unimpressive (read: cheap) twist-style converter. (Mine got ink behind the plunger the first time I used the pen, and completely fell apart the first time I tried to clean it.) Fortunately, it does take standard-international converters and cartridges, so I was able to replace the lackluster included converter and get right back to writing.

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The pen can be posted, although I would not recommend it. With a heavy cap and heavy metal finial, the pen feels unbalanced. The metal of the cap band meshes with the metal of the finial, making for a very secure posting that is difficult to disengage. And posting the pen exposes a small design flaw. For some reason, the brass finial and some of the acrylic unscrew from the end of the barrel as though it was a piston-filler. By itself, this wouldn’t be a problem, but when coupled with a full-length converter, unscrewing the finial also manages to twist the converter’s piston, dumping ink on your hand. I discovered this first hand (pun intended) when I tried to un-post the pen for the first time, and had to twist the cap to get it to disengage. It was a very unfortunate premature ink-jaculation. At least the ink I was using at the time left a lovely sheen on my hands…

The Continuum’s nib is a good, if not glorious, writer. It has a forgiving sweet spot, but writes with a pretty significant amount of feedback.  The tines on my pen were fully in alignment, but the nib felt as though it had corners almost like an italic nib. If you like feedback, you may like the nib as it is. I will probably smooth it out a bit more.  The ink flow is moderate, but it handles long writing sessions with aplomb. It is a fairly rigid nib, but you can coax a decent bit of line variation out. Unfortunately, the feed doesn’t seem to be able to keep up, and the pen railroads quite easily if you do try to push the nib. Clearly it wasn’t designed for any sort of “flex” use.

One minor pet peeve I have is that the Continuum’s nib tends to dry out really quickly, even when the pen is capped. If I stop writing for 15-20 seconds, it will give me a hard start or two on the first letter before the ink starts to flow. After that, I have no issues with ink flow at all, even on long writing sessions.

I quite like the looks of the Krone Continuum. It is pretty comfortable in my hand, and features a unique design with lovely materials. Right now, I have a strong case of like for the Continuum. Once we start getting into the $250+ range, though, simply liking the pen isn’t quite enough for me. I have to love it, and it has to be a great fit. I suspect with some nib work, my case of like may turn into a case of love. I’m going to give it a bit more time to continue growing on me. Thus far, the more I use it, the more I like it. I hope that’s a trend that will continue.