By Michael Wakin
The Diplomat Magnum is hardly a superstar. It’s one of those pens that will come up from time to time in “best starter pen” discussions, but it isn’t otherwise seen all that often. While not as big a name as the Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan, the Magnum has its share of fans, of which I count myself.
In this post, I am covering the Magnum’s “Soft Touch” model. The only differences between this and the base model are the textured plastic body, wider range of colors and nib sizes, and higher price; because the price difference is slight enough, I recommend the Soft Touch to anyone interested, unless they absolutely must have gray.
The Diplomat Magnum accepts standard international cartridges and converters. It is fairly thin, and at 14g, is a light pen. It’s on the shorter side as well, so I recommend posting the cap while using it.
Appearance-wise, this is a flat-tipped torpedo-shaped pen; while it is rounded a bit at the narrow end, it certainly isn’t the usual cigar pen. The barrel is flattened down its length in even thirds, giving it a busier, more interesting look, and the grip section is flattened to match the body’s shape and to encourage a three-point grip; the contouring isn’t as prominent as on some other pens. Given the overall design and materials, it’s understandable to think of this as a sort of mini Safari.
The design of the Magnum’s cap is bound to divide opinions. It is wider at the top than at the opening, and the finial, which reads “DIPLOMAT / PRODUCT OF GERMANY”, looks to me like one of those cheap, toy compasses. I honestly don’t know why Diplomat doesn’t use the same flower logo as on their other pens – maybe to set them apart? At least the cap posts securely and doesn’t throw off the pen’s balance in the hand.
Beyond the cap, I do have a few little nitpicks about the construction and design, like how the section’s grooves don’t quite line up with those in the body, or how the finial rotates just a little bit with pressure. Again, these are nitpicks, and I like the overall look: it is modern but not ostentatious; sleek but not boring.
I am fond of the indigo blue model that I use. The “soft touch” finish provides a nice sheen that makes the pen appear more blue or purple depending on the lighting. The Diamine Midnight Blue that I’ve been using pairs perfectly with it.
And then there’s the nib – the highlight of this pen. It is fairly dry, fairly smooth, and surprisingly bouncy. Pressing just a bit on the downstrokes makes a noticeable difference, and pushing harder yields nice line variation. Curiously, the nib even has a slight stub shape to it: with no extra pressure, downstrokes are a bit thicker than strokes made side-to-side. You can see this in the words “girls” and “human” above. I just might buy a broad nib for the look and feel of the line.
As of my writing, the Soft Touch retails for $27 and the base model at $25.
Ultimately, this is the sort of pen to keep in a bag or pocket and pop out for some smooth, straightforward writing. It won’t change the world, but I can certainly recommend adding the Magnum to any personal collection.