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Montegrappa Desiderio Review

This is my own pen. I did not receive any compensation for this review. This pen is available for hire from me through

Looks, description, build quality, dimensions

The Montegrappa Desiderio has a resin body, cap and section. Clip and finial are sterling silver (with another small sterling silver band within the section). The number 4 nib is 18k and features the octagonal Montegrappa motif and name. Yes, you read that right – a number 4 nib. More of that later. The feed is ebonite.

The Desiderio comes in a choice of finishes:

  • Black body & cap; red section, cap band and clip roller ball
  • Navy blue body & cap; grey section, cap band and clip roller ball
  • Chocolate body & cap; dark orange-ish section, cap band and clip roller ball

The cap takes about one-and-a-half turns to unscrew and the finial has the octagonal Montegrappa motif.

The black resin has four with distinct “sections” as you rotate the pen in your hand: on two of those, the black is solid; on the other two, a delightful sparkly pearlescence appears.

Before you open the cap it appears to be quite a classic, understated pen: predominantly black with sterling silver trim, with only the red sliver on the cap and the red roller on the clip giving you any clue that there might be something more to this pen…

Then when you unscrew the cap – POW! The red section hits you right between the eyes.

It’s gorgeous and mirrors the effect on the barrel: in a couple of places it’s solid red, then in others it appears to catch fire….

Build quality is generally excellent and the materials are lovely. However – the red sliver above the cap band is not quite flush with the cap; when you run your finger across it you can feel (and see) a slight misalignment. Which is disappointing.

Dimensions are:

  • Capped 135mm, 32g (Lamy Safari 139mm, 18g)
  • Uncappped 124mm, 17g (Lamy Safari 128mm, 10g)
  • Posted 154mm (Lamy Safari 164mm)
  • Other: barrel width 13mm (at its widest point just behind the threads), section width 9mm (at its narrowest point just above the nib), section length 31mm (including threads), nib length 17mm

Story behind the pen

By the time I purchased the Desiderio, I had the midnight blue celluloid Miya, red resin Harmony and Copper Mule in my collection so was already well invested in the Montegrappa brand and constantly on the lookout for the next purchase.

I follow lots of retailers on Instagram and one day the following post from Chatterley Luxuries in the US popped up:

Photo courtesy of Chatterley Luxuries Instagram feed @chatterleyluxuries

At that price I had to have it and also put the word out to a few buddies in the community.

It was a tough choice between the black and the blue. Blue is my favourite colour and I figured I could easily end up with an entire collection of blue pens so opted for the black. The fiery contrast of the red section also attracted me more than the grey. I agonised between M and F nibs and eventually played it safe with M.

Bryant answered a stream of questions both speedily and kindly – his customer service was first class, and the pen arrived with a nice handwritten note from Tiffany.

Feel in the hand

The resin feels lovely to the touch, wonderfully smooth. The section tapers towards the nib and is a nice comfortable size to hold (I generally feel comfortable when my thumb and three fingers which hold the pen are almost touching all the way round)

The threads are well back near the barrel and are “square” threads meaning no sharp edges, if you do happen to hold your pen that far back (I don’t – I like to hold the pen as close to the paper as possible).

Filling / refilling

It’s a cartridge converter. But it’s a screw-in converter  which gives some extra peace of mind against leakage.

Nib feel on the paper / ink flow

OK I can’t avoid the issue any more – the number 4 nib is teeny. Those who love number 8 nibs need not apply! I didn’t think you could even get a nib this small! And when you look at it in profile, it is slightly curved, dare I say droopy and a bit sad looking?

So first impressions aren’t great but thankfully the “size isn’t everything” cliche comes to the rescue because it’s actually a really interesting nib.

Ink flow is generous. I keep it paired with Diamine Red Dragon, to match the section. (I initially paired it with Diamine Matador but the ink flow was shockingly bad)

Is it smooth? There is certainly quite a lot of feedback and the sound is completely unique amongst my pens, a bit squeaky actually, but it’s certainly not scratchy.

Line width / variation

In normal writing the line is probably slightly finer than a Lamy Safari M. But here’s the ace up the sleeve: the nib actually has some flex. Not a lot. But when you apply some pressure, the tines do move apart and you do get a wider line. It’s lovely.

I’ve taken care not to apply too much pressure – I don’t want to overdo it in case I damage the nib.

Top – Lamy Safari M; Middle – Desiderio unflexed; bottom – Desiderio flexed

A bit flexy..

How does it make your handwriting look

I’ll start by saying I’m no flexpert so I don’t usually use the Desiderio that way.

In hindsight I wish I had chosen the F nib, possibly in the belief that you would get even more line variation. (It’s only relatively recently I’ve come to prefer F nibs. Kinda wish I knew that at the start of my fountain pen journey…)

Because of the smaller nib, I can hold the pen close to the paper which gives me the feeling of greater control. Unposted, (and I usually use my pens unposted) possibly because of the element of flex I feel there’s a bit more wildness when I write.

I’ve only recently tried the pen posted, despite having it for over a year. The cap is quite heavy but it posts about 30mm down the barrel so it’s really nicely balanced. That bit of extra weight higher up helps to calm the wildness I referred to above and it becomes a genuine delight to write with.

Value for money

At USD 850 there is absolutely no way I would have considered this pen. Sure it’s got an 18k nib and sterling silver trim but there’s no celluloid and there’s the flaw on the cap (maybe it’s just mine). But at USD 160 it is a complete steal! I genuinely can’t imagine what made Bryant virtually give his last ones away (he did have all three colours still in stock), but I’m glad he did..

Conclusion / recommendation

The Desiderio has a lot going for it – the “surprise” section (rather like the Louboutin red sole I suppose), the 18k flexy nib, the nice pearlescent effect as you revolve the pen, the sterling silver trim.

I still do find the nib too small aesthetically – I wish they had used a number 5. However in use the size doesn’t matter, and when posted, it becomes a really lovely writer.

Price wise I got a genuine absolute bargain. If you could find yourself one at the same price, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

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