For the longest time I thought I would never be drawn to a Montegrappa design, let alone buy one. The Nero Uno was probably the closest I got to a Montegrappa due to its clean design and good use of metal on the pen.
All that changed when I saw the Ducale. The pen’s design is what prompted me to buy one. It is a very interesting pen that exceeded my expectations in all but one area. Let’s get into the details.
The first thing that caught my attention was the pen’s design. It is a very elegant design with straight lines and good use of metal components. The crown shaped cap finial is the highlight of the pen and truly complements the overall design of the pen perfectly. The clip design also tastefully adds to the beauty of the pen. The plain black and palladium finish itself is very attractive and the Murano in its gorgeous blue and caramel acrylic is a sight to behold. I enjoy every bit of the design.
As with most modern Montegrappas, this pen also comes in a large dark blue box with the hexagonal patterns on it. It is surely one of the nicer packaging setups I’ve seen and I like that Montegrappa did not ignore the presentation.
Construction and Build Quality
I wasn’t too sure of what I was getting into with this pen because it was my first Montegrappa. I was pleasantly surprised. Mostly made out of machined acrylic, the Ducale has a few metal components that add to the beauty of this pen. The tolerances are extremely tight and all the pieces fit together perfectly as if they were meant to be. I really appreciate when manufacturers use metal and resin well. Most of the major manufacturers do it, and I consider Montegrappa to be in the top five.
Due to the use of metal, the pen is quite heavy but not too heavy to be uncomfortable. Most of the weight is in the cap, so it does not feel too comfortable when posted. It is also long when posted. I prefer it un-posted.
Unlike Delta, which makes thick, chunky pens, Montegrappa designs are quite streamlined. So the acrylic could be a little thin on certain parts of the pen. However they’ve used metal parts to reinforce those possibly weak areas. So you don’t have to worry about it cracking. The clip is very functional with the roller at the tip. It has very good tension too, for a very secure hold.
My assessment says that it is built to last and I can also go so far as to say that the build quality is better than my OMAS Milord HT. Only time will tell if it will really hold up to my expectations. So far it has.
It is a full sized pen, in the league of the Montblanc 146, which is perfect for me. It uses a large #6 size nib and the pen body is large enough to carry this nib well. I find it quite comfortable to use. Like I said earlier, it is too long and top heavy when posted, so I wouldn’t recommend posting it.
The pen has decent girth on the cap and the barrel. However the section is designed in such a way that it becomes a bit narrow at the point where I hold it. It is not unusable but I wish it were a millimeter thicker.
Nib and Writing Experience
This is where the honeymoon ends. Both my Ducales came with quite poor nibs. They were dry and scratchy to a point they barely wrote. They went all the way to make the nibs really beautiful, if only they made sure that they wrote well too.
I ended up tuning the nib myself since I am comfortable doing that and now it works well. Tuning is everything when it comes to nibs. Even a gold nib can be a bad writer if it isn’t tuned well.
The feed on the Ducale is great. It does an admirable job of providing a wet and consistent writing experience.
The nibs could have certainly been much better on my Ducales out of the box but they weren’t, which was disappointing. I have heard that Montegrappa has switched to using a different nib unit on newer batches of their steel nib pens and I’ve also heard that they’re better. So if you buy this pen now, you might get the newer, better nib.
This pen uses a Montegrappa branded standard international threaded converter. The converter has an agitator in it, which works quite effectively to break the surface tension of the ink and provide consistent flow. It works well and is really easy to clean and maintain. I like it!
The Montegrappa Ducale, like most Montegrappa pens, is an expensive pen. I think the US retail price is outrageous for a pen with a steel nib. I looked for good deals and got mine for substantially better prices. Especially with poorly tuned nibs that I got, it is certainly was not a great purchase for me. I wanted it because I liked the design a lot and was open to adjusting the nib myself.
But if you want something that writes well you might want to get it from a dealer who is easily accessible and provides good customer service in case you get a bad nib like I did. If you are buying it from a physical store, be sure to test it well.
The Ducale is an attractive pen. I was instantly drawn to its classic and elegant profile. The black and palladium finish looks like it is wearing a tuxedo and the Murano is dressed aptly for a carnival. It is beautiful. The nibs were the only letdown. For that reason, I would not recommend it to those who want a pen that would write right out of the box. For those who are willing to take a chance, this is a lovely pen and if you can make sure that your dealer is able to test it for you or if you can test it before buying, you are likely to not be disappointed.
Thank you to our loyal Instagram follower @PenArbor for this fantastic review! We do work with some nibmeisters, and will offer a complimentary nib tuning for this piece in order to reduce the risk of scratchiness. Click here to check out our full range of fountain pens.