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The Best of the Best 2003: Pens - Marlen Cadran Solaire

Ken Kessler

The latest limited edition fountain pen from Marlen, a 21-year-old Italian company renowned for the smooth operation of its writing instruments, has been designed with a novel and clever feature: a functioning sundial. Styled in the Baroque manner of the 17th century, the Cadran Solaire (French for sundial) is reminiscent of an Italianate tower, with precious stones accenting its engraved surface. The button that activates the piston-type filling mechanism is also set with a gem, though it is hidden under a hatch in the side of the Deluxe model’s barrel.

The Sundial function, though, is the most enticing facet of this interactive pen. The sundial pointer, or gnomon, is proportionally miniaturized to suit the barrel, which indicates sundial hours and constellations. To determine the time, make the necessary date adjustments and hold the pen vertically with the gnomon pointing outward. The spot where the gnomon’s shadow falls on the barrel indicates the correct time.

Marlen has limited production to 138 pieces in silver, 38 in deluxe silver and white gold, 18 in yellow gold, and eight in rose gold, with prices ranging from $5,500 to $40,000.

Marlen, 847.215.0011, www.marlenpen.com

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