Grayson Tighe Series 2 Pen Collaboration With Blancpain: Hand-Sculptured Titanium Writing Instruments That Tick (All The Boxes)
Blancpain’s collaboration with independent Canadian pen maker Grayson Tighe began in 2006 with the preliminary development of the Series 1 and Series 2 writing instruments: Series 1 appeared in Blancpain boutiques as of 2007 and Series 2 arrived in 2008.
Though pen makers collaborating with watchmakers is more common today than it was a decade ago, the combination of Blancpain and Tighe continues to extraordinarily delight with characteristically distinctive writing instruments expressing elements of both creators.
“They [pen makers and watchmakers] share an obvious love for quality, creativity, and refinement,” says Tighe. “Both products are made by hand by passionate artists and craftsmen and are eternal: they can always be repaired, you can pass them on to the next generation, and they will become classics in the future.”
Much of these objects’ obvious attraction comes from the passion of the two creators: Blancpain president Marc A. Hayek’s immediate fascination with Tighe’s pens came from his appreciation of the pen maker’s devotion to his craft – and in particular the idea of one solitary craftsman working from A to Z on each individual pen.
The strength and beauty of titanium
Tighe loves working with titanium – a metal named for the titans of Greek and Roman mythology, powerful offspring of Mother Earth – for its strength, durability, lightness, and resistance to corrosion. Perhaps not surprisingly, watchmakers also enjoy using titanium for watch cases for many of the same reasons.
Pure titanium is a lustrous, while metal. And it is is highly valued metal in the watch and jewelry industries for its lightness and scratch-resistance. It has low density, high strength, and it is extremely resistant to corrosion. Titanium is twice as strong as aluminum and as strong as steel, but a full 45 percent lighter than the latter.
Discovered in 1791, titanium didn’t really come into use until 1910, remaining a seeming laboratory curiosity until 1946 when William Justin Kroll demonstrated that it could be produced commercially.
Titanium alloys are principally used for aircraft and missiles (which rely on lightweight strength and ability to withstand extreme temperature) as well as racing machines like cars and motorcycles. It came into regular use in the watch industry in 1980 with Porsche Design’s landmark titanium-encased watch and has remained a staple for sports watch cases since.
Most watchmakers and jewelry makers use Grade 5 titanium – as does Grayson Tighe. This is the very same titanium alloy that the military utilizes in making aircraft and turbines. Aside from titanium itself, the alloy’s chemical composition comprises 6 percent aluminum, 4 percent vanadium, 0.25 percent iron, and 0.2 percent oxygen.
Grayson Tighe Blancpain Series 2: watch details built right in
Blancpain Series 2 was released in 2008 and came only in a boxed set with a specially crafted 42 mm Blancpain Le Brassus Reference 4213 for the set. “Marc Hayek saw the Series 2 as a special piece with many watch-inspired details,” Tighe remembers today.
I too see these pens as paying homage to watches in a way thanks to the many fabulous details that keep the hands and eyes busy going over them time and time again.
The immediate standout detail is the perlage effect on the barrel. “This is inspired by watch finishing, but modified to better suit a writing instrument,” Tighe confirms, explaining that the titanium is both faceted and finished to provide an effect that resembles circular graining (or perlage as it’s commonly known in watch circles).
“There is a difference between finishing a movement that remains underneath a sapphire crystal case back and something you consistently touch,” says Tighe. “In this case it provides a more dynamic three-dimensional effect, is more durable, and gives a tactile aspect that provides better grip and feel.”
Then there are the screws, prominently placed on the clip but without mechanical function, which Tighe tells me are Torx 0-80 button-head screws. “These are similar to what is used for changing straps. I prefer these since it makes me crazy when the slots on flat-head screws don’t all line up in the same direction!”
That, in fact, is a pet peeve of many watch aficionados and something that is regularly brought up in conjunction with timepieces boasting visible screws. One justifiably lauded watch with its screws all in the “right place” is the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One.
The cap crown is designed like a watch crown, while the cap’s engraved pattern was inspired by the movement engraving from the Blancpain 1735, one of the most complicated watches of the early mechanical renaissance.
“Details must flow naturally and have deeper meaning . . . as opposed to let’s say putting a watch hand on the clip or a spinning ornament like a rotor on the back of the pen as gimmicks that are just too obvious and don’t belong on a fine pen,” says Tighe.
“I think about it like this for example: if someone were to look at the pen and not know Blancpain, would they think it’s a nice, harmonized design and want to know the interesting story behind it or would they wonder why there are random watch parts carelessly displayed on a pen that don’t do anything of substance?”
The Blancpain Series 2 pen resoundingly answers that question in just the right way.
For more information, please visit www.graysontighe.com.
Quick Facts Grayson Tighe Blancpain Series 2
Editions: fountain pen, convertible rollerball
Cap and barrel: Grade 5 titanium with 18-karat gold trim
Nib: two-tone 18-karat gold and rhodium
Limitation: 17 sets including a fountain pen, convertible rollerball, and Blancpain watch
Availability: in Blancpain boutiques, please contact for availability and pricing
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