I hereby present, J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean. It was announced a few months ago, with anticipation building for its release. It was just over two years ago that J. Herbin released the 1670 Rouge Hematite, to commemorate the 340th anniversary (wow!) of the company’s founding back in…..1670. The ink was available in very limited supply and was also in incredibly high demand. So when we would receive a shipment, it was not unusual for the ink to be on our site for a matter of hours, with months passing in between each shipment. The ink was so wildly popular that they decided to continue offering it into 2011 (it was originally only supposed to be sold in 2010). The uncertainty of Rouge Hematite’s future was finally put to rest when it was announced that not only was the ink here to stay, but that Bleu Ocean, a new commemorative 1670 ink, would join the line. Yes, 1670 is now its own line of inks within the J. Herbin brand.

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite

The thing that draws us all to Rouge Hematite has been a heavily saturated blood red color, with an intense gold/green sheen to it. And that sheen is intense, more than any of the nearly 700 inks that I’ve encountered. Red inks are notoriously lame (usually), in my opinion, but this one stands out from the crowd, and has earned a reputation for its uniqueness. So when it was announced that Bleu Ocean would be another 1670 ink, it was hard not to get excited about it.

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

Now I haven’t been around as long as some other folks in the fountain pen world, but I have seen some things over the last 3 years. Whenever a new ink is to be released, it’s almost always a big deal. Some of the more notably hyped ink releases since Rachel and I started GouletPens.com include Herbin’s Rouge Hematite, Pilot’s Iroshizuku inks, the Pelikan Edelstein series, a slew of new Diamine colors (30 in all) including some awesome ones like Syrah, Red Dragon, Ancient Copper, and Oxblood. We’ve seen Platinum Mix-Free and Rohrer and Klingner’s Blau Schwarz. And who could forget Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Blue Nose Bear, Rome Burning, or the drama that surrounded my own collaborative Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium. What is it about all of these inks that drive us all so crazy? Why, when we have access to hundreds and hundreds of inks do we still go so nuts over a new color? Because, we love it, that’s why :) And the lead up to this ink has been no exception to the rest.

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

So we find ourselves here once again! I have the ink, and you want to know about it. It’s always easy to get all hyped up and excited about a new color, and that’s definitely part of the thrill. $22 is a lot of money for an ink though, and I want to give you my very practical and objective opinion of this ink, all hype aside.

When I first found out that there would be a new 1670 ink, a blue ink, I got so incredibly excited. Blue is by far my favorite ink color, and I do love inks that sheen (can I get a shoutout for Diamine Majestic Blue?). I wanted to find out as much as I could about the ink before I went forming an opinion about it though.. I was told that it was going to be a dark blue, more heavily saturated than the standard J. Herbin line, something between Eclat de Saphir and Bleu Nuit, in a bottle identical to Rouge Hematite but with a blue cap and silver wax seal, and that it would not have a metallic pigment like Rouge Hematite. Okay, so that was a pretty decent description, better than I get for some other inks before they’re released. The stock pictures that accompanied were pretty enticing, too. But I didn’t want to really get my hopes up until I had the ink in hand. At this point, I know that as many inks I’ve handled, I am my own best judge for trying to get an idea of how an ink ‘fits’ into the ever-growing ink world. Especially since dark blue inks are in no short supply, I wanted to really keep an open mind.

Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean box from J. Herbin
Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean bottle from J. Herbin


Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean swab from J. Herbin

Herbin’s marketing stuff states the motivation for the development of Bleu Ocean saying, “It recalls the sea voyages of J. Herbin when he was travelling in the far east and discovered the famous gum which will allow him to manufacture wax.” (Herbin was real big into sealing wax at its founding, still is, really).

Now let’s talk about the bottle. It’s stunning, and really beautifully crafted. I have personally always loved the combination of blue and silver, and the wax on the cap and front of the bottle definitely sets it apart from the other inks on my desk. Most ink companies view bottles as an afterthought, but a few brands like Pilot Iroshizuku, Pelikan Edelstein, and J. Herbin’s 1670 truly stand out from the crowd. The box that it comes in is beautifully designed. Though it doesn’t actually say Bleu Ocean on it, there is a blue seashell on the top, with J. Herbin and 1670 in blue writing.



The only thing that I don’t like about this bottle is having to use it. That sounds crazy, but it’s honestly just not designed to be used as much as it is to be admired. The bottle itself is a square, which is okay, but the neck is a much smaller diameter than most other ink bottles. The opening is 12.85mm wide (about 1/2″), which is about the same as a Goulet ink sample vial. It’ll fit most pens in there okay (Pelikan m800 starts to push the limit), but when the ink level gets down to about half the bottle, you’ll have a hard time filling any pen from it because you can’t even angle the pen into the corner of the bottle and tilt it like you would need to. So basically, if you want to use this ink a fair amount, you’ll need to get an ink syringe to go along with it, or plan to decant it into another more usable bottle.

All of this packaging and design stuff is great, and J. Herbin really does this ink right in that respect. But if you’re like me, what matters most is what’s in the bottle. So without further delay, here is Bleu Ocean:


Some of the inks that I feel are closest to Bleu Ocean are:

It’s always a little tough to tell the intricate details of an ink from a computer screen, so I’ll talk you through my key thoughts on this ink.

  • It’s a pleasant blue with a slight lean towards purple, darker and more saturated than any of the standard J. Herbin inks
  • It does not have a sheen like Rouge Hematite, and shouldn’t really be compared to it except in the bottle/packaging
  • It flows extremely well, cleans easily, and does not appear to have any of the nib creeping/crusting issues of Rouge Hematite
  • It dries faster than most other inks, and reminds me of most of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks in terms of performance and pleasure of use
  • Water resistance is not incredible, but writing is still very readable when wet
  • The bottle is absolutely beautiful, but one of the least practical ones in the fountain pen world (mainly due to the diameter of the bottle’s neck)

The main thing that I’ve discovered and need to get across to you is that this ink, though labeled as 1670, is really quite different than it’s sibling, Rouge Hematite. Rouge Hematite is an ink that I love, but don’t find myself using very often because it’s quite frankly just not the most practical ink in the world. It’s hard to clean, crusts up on the nib, needs to be shaken vigorously before use, and sheens so incredibly that it almost changes color when the light shifts. But, for all of its quirks, Rouge Hematite is still a favorite because it’s just such a unique and intense ink.

Bleu Ocean, on the other hand, is much more of a conventional ink. It’s a solid-performing, rich blue ink that is more practical than Rouge Hematite….though I’m not sure that is what everyone who’s come to love Rouge Hematite was hoping for with Bleu Ocean. Nevertheless, I am eager to see how this ink is received in the fountain pen community. There are thousands of bottles of Rouge Hematite on desks and bookshelves around the world, and they are sure to be complemented by bottles of Bleu Ocean as well.

The supply of Bleu Ocean will be limited at first, but it will be available ongoing. it may take some time  before it’s regularly available, but eventually it will be. For the inaugural batch, we’re going to be listing it at GouletPens.com on Thursday, 9/13/12 at 1:00pm EDT (East Coast US). See more details about our release here.

I’ve shared my opinions, and I’d love to hear what you think! Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Write On, 
Brian Goulet