I am also hard on bindings, but I like bound books better then spiral bound books. Reviews in bold.
Both the Hahnemuhle Watercolor and the Hahnemuhle Nostalgie (their sketchbook weight) have terrific bindings. I’ve been through four watercolor journals since I wrote my Hahnemuhle Watercolour review… never a binding problem. I lay mine flat and flex them hard with clips because i do heavy washes and never had one come loose.
Pentalic I simply won’t buy. I wrote a review of their bound journals of which TWO unraveled within a short time of starting and after months and no response to what I said to them they sent me more saying they’d solved the problem and the day I opened the book (I want to like them they are an Oregon company) the paper fell out of one side.
Moleskin I’ve also never had a binding problem with but once, and they replaced it promptly. I always feel once can be an error, especially.
Regarding paper: this is where I go for Hahnemuhle over Moleskin, who changed their paper some time back. Moleskine’s new paper has sizing in it which makes the watercolor sit on top of it. I wet mine down thoroughly and that helps… but I have to do that if I want washes to work properly.
Hahnemuhle doesn’t have that issue. Sandra has had hers pill but I’ve not had that, and while I would not say I SCRUB the paper often, I through a lot at it. Sometime layers of grisaille in the form of waterproof inks, then topped by washes. So I am a fan of the paper too — and I love their bamboo paper and am waiting for them to do a bound journal with it!
BTW, I cannot stand the Fabriano journal — the paper pilled with the second wash on a completely dry paper. They were upset when they heard it and sent me more and again the paper was bad. My overseas friends rave about it and all I can say is the exterior of their journals looks different so perhaps we are not getting the good paper.