Writing this review is as much a tease for me as it is for you – because this pen is still on pre-order (at time of writing, 11.02.2017). Pens with the steel nibs will be shipping out on the 15th February, with the titanium nibs shipping out on the 15th March. I know this because after only 10 minutes of using this pen I searched it up. So that’s my first impression over quickly, right?! NB – At time of publication the steel nibs will be shipping but the titanium won’t be shipped for another 4 weeks exactly.
In this review I won’t consider the nib because I’ve been fortunate to try out a range of nibs (including a titanium!) which I shall include in a separate review which you can find here.
The design, to me, is very appealing. I enjoy the tapered design and the lack of a clip really accentuates the sleek aesthetic of the pen. The design is certainly, in my opinion at least, inspired by the Nakaya Piccolo. So.. What makes this different from the Jinhao 599 vs the Lamy Safari or the Hero 616 vs the Parker 51? Well. That’s a good question. The materials that they use for their pens are exceptionally better than that used by the typical Chinese plastic
copies inspired designs (in this particular pen they highlight that the barrel is ebonite, while other bodies are (sandblasted) titanium and aluminium) that we often see, but is that an exemption? Now, I’m not saying this is a direct copy but it is very difficult to ignore the similarities between the two pens. This presents me with a difficult situation, but I feel it’s important to highlight; I am after all giving impartial reviews here. To be honest, I’m unsure how I feel. The other models in their lineup aren’t similar to other pens, that I can tell anyway. There are only a certain number of pens you can design with a tapered design. If not similar to the Nakaya, I’m sure there may well be another pen design I’d be questioning the similarities between. Benefit of the doubt? I’ll leave that one up to you because personally I struggle coming to a definite yes or no. Especially as the conical finials seem all too familiar, which is something that could have been avoided. Does it ruin the pen and the experience, however? No way.
Namisu say that the Studio Ebonite is a “writing instrument that embodies the contrast between vintage materials and the latest technology.” They can achieve this by using ‘old school’ ebonite – a “rubber-based material originally used in the early 20th century for fountain pens, and later abandoned by most manufacturers in favour of various plastics, which were easier to work” and the titanium finials to give it the modern, technological look. I appreciate the idea, unfortunately I’m not sure if “titanium finials” are the pinnacle of latest technology. Using rudimentary materials like ebonite is something I quite enjoy as it shows this isn’t just ‘another pen’. It’s a nod and appreciation to the manufacturers and materials that got this hobby to where it is. Also, being made of ebonite, it gives the user an advantage where they might find the metal pens in their lineup difficult to use for extensive writing sessions.
The colour scheme is black with grey titanium furnishings. I’d say it lends itself closer towards silver than a ruthenium/grey type colour. I’m someone who prefers gold furnishings, but I am glad Namisu went with this colour scheme because gold would be far too ostentatious for this sleek pen. Even if there was a gold version, I’d still go for this colour.
The pen is a comfortable size. Uncapped it comes in at 12.8cm (a fraction over 5 inches) and capped it’s 14.0cm (a fraction over 5 and a half inches). I should also mention, and it is specified on Namisu’s website, this pen is not designed to be used posted. As someone who tries their hardest not to post pens, this is no issue. However, if you feel the need to post the pen then this is not for you as it’s “not designed to be posted”. The only posting I shall be doing with this pen is when I reluctantly give it to the Post Office.
For size comparison, it is only just about smaller than the Pelikan M600 uncapped, but larger in girth. I’d compare it to that of the TWSBI Vac 700 in that respect.
So. Pricing. On the product page, the pen can be preordered with a steel nib for £105.00 + £3.50 postage and packaging sent by Royal Mail tracked 48hr. I’m surprised that it isn’t free P&P, seeing as some retailers will do free shipping over [x] amount, which is usually around £20. That’s for UK shipping. Unfortunately I don’t know any American, Canadian or German addresses that I could try, but I did try my girlfriend’s address in the Netherlands, which gives a P&P of £7.50 for international 3-7 days tracked. For an additional £35 you can get the titanium nib. If you think about it, most manufacturers will charge a £70-100 premium for a gold nib upgrade. Considering how unique (in comparison to gold anyway) this material is, I’m surprised it’s half the price. £140 might seem a lot, but when £35 is a titanium nib upgrade (which you will read in my review of said nib, is a lot of fun and definitely worth it), is it really that much to pay? This is getting into the nibs a little, but the steel will only come in extra fine, medium & broad; there’s no fine option. Whereas the titanium nibs only come in medium and broad. The nibs are Bock, so I’m sure it’s an easy switch if you want a fine titanium instead of a broad or medium. Also means if you go for the £105 option, you’ll have a spare (#6) Bock nib unit.
So who’s this pen for? Well, others within the United Inkdom review community will know that I like to take the pens to school and out and about to test the pen thoroughly before I write reviews. My school notes are, in a way, the basis of my reviews. When taking this to school, I went to slip it into my front blazer pocket and.. Whoops. No clip. This isn’t a complaint, because I know it doesn’t come with a clip: you buy it knowing that. So I put it in my pen case, which wasn’t an issue. So if you intend on this being your sole carry, make sure you have an alternative case. This is best lived, if not in a pen case, in a pen pot because I’ve had it before where the pen almost rolled off my desk… Whoops! Of course, if you can get away with not needing a clip then it’s great for every day use because of its sleek profile.
To conclude – do I recommend this pen? Absolutely. I would have no issues recommending this to someone if they asked me what pen they should get for £100+ — so long as they are okay with no clip. That’s the only snag I think people may run into. If you can get past it, you’ll enjoy this pen I am sure.