Our apologies dear friends. We skipped our August pen and ink pairing post for we all have been swamped for the past couple of months. We did not want to skip September as well no matter how late it may be. Thank you for reading and your kind words!
Katherine: This pen was the star of my SF Pen Show 2017 Haul — an “old size” Omas Paragon in Arco Verde. It has a smooth, relatively wet (but not puddle-y!) B CI. The nib is marked BB, but I think it was narrowed a little bit, but is realistically somewhere between a B and a BB, it’s wider than my other Omas B by a hair. I paired it with Waterman Tender Purple for both contrast and how easy to clean it is. The pairing has been very fun for me — a smooth broad CI putting down vivid stokes of purple, with a hint of sheen in the wetter spots. This might end up as a “one true pairing” for me, since I suspect this will be an annoying to clean pen. 🙂
Pam: As a great fan of alliteration, it would only seem appropriate that September would herald in the Sailor Sky with Sapphire ink. The Sailor Sky was my second Sailor Pro Gear Slim. The rest is how we should say, his-ssstory. This pairing is also one my first first “ink will match the pen” type of pairings. (I am working on being more adventurous!) It’s one of my most sustaining pairings!
Sailor Sky is a special edition color, although I don’t think it’s limited. It’s a special edition like the 4 Seasons. (I think.) The barrel color reminds me of a summer sky. I originally paired this pen with Bungbox Omaezaki Sea. However, what really stuck was Bungbox First Love Sapphire, an ink that Franz has introduced me to. To say the least, it was love at first write. I absolutely love the sheen on this ink! It’s a very distinct blue ink with a red sheen that comes through beautifully with the F nib of the Sailor Sky. Some people have compared it to Akkerman’s Shocking Blue. More than anything, I highly recommend trying First Love Sapphire, you might fall for it too.
Franz: So for the month of September, my pairing is the Pilot Custom 823 in Smoke or Black Transparent finish and Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku ink. Ku-Jaku/Peacock is a deep turquoise blue and is such a nice ink color for both work and personal use. The 823 is the first pen I’ve ever inked up with Ku-Jaku. Even though the nib on the 823 is a stock fine, I still appreciate the color it lays down on paper especially on Tomoe River paper in my Nanami Cross Field journal.
The Smoke finish definitely conceals the ink color inside the barrel but you can definitely see the ink level as you write. During meetings in a professional setting, this pen doesn’t call attention to itself but I still enjoy the subtlety of its transparency and places a smile on my face. Now on to trying to remember what that meeting was about.
The San Francisco Pen Show took place from August 25-27. This is the second in a series of recaps. Check out one from my dog’s POV here.
It’s a little funny to go back and see what I thought I wanted to buy as of last, last week… Allegedly an Aurora Novum, but I saw zero of those at the show. Oh well!
All in all though, the show was a huge success for my pen collection, and a moderate injury for my wallet. I stayed under budget, but not by much. To cut to the chase (a little more on workshops and such below), here’s my haul:
Omas old style Paragon (date stamp ’97) in Arco Verde
Pilot Capless in Black Stripe
E Faber Permapoint in a cool brown striated material w/ yellow trim*
Spors glass nibbed pen in marbled pink
Brute Force Designs small (don’t remember model name) acrylic pen in a marbled brown
Vintage Sailor from the collection of Susan Wirth
Written in Rice octopus 7-pen wrap
Four bottles of Chinese ink: Pen BBS 226 June Pearl, Pen BBS 178 Rose Quartz, Starry Silent Corderite, Students Ink 25 (yellow, no sparkle) [swabs here]
Five grinds: (one each) Masuyama needlepoint, Masuyama formal italic, Dan Smith CI & two Dan Smith sharp-ish stubs
The Omas Arco materials have long been on my wishlist — last year at the show I asked around, but ultimately everything was out of my budget. This year, I found this one at Peyton Street Pens within the first hour or two of the show at a competitive price (and for reference, my budget for an Arco pen wasn’t significantly higher this year than last!). Teri was kind enough to hold it for me while I agonized over the price and dragged various friends back to her table to see it. In the end, I decided I’d regret not jumping on it… and I’m glad I didn’t, it’s a joy to use and to look at.
Above are another two pens I picked up on Friday, both from friends. The back pen is from Leigh Reyes, a glass-nibbed Spors pen from wartime Japan. Yep, that crazy material is vintage. The front pen is a E Faber “Permapoint”, from a fellow SF Pen Posse member and SF Show dealer, Gary Naka. It’s a pen I’ve been eyeing for months, and he finally restored it and was willing to part with it — yay! I love the unique finishes on both pens, vintage pens are so cool. I also had the brown pen ground to a fine CI by Dan Smith, so in addition to being cool looking, it’s quite fun to write with.
This show was also the first time I worked one-on-one with a nibmeister, and I was lucky enough to work with both Dan Smith (above) and Mike Masuyama (below). They have very different styles of working (see their different set ups), but both produced great nibs for me!
The grind I was most nervous about and most excited about was a formal italic on my Nakaya Decapod Twist, medium nib. I tried a friend’s formal italic several months ago and loved it — but they are notoriously sharp, and most people were surprised I wanted one, including Masuyama himself. I’ve had a few days with the nib now, and I really enjoy writing with it. Yes, it’s sharp — but I haven’t caught paper with it and writing with it feels… like it will keep me awake? I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s fantastic.
This year the show featured some new inks in the ink testing stations, and even a new model of ink testing stations for shimmer inks (though I failed to capture a picture). I didn’t spend much time with the ink testing stations this year, but they were consistently quite popular!
Loot and new shiny pens aside, the show has always been a place for friends new and old to connect and discuss a shared passion. This year I met many people I’d talked to online for the first time, which is always a little strange for me (I’m kind of awkward :P) but was overall a great experience. I also like to think I did a good job of introducing folks to each other — in the picture above, Todd (one of the show organizers, a local Pen Posse regular, also known as farmboy on FPN) helps a friend replace a broken nib, on the spot, no tools needed other than a shred of paper towel. He’s super cool like that.
No show would be complete without classes, seminars and meet ups! This year Pam and I hosted a repeat of the Planner Meet-up, which I thought went very well — we met ladies (why are there no men who show up?) from around California and shared washi tape, planner layouts and took a look at different brands and designs. I also attended Leigh’s workshop on Creative Uses of Fountain Pen Ink (picture above) where she shared some of her tips and techniques for “making a mess” and getting artistic with materials one already has… not that I really needed more help making a giant mess. And lastly, I attended the Hanko Making class lead by Rui Saito, who wrote part of my Chinese name for me in her beautiful calligraphy.
There will be many more pictures to come of the pens and inks I picked up, and maybe a little bit of house cleaning to help my wallet recover… But in the meantime, thank you so much to everyone who came to the show and said hi! And to those who I haven’t met, I hope to meet you at a future show! Sometimes I loathe to admit it, but this hobby is great because of the social aspect — sharing a love of shiny objects (and journaling, plannering and making ink blobs) while spending uncomfortable gobs of money. What else could a girl ask for?
Katherine: The Metro was my first pen as an adult (and therefore first pen in ~15 years). It’s a sleek, practical pen that is comfortable for me to write with. However, I don’t love the metallic finish and how light the pen is. I’ve commented before that if the TWSBI Eco was my first pen I may never have gone off the deep end, but it wasn’t, the Metro was my first pen. It’s a good enough pen that it lead me to love fountain pens and keep exploring — but wasn’t a pen I loved enough to be comfortable sticking with (as cliche as “buy it for life” is, that was my initial goal). But, to the Metro’s credit, I used it for nearly a year before I decided I was willing to spend more money to try another pen.
Pam: I was really interested and excited to get my hands on a Pilot Metropolitan once I found out from the Pen Addict Podcast that the nibs on the Pilot Metropolitan were interchangable with the nibs on the Pilot Prera, Pilot Plumix (a stub nib), Penmanship (a EF nib) and Kakuno (the smiley face nib). I bought an all black Metropolitan and was a workhorse pen for me at work. It was a great gateway pen as I learned to use a fountain pen more on a daily basis. The Metropolitan taught me how to swap out nibs, clean the pen and the differences between using a cartridge and a converter.
Franz: The Pilot Metropolitan is a neat looking pen with a satiny finish that I enjoy holding. Its torpedo shape gives it a timeless look that I’ve seen in the majority of Pilot’s pens. If you search for this pen on the net, you’ll find that this pen varies either by the overall color or the accent design on the barrel. These accents give the pen some personality but still maintains its simplicity and subtlety.
The Business End
Katherine: I have had both a Fine and a Medium, and both have been smooth writers that are on the dry side — but not annoyingly dry. A great dryness for taking notes at work without having to worry about smudges. However these nibs don’t have a lot of character — I’ve never thought “wow, I’m EXCITED to write with this Metro!”
Pam: I preferred to use the Pilot Metropolitan with the EF steel nib from the Pilot Penmanship. It was the nib that worked best with cheap paper. My ink of choice “back in the day” was Private Reserve DC Electric Blue. The dark color was great professionally, however, there would be instances that the sheen would still come through, which is a treat for me! The EF nib had some feedback as one would expect, but surprisingly smooth for a $6-8 dollar pen nib. I suspect that if you like the Pilot Prera nib, you will like the EF steel nib. Both nibs state “Superior Quality” on them which gives me the impression that they are possible similar?
Franz: This medium nib is a very nice smooth writer with a little bit of feedback. I got to try out a fine nib before and even though it was a very good writer, my preference is a thicker line. I’ve always had good experiences with Pilot nibs out of the box.
Write It Up
Katherine: Now that I’ve explored more pens, I know that I prefer slightly larger and heavier pens. However the Metro is sufficiently comfortable for me to use it for extended periods of time. I’ve journaled with it quite a bit and drawn with it. (No choice really when you only have one pen…)
Pam: I really enjoyed carrying the Metropolitan for quick notes and for journaling. It was overall, a very well rounded pen for daily use and carry. I actually prefer writing with this pen posted. Yes, it can feel a bit top heavy, but I really enjoyed the total weight of the pen when writing. My only complaint because I write with a “white-knuckle-grip-that-horrified-THE-Micheal-Sull” is that based on my hand placement, the step on the Metropolitan is quite noticeable for me. Depending on my stress level, the step may leave an impression in the area between my thumb and index finger. Yeah… I knew when I had a stressful day at work…
Franz: Because the Metropolitan is lightweight and has a thinner section, I prefer to post the cap and grip it higher. Writing with this pen for twenty minutes wasn’t really unpleasant but I felt my hand cramp a bit.
Just like Pam, the step from the barrel and section can be a bit sharp and dug into my fingers. So this pen isn’t an ideal journal pen for me.
Katherine: +10 points for being a snap cap — easy to grab and get writing. Additionally, the metal body of this pen is durable — by the time I retired it, I had a small dent or two on either end, but no noticeable damage. It held up well to being thrown in my backpack (hopefully clipped to a notebook, but not always) day after day. However — of all the pens I own, somehow the Metro and the Prera (same feed, same nib, go figure) are the pens that spit the most into their caps when I fly with them. I’ve flown with at least a dozen pens at this point, and as long as I keep them nib up, other pens have been fine.
Pam: The Metropolitan was my most used “beginner” pen for it’s durability and snap cap. The versatility of the pen with interchangable nibs compelled me to purchase another Metropolitan when the retro pop ones were released so I can swap between the F nib and the stub nib (from the Pilot Plumix).
Franz: This pen is great to use on a daily basis for quick note-taking at work or on the go. I found no fuss when I used this at work as it easily clipped onto either my shirt or jacket pocket, and there was no delay in uncapping the pen.
I have to share that I found myself one-handedly capping and uncapping the pen compulsively at my desk. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this with snap cap pens.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The Metro is a solid entry-level pen. I personally didn’t find it particularly charming, but that’s just a personal opinion. It felt a little too sterile (and now we know why most of my pens are vintage. Complete with germs of generations past!) but checks all the boxes for a solid writer — good nib, durable body and comfortable to write with.
Pam: Up until the Pilot Prera or the Pilot Vanishing Point (oh, you will be missed my dear lost pen), the Pilot Metropolitan was my go to pen. Yes, the aesthetics of the pen may be bland as it doesn’t have the modernity of the Lamy Safari or the demonstrator quality of the TWSBI Eco (which wasn’t available when I first started dipping into the FP world), but it’s a solid pen for a GREAT price point. The price point is one of the best factors of this pen, as the threshold for entry of the FP rabbit hole is low. The pen even comes with a cartridge of ink! For a beginner “beater” pen that you can learn a lot from as one needs to get more comfortable with getting ink on their fingers, the Metropolitan is a wonderful introduction.
Franz: The Pilot Metropolitan is a great pen to have in your collection as it is a reliable pen that just writes when you need it to. This is a pen I recommend for no matter what hand size you may have. Of course, not every single person may like it so if you can, try before you buy.
In our TWSBI Eco review, I recommended the Eco as a second or third pen for beginners. The Metropolitan was actually the first pen recommendation I had in mind. I bought my silver Pilot Metropolitan from Goulet Pens in January 2013, and wrote with it for about four months until I gave it to a co-worker as she became interested in writing with fountain pens.(#Penvangelized!) This year, I gifted a Pilot Metro in Retro Pop Red Wave to another co-worker as her first fountain pen and she loved it as well.
Thanks for your time and hope you enjoyed our review of this cool pen!
This is our first time comparing two pens. As such we’d extra appreciate your feedback! Was this helpful? Did we cover the points of comparison you care about? Let us know!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: The two pens look pretty similar — the VP is a little wider, the Decimo is a little more sleek. I suspect, for more people, any aesthetic preferences will come from preferences in the different finishes. The VP is available in solids, wood, raden and a whole bunch of special editions. The Decimo is available in pastels. (I didn’t realize it when I painted mine, but there isn’t even a black Decimo anymore — mine is likely from the 80s. Oops.)
Pam: I was originally quite biased towards the VP because I enjoyed the added weight and width. However, the Decimo is actually more comfortable with it’s slimmer clip for longer writing sessions. The VP comes in more colors which include the drool-worthy Radens (hint hint boyfriend of mine…) and my beloved dark grey. The VP is also known as Capless in other territories. Typically, the VP/Capless is sold with a gold nib, however, there is a “special alloy” (steel) nib available for about half the price. I can only find the special alloy nib from retailers in Japan. Unfortunately, the special alloy nib is only available in a handful of Capless models (black, dark blue, yellow, deep red, and silver).
Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point has always been a pen that’s admired for its retractable nib and quick one hand deployment. Even though I’ve known about the Vanishing Point since I started using fountain pens in 2012, it was only this year that I learned about the Pilot Vanishing Decimo line. The Vanishing Point pens are inked up either by sticking a cartridge onto the nib unit, or by filling ink with its supplied converter. When bought new, both will have a Con-50 piston converter but you may also use a Con-20 squeeze converter which slightly provides more ink capacity.
The Vanishing Point reviewed and pictured above is the Twilight Limited Edition for 2015 which I was lucky enough to obtain on the day it was released. Katherine’s VP Decimo is a standard black model that she glitterfied and is now an Artist’s Proof 1 of 1 pen. Of course, there are a number of colors, materials, and finishes that are available for both pen models. We will try our best to focus on the size differences of these two models.
The Business End
Katherine: Nib units for the two are interchangable, but the VP is available from Japan in certain finishes with a stainless steel nib. Decimos and most VPs sold in the US have gold nibs.
Pam: For my VP, I switched with a friend my fine gold nib for the fine special alloy nib since the steel kept a more consistent and finer line with my “iron grip” hand. I found the original gold F nib scratchy for the line width that it produces. The special alloy F nib was the perfect pilot nib that we all know an love. It laid down a consistent line that was just wide enough to show off the beautiful color of Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, the one true ink pairing (OTIP), for my VP. Currently, I have a gold EF nib in the Decimo. Yes, the EF nib can be considered scratchy given the size of the nib but due to the feedback, however, I may be writing with less pressure allowing for a more consistent line. The EF nib performs wonderfully on Tomoe River paper where as I found the F nibs to shine on Midori paper.
Franz: As Katherine mentioned, both Vanishing Points utilize the same nib units and generally gives you the same paper-to-nib experience. The VP Twilight currently has a broad (B) nib and its line width is very close to a western broad nib as well, which I like! The VP Decimo has a fine (F) nib which writes smoothly and lays down a thin line that’s like a western extra-fine (EF). I loved both writing experiences even if they were different line widths.
Write It Up
Katherine: I can write with either pen for 20 minutes with relative comfort. However, and perhaps out of habit, I do prefer the Decimo. It’s a noticeably slimmer and lighter pen, which I overall prefer. That being said, the VP is perfectly usable and I suspect with time (I borrowed Franz’s VP for a week) I would get used to it and no longer notice the difference.
Pam: I really miss the weight and width of the VP, but I must admit the size of the Decimo is more comfortable for longer writing session for me. The Decimo also has a slimmer clip profile so it’s less likely to interfere with anyone’s grip. I would recommend the VP for average to large hand individuals and the Decimo for those with the petite hand persuasion. All in all, both pens are wonderful pens and suitable for all hands.
Franz: I wrote with both pens for fifteen minutes each. I first wrote with the VP Decimo and it felt a bit too thin and I felt my hand cramp a little bit. I switched to the Vanishing Point and the thicker width felt much better and allowed me to write in my journal more comfortably. Pam is spot on that for larger hands, the Vanishing Point is the way to go.
Katherine: The two are functionally the same to me as EDC pens. I find both very convenient.
Pam: The click mechanism is just too darn convenient and pen is so well constructed to withstand consistent daily use that it’s practically an EDC must for me. The VP was in my white coat pocket everyday, up to the day I lost the pen at work. (Have you ever had such a busy day, you literally have a gap in your memory of that day/afternoon/couple hours? I literally don’t remember which area of the hospital I was in when I used last used the VP. ARGH!!!) The VP is, I mean, was, my most used pen in my entire collection. The Decimo is equally sturdy, but the weight of the VP was reassuring in my pocket.
I don’t have this problem with either model pen, especially since I use F or EF nibs, however, the ink capacity of the VP is pretty small. Given that it’s a cartridge converter, the ink capacity is typically less than 1 ml. If you use a wider nib or use the pen for novel writing, it may require multiple fillings in a day.
Franz: For my daily carry purposes, both pens win! Both VP’s easily clips on to my jacket, or shirt pocket and lets me quickly deploy and write with just one hand. All day long it pretty much went like this: Grab VP from pocket, click, scribble-scribble, click, clip back VP in pocket, and repeat.
As for the ink capacity of the Con-50, a full converter lasted about two days for me. Having been spoiled by my piston-filled pens, refilling every two days was something I had to get used to. Not a deal breaker though.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: After spending a couple months with a Decimo of my own (and dousing it in glitter) and a week with Franz’s VP… to me the big difference is in the finish you prefer. Everything held equal I prefer the slimness of the Decimo as an EDC or for taking quick notes (and I tend to slightly prefer slightly wider pens for long, lazy journal sessions). But the VP is by no means unusable or uncomfortable for me. If I lost my Decimo tomorrow (I hope not!) I would replace it with whichever I saw first at a price and finish I liked first.
Pam: I loved the VP enough to buy another variant of the pen, after the appropriate mourning period had passed, of course. The only caution I would give is to make sure that the VP works well with your grip. If the VP agrees with you, it will be a GREAT pen and won’t let you down.
Franz: The Pilot Vanishing Point pen is a great pen to have in one’s pen case. My first VP was the Matte Black one that I bought at the 2012 SF Pen Show. This was about a month after I got into fountain pens and I used it at work for almost a year, and I loved it. I have come to appreciate this pen for its versatility, different finishes, and nib sizes. I’m proud to say that I have a couple VP’s in my collection.
Both the VP, and the VP Decimo are fantastic pens for the money. You really just need to hold and write with one to see if it feels right. For some, the clip gets in the way of having a good grip (it does not for me), and because most are lacquered on metal, it can be too heavy for some (not to me). The only drawback as to why I do not use my VP’s on a daily basis anymore is the ink capacity of the supplied converter. But I am always happy when I ink one up for journaling, or doodling purposes.
Katherine: When I first discovered the Prera (thanks, Internet) I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of spending twice as much as a Metro on a pen with the same nib. So instead I borrowed Pam’s. I found that the Prera is a small, light pen that’s a solid performer… I figured I’d buy one used at some point, since I now actively try to avoid buying pens just because they’re “cheap”. But, when I saw the limited edition Oeste Kingfisher (pictured above), I had to have it. After almost a month of hunting on Rakuten then three weeks of waiting, I have it! I think it’s a unique looking pen without being “weird” or flashy. It’s clean and classic, but not easily mistaken for any other pen.
Pam: The Pilot Prera comes in a variety of colors ranging from neon green to a deep brown. There are even demonstrator versions that have a splash of color on the cap and the end of the pen body. All the colors come with a complimentary silver/chrome trim. I bought the white one and still regret not buying a grey one as well. Katherine’s limited edition Prera is
The Pilot Prera is a great pocket pen. It’s about the length of the Pelikan M200, or a Franklin-Christoph model 45, or a Sailor Progear Slim. Like all the other pens that I adore, it’s the simple, minimalist, and dare I say, cute aesthetics that had me interested in this pen when I first got interested in fountain pens.
Franz: I was fortunate enough to handle and write with both Pam’s and Katherine’s Pilot Prera. Aside from the color and nib, they are pretty much the same. The Prera is a nice little pen that could be regarded as a beginner-intermediate pen in terms of price and performance. It does come with its proprietary converter and a cartridge. I’m just not sure if it’s a good idea to fill it as an eye-dropper due to the metal ring on the bottom of the barrel. It would be cool though.
Katherine: It’s a light and small pen — a great size for me to clip into notebooks or put in a pocket. Thankfully, despite it’s size, it’s solidly built — I don’t worry about breaking the pen as I throw it into a purse or backpack. Additionally it’s lot’s of fun to use since the cap has a very satisfying SNAP to it. The first time Pam suggested I try her Prera’s snap cap I thought she was crazy, but she’s right — it’s a very satisfying snap (that goes with a very satisfying pen!). I tend to use this pen unposted because I’m lazy, but can use it perfectly well posted.
Pam: If I was a more talented writer, I would wax poetry to the “perfection” that is the Prera for my pixie-esque hands. (Now maybe a good time to warn you of the possibility to excessive alliteration for the remainder of the post.)
I can comfortably use the pen posted or unposted, although I prefer to use it posted. I really enjoy the added, and still balanced, weight of the cap. The cap posts securely as you can feel the cap “suction” the end of the barrel. Unposted, the pen is so light that I wouldn’t even really notice the pen. One of my favorite parts of the using the Prera is actually capping the pen. It’s a REALLY satisfying click and very smooth.
Franz: As I said above, I got to play with both pens and the weight and dimensions are the same. The Prera may be in the featherweight class of pens but the feel was quite nice. Holding the pen unposted was a bit uncomfortable but once the pen’s cap is posted, it’s a nice size pen to handle.
The white inner cap somewhat distracts my view of the demonstrator but I think you just accept it for what it is.
This has already been repeated but I’m gonna say it anyway. Capping the Prera was a pretty cool thing to do. I like it as much as capping the Lamy 2000.
The Business End
Katherine: It’s a smooth writer that’s a touch dry. I have one with a Medium nib and while I would have preferred a Fine, the Medium is very usable and still much narrower medium than many German nibs. I’m very happy with it, and it’s the kind of nib that doesn’t make me think about it a lot, perhaps almost boring, but great for a daily driver.
Pam: If I could wax poetry to the “perfect” Prera’s specs and hand feel, I would compose and sing songs about the nib. The nib is engraved with “Super Quality” and I would believe it. The nib writes true to size for a Japanese fine. It writes wonderfully, smoothly and maybe a little dry, which is great for cheap paper.
Franz: Writing with both nibs gave me almost the same smooth with a little bit of feedback experience. This is not a generalization, but my Pilot nib experience so far has been quite satisfying as they very well out of the box. And I’ve owned a couple Pilot 78G pens, Metropolitans, Vanishing Points, a Plumix, and a Stargazer.
As a preference, the medium nib was more to my liking because of the wider line and wetter ink flow.
Write It Up
(20-minute writing experience)
Katherine: The Prera is a tiny bit narrower and smaller than my “perfect” pen for long writing experiences. (Maybe I should just remember to cap it…). But I have no issues or discomfort at all after using this pen to draw or journal for an extended period. A very versatile size!
Pam: I prefer the Prera over the Metropolitan for one simple, albeit, major reason: no step! The “iron fist” grip that I typically use on all my F and EF pens falls right around the section and right at the step (where the barrel and section meet) of the Metropolitan, which can lead to discomfort. The Prera eliminates that issue altogether! It’s a subtle and smooth transition from section to body on the Prera, making it one of the most comfortable pens for me to use for prolonged periods of time.
Franz: I wrote with this pen posted and it was comfortable initially. After about ten minutes, my hand got a bit fatigued. I think this was due to the thin diameter of the section/barrel combined with its very lightweight. It probably wouldn’t be my journal pen in the near future but it was good to try it out.
Katherine: This pen is a great EDC! Not too expensive that I’d be very sad if I lost it, but still a fun pen that makes me enjoy writing. I’ve used this pen for a couple weeks with my A5-sized work notebook, and it secures the Hobonichi-style cover loops well, and is always ready to go quickly. My one caveat with this pen as an EDC instrument is that it seems to leak into the cap more than other pens do when I fly with it. Not generally an issue, but worth noting. (Interestingly the other pen that leads my “leaks on flights” category is the Metro, which probably has a very similar, if not the same feed)
Pam: It’s a white pen that is consistently in my white coat. The clip isn’t the strongest, but enough to be clipped in my Hobonichi Weeks PVC cover on cover pen loop. It’s also a good size for the Midori leather pen loop. I had tried to clip the pen with my hobonichi, but with all the jostling in my backpack, I had to dig for the pen by the time I got home.
Franz: Yes. The Pilot Prera is actually a nice pen to use on the daily. The snap cap, clip, and nib makes it a winner for me. I used the Prera at work for two days (once with Pam’s and the other with Katherine’s) and I found that it was a pen I reached for in my shirt pocket for the majority of both days. It may not be my go-to journal pen but it’s actually a very nice quick notes and signature work pen.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The Prera is a solid pen, and I enjoy owning and using mine. However, it’s not a pen that brings me great joy to own or the pen I pull out when I just want to “play” with pens and ink. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a solid pen for daily use or a beginner with a larger budget.
Pam: I love the Pilot Prera but I can’t really say why. It’s a mysterious alchemy that the pen just possesses and it just “ticks all the boxes” from size, slip cap, portability, aesthetics and great writing experience.
The Pilot Prera is often overlooked as a great “beginner pen.” Maybe this is due to a higher price point, approximately $25-35, in comparison to the Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari and more recently the TWSBI Eco. However, for me, the Pilot Prera is more comfortable than the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy Safari due to the smooth section and a better length for me than the TWSBI Eco.
Lastly, the nib on the Pilot Prera is worth every penny. It’s a true Japanese fine nib and writes wonderfully. Even better, the nibs for the Pilot Penmanship, Plumix, Kakuno and Metropolitan are all interchangeable with the Pilot Prera. This isn’t just a great beginner pen, it’s a pen feels like an upgrade to other beginner pens.
Franz: Using the two pens finally made me appreciate the Pilot Prera for what it had to offer. I’ve been aware of the Prera for a couple years now but never really paid attention. I would encourage a person with a small to medium hand size to get the Prera. It is quite an inexpensive pen for beginners or intermediate users. As for people with large hands, try it out first and see if it’s comfortable.
Between the two pens, I liked Katherine’s more (sorry Pam). Mainly because the nib in it was a medium and it won me over. Secondly, Katherine’s was the Oeste Kingfisher Blue and well, it’s blue! ‘Coz #ilovebluepens!
Thanks for reading our thoughts on the Pilot Prera and our blog!
Katherine: It’s a cute and small pen with a beautiful finish. I’m surprised at how heavy it is, given its size.
Pam: Cute, small and elegant. The blue finish on the metal barrel pen has alot of depth in the light. It’s a really good weight for such a small pen. The width of the pen is very reminiscent of the Pilot Prera, another favorite of mine. The finish, weight and extra wide silver band with simple black writing lends a “grown-up” feel to the pen. It is easily a pen that can be used in an office setting. It’s particularly handy for use due to the slip cap for fast and easy deployment. Posting the cap is easy and secure.
Franz: The Pilot Stargazer was a pen that I wanted to get when Mr. Dan Smith reviewed it a couple years back. The sapphire blue finish truly won me over especially each time I hold it in my hands. It may be a small pen but it looks quite appealing and refined.
The Business End
Katherine: The pen I’m reviewing has a medium nib — and I’m very surprised by how wide and wet the nib is. It’s very smooth, but I’m generally not a fan of pens this wide. The overall experience of writing with the pen reminds me a lot of bigger, German nibbed pens. (I don’t have a Metro on hand, but I’m pretty sure this is much wider than the Metro’s Medium nib)
Pam: Needless to say, the medium nib is WAY too broad for me. It’s practically a broad because the gold nib is really soft for me. The nib is a wet writer but very very smooth. Whew. But it sure is pretty and shiny. I wonder how the EF nib is…
Franz: Ha! I chose that medium nib because there wasn’t a broad nib option. I do have to disclose that the line width is probably thicker now because I wrote with this pen on a daily basis for almost a year. Over time, the nib spread a little bit more than when I bought it.
Write It Up
(20-minute writing experience)
Katherine: Twenty minutes later — this pen is great if I feel like printing, but my cursive is far too small for this pen. For printing though, it’s a solid feeling pen (I could imagine it hurting if I threw it at someone) but I prefer slightly lighter pens when I’m holding a pen at this size. Not bad, but not my favorite.
Pam: I would have to write LARGE with this pen so that my handwriting doesn’t become a blobby mess. The nib and the pen would have been perfect for a long writing session, however, the aesthetics of my handwriting was bothering me. I can’t keep keep writing that large! The cartridge/converter has a decent ink capacity, but, I have to write so large. And the nib is so wet… I can’t imagine using this pen at work on the crappy office paper.
Franz: I used the Stargazer with its cap posted during the full twenty minutes. And even though the weight, and size was quite comfortable, I felt my hand cramp up a little bit. I think that was the first time I wrote with this pen for an extended period of time.
Katherine: As previously mentioned, I find this pen a little heavy… which turns into it feeling “slippery” as an EDC. A little too small for how heavy it is. But, when it comes down to use, the slip cap is very convenient. But, the wetness made it hard for me to use as an EDC (my little letter-shaped puddles) didn’t dry in time to close my notebook! The long and the short of it is this wouldn’t be my preferred EDC pen. But it wouldn’t be terrible.
Pam: With the slip cap, elegant design and an extra fine nib, it would be a great addition to any jacket, lab coat or writing arsenal. It’s quick to deploy and you would definitely notice the pen in your pocket. Given my recent lost of my beloved Vanishing Point, I can really appreciate that aspect.
Franz: When I bought this pen, I intended to use it for work daily. With the pull cap design, and nice nib, it worked well for me. Unlike Pam, writing on copy paper wasn’t too bad. There was definitely showthrough and some spots that bled into the back, but it was acceptable.
When I went on vacation for 9 days, I always had the Stargazer clipped onto either my shirt pocket, or jeans pocket. I think this is a good Every Day Carry pen at work or when you’re just out and about.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: As mentioned, it’s a surprisingly heavy and solid feeling pen for how small it is. That being said, I find it a little too heavy for the size — I prefer the feel of the Prera, which is a much lighter pen. This is a pen I wouldn’t purchase for myself or for a friend, unless they were specifically looking for a pocket-friendly pen. It’s a refined looking pen, but it’s a little too heavy and a little too wet.
Pam: This is a pen that I felt was a suitable gift for my friend’s 30th birthday to introduce her to fountain pens. It’s a beautiful, elegant and worth pen for anyone looking for an “upgrade” to the Prera, or as a first gold nib pen if you enjoy the added weight due to the brass body.
Franz: As Pam said, the Pilot Stargazer is a beautiful pen to give as a gift, even if it’s just for yourself. I love the look of this pen and the feel in my hands.
There are two things that may be a negative about this pen. The girth is just a little too thin for me which is probably what caused my hand to cramp. Next, the price of this pen is in the higher range and on par with a few larger pens like the Pilot Vanishing Point, the Pilot Custom 74, and the Lamy 2000. With that said, I do not regret getting this pen.
If you like small pens and a slip cap design, check this pen out.
A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.