Saturday, April 9, 2022

REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
For as long as I can remember, the Pilot Capless and I have had quite a love-hate relationship. They're fantastic pens, bombproof, great writers - sure! But, as I highlighted in my re-review of the Capless, none of the Caplesses (Caplessi?) that have gone through my hands managed to captivate me. So I sold mine a long time ago, and never really looked back... Until Pilot released the Capless LS!
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
While the new Capless LS is quite an interesting pen, I doubt that it made the splash that Pilot was hoping for when it came out. After all, it banks on the vast success of their evergreen Pilot Capless. The LS aims to be a more luxurious version of the Capless' success story (even the name LS, 'Luxury Silent', says so) and has a price tag to match! But does it actually manage to be a better pen than the already very good original one? And does it manage to keep my attention longer than the original?
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
The LS departs a fair bit from the purely utilitarian design of the original Capless. Purely in terms of form, the Capless LS does away with the more classic design elements, replacing them with more modern and angular lines. It's also a slightly more chunky-looking pen because of that. 

I've always found the sleek and futuristic design of the vintage Capless very befitting for a technically advanced pen like the Capless. The classic lines of the original don't really do it for me. So the modernized look of the LS is already an improvement, at least in my opinion.
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
The knurled center ring is quite literally the center of attention: it's big and accentuated by the fact that it sits recessed into the barrel. This interesting design choice stands out and creates a very strong visual break between the section and barrel of the pen. 
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
The front of the Capless LS got a thorough redesign as well, again showing more angular, clean lines. The clip sits a bit further back. But ultimately, it's the slimness of the redesigned clip that makes this a better, more comfortable design to hold - at least in my opinion.
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Lamy Dialog 3, Leonardo MZ Grande, Pelikan M805, Pilot Capless, Pilot Capless LS, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The LS grew a bit bigger, chunkier, and heavier than the regular Capless. While the regular Capless is a rather heavy pen already (30 grams), I find that the slightly larger dimensions of the LS help offset the additional weight (40 grams). It doesn't really feel that much heavier. The LS measures 14.5 cm, compared to the 14 cm of the original, though both are roughly the same length - 13.8 cm - when 'open'. The LS may seem wider around the section (because the entire pen is thicker), but the section actually has a longer taper. So, around one-third down the length of the section (around where I grip it in the above image), both pens are actually almost the same diameter (the LS is just a fraction of a millimeter thicker). 

I find the slight added thickness of the LS quite pleasant, but what's even better is the change to a much narrower clip. It's much less intrusive on your grip than the beefy clip of the standard Capless, to the point where I almost don't notice it while I write. I'm sure that's a selling point for a lot of people.
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
Hm, what do we call this? A knock with a swiveling ring with a thumb stud... yeah, that seems to be about the dumbest, most accurate description I can think of!
The LS' updated click mechanism is the main attraction of this pen. The knock is now almost entirely silent, with the swiveling ring around the knock acting as sort of a dampener as it rotates 270° back and forth. That ring has a kind of protrusion on one side (a thumb stud?) accentuated by a line that runs along the edge, filled with black paint (on the matte black pen, it's red for a nice accent. I wish they'd use glow-in-the-dark photoluminescent paint like on a watch dial!).
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
While it is cool, the LS certainly trades in some usability for the coolness factor of seeing that ring swivel around the barrel. While 'opening' the pen is still done by clicking the knock, the nib can only be retracted by flicking the ring and letting it unwind on itself. It's a bit finicky and definitely slower than just pressing the knock again (add to that, the dampened mechanism also takes a surprisingly long time to retract). I wish it'd just click both ways for easier and faster use, but with the added dampening and silence of the rotating mechanism. I also suspect that it's not quite as practical for lefties, as the thumb stud on the ring is oriented so that it's in the correct position for right-handed writers. 
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN
Getting under the hood, this is where I've always enjoyed the Pilot Capless - a very user-focused EDC pen with a fantastic 18k gold nib. The nib may be tiny, but it's an excellent writer as with all Pilot pens! I chose a broad nib this time, as I find Pilot's medium nibs a bit too wide for EDC yet not wide enough for a fun broad writing experience (the F is a much better choice for a daily writer). As expected, it's buttery smooth and juicy, as it glides across the page (it even sings, really!).
The Pilot Capless LS has a couple of cool features left and right: the design is a bit more modern and clean, the clip is much more comfortable, and the knock mechanism is quite cool and quirky (albeit not as practical and straightforward as the original). Purely in terms of function, the LS doesn't really improve over the original. But its design certainly makes the LS a more interesting and cool pen to me. 

Whether or not it's cool enough to justify the massive price tag of 475€ (at La Couronne Du Comte, get 10% off with discount code 'Penthusiast') or 440$? I'd recommend looking out for a sale on the LS, which is how I got a hold of mine at a much more reasonable price. At full MSRP - more than twice the price of a regular Capless - the LS does not sound like a sensible purchase at all... But then again, sensible is not always what we're after in this hobby, is it? 

Note: La Couronne Du Comte is a sponsor of this site. I received a discount on this purchase, which enabled me to write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW: PILOT CAPLESS LS FOUNTAIN PEN

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

PEN SALE UPDATE - LOWERED PRICES AND PACKAGE DEALS!

A short update on the pen sale: 

I've updated the sale page to reflect the pens that are currently still available. PRICES HAVE BEEN LOWERED to sell. I think they represent a great value, especially since all these pens are in absolute 'Mint' condition (that is: you'll find no difference between a brand new pen)! 

For those that are interested, here are some PACKAGE DEALS to make the deal even better: Buy the Visconti and Leonardo (pens #1-2) for 600€ instead of 650€ (retail value of 1015€!). Buy the 3 remaining pens on the second tray (pens #4-6) for 200€ instead of 235€.

Prices are listed in euro, shipping not included. Send me a message so I can look up the exact shipping cost for you. 

If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me via EMAIL!

1) Visconti Homo Sapiens Color Sandstorm fountain pen (MINT): B 14k nib. Writes beautifully! The 'Color' model has a very practical magnetic cap, unlike the other HS models. Power-filler mechanism. 475€
2) Leonardo Momento Zero Grande Pura blue fountain pen (MINT): Steel F nib. Gold trims. 175€
3) [SOLD] Penlux Masterpiece Grande Koi Blue fountain pen (MINT): Steel M nib. 115€
4) Otto Hutt Design 06 black lacquer (MINT): Fine steel nib. 95€
5) Esterbrook JR Denim Blue fountain pen (MINT): Steel M nib. 95€
6) Platinum Procyon yellow fountain pen (MINT): Steel M nib. A very smooth writer. 45€
7) [SOLD] Wancher 7 Treasures Shippoyaki red fountain pen (MINT): Steel M nib. A very interesting and very large pen, made out of unusual bakelite plastic! 145€

General info:

  1. SHIPPING COST (with tracking code): Belgium: 10€, EU: 10-25€, Outside the EU: 40-60€ contact me for shipping quotes and options! Packages are always shipped in sturdy, well-padded boxes, and only with tracked shipment options. However, please note that I cannot be held accountable for lost or damaged packages.
  2. CONDITION: Photos are of the pens in their current condition. All fountain pens are in fully working condition, writing samples can be requested. Ballpoint pens and rollerballs are sold as-is, the refill might be used. All pens come with complete packaging (including ink bottle if they come with one in the box!) Feel free to ask for more (specific) photos or information on the condition of the pen. Condition indications:
    • 'New in Box' - Never used or inked, except for taking photos of it.
    • 'Mint' - As good as new, typically only inked once or twice for a review.
    • 'Good' - Used but no signs of wear, besides perhaps some light micro scratches.
    • 'User grade' - These pens were used more heavily. Fully functional, but has some noticeable aesthetic flaws.
          1. PAYMENT: Payment in Euro (including conversion costs if applicable), only through Paypal 'Friends and family' ('goods and services' at 3% added total cost).
          2. CONTACT: Feel free to contact me (preferably via email at pencilcaseblog[at]gmail[dot]com, but also possible on social media) if you have any questions!

          Saturday, March 12, 2022

          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD

          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          If you're a long-time reader of The Pencilcase Blog, you may remember a review I did about five years ago, of a product from a new South African company called Frara Road. Back then, I reviewed their Pen Roll (find the original review HERE): a cleanly-executed, well-thought-out leather pen roll made from a beautifully soft brown distressed leather. 

          In the years that followed, it remained a bit silent from the people at Frara Road, and the brand, unfortunately, remained in the background, despite having an - IMHO at least- excellent product on their hands with the Pen Roll! So you could say I was quite pleasantly surprised when Jamie (one of the two brothers who run Frara Road) reached out to me again a few months ago, to ask if I was interested in checking out their new product: A store-exclusive version of the Pen Roll, created in collaboration with one of our sponsors, Casa Della Stilografica
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          The result of Frara Road's and Stilografica's collaboration is The Pen Roll Mustard. This special edition stands out from the crowd (not hard to see why!) with its wonderfully bright warm-yellow leather. The name Mustard is aptly chosen, though I find the color mostly reminiscent of a bright and sunny Italian summer day! Admittedly, if you know me you'll know that the joyful and cheery yellow color of the Pen Roll Mustard is perhaps not the first color I'd choose. But it's hard to deny that I get a little smile on my face every time I pick it up. And as an added bonus: it's very easy to find (even from a mile away)!
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          The leather on the Mustard is a beautiful and pristine full-grain leather with a nice texture. It's a bit of a departure from the more distressed and tough-looking brown leather on the original Pen Roll, but it's every bit as supple and soft to the touch. The Mustard leather does seem to be ever-so-slightly thicker than on the original, which makes it just a little trickier to roll up neatly.
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          The closure system that Frara Road created for the Pen Roll remains a very clever and simple one that I enjoy using. The strap is sturdy and stays neatly out of the way when you don't need it. Again here, the slightly thicker leather of the Mustard seems to want to unroll and open up just a bit more than the original did. Although with more use, I assume it'll break in and become easier to close.
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          Construction quality of the Pen Roll Mustard is excellent, just like the original. Edges of the case aren't polished but the cuts are clean and precise. I'd perhaps say that the stitching on this newer case is a bit neater and more deliberately positioned, compared to the original case I reviewed five years ago, but the difference is all in all quite minimal. Just like with the original, I would've liked to see some extra reinforcement stitches around the loop for the closure strap, as it does stretch out a bit when you tighten the closure.
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          L to R: Montblanc 149, Visconti Homo Sapiens, Pelikan M805, Leonardo Art Deco 2021, Leonardo Furore, Lamy 2000
          The Frara Road Pen Roll is a fairly space-efficient way to carry around six of your pens, and the rolled-up form factor makes it particularly easy to hold in your hand on the go. In my original review of the Pen Roll, I mentioned that pens as large as a Montblanc 149 can fit comfortably, but in hindsight, that was still a rather conservative size indication. Especially nowadays, where we're seeing increasingly larger oversized pens hit the market, the Pen Roll still holds up very well. Even one of the largest pens in my collection, the Leonardo Momento Zero Grande Art Deco 2021 - a whopping 15.8cm long pen! - still fits comfortably. 

          If you look at the above image, all pens, even those very large ones, are nicely tucked into the slots so there's no chance of them scratching each other. The clips can be attached over the leather, though the slots are roomy enough to accommodate the entire pen with clip. 

          The back of the leather on the inside of the case is very soft and plushy, so there's no risk of it scratching your pens. The leather also has a certain 'grippy' quality to it, so pens inside don't slide up and down in the slots. Even smaller and thinner pens will - for the most part - stay quite firmly in place and won't always slide down to the bottom of the case.
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          All neatly tucked away!
          One of the downsides about the Frara Road Pen Roll that I also brought up in my original review, is that it takes up a considerable amount of desk space when opened up - about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. It looks tidy when you have it opened, though: the top flap folds back to get out of your way, and the closure strap is attached in a way that it naturally lies underneath the roll. 
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD
          I raved about the original, and the Frara Road x Stilografica exclusive Pen Roll Mustard scores equally high marks: It's a beautifully designed and produced case, the quality of the leather is fantastic, and it remains an excellent option to properly protect your pens. - Only, now it also comes in a bright and cheery yellow!

          The Frara Road x Stilografica Pen Roll Mustard retails for 95€ (or around 85$ without VAT from Stilografica. Use discount code 'Firenze' for 10% off!), which is the same price as the regular brown and black versions. While that's a bit more expensive than they used to be 5 years ago, it's still an excellent value proposition in my opinion. Now having Frara Road's products available from a reputable European retailer also helps in making them a bit more accessible, which is nice. But I hope to see them become more easily available in other corners of the world, also. 

          Note: This product was provided by Frara Road, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.
          FRARA ROAD x STILOGRAFICA PEN ROLL MUSTARD