Monday, June 18, 2018

REVIEW: BN WORKS TWIIST 2-IN-1 PEN

BN Works Twiist pen review
In the last few years the market for machined pens has expanded incredibly fast, making it hard to keep up with every new product that pops up. The BN Works Dot -debut product for the Taiwanese design brand- was one of those products. It kind of flew by me unnoticed. So when Tony from BN Works contacted me, I couldn't immediately connect the dots (terrible pun alert!). It's very difficult to stand out as a new brand, especially with a low-key product like the Dot. Their new product however, seems to be a bit more tricked out and managed to grab my attention when I checked it out.
BN Works Twiist pen review
A Schmidt P900 and P8126 refill are included in the box, as well as two additional replacement stylus tips
The BN Works Twiist (no, that's not a spelling error!) looks like just another rollerball pen, yet it has a neat trick up its sleeve! But more on that later. First, let's look at the design...
BN Works Twiist pen review
At first glance, I find the Twiist has a strong resemblance to the Karas Pen Co. Retrakt (that I reviewed HERE), or a Parker Jotter: a wider top section, and a long grip that tapers towards the front. The clip closely resembles the type of bent steel clip that brands like Karas Pen Co. or Schon use. It is connected to the barrel internally instead of the two external screws, which gives it a less rugged appearance.
BN Works Twiist pen review
The Twiist is available in four clean-looking anodized aluminium colorways. They all have contrasting upper and lower body parts: black+grey, grey+black or rose+black. The version I chose is a bit different from the rest, in that it features a solid copper lower section, combined with black aluminium on top. The combination of matte black and copper is striking. On top of that I just really enjoy the way copper creates patina so this was an easy choice (yes, it does leave a penny smell, if that bothers you!).
BN Works Twiist pen review
BN Works Twiist pen review
The double 'i' in the name stands for the double twist action: twist the body and the pen engages or retracts. twist the knurled section above the clip, and out pops a capacitive stylus tip. 
BN Works Twiist pen review
First of all, I think the mechanism is absolutely genius. It's simple but effective, and it offers a clean way of protecting the stylus tip. I'm the kind of person that likes uncluttered design, and I find little use for a stylus in my daily life. The only scenario when I will actually use it, would be while I'm writing and quickly need to check something on my phone or tablet. Other than that, I would rather not have it spoil the design, so it's nice that the stylus isn't visible when you don't need it.

Both the pen and stylus mechanism are made out of brass and have a very smooth action. They twist to engage, and reassuringly click into place with a subtle 'snap'. I liked the mechanism so much that I frequently found myself fidgeting with it. There is a tiny bit of play to it, but it doesn't rattle or feel cheap. Overall it feels solid and well put together.
BN Works Twiist pen review
BN Works Twiist pen review
L to R: RIIND The Pen, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Baron Fig Squire, BN Works Twiist, Lamy Vista, Lamy 2000
I already mentioned the similarity in design to the Karas Retrakt, but the Twiist is also fairly similar in terms of dimensions. It measures 13.6 cm (5.35"). The diameter is about 10.5 mm at the top section, and 9-10 mm where you grip it. It's quite comfortable in the hand. However, because there is no knurled or textured section, it can become a bit slippery.
BN Works Twiist pen review
The writing experience is quite pleasant. BN Works provides both a Schmidt P900 ballpoint and Schmidt P8126 rollerball refill in the package. I went for the P900, that I had never used before. Ballpoint refills don't have the same dark and consistent line as rollerballs do, but I nevertheless quite like this one. It's a smooth refill, and it doesn't leave blobs or marks that smear. One thing I especially like about the Twiist, is that the tip is machined with a tight tolerance. It doesn't have the tendency to rattle or move around when you write.
BN Works Twiist pen review
I'm not gonna lie, stylus 2-in-1 pens generally seem to be quite a hard sell. Is there really a use for a stylus tip, if your finger does the exact same job? I guess for tablet users and people who draw or sketch on digital devices, the answer would be yes. But for the average consumer it doubt it really offers much added value.

Nevertheless, I like how BN works added a stylus without interrupting a clean design. The stylus retracts when not in use. Out of sight, out of mind, a nice compromise. But of course it still adds to the price tag, so that may be a bit of a hurdle for some.

At 85 USD, the BN Works Twiist sits somewhere in the middle of the market. It costs more than the Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, but less than the RIIND pen (that I reviewed HERE). I think the price is quite fair considering the quality and design of the pen, the complex mechanism with the stylus tip, and the additional replacement stylus tips and refill that you get in the box.

This product was sent to me by BN Works 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.
BN Works Twiist pen review

Sunday, June 10, 2018

INK REVIEW: SAILOR KOBE #15 MAIKO GREEN

Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Woohoo! I finally get to try out a Kobe ink! Based on how hard to get these inks are in Europe, that's unfortunately kind of a big deal.

Made by Sailor, this ink is part of a ridiculously large selection of store-exclusive inks (more than 60 colors!) made for the Kobe-Nagasawa store in Japan. Over the years they have become more widely available through some US-based retailers, but so far I haven't come across them in Europe. 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Australian-based webshop Desk Bandit offered me the chance to try out one of the Kobe inks, so I obviously didn't hesitate! My thanks to them for providing this bottle of Kobe #15 Maiko Green ink to check out! 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Surprise, surprise, just like a long line of Sailor inks I tried before this, Kobe #15 turns out to be another one I really enjoy!

Maiko Green is a relatively dark, mossy green color. It has an ever-so-slight yellowish undertone to it, leaning it towards an olive color. I'd say it's a medium saturated green, which makes it an appropriate color for various contexts of use. Shading is very decent. The base color is a nice pastel green, and it shades as a dark green that in some places can appear -almost- black. 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy F nib
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy B nib
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy 1.5 nib
Like most Sailor inks, properties are quite good -if not excellent. It's a smooth ink with a good, lubricated flow. It doesn't bleed or feather as far as I can tell. Kobe #15 is not waterproof in any way.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
The only downside with store-exclusive products, especially ones that have to be imported all the way from Japan, is that the price can get quite high. Kobe inks retail for 35 AUD via Desk Bandit, which is slightly cheaper than the US, where they go for about 30$ for a 50ml bottle. This puts them in the higher-end category as far as inks go. 

On a side note: Interestingly, Sailor Bungubox ink -another Japanese store exclusive-tend to be even more expensive, even though they are technically identical as they both come from the same manufacturer. 

One additional downside -as Joe from The Gentleman Stationer quite  elegantly put it in one of his posts- is the sheer number of colors you can choose from. If you're a completionist like I am, you might find yourself on an impossible mission to catch 'em all once you tried one! 

This product was sent to me by Desk Bandit, 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 affiliate links.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

REVIEW: BARON FIG SQUIRE STAINLESS STEEL PEN

Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
Baron Fig is on fire at the moment! They have been releasing new product after new product non-stop for the past couple months. While I stand in awe and drool at everything they put out, I struggle to catch up with reviews on some of their latest and greatest.

One of the newest releases is this: the Baron Fig Squire in solid stainless steel. My thanks to Baron Fig for sending one over for me to have a look at!
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
A new rectangular box design for the stainless steel Squire, is this the end of the cool tubes?
Remember the Lock & Key special edition? I jumped on that faster than fast, and I have been totally in love with the brass Squire ever since. The Squire is a great design on itself, but the hefty brass construction puts it at the top of my list. It has developed a subtle but beautiful patina over time, which is one of the many things I love about brass.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
Top to bottom: Squire Al charcoal, Squire stainless steel, Squire "key" brass
I also like how it makes your hands smell like pennies. But I'm weird, and I know a lot of people don't share my love for smelly metal pens. Stainless steel is a valid alternative if you don't like brass for its smell. It has a similar solid weight to it, but it obviously lacks the smell. It also lacks the patina. Instead of the warm gold color of brass, it has a cold, industrial-looking silvery color. It's a different version altogether, but it has its charm.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
The design of the squire has of course remained the same. It's still that subtle teardrop-shaped pen, that I very much enjoy. It's a seriously good-looking minimal pen. Since the stainless steel is a standard edition, it features the same sword logo engraved on the barrel as the aluminium version, compared to the key on the special edition brass 'Key'.

The surface of the stainless steel is polished, but if you look close you can still see a slight brushed finish. It's worth noting that, just like the brass Squire, this polished metal finish doesn't really offer the best grip. If you're worried about that, the anodized aluminium pens provide a bit of texture that offers slightly more grip.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
Putting the three squires side to side, I noticed that Baron Fig seems to have dealt with the gap issue between the barrel and the twist mechanism (check out my original review where I discussed this issue). I fixed it on the aluminium squire, but both the brass and stainless steel pens didn't have this issue out of the box. With this problem seemingly fixed, they got rid of the only real gripe I had with the squire when it originally launched. So attention to detail and the overall fit and finish is definitely on point.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
L to R: Riind Pen, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Baron Fig Squire SS, BNworks Twiist, Lamy vista, Lamy 2000
The Squire is a relatively compact clipless pen, yet in the hand it's perfectly sized. With a length of 12.5 cm (5"), and a girth of 1 cm (0.4"), it perfectly hits that sweet spot for me. The shape makes it a very comfortable pen to hold. 

Weight is of course the biggest differentiator between the different metals. At 48g (1.7oz), it's effectively twice as heavy as the aluminium Squire. The difference between the brass 'Key' is  just 3g heavier than the stainless steel, which is a negligible difference. For such a small pen, you'll be surprised by how hefty it is when you first pick it up, yet I personally think it's not too heavy (your mileage may of course vary if you are used to light pens).

Maybe you'll notice that there is no written review at the bottom of this post. That's because the Squire Stainless Steel comes with a rollerball refill that I reviewed plenty of times before: The Schmidt P8126 (you can read about it in my original review of the Squire). It's a smooth refill that lays down a nice consistentl, deep black line. If one thing, I wish it wouldn't have the tendency to bleed on cheaper paper. But all in all I think it's an enjoyable refill to use.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen
The Baron Fig Squire stainless steel retails for 85$, which is a considerable step up from the aluminium version (55$). But it's in line with comparable pens from other brands, and I think it's a  rather fair price for what you get. If you like a more substantial pen, it's definitely worth considering.

I'm having a hard time finding something I don't like about Baron Fig and their products. They just know what they are doing. And they run their business with an impeccable sense for style and minimal design. The pace with which they crank out new products is impressive to say the least. But if they can continue that productivity without sacrificing quality or originality, I'll be looking forward to what they come up with next! Maybe a copper Squire?...

This product was sent to me by Baron Fig, 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 affiliate links.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Stainless Steel pen