Monday, June 6, 2022

REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

From the UK comes Wingback, a small and relatively young EDC-focused brand with a strong focus on creating sustainable, durable products that last, manufactured on UK soil! 

Wingback's commitment to sustainability and durability is immediately noticeable when unpacking their flagship writing products: the Wingback Mechanical Pen and Mechanical Pencil. No materials are wasted on packaging, as the pens come wrapped in a simple but durable Wingback-branded cloth sleeve - ecological, saves on shipping, and practical too. I like it! 

In the hand, the solid metal construction of both pen and pencil immediately gives off a feeling of longevity. Though small in size, the pen and pencil have a surprising amount of density  (especially the Mechanical Pen!) and substance to them, in part due to the all-custom, fully metal internal mechanisms. 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The design is kept very minimal, with a clear industrial and rugged look due to the knurled elements and pronounced, crisp chamfered edges all around. The surface of the mechanical pen(cil) is kept in its 'raw' machined state, you'll still be able to pick up on the CNC machining lines - which are extremely clean and precise. Going clipless is the only option here, so some uncontrolled rolling around on your desk is to be expected.

Wingback's entire product portfolio (which isn't super extensive, but still) is characterized by the same design language. Pronounced knurling, industrial rugged designs, and three distinct colorways to choose from: raw brass, raw stainless steel, or black-coated steel (a tough tungsten-carbide coating). Even some of their leather goods feature machined metal accents that tie their product designs together. I quite enjoy that level of consistency.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
... Although there's also one inconsistency on the Mechanical Pen that does look somewhat out of place. There's a subtle, yet noticeable (both tactile and visual) difference between the knurling on the section and the twist mechanism of the pen. The section's texture is less deeply cut and less aggressive to your fingers. It still adds some grip (though not as much as with more pronounced knurling), and it's more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time. Yet I don't quite understand why they didn't just match the texture on the twist mechanism.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Tactile Turn Glider, Ensso Giro, Karas EDK, Modern Fuel Pen, Wingback Mechanical Pen, Wingback Mechanical Pencil, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The Wingback Mechanical Pen and Pencil are much smaller than I originally anticipated. I guess it's just one of those designs that don't really convey scale very well in pictures. Hence, the above size comparison ought to bring some clarification. As you can see, Wingback's pen design is quite compact in nature, hovering in-between full-sized and truly pocket-sized pens.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
So, how 'pocketable' are we talking then? Both Mechanical Pen and Pencil share identical dimensions: 11.8cm (4.64") in length and 10 mm (0.39") in diameter. They do differ in weight, though. The pencil is the lightest, as the much larger mechanism takes up most of the internal space, whereas the pen is machined much thicker on the inside (which is what gives the pen that very dense feeling!). This translates into a weight of around 37 grams for the pencil (still by no means light for such a compact pencil!) and 50 grams for the pen. Of course, the choice between steel or brass will also make a slight difference (the brass options being heavier), though it'll only differ a few grams.

In terms of comfort, the more compact size of the Mechanical Pen and Pencil is noticeable but not bothersome. For my average-sized hands, neither pen nor pencil felt too short or uncomfortable to hold. You still get a writing experience similar to that of a full-sized pen. It's worth pointing out that the knurled section - while comfortable in diameter - sits quite far back on the barrel, so you'll tend to grip the pen a bit further back. For people with larger hands, that may make the difference between a comfortable pen, and one that disappears in your hand.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Wingback Mechanical Pen is outfitted with a custom-made, solid metal, twist mechanism. It unscrews at the back (which is also how you change the refill) and is held securely in place with a rubber o-ring. The mechanism turns smoothly without play and has a very satisfying snap when it clicks into place. 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Pen comes equipped with a pressurized ("writes in all conditions") Fisher Space pen refill, and I have to say either Fisher upped their game or I've become more lenient towards ballpoint refills because I'm quite enjoying the writing experience. Granted, I'm still not a huge fan of ballpoint refills, but this one does lay down a smooth and relatively dark line of ink. Perhaps a bit more consistent than the average ballpoint pen, though still not quite as consistent as I'd like (hence, why I gravitate towards gel refills most of the time). Unfortunately, the Fisher Space refill is proprietary, so there's not a lot of leeway in terms of alternatives that will fit in the Wingback Mechanical Pen.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Mechanical Pencil - just like the pen - also comes with an impressive custom-made internal mechanism. All-metal parts, again solidly put together with little to no play or rattle between the parts, and the knock has a nice soft click action. The tip also has a retractable lead pipe, an essential feature for an EDC pencil that's bound to live in your pocket. 

Refilling the pencil requires some disassembly, but Wingback deliberately designed the mechanism so that you don't have to refill it very often. The large mechanism holds an absurd amount of spare leads inside (the website says 40 pieces for the 0.7mm mechanism, which seems about right), so you can basically drop in an entire tube of fresh leads and be good to go for ages... well, depending on how much you write or sketch of course! 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
So there you have it: my first encounter with Wingback's products, and quite a positive one I must add. I appreciate their "Buy once" philosophy, and find that it is truly reflected in the impeccable production quality of their Mechanical Pen and Pencil. In terms of EDC, I have no doubt these pens will serve well for years to come. 

Pricing starts at 95 GBP (around 110€/ 120$) for either Pen or Pencil. A substantial price tag, but one that I feel is justified by the excellent build quality, and the fact that these products are made locally in the UK. The black steel version adds a specialized tungsten-carbide coating, which ups the price to a rather hefty 140 GBP (165€/ 175$)! 

As it stands, the Mechanical Pen and Pencil are the only writing-related products in Wingback's catalog, though I hope they'll expand the range further in their design style... perhaps with a full-sized pen, or even a fountain pen? That'd be neat.

Note: This product was provided by Wingback, 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 affiliate links.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

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!