Monday, December 3, 2018

REVIEW: STILFORM KOSMOS TI PEN

Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
My first encounter with the German brand Stilform -a couple months ago when I reviewed the Stilform Ink (read my review HERE)- was a very positive one. And it got me really excited to try out the ballpoint pen version of Kosmos as well! 
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
The names of both the fountain pen and ballpoint pen are quite similar, which makes sense because both the Kosmos and Kosmos Ink are based on the same concept: to build a pen around a magnetic mechanism! The design language of both Kosmos products is also quite similar. Both are characterized by a minimal design, rounded finials and cleanly chamfered edges... The result is a simple but very well-executed design. 
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
Contrary to the Ink, it lacks the flat sides that prevents it from rolling, which I actually think could've been helpful because it rolls around like crazy (needless to say this one saw some abuse, and visited the floor a couple times). Stilform does offer a walnut pen rest, but you have to buy it separately and it's not particularly travel-friendly.

The Kosmos comes in two metal options: aluminium or titanium. I received the Kosmos Ti to review, which has a bit more heft than the aluminium option, and it comes in two finishes: polished or matte. The polished version I received is sleek and shiny, and has a very space-age feel to it. Being mirror-polished, it does pick up scratches and scuffs quite easily. After a few months of playing around with it, it's quite battle-worn, so if you don't like that, the matte version is supposedly more resistant to scratches. The two titanium parts (front section and barrel) are spaced with a black metal inner sleeve, which is part of the mechanism. When the pen is opened, it retracts, and the chamfered edges of the two titanium halves meet neatly.
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
L to R: Baron Fig Squire Click, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Stilform Kosmos Ti, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
The Kosmos is a nicely sized pen. It feels small in comparison to other ballpoint pens, but in reality it is far from small. Measuring 13.7 cm (5.4") 'closed' and 13.4 cm (5.27") 'open', it's a decently sized pen in the hand. The profile is fairly slim, with a constant diameter of 11 mm across the entire barrel, the front section narrowing down towards the tip of the pen. The slick finish of this particular polished titanium finish in combination with the streamlined profile makes this pen somewhat slippery to hold at times, which I think may be better with the matte aluminium or sandblasted titanium options. The Kosmos Ti feels solid in the hand, at 42g. I personally like heavier pens, but if you don't, the aluminium version is a good bit lighter at 26g.
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
The way this pen works is really cool. They have a diagram on their Kickstarter page (unfortunately I couldn't find it on their website) that shows the guts of the Kosmos, and it's actually surprisingly simple: a magnet connected to the front section and the black 'inner tube' is pushed and pulled by magnets on either side that are fixed to the barrel. When operating the mechanism, the magnets pull on the moving magnet and keep the barrel in either extended (closed) or retracted (open) position. When it works, it works really well. The magnets are really strong and you need a tight grip to open and close the pen. The action works with a very satisfying (and very loud) snap. 

But unfortunately... it doesn't always work. I tested one of the pre-production prototypes of the Stilform Ti about a year ago, and the mechanism failed after a couple days so I never got around to actually reviewing it. Luckily they seem to have fixed the issue in the production model that I have in my hands right now, which has clicked satisfyingly for months and still works just fine.

Writing with the Kosmos pen is smooth and hassle-free. I have a strong suspicion that they utilize Schmidt easyflow 9000 Parker-style refills, but it's just branded 'Kosmos' so I'm not entirely sure. In any case, it's an extremely pleasant refill, and it actually made me want to use this pen all the time. It's dark and smooth, lays down a consistent medium line. 
Review: Stilform Kosmos Ti ballpoint pen
The Kosmos Ti is an interesting piece of functional design. It's a pure, minimal pen, built around a really interesting and unique mechanism. It ticks a lot of the right boxes for me. The polished titanium finish is perhaps a bit too slick for my liking, but the excellent refill (and compatibility with a bunch of other refills) pulls the whole experience up a notch. 

The Stilform Kosmos Ti comes in at a retail price of 120€ (136$), which is exactly double the price of the aluminium Kosmos. I'm usually a big fan of titanium pens, they are strong, have a nice heft and look good while at it. But in this case, while I think the aluminium Kosmos is a pretty good deal for what you get, the premium for the titanium version might be a bit steep. 

This product was sent to me by Stilform, 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.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

REVIEW: PELIKAN SOUVERAN M800 STONE GARDEN SPECIAL EDITION FOUNTAIN PEN

Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
I'll admit that I'm a rather loyal collector of the Pelikan Souverän M8XX special editions. Yet, I've been able to restrain myself and hold off on quite a few recent editions like the Vibrant Blue and Ocean Swirl. I guess they weren't really my thing anyway, as I wasn't that big on the vibrant colorways of those releases.
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
And then they announced their latest release, the M800 Stone Garden, a few months ago... The same tried and true Souverän pen (that I reviewed multiple times before), but once again built up from a completely new combination of materials. The color combo is definitely unique, combining a dark blue resin for the cap, section and piston knob, and a beautiful brown-blue marbled material for the barrel. As I'm usually not a fan of blue pens, I wasn't immediately hooked. But the subdued color scheme ultimately pulled me over. My thanks to Appelboom for sending one over to take a look at in this review!
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
In person, this is an absolutely stunning pen. The material has a marble-like diagonal striation to it, and the blue and brown flecks create a shimmering light and dark contrast. Combined with the gold trim, this is an extremely classy pen. I love how the Souverän pens can appear classic -almost in a vintage way- or modern and sleek, depending on the materials they use (case in point: the Stone Garden vs. the M815 Metal Stripe!).

One thing I don't really like, is how the pattern is interrupted by a single seam along the length of the barrel. Pelikan creates the barrel by hot-forming sheets of resin into tubes (called the 'binde'), so you'll always have a seam somewhere, it's just not visible on most materials they use. It's not too obvious, as it took me a good while to even notice it, so it certainly isn't a deal-breaker for me.
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
The Souverän M800 is a fairly large pen, measuring 14.1 cm (5.57") capped, and 12.7 cm (5") uncapped. It posts securely, creating a pen that measures 16.6 cm (6.53"). The brass piston mechanism adds just the right amount of heft, giving a total weight of 30 g. I've raved about the M8XX on multiple occasions before, it's pretty much the perfect size for my hand (with the M6XX a close second, especially if you have smaller hands!). I forgot to take a size comparison photo of the Stone Garden, but you can find one in my review of last years Renaissance Brown special edition!
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
The nib on this Stone Garden is new to me, because it's actually the first time that I got to play with the EF on one of Pelikan's high-end models. I figured, since the latest price increase, that I shouldn't wait any longer to get one... God forbid they might go up in price again in the future (The current  55€ premium you pay for an EF nib is already quite absurd!)
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
In terms of performance, what can I say? It's an excellent nib. As you may know, I'm usually not drawn towards the finer end of the nib spectrum, but this one is hard to knock. It's a solid performer. Maybe a tad bit boring because of the inherent stiffness of the M800 nibs (when I do buy finer nibs, I like a bit of 'cushioning' in my writing), but the ink flow is consistent (surprisingly not overly wet) and it's ample smooth. When comparing this to a Japanese EF, the line it puts down is still about twice as wide, but nevertheless it should be perfectly usable even when you have small handwriting.
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen
I like the new Stone Garden (Who'd have thunk it!). Even though blue pens don't tend to be my first choice, I think they did a fantastic job on the color combination here. It's a classy-looking pen, which is how I tend to like my Pelikans (The Burnt Orange, Tortoise brown, Renaissance,...). I think a professional and subdued color scheme works better with the Souverän design than a more vibrant material (like the new Vibrant Orange m600), but I guess that's just my personal preference.

In general -but especially with the special editions- Pelikan is slowly pulling up their prices. Where they once offered a competitive price compared to say, Montblanc, that price gap is now slowly fading away. The Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden retails for 519€ (612$) here in Europe. But for the non-EU audience that buy from overseas (like from Appelboom, for example) the price drops down to 437€ (500$) without VAT. The price hike for EF nibs will add about 55€ (65$), which I feel is quite unfair for people that prefer a finer nib.
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Note: Appelboom is a sponsor of this blog. I received a discount on the purchase of this product. 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.
Review: Pelikan Souverän M800 Stone Garden Special edition fountain pen

Sunday, November 11, 2018

REVIEW: LEONARDO OFFICINA ITALIANA MOMENTO ZERO RESIN FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
Ok, so it took me a bit longer than I hoped (a recurring theme in my reviewing schedule), but today we're taking a look at a new brand that I'm really REALLY excited about: Leonardo Officina Italiana. That name probably won't ring any bells, but its' heritage certainly should! Leonardo is a startup run by Salvatore Matrone, and his father Ciro. Ciro is one of the founders of (late) Delta, for which Salvatore also used to work. 

I'll let you know in advance that I'm a big fan of Delta, and my Dolcevita's (Dolcevitae?) are among my absolute favorite pens in my collection. So obviously I'm quite excited to see Delta reincarnate -one way or another- into a fresh, new brand! 
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
The first series of pens from Leonardo is called the 'Momento Zero' (freely translated: time zero, the starting point). The Momento Zero collection is strongly inspired by the design of the Delta 'The Journal' (that I reviewed HERE), which was actually designed by Salvatore. 
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
It's odd how a certain design or shape appeals to you more than another, but I think if I had to pick, it would be something like this! The subtly curved cigar shape ends in pointed conical finials on both side, much like the Nakaya Picolor or Namisu Nova (two pens that I also really like). 

The Momento Zero comes in a very diverse selection of materials/colorways, the two pens I have are both made out of resin, but there are more exotic materials available too (which are unfortunately much more expensive!). The two colorways I have the vintage brown, and a very stealthy matte black which has matching ruthenium-plated trims. I like the subtle colorways, but there are a few gorgeous colorful materials available as well.

Talking about the trims: the design of the Momento Zero is accentuated by quite a few trim rings in a variety of finishes (rhodium-, gold- or ruthenium-plated, depending on the material you choose). Two rings act as a center band on the cap, one on the barrel right underneath the cap, and one at the blind cap. The clip is a traditional 'rolling wheel' style, found on many Italian pens. The face of the clip is sleek and unadorned (which I actually prefer over the clip on The Journal that had some scrollwork engraved on it).
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
L to R: Pelikan Souverän M805, Pilot Custom 823, Leonardo Momento Zero, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
The Momento Zero is a medium-large sized pen, comparable to a Pelikan M800. Closed, it measures 14.2 cm (5.6"), and uncapped it's a respectable 12.9 cm (5.08"). The design is fairly bulbous, with a maximum diameter of around 1.5 cm (0.6"). It narrows down considerably towards the section, where the maximum diameter is a comfortable 1-1.2 cm (0.4-0.47"). With a fully acrylic construction, the weight is kept low at 25g total. 
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
The transition from barrel to section is rather subtle because of the nicely rounded trim ring that visually separates the two parts.  In terms of comfort, the Momento Zero is downright excellent. The length is just right for me unposted, but it also posts comfortably without making the pen too long or back-heavy. The section has a somewhat unusual two-stage shape that transitions about halfway into a narrower front part, but in the hand it's actually quite comfortable. It's a fatigue-free pen to use, in part because of the section shape, but also due to the nice balance (the metal converter on the inside adds some substance to the rear of the barrel, which rests nicely in the web of my hand). 
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
The filling system, much like the Delta Journal, is a captured converter. You can choose to either use the converter like you normally would, unscrewing the entire barrel, or by unscrewing the blind cap which lets you access the converter and lets you use it like a traditional piston filler. The latter option is quite cool, although I most often found myself just unscrewing the entire barrel to be able to see the ink level. The blind cap is a 'classier' way to do it though. 
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
I always loved Delta for their nibs, and Leonardo seems to be continuing along the same trend. I tried three different steel nibs, and all of them were superbly smooth, even the finer ones. They have a medium-rich consistent ink flow that keeps up nicely even with the broad nib. The nib is, however, a slight bit prone to drying out. So I encountered some skips and hard starts after leaving the pen unused for a few days.
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen
The drying out issues are a bit of a nuisance, and definitely distract from an otherwise excellent writing experience. But nevertheless, I am quite impressed with the Leonardo Momento Zero fountain pens, and how they managed to capture a lot of the heritage that Delta left behind. Some way or another, I secretly hope they will revive the fantastic Delta Dolcevita as well, but at the same time I'm curious to see the brand evolve and create its' own identity (somewhat like Scribo picking up some Omas elements, incorporating them into new and refreshing designs).

Prices vary depending on the material you choose, but the general selection of acrylic materials are all priced around 150€ (imported without VAT: around 137$), with a few slightly more expensive options. The Momento Zero pens are situated in a very competitive price range, where Leonardo Officina Italiana can easily compete with the likes of Edison or Franklin-Christoph. And then we haven't even talked about the gorgeous limited edition Momento Zero pens in various celluloids or ebonite (with a gold nib!)... that are considerably more expensive, unfortunately! 

This product was sent to me by Casa Della Stilografica (sponsor) and Leonardo Officina Italiana 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.
REVIEW: Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero Resin fountain pen