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

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

REVIEW: GOOD MADE BETTER PENWELL TRAVELER PEN STAND

Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand
Not too long ago, I had a look at the Penwell from Good Made Better: a small wood or metal -nondescript- object that sits on your desk and turns any capped pen into a desk pen (find my review HERE). The idea is so simple that it makes you wonder why nobody had thought of this before. As Mike Dudek from The Clicky Post puts it: 
"It is something unique and something most pen lovers wouldn't think they'd need, but could probably use and enjoy."
But Dan's quest for making capped pens more user-friendly didn't end there! Enter: the Penwell Traveler! 
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand. Traveler or Original, which one would you choose?
Traveler or Original, which one would you choose?
The Traveler is a more modern-looking -almost futuristic- iteration of the same concept: A suction pad base clings to your desk surface, and a foam tube on the inside nestles your pens and holds the cap in place while you write. the design is made of two pieces that swivel around a brass pivot screw, so you can adjust the angle at which it holds your pen, and it also folds closed when not in use.
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand. L to R: Snow White Cerakote, tumbled aluminium and Storm Gray Cerakote
L to R: Snow White Cerakote, tumbled aluminium and Storm Gray Cerakote
Three finishes are available: tumbled aluminium with silver screw, Snow White cerakote with brass screw, and Storm Gray cerakote with silver screw. The two cerakote finishes are available in limited quantities, and the Gray version is already sold out, unfortunately. Cerakote is a durable ceramic coating, and it has a nice matte finish that is soft to the touch. Although my favourite is actually the tumbled raw aluminium version. 
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand
The Traveler really is quite the logical next step for the Penwell, and it actually bridges an issue that I had with the original. The originall Penwell was pretty great when you're at your desk, but you're not ALWAYS at your desk when you write. Portability was close to non-existent, because even if you'd be willing to take the relatively large (it's not huge, but it's a clunky shape) Penwell with you in its' tin case, you'd still be left with the suction pad getting all messed up and grimy during transport. The Penwell Traveler -as the name suggests- is made to travel with you wherever you go.
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand
It's more portable for two reasons: The first one is simply that it is a good bit smaller when closed, and the rectangular form factor makes it easy to pack in your bag. The second reason is the carrying case and protective cover that come along with it. I have early production samples of the Traveler, so I don't actually have the cover and case. But the idea is simple: the protective cover slips over the suction pad to protect it and keep it clean during transport, and the entire penwell can be tucked into the zippered case to keep it safe in transit. 
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand. The Traveler accomodates a wide variety of pens: (L to R) Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000, Pentel Sign Pen, Pilot Vpen, Montblanc Meisterstuck 149.
The Traveler accomodates a wide variety of pens: (L to R) Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000, Pentel Sign Pen, Pilot Vpen, Montblanc Meisterstuck 149.
The foam sleeve on the Penwell Traveler is a new design, and is more of a 'one size fits all' shape that is tapered on one end, and narrower on the other end. Flipping it around gives some latitude in terms of what pen size will fit. It's definitely aimed at medium-sized pens, but larger pens -Even up to a Montblanc 149!- can fit too (though rather snugly.
Review: Good Made Better Penwell Traveler pen stand
Just like the original Penwell, the Traveler is an excellent accessory for your desk. It's not something you NEED, but you'll appreciate having it when you need to do a lot of writing. The fact that this new iteration of the Penwell is made to take with you, makes it a more versatile tool, perfect to take with you to the office or when out and about! 

The Kickstarter for the Penwell (LINK) Traveler has only about a week left on the clock, and is already funded way past the goal. Pricing starts at 37$ (32 EUR) for the tumbled Al finish, and 43$ (38EUR) for the Cerakote colorways (only the Snow White version is still available). That's a good bit lower than the regular Penwell, and I feel like it's a comfortable price point for an accesory like this.

This product was sent to me by Good Made Better 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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

REVIEW: WANCHER DREAM PEN TRUE EBONITE FOUNTAIN PEN

Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
Wancher left a very good first impression with me a couple months ago, when I reviewed the Dream Pen True Urushi (you can find this review HERE). But if you remember, I made a statement at the end of that review, with a very big IF: the pre-production prototype of the Dream Pen was fantastic, but of course that set the bar high for them, and I was curious to see if they could actually fulfill their promise of a premium quality Japanese pen at a reasonable price. I don't think I was being unreasonably skeptical back then. After all, the Dream Pen is probably Wancher's most ambitious project to date, and of course we want them to deliver what was promised.

The urushi side of the Dream Pen project encountered a few delays -let's be honest, that's to be expected with Kickstarters-, so we're still a few weeks away from the True Urushi Dream Pen. But  meanwhile, the True Ebonite version had a couple months head start, and Kickstarter rewards shipped out a while ago. Wancher sent me one to check out and compared to the True Urushi prototype, so big thanks to them.
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
Since the True Urushi was still a prototype, this was also the first time I saw the actual retail packaging, and it's absolutely sublime! The light wood box is very similar to those from Nakaya or Sailor, and inside you'll find your pen in a nice velvet-lined pouch. Granted, the box isn't as well-built as a Nakaya box, and the pouch is not actual Japanes silk (just silk-screened fabric). Nevertheless, for the price of the Ebonite Dream, Pen I don't think you can find better packaging!
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
Which is which?
The Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite is almost impossible to tell apart from the True Urushi Dream Pen (at least the black urushi version I reviewed a while ago. You can find that review HERE). Put them side by side, and on photos you'll be hard-pressed to spot a difference. Even in real life, I occasionally had trouble keeping track of which is which. I suppose you could say that's a testimony to the high level of finishing of the Japanese ebonite. It's so well-polished that it almost has the same luster as the Urushi finish, although it lacks that liquid-like appearance that Urushi has.
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
The level of finishing on the ebonite is top-notch!
Wancher has limited the color options to...black. So I bet a lot of people -me included- stepped up to the True Urushi version to get a more inspiring finish. Perhaps they might do different ebonite colorways in the future? That would definitely be interesting to see.

The Dream Pen obviously retains the shape of the prototype I reviewed earlier. Which is a good thing in my opinion. The long and fat, tapered cigar shape is simple. And despite the imposing size it's still an elegant, minimal design.
 Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
L to R: Pelikan M805, Pilot 823, Pilot Justus 95, Wancher Dream Pen Ebonite, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
For precise weight and measurements, you can check out my review of the Dream Pen True Urushi (read it HERE), as those measurements will also hold true for this pen. It's a chunky pen in the hand, and it's easily long enough to use without posting (luckily, as it doesn't post!). Comfort is aided by a grip section that is considerably less bulky compared to the rest of the pen. Of course that means there's a step from barrel to section, but the transition is fairly gradual, instead of a hard step. Despite some sharp corners, the shape of the section never felt obstructive to my grip. 
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
Prototype on the left, production model on the right
Compared to the prototype, the threads have gone from regular cut to block threads, which are a bit easier on the fingers. I did find the threads to have a bit more of a tendency to cross-thread when capping the pen, although it didn't occur very often (maybe 1 in 10 times).

Capping still requires a slight push because of the inner cap seal that prevents the nib from drying out. They did change it a little bit though, and it now doesn't require as much of a push compared to the prototype, making it a bit more intuitive to use.

The slip-seal inner cap also does its job, as I never experienced any issues with the nib drying out or having trouble starting.
Review: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen
It has also been interesting to try out the steel JoWo nib paired with the Flexible Nib Factory ebonite feed. Where the Stock #6 JoWo nibs are are already excellent writers, the custom feed provides just that little bit extra. JoWo nibs maybe aren't THE most exciting nibs, but they definitely perform consistently, and the ebonite feed definitely helps pulling the writing experience to the next level. The fine nib is smooth and responsive, and the flow is consistent and rich. No complaints here!

The Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite really delivered on my expectations, and it's a fantastic pen all around. While the Dream Pen True Ebonite was an excellent deal at the Kickstarter price of 175$, it's definitely on the more expensive side at full retail (230$). 

I'd say the price is justified through the excellent build quality, attention to detail, and the reliable nib. But more than anything, seeing the quality they delivered here gives me confidence that they can also live up to the hype of the True Urushi... I'm looking forward to it!

This product was sent to me by Wancher 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: Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite fountain pen