Wednesday, August 14, 2019


Last year's Decograph (reviewed HERE) ushered in a new period for Karas Pen Co. in which they are trying hard to diversify their offerings. With their line of 'Signature' pens, they go for a clear departure from the heavy duty EDC metal pens that made Karas the brand they are today. However, both in design and execution, the Decograph was sort of a soft transition to a new style of pens. With its' various machined metal parts and angular industrial design, it still connects closely to their collection of metal pens.

This year's Karas Pen Co. Vertex is radically different from previous Karas products in a number of ways. A good kind of different, at least for the most part...

As always, a new Karas pen release means reviews popping up everywhere. Even though I'm a bit late to the game (by know you probably know that that's kind of my style), I still wanted to pitch in with my own thoughts on their latest product.
Designwise, I'm really digging where the guys from Karas are going with their Signature pens. The Vertex is a sleek-looking piece with a streamlined design that's a strong departure from the industrial, tough-looking pens you'd expect from the Arizona-based brand. It feels elegant and refined, with not a single sharp corner anywhere on the pen. The clean lines are offset by its stout, beefy overall form factor.

The Vertex is void of any ornamental details, not even a brand logo or inscription. The eye is immediately drawn to the ink window right below the cap that visually acts as a center band, and the concave flattop cap finial. It's a simple design, but it just all works together. 

If you've seen or used any of the Reaktor pens, the cap closure of the Vertex will feel awfully familiar. It's basically the same concept, where an o-ring inside the cap catches on the lip of the concave section. It's ingeniously simple, but it works really well and gives a satisfying pop when you open it. 
Pop the cap off, and you'll notice that the ink window and section are actually a single acrylic part. The ink window transitions smoothly into the large, concave-shaped section. Just the design of the section alone is commendable. It's a clever solution that looks great and adds to the clean, minimal lines of the pen. It's also more or less the epitome of what a comfortable section should be.
While the Karas team has spent the past year improving and finetuning the design, the Vertex already made its debut on several pen shows across the US. Following these small-scale runs in a wide variety of materials, they narrowed down the options for this general release. The standard production version comes in either black or transparent green acrylic (same as the Decograph) and black or white delrin. For the section, you can choose between a variety of transparent acrylics, from grey, red, blue and orange, to even the transparent coke bottle and Italian ice resins you might know from Franklin-Christoph. The section adds a refreshing bit of customization. And because it's visible both capped and uncapped, it really changes the entire look of the pen.

With the release of their 'Signature' pens, the guys at Karas also try to bring more variety to the table in the form of limited edition releases. With the release of the Vertex, they also announced three limited editions (40-50 pieces): Galeocerdo, Chrysopoeia and H-alpha -all made from Omas acrylics. 
Unfortunately my review sample took a while to reach across the pond, so at this point two of the three LE's (The pen that was sent to me for review, the 'Galeocerdo', made from Omas' silver pearl material and the 'chrysopoeia' in Curvo acrylic) already sold out - sorry! Only the third release, H-Alpha in -stunning- Omas' red swirl acrylic is still available for the moment. I assume the limited edition releases, just like with the Decograph, will most likely become a recurring thing. So that's something to keep an eye out for if you like more 'unique' material options.

Designwise, there's only one thing that doesn't work well with this pen in my opinion, and that's the box. It's a really nicely made keepsake box (to the point where it starts to feel a bit overkill, even), with a full machined aluminium construction and metal sliding lid. I just don't think the design fits this particular pen very well. A box -however nice it may be- is just a box though, so let's not overthink it.
L to R: Edison Beaumont, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Decograph, Vertex, Lamy 2000, Safari
The Vertex, at just 13.3 cm (5.25") capped, sits somewhere inbetween a full-sized and pocketable pen. However, it retains most of its length when uncapped at 12.7 cm (5"). The stout shape of the Vertex translates into a beefy diameter of 1.5 cm (.575") at the widest part of the barrel, and a fairly wide section. With just 16 g on the scale, it's extremely lightweight -not surprising with its all-acrylic construction. I typically don't post my pens, and the Vertex can get away with that no problem. Should you want to, the cap does post deep and securely. The Vertex' strong suit is definitely its comfortable design. It's not too heavy, not too big or too small, and the shape of the pen fits perfectly in your hand.

Being specialized in EDC pens, it feels like Karas made sure the Vertex could live up to the same standards of durability. Despite being lightweight, all parts are machined with incredibly thick walls so they feel robust and can stand up to some (ab)use. Fit and finish is excellent and the entire pen is nicely polished. It's a very refined piece.
The Vertex was originally designed as an eyedropper-only pen, but a converter will fit. Through the use of o-rings behind the nib unit and inside the barrel threads, it can theoretically be eyedroppered without the need of silicon grease. Being slightly OCD, I greased the threads anyway just to be sure. 

The problem is... I don't like the Vertex when eyedroppered. It provides a lush, wet ink flow and great ink capacity, but I found it doesn't play nice with the snap cap. As I mentioned before, the cap comes off with a satisfying pop. But the suction from uncapping can cause ink to burp inside the cap. They add a warning that you should always cap and uncap holding the pen vertically to account for the pressure change, but that didn't always work. 

So I went back to using a converter, which solved the issue to a certain extent. The converter doesn't visually ruin the look of the pen (with the cap on you can barely notice that it's not eyedroppered), and the ink flow is regulated much better. Nevertheless, it's not the fidgeter's pen as it can still occasionally burp ink when you cap and uncap nib-down. 
Can you spot the double Karas 'K' in there?
The writing end on the Vertex comes from Bock, as per usual. But instead of the standard #6 nib with stock Bock imprint, you're greeted by a really cool custom laser-etched Karas Pen Co. logo that takes up the entire nib face. As far as laser-etched nibs go, this is one of the best looking designs I've seen to date. They are also marked with the nib width, so no more guesstimating what size nib it is. The M nib on mine was perfectly smooth and responsive out of the box, and writes a beefy medium line. Converter-filled it's a moderately wet writer, but the flow gets considerably wetter when eyedroppered.
Honestly, I am surprised by the Vertex. The guys at Karas are going far outside of their comfort zone in making completely resin fountain pens. Yet on the first try (second if you count the Decograph), they managed to deliver a surprisingly complete package with a sleek and elegant design, good build quality, excellent comfort and clever details like the customizable section. It's safe to say they clearly know what they are doing. The burping issue prevents me from calling this pen perfect, but in many ways they come awfully close to it. 

As Anthony from UK Fountain Pens mentions in his review, the Vertex is undercutting similar products from the likes of Edison and Franklin-Christoph by 30 or even 40$. They're definitely closing in on that area of the market, and it's good to see a 'new' player disrupt things to keep a healthy competition going.

You're probably currently overwhelmed with reviews of this pen coming from all angles, but it doesn't happen very often that we all feel roughly the same way about a certain pen. This time around, it seems that we do (more or less), and I think that really goes to show how good the Vertex actually is. It's cool to see an established brand like Karas Pen Co. put in the effort to expand and try something completely different. If the Vertex is them testing the waters with something different, I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

This product was sent to me by Karas Pen Co. 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment