Friday, August 7, 2020

REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
Back in 2016, Namisu launched the Nova. A pen that caused a short circuit somewhere in my brain I guess, because it was this pen that marked the beginning of my love for minimal design, metal fountain pens. Well, it actually took me about half a year to catch up to this relatively unknown -at that point- trend, because I didn’t buy a Nova straight away. 

The Namisu Nova Studio Ebonite (reviewed HERE) that I bought a while later - while not a metal pen - was my gateway into the brilliantly simple (Nakaya-like) shape of the Nova - to this day one of my favorite pen designs on the market. The Studio Ebonite also turned out to be the foundation for the pen we'll look at today, which is the latest iteration of the nova: The Namisu Nova Studio
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
The original Nova featured an ultra-minimal design, an exercise in clean lines, without unnecessary features or parts. Namisu turned to a bit more experimental and complex - but still minimal - designs after that, with combinations of different textures, metals, and shapes. The latest Naos (reviewed HERE) - another excellent pen - is probably the best example of this style. It seems to be the general direction they're trying to go in with their brand, and I think it fits their overall futuristic design language quite well. 
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
With minimal design, it's the small details that matter. And one of the small details that the Naos, Ixion, and Studio Ebonite all have in common is their coin-insert finials (ok, the Naos only has one on the barrel finial, but still). This is also what sets the Nova Studio apart from the regular Nova: it's all about those finials!

While an absolute design purist may find the separate finials on the Studio break up the clean lines, and distract from the ultra-minimalist, clutter-free look of the 'original' Namisu Nova, I think the finial design adds an understated but cool update to an already understated and cool pen. It makes the Nova appear a bit more refined - a bit more modern, even.
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
In essence that's about it, though. You can skip through the rest of this review if you just catch this: the Studio has coin insert finials, on which the Namisu - Studio name is engraved in a very small and subtle font. That’s the gist of it. I mean, of course, it’s still a Nova after all, the rest of the design is pretty much identical. 

Pretty much identical... But you know me, I'm the kind of person to ramble without end about the small stuff, so here are the other things that changed:
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
The bronze Studio (top) has a reddish hue almost like copper, both get a heavy patina over time.
The Nova Studio comes in titanium or bronze, with bronze replacing the usual brass or copper variants. Bronze seems to be all the hype these days in metal pen-land. It has the same heft as brass and copper, but the color is somewhere in between those two (leaning more towards the red hue of copper). The bronze studio has a lightly stonewashed finish on the cap and barrel, which contrasts with the polished cap and barrel finials. Under the cap, the section has a brushed/machined finish, which also has a bit more shine to it.

The titanium version of the Studio, on the other hand, has a more uniform brushed/machined finish on all parts of the pen, including the finials. It makes for a sleeker-looking pen, not in the least because the stonewashed bronze Studio gets a very dark brown patina over time, while the titanium pen retains its shiny, clean look.
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Ensso Piuma, Namisu Horizon Ti, Namisu Naos, Namisu Nova, Namisu Nova Studio (bronze & Ti), Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
While the Nova Studio is still very much recognizable in terms of the general design and shape, its size hasn't remained completely unchanged. The Studio version is ever-so-slightly less tapered towards the barrel finial. It's a minute difference - we're talking less than half a mm (1/50th of an inch) thicker! - yet it's enough to give the pen a more robust appearance in my opinion. The Nova Studio also measures 14.1 cm (5.55") capped and 13 cm (5.12") uncapped, which is overall just 2mm (1/16th of an inch!) longer than the regular Nova. The changes are so subtle, you can see the difference when putting both pens side by side, but it's hardly noticeable when writing with them.

The Studio is also heavier. I wanted to write that it's noticeably heavier than the regular Nova, but to be honest I only found out when I actually weighed the pens! I guess I've grown so accustomed to heavier metal pens, I was surprised to see the bronze Studio tip the scales at 106g, and even the titanium version could be considered a true heavyweight at 55g (that makes them both about 10 to 15g heavier than their respective Nova counterparts!). It's not often that even a titanium pen weighs over 50 grams, so take that as a word of caution if you're not a fan of heavy metal...pens!

Since the Nova and Nova Studio aren't quite the same anyway, I'm a bit curious as to why Namisu didn't change up the overall shape and dimensions of the Studio more drastically, to clearly differentiate it. Although why change something that isn't broken, right?
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
New threads on the left, old on the right.
The section design has always been an area where the Nova still has room for improvement, yet it remained unchanged on this iteration. Ok, not entirely. Just like the rest of the pen, the section is about a millimeter or so longer, but again that's not the kind of change you'll actually notice in use. The straight, tapered section offers enough space to hold the pen, but you'd be hard-pressed to not at least brush up against the threads and the rather large step towards the barrel. In fact, comfort might've actually taken a slight step back as they redesigned the shape of the block threads on the Studio for some reason, which no longer has chamfered edges, making them noticeably sharper to the touch. I was surprised to see that since there isn't a single sharp or unfinished edge to be found on the rest of the pen.

While I aesthetically find the Namisu Nova one of the most pleasing pen designs out there (at least when looking solely at minimal designs), it does make a few compromises for the sake of minimalism. Especially the threads and step are possible downsides to take into consideration when making a purchase decision.
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
The writing end of the Studio is of course still a steel or titanium Bock-made #6 nib. While not perfect, I do feel like I've had a noticeably higher success rate with stock Bock nibs recently (I don't know if that's because the QC improved, or just pure luck on my part). The nibs on these two pens are both very close to perfectly tuned. 

The broad nib on the bronze pen is my favorite. It has a slightly stub-like line variation and is perfectly smooth. The medium-wet ink flow keeps up well. As broad nibs tend to be, it does have a slightly more noticeable sweet spot if rotated. It occasionally hard starts - though briefly, only on the first pen stroke after sitting unused for a while - but otherwise doesn't skip.
REVIEW: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN
Some people have had enough of the 'minimal pen' trend of the last few years. Not me though. I can still very much get excited about a good minimal pen, and I'd certainly categorize the new Namisu Nova Studio as good. Aesthetically, I still think the Namisu Nova is one of the best designs in its category. If you agree with me and - just like me - are a bit of a fan of the Nova, the Nova Studio might be a welcome addition to your collection. The design is a nice evolution from the regular model, and I like that that they made a bronze version to change things up a bit. I don't consider it as an upgrade necessarily, it still very much looks and feels like the pen it's based on. 

That being said, no matter how positive my ramble about the design may be, these are very heavy pens, and the section design won't play nice with every grip. Two caveats that prevent me from calling it a great pen. Whether or not they're a dealbreaker for you, is of course highly subjective.  

The Namisu Nova Studio Bronze and titanium have an MSRP of 79£ and 110£ (approx. 105$ and 145$) respectively, but Namisu often runs sales so you can usually find them for less (at the time of writing, both are available at 15% off). That's slightly more expensive than the regular Namisu Nova, but in my mind still a very fair price point.

One of the products shown in this review was sent to me by Namisu 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: NAMISU NOVA STUDIO FOUNTAIN PEN

No comments:

Post a Comment