Friday, September 4, 2020

REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN

 REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
Stilform is back with another Kickstarter campaign - this time with a new and improved version of the (Kosmos) Ink fountain pen. The German design brand has made quite a name for itself in just a few years. They chose a style and brand concept, and embraced it in their entire product line - I can appreciate when a brand knows the direction they want to go in. Also, it doesn't hurt if your signature style is as sleek, modern, and minimal as Stilforms' - yes, I am quite a fan! 

What's even better: they are dead-set on improving their products along the way. I've seen them do multiple updates on the original Kosmos pen (which was good to begin with, but was made more durable in later updates), and now the Kosmos Ink fountain pen (review HERE) gets a refresh (and is also no longer called the 'Kosmos' Ink, to differentiate itself from the Kosmos ballpoint model I suppose!). Did it really need a refresh? No. But did they make some interesting changes? Yes... So let's have a look! 
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
Top: new Ink, bottom: old Kosmos Ink
The design of the Ink remained largely the same: it's still a monolithic, pill-shaped pen with perfectly rounded finials. Two large flat sides along the entire length of the pen make it sit still on your desk.
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
Crisp machining and flawless finish
Where other pens go for a seamless transition between cap and barrel, the Ink embraces it with a nice double chamfer that mates the two parts perfectly. The polished finish on the chamfered edges breaks the matte, sandblasted finish of the all-titanium pen (the same contrasting finish can also be found on the anodized aluminium finishes). The new version of the Ink can also be had in a special, ultra-durable DLC-coated black titanium version, which looks really cool!
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
Top: new Ink, bottom: old Kosmos Ink
The main aesthetic difference can be found underneath the cap, where they refined the section design to hide the magnet. On the original Ink, the magnet was exposed and its shiny finish contrasted with the matte surface of the section. The new design incorporates the magnet in a housing that matches the material and finish of the rest of the pen, and also provides a slightly more pronounced flared shape. I don't completely understand why they chose to make the cover over the magnet a separate piece from the rest of the section, instead of integrating it into a more seamless, single piece (I suppose it has to do with how the pen is put together?).
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
The cover over the magnet also serves a functional purpose: It protects the magnet from ink and wear and tear, which apparently caused the magnet to rust on the original pen. The front of the magnet is still exposed though, so I'd suggest to fill the pen from the converter instead of dunking the entire section into ink, just to be safe. 
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
The back of the barrel now reads 'stilform' instead of 'KOSMOS', the font is quite large
Talking about the magnet: It's less strong on the updated Ink. Apparently, some people found the original too strong, but I liked the fact that it could only be opened by twisting the cap to make the magnets repel. The new Ink still stays closed well enough most of the time, but the cap can be pulled off more easily, and I've had a few occasions where I ended up with just the cap in my hand after trying to get it out of a pen case. The weaker magnet also makes the flat spots a bit less inclined to self-align perfectly when capping the pen. It's not a huge deal, but ideally I would've preferred if the magnet strength was somewhere in between the new and old version.
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Ensso Piuma, Stilform Kosmos, Stilform Arc, Stilform Kosmos Ink, Stilform New Ink, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
While I think the enclosed magnet is a nice aesthetic upgrade over the previous version, I don't think it's the new Ink's biggest merit. The larger overall size, however, is. The new Ink measures 14.5 cm/  5.71" capped, and 13.6 cm/5.35" uncapped. It's slightly wider overall, too, with a barrel diameter of 1.35 cm/ 0.53". Especially the slightly wider section (1 cm/ 0.39" at the thinnest part) is a welcome improvement and is a comfortable diameter to grip. With a larger pen also comes a bit more heft: the new Ink adds about 5 grams to the existing design, to make for a total weight of 43 grams - it has a reassuring density that I appreciate in most titanium pens. Logically, the aluminium version will be a good bit lighter, if that's your jam. 
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
To put those numbers in perspective: The new Ink is just 3 mm longer, and .7 mm thicker. While those differences may sound negligible, it does in fact give the pen a noticeably larger appearance and feel. Especially the wider section makes it a bit more comfortable for my hand, and I like the heft of the all-titanium construction. 
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
One thing I miss on the new version, is the addition of a #6-sized nib. The updated Ink design is more than large enough to accomodate a larger nib, which would make it more proportionate to the rest of the pen IMHO. Functionally, I have no complaints about the maller Bock #076 nib (Which is a slightly wider nib on the feed of a #5 nib, similar to those found on a TWSBI 580, for example). My test pen came with a steel nib in medium, and it has performed flawlessly out of the box. It's a very smooth, wet writer. I was especially surprised by how it doesn't dry out at all, even after more than a week of not being used, it picked up right away. One final detail about the nib that I quite appreciate: the nib unit is attached internally to a separate part behind the section, so that it can always be aligned to the facets on the barrel of the pen. 
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN
The new Stilform Ink is currently on Kickstarter, with backer pledges starting at 65€ for the aluminium version, and 119€ for the titanium (about 20% off the future MSRP). That makes it all but the cheapest pen you'll find on the crowdfunding platform. But they don't feel overpriced either, especially since there's simply quite a lot to like about them: Stilforms ultra-minimalist aesthetic. Finely detailed machining. Unique use of magnetic mechanisms. And last but not least, Stilforms continued effort to improve their products... the Stilform Ink enjoys the same recipe that has made their products some of the most succesful Kickstarter pens around. Take a look at the current Kickstarter campaign, and you'll know I'm not kidding - almost 900 backers and over 100.000$ collected already in the first three days of the campaign! 

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.
REVIEW: NEW STILFORM INK FOUNTAIN PEN

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