Saturday, January 30, 2021

REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
If anything, minimalist brand Ensso has proven over the years that they're not afraid to switch things up and try unique designs! In the continuously expanding lineup of Ensso products, no two pens look even remotely the same. For their latest pen, Ensso leaves behind the ultra-minimal aesthetic of their first full-sized fountain pen (the Ensso Piuma, reviewed HEREstill one of my absolute favorite metal pens!), instead looking back at the roots of Italian design! 
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
All metal pens, and yet the product portfolio of Ensso is remarkably diverse!
The Ensso Italia (limited edition) is - apart from the pretty self-explanatory name - an unmistakable re-interpretation of the classic Italian pens we know and love... Except, made entirely out of titanium! 
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
The Italia has a subtly tapered cigar profile with pronounced pointy finials. Come to think of it, this is actually pretty much the all-metal equivalent to one of the most popular Italian pens of the moment: the Leonardo Momento Zero (review HERE).
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
The effect of elaborate decorative trim rings is recreated on the Italia with machined grooves, as well as a Greek-key 'cap band' design (which also returns on the section). Especially the Greek key decoration immediately reminds me of the Omas pens of yore (especially, of course, the Omas T2!).
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
The combination of two very unique and different styles - traditional Italian design elements vs. clutter-free minimalism - makes for a very cool contrast that's absolutely unlike any other pen on the market. It may sound like it would clash, but instead I find the end result to be quite harmonious and elegant.
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
Original threads on the left, new block threads on the right
The Italia was initially released as a Kickstarter, available in three finishes (black anodized aluminium, brass, and titanium), but was short-lived due to issues with the threads on the titanium version: galling. That's when metal-on-metal contact causes the two parts to bind (titanium is typically quite susceptible to this, made worse by the high-pitch threads on the original Italia). While those fine, traditional threads (also placed slightly higher on the section, again reminiscent of vintage Italian pens!) matched nicely with the design, they now changed them to thicker block threads similar to the ones on the Ensso Piuma. This solved the problem of the cap getting stuck (though they do still catch ever-so-slightly). 
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
The simple but elegant curved clip remains unchanged from version one. Unfortunately, that also means one issue from the original Italia also returns here: the hole through which the clip is attached isn't completely airtight (despite the machining tolerance actually being quite good!), so I did encounter a few occasions where the nib started to dry out after a few days. If you're a tinkerer like me, some glue (or hot glue) can be used to effectively seal off the opening around the clip. 

Update!: Ensso informed me that the Limited Edition run of the Italia Titanium will feature an inner cap to prevent drying out! I'll update the review with my findings once I have access to this updated cap design!
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PENREVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Namisu Nova, Karas Ink, Ensso Piuma, Ensso Italia (old), Ensso Italia Ti (new), Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The Ensso Italia strikes a good middle ground in terms of size. It's not overly large (14 cm/ 5.5") capped, but it still retains a comfortable full size when uncapped (12.5 cm/ 4.94"). The section has a fairly wide diameter near the threads (1.27cm/ 0.5") with a straight taper towards the nib, before ending in another greek-key engraving in the front. 

Metal pens typically aren't designed to post very well, but the Italia is the exception here. The cap can post securely and even makes for a comfortably-sized pen, but it's at your own risk because it will scuff the living hell out of the barrel. Obviously, posting will also add to the heft of the Italia, because the solid titanium construction makes for a very respectable 45 grams (total). 

Moving the threads a bit further back has cleared up some extra section real-estate for improved comfort. The transition from section to barrel is fairly gradual, so it doesn't really bother my grip either. Construction quality and machining, an area where I feel Ensso consistently keeps a high standard, is again quite excellent here. Machining is very crisp though, so you do feel the edges on the Greek-key engravings, for example. 
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
As I've talked about stock Bock nibs more than any sane person should, I won't go into too much detail here. Basically, nib performance with stock Bock nibs is a roll of the dice, although I do feel like Bock's nib quality is more consistent compared to a few years ago (?). Though nothing out of the ordinary, I've found the medium steel nib on my particular pen to be quite a smooth and consistent writer. As mentioned earlier, the nib does have a slight tendency to dry out if it sits unused for too long.
REVIEW: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN
With the Italia, Ensso absolutely took the path less traveled in terms of design, but the resulting crossover between vintage and modern looks worked out great. The design of the Italia is not only beautiful, it's also quite a comfortable everyday writer. The practical improvements to the threads are a welcome change, though I do hope that they'll also manage to find a fix for the drying out issue. 

As it stands, the Italia is being released as a limited run of 200 pens (titanium only), and pricing is very reasonable, with a retail price of 129$ on the Ensso website (Ensso is a sponsor of our website, don't forget to use the discount code 'pencilcaseblog20%' for 20% off!). You will have to act fast if you want in on one, as they're already almost sold out. Although, I do hope they'll make the Italia part of their regular lineup after all!
Note: Ensso is a sponsor of The Pencilcase Blog. This product was provided by Ensso, 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: ENSSO ITALIA TITANIUM FOUNTAIN PEN

4 comments:

  1. So original version Kickstarter supporters are left high and "galled" with unusable pens? I haven't had any communications from them about fixing or replacing the pen I can't use. I would be reluctant to support them either as a Kickstarter or buying their newer products.

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    1. I get how that's frustrating, but unfortunately that's the inherent risk with Kickstarters - you never know what you're gonna get [insert Forrest Gump reference here]. Galling is an inherent issue with titanium though, so it's something you'll find on all titanium-on-titanium products, to a certain extent.

      There are ways to deal with galling, though, which should be able to improve the threads. There are various anti-seizing and lubrication agents on the market, specifically to improve Ti-on-Ti joints (Google will guide you to helpful forums about this topic). If it's really completely seized in place, I'd - if you haven't already - email Ensso (again) to ask for help.

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  2. I bought into the original Kickstarter in October of 2019 but sadly due to a counting problem, they did not produce enough pens so did refund my money. In hind-sight that was good luck due to the barrel thread issue. Fast forward to now, a friend of mine here in Alberta is a pen reviewer who was sent one of the 200 limited edition pens to review. I was able to purchase it from him. I will say that even though I have pens worth many times more than this one, I am absolutely in love with it! I can find no fault at all in terms of design and feel other than the clip being a little tight for heavier fabrics. The one mod I did, however, make was to swap out the Bock fine steel nib for the Bock medium titanium nib from another pen. I just don't like fine nibs.

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    1. Ah, that's indeed a stroke of luck in hindsight! I quite enjoy Bock's fine steel nibs, but I can't blame you for going with titanium - especially on the Ti Italia that's a neat pairing!

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