Thursday, April 15, 2021

REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN

After a ridiculously long detour through customs - to the point where it was 'lost' by Belgian post for four months - I finally have my hands on a pen from Taiwanese manufacturer Penlux - a brand that has slowly been making name for themselves, but they're still surprisingly difficult to come across in Europe. I was quite excited to check out Penlux's Masterpiece Grande, especially since Taiwan has a rather excellent track record in my book: brands like TWSBI, Opus 88, Ystudio,... they're doing quite excellent things over there! My thanks to Penlux for sending this pen over for review!
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
At first sight, the design of the Penlux Masterpiece Grande shows a striking resemblance to the Montblanc Meisterstuck (Meisterstuck = Masterpiece!) 149 (reviewed HERE). Though the longer I looked at it, the more I found it to be closer related to Italian design language, with the rolling-ball clip (a very sturdy and practical one, I must add), a rather eccentric center cap band (more on that later), and a wide variety of colorful and original acrylics to choose from.

Yes, in shape and overall dimensions, it does lean somewhat close to the 149. But putting those two pens side by side, you do notice that the Masterpiece has a less pronounced 'bulbous' and tapered shape like the MB 149, going instead for a more torpedo-like shape and more rounded cap and barrel finials. There's also a rather large decorative ring at the piston knob, which hides away a small step from the barrel to the piston knob.
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
Coming back to the cap band, this is without a doubt the centerpiece of attention on this pen. Not only because of how it looks but also the way it coincides with a rather extreme 'break' between the cap and barrel. It's a single, wide, band with knurling along the top and bottom edges, and the word "PENLUX" engraved in between. The center band could be categorized as gaudy, but I personally quite like the looks and the texture of the knurling. Interesting about the abrupt step towards the barrel is that a few specific colorways (black and blue swirl) have a slightly different cap design with an additional acrylic ring that tapers down towards the barrel - it would've been nice if they continued that design in all versions of the Masterpiece Grande.
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: TWSBI Diamond 580, Opus 88 Omar, Leonardo MZ Grande, Montblanc 149, Penlux Masterpiece Grande, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The Masterpiece Grande's torpedo shape has quite a strong resemblance to Montblanc's 149, and as the 'Grande' in the name suggests, it's no less statuesque in size, compared to the MB - quite the contrary. The Masterpiece Grande measures 14.8 cm/ 5.85" capped, and retains a rather generous length when uncapped: 13.3 cm/ 5.24". Though its bulbous, torpedo shape is perhaps a bit less pronounced than that of the 149, it is still a considerably wide pen, especially at the cap (which is quite a bit wider than the barrel). The entire pen weighs about 33 grams, which is very comparable to alternative pens of a similar size.
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
Uncapped, the Masterpiece Grande shows all the elements that make for a comfortable writer: The section has a slight taper to it, but retains an overall fairly wide diameter (about 12 mm/ 0.47" on average), providing a secure grip. The transition to the barrel is imperceptible, with only the threads maybe being slightly noticeable under your fingers. With its 13.3 cm uncapped, it's comfortable and plenty long in the hand - though you could post if that's what you want (I certainly never felt the need to do so). 

The 'Koi' material (available in blue or black) adds to the Masterpiece a fantastic flecked, semi-translucent acrylic material, which shows perfectly how precise the machining and finishing is, also on the inside (a consistency across many Taiwanese brands, I have found!). Talking about machining excellence: the Masterpiece Grande comes with an in-house-made, fully metal (aluminium) piston mechanism. The mechanism feels extremely solid, yet it's also smooth and cushioned to operate. Ink capacity is perhaps a bit disappointing for such a large pen though, coming in at just 0.9 mL.
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
There's one interesting quirk about the piston mechanism, which is - as mentioned - machined out of aluminium. The rubber seal just covers the sides of the piston, against the inner walls of the barrel, but leaves the top of the aluminium piston rod exposed (as far as I can tell). Now, aluminium's naturally forming oxide layer offers quite capable protection against corrosion (contrary to steel, where the oxide layer doesn't protect the underlying metal, causing it to rust indefinitely). But in contact with liquids, that natural corrosion resistance is quite a bit less effective, especially with inks often having a pH outside the neutral(-ish) range (more acid or base)! 

How well the piston mechanism will stand the test of time, is something I can only take a guess at. I did see some discoloration of the white rubber seal (could be degradation due to surface contact with the aluminium parts) but haven't had any functional issues to speak of so far (mind you, I've had this pen inked non-stop for about 3 months at the time of writing!)
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
The #6 Jowo nib is a standard-issue example from the German nib manufacturer. Aesthetically, the nib does look quite small on such an imposing pen, but it's not uncommon to see #6 nibs on really oversized pens these days (especially because the nib alone would probably double the cost!). Standard issue or not, JoWo of course makes excellent pieces of writing steel, and the Penlux Masterpiece Grande perfectly illustrates this with a buttery smooth medium that has a rather rich - but most importantly consistent - ink flow.
REVIEW: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN
The #6 nib on the Masterpiece Grande is small for such a large pen, as is illustrated by the Montblanc 149 - a smaller pen, yet with a much larger nib!
I think it's fair to say that with Penlux, another excellent name gets added to the growing list of quality Taiwanese brands to follow! The 192$ price tag (based on a handful of mostly US-based retailers, I didn't find any European retailers that stock Penlux - yet) of the Penlux Masterpiece Grande Koi - some of the other colorways come in a bit cheaper - gets you a well-rounded, flawlessly constructed pen, and another excellent option for those that like oversized pens.

Note: This product was provided by Penlux 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: PENLUX MASTERPIECE GRANDE KOI FOUNTAIN PEN

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review and in depth points. I have recently purchased the deep sea and the snowflake which are both great so far. Did you look into the removability of the nib and feed, I understand that’s restrictive and not recommended. I also wonder how warranty service would be if necessary. I guess a #8 nib would be nice and as far as corrosion potential I’ll hope for the best.

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    1. Thanks for reading! Yeah I think the nib unit is glued in place, I guess you could pull the nib and feed out, but since they explicitly advice against that, I'd perhaps not recommend trying? Warranty should be fine as long as you purchase through an authorized retailer, they'll help you out for sure. Dealing with Penlux themselves may be trickier, but in dealing with them I'm quite confident they'd honor warranty as well! A larger nib would certainly be fitting for a pen this stature!

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  2. I rather like the pen as well.

    Northumbrianpenco.com sell this pen in the UK for £150.

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