26 March 2011


Pen review: Pilot Vortex.

The pen under review today is a cheap one. One of the cheapest made by Pilot but, still, a very reliable tool and, therefore, worth to look at.

1. Appearance and design. (7.5/10)
The Pilot Vortex is probably the last pocket pen still on production—other than the German equivalent the Kaweco Sport, that is. The Pilot M90, should we remember, was a limited edition no longer marketed.

So, this is a short pen with a long cap. But this time, contrary to the standard trend of pocket pens, it has a cheap plastic look. It is indeed a very informal looking pen, probably aiming at a young user.

The transparent cap screws in the barrel, and the pen, as a whole, is on the thick side. Both features make this pen unique among pocket pens. Posted, the cap secures itself tightly to the barrel with a clear sound. The section is made of rugged plastic with a soft feeling to it, making a pleasant grip, albeit not a nice look.

The Pilot Vortex is available in five different colors and two nib points.

Personally, I do not like the looks of this pen, but I reckon that its design works very well and is matched with a good construction quality.

In summary, it is an ugly pen with a good design

2. Construction and quality. (9.5/10)
Everything fits perfectly in this pen, and no clear signs of wear can be seen despite the regular handling of a pen that is never attractive enough to inspire any special care.

The thread for the cap, and the groove to secure it when posted. On the right hand side, the rugged section.

When posted, the cap leaves the thread uncovered.

3. Weight and dimensions. (9.0/10)
A compact pen, albeit bigger that it really looks—the long cap makes it look shorter than it really is. A Parker 21, for instance, is one centimeter longer.

It is also fairly thick, easing the grip for extensive writing. The balance is very correct either posted or unposted, although in this second case it might be a bit too short for some hands.

Length capped: 125 mm.
Length open: 115 mm.
Length posted: 150 mm.
Diameter: 15.5 mm
Weight: 16.0 g.

4. Nib and writing performance. (8.5/10)
Only two very rigid steel nibs are available on this pen: F and M. But both are very smooth and provide a slightly wet flow.

In conclusion, a very correct set of nibs for an inexpensive pen.

M nib (top) and F nib (bottom).

5. Filling system and maintenance. (9.0/10)
Pilot-proprietary cartridges and converters (CON-20 and CON-50) are the way to ink this pen. Nothing fancy, but the right solution for a daily workhorse, for a pen to carry around at all times in a pocket or a purse.

The Vortex on the top was inked refilling a Pilot cartridge. The one on the bottom sports a CON-20 converter.

However, this pen could easily be transformed into an eyedropper. It even has windows on the barrel and section to check the remaining ink.

Maintenance-wise, this pen shows no problem other than the difficulty to remove the nib and feed set, which not many users attempt to do in any pen. Flushing the section with water is the standard procedure in any cartridge/converter pen.

6. Cost and value. (7.5/10)
This pen costs, in Japan, JPY 1500, plus tax. And you get a loud pen that never fails to write and seems almost unbreakable, with a very smooth nib. It is not a fancy jewel, but a reliable and pleasant writing tool.

Some points are deducted, though, due to the unappealing look.

7. Conclusion. (51/60=85/100)
The only weak point of this pen is the appearance. The rest is outstanding given its price. Many more expensive pens do not perform this well.

(Pilot Vortex, M nib – Sailor Red Brown)

Bruno Taut
March 24, 2011
[labels: Pilot]

1 comment:

Peninkcillin said...

Ugh was my first reaction. This looks like a very confused pen. I'm sure it writes well, since it's a Pilot, but I'm not sure I'd want to use one. I can't say I dig the slightly hooded nib either.

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