21 October 2012

On Modern Capless

There are three models of Pilot Capless currently available in the market. Or, at least, in Japan, as the distribution of Pilot pens overseas follows some strange patterns. These three models are named as Capless (or Vanishing Point in the North American market), Décimo, and Fermo.

From top to bottom, Fermo in black, Décimo in burgundy, and regular Capless (Vanishing Point) in green with golden trim.

How do they compare? Beyond the pictures, these are some hard facts:

The regular Capless model comes in both golden and silver trims (plus the newer matte black finish), as well as with steel (JPY 10000) and 18 K gold nibs (JPY 15000). As was reported previously on these Chronicles, golden trimmed nibs in steel or in gold need to be adapted to operate correctly in Décimo and Fermo pens.

The regular Capless (gold trimmed) is now in the middle, with the Fermo on the left, and the Décimo on the right.

The Fermo, as opposed to the Capless and the Décimo, is very symmetric on the mouth. This design, combined with the small portion of the nib sticking out of the pen body, does not allow for a high grip despite the high position of its center of mass.

The basic differences are clear. The Décimo is slimmer than the others –in fact, it looks much slimmer than what the bare numbers say—, and the twist-operated Fermo is the heaviest of the lot. However, the main difference lies in the position of the center of mass—roughly the same for Décimo and Capless, but much higher up for the already heavier Fermo. This feature might make the Fermo more apt for those with big hands or those who grab their pens high up.

Pilot Elite pocket pen, posting nib – Pilot Blue

Bruno Taut
Yokohama, October 21st, 2012
labels: Pilot, Capless


Bana Sıkça Yaz said...

Thank you Bruno for this comparative article. I am sure that decimo should be my VP.

As a response to your e-mail (because I am in Switzerland now and I have limited Internet access I am not sure if I can find time to write a proper answer) I got my Capless recently in black matte but it was just last week. So I didnt have time to use it.

Cheers :)

Shangching said...

I just recently got a matte black VP and so far, I love it! I am still debating whether I should get a Decimo, given the color is prettier than VP. More debate!

Bruno Taut said...

I would chase the nib over the pen. And Capless pens are mostly empty boxes... ( http://estilofilos.blogspot.jp/2010/11/empty-boxes.html ).

Thanks for commenting,


entropydave said...

Hello Bruno

One aspect of comparing the Fermo to the other two Caplesses that I think you missed is that the Fermo may be more robust. In my limited experience, the "normal" Capless is prone to denting in the push button; scratching in the nose section; and in my case the nose fractured from the root of the clip to the nib mouth.

The Fermo, which I switched to has proved more robust. The twisting actuator is thicker and has a knurled skin. The total chrome on the pen is much reduced. The clip is bound to the main body, which in my experience of the lacquered bodies is very robust.

I never used the Decimo. Curiously, although the Fermo is heavier and has a high center of gravity, I found it more comfortable than the normal Capless. I believe this was due to two things. First, the diameter is more constant. I hold the pen steeply at 60+ degrees vertical, resting far forward of my first index knuckle. I found the Fermo sat upright more readily. Second, the section tapers less acutely. This allows me to hold the pen further forward, slightly more clear of the clip.

The push button Capless was easier to activate, but I prefer the Fermo now by some margin.

Great blog! Thank you.


Bruno Taut said...

Thanks for your insight, "Entropy Dave".

I should say I never had any problem with any Capless model. No particular wear and no dents at all. But that is just me.

From your description I take that your grip is far from the orthodox tripod. But that is not a problem of the pen design.

In any event, choose whatever fit your writing habits. On my side, I keep thinking that the combination of high weight and high center of gravity makes the Fermo quite unfriendly.

Thanks for passing by and commenting.


entropydave said...


I believe my grip is a common tripod. I have small hands and I do not let the pen rest in the web of my hand. I find this easier for not applying pressure to the nib since it rests behind the knuckle. I also find this more upright posture agrees with European vintage nibs (e.g. 1958-1973). I should note that my writing is cursive.

Because of my small hands, I am quite sensitive to heavy pens with a high centre of gravity. The Fermo is good, I find.


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