18 June 2018

Pilot 65

The Pilot 65 –or Custom 65 as some called it—is a model I have mentioned a lot on these pages, but I have never described it in detail. Given its relevance to understand modern Pilot pens it is about time to review it.

The 65 was the first (::1::, ::2::, ::3::) of those anniversary pens that later became a regular model, albeit with some minor differences.


The Pilot 65. Standard Pilot ball clip with "PiLOT" engraved on it.

So, in the year 65 of the Pilot era, 1983, Pilot launched a limited edition of 6500 pens –6460 in black, 20 in red and 20 in blue— in the well-known balance shape that many insist in associating to Montblanc. Pilot’s argument is that it follows the style of some Pilot models produced in the 1920s and 1930s, which is undeniably true.


On the cap band, the number 65 and the unit number. This was a limited edition of 6500 units.

The Pilot 65 is made of plastic with a barleycorn finish, with a wide golden cap band with an intricate decoration. The nib is made of 14 K gold and its size is not marked—this was the first of the future Custom models with a whole new set of nibs. But in actual terms, the 65’s nib corresponded to a current size 10.


The 14 K gold nib. The inscription: "PILOT / 14K-585 / < M > / (JIS):, plus the manufacturing date.

What is more interesting on this pen is the filling system—a captive CON-70 converter. Captive, I say, because it is built in the gripping section of the pen. This is, in fact, the first version of what later would become the CON-70 converter.


The captive CON-70 before this converter existed as such.

These are the dimensions of the Pilot 65 together with those of the Custom 67 and Custom 74, the natural evolutions of this anniversary pen:

Pilot 65 Custom 67 Custom 74
Length closed (mm) 140 142 143
Length open (mm) 126 125 126
Lenth posted (mm) 159 160 159
Diameter (mm) 13.5 14.0 14.6
Weight (g) 17.9 18.3 22.5

The Pilot 65, with its 6500 units, is now a well-sought after collectible pen. And that seems to be the fate of anniversary pens.


My thanks to Mr. NK.


Parker 50 – Sailor Tomikei Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 15th 2018
labels: Pilot, soluciones técnicas, conversor

11 June 2018

Trends 2018

Following the news and the movements in the market of fountain pens I can identify the following trends:

1. The Chinese invasion.

Chinese pens are no longer low quality pens. The proliferation of Chinese copies of the popular Lamy Safari (::1::, ::2::) some years ago was a very interesting sign—Chinese makers were able to compete in quality and in price with Western –and Japanese— entry-level pens.


Later on, those same Chinese companies have created other interesting models with higher price, thus creating an actual competition to many mid-range models.


Chinese pens are no longer cheap. The well made Hero H718. Photo courtesy of Foro de estilográficas member Antolín.

The expansion and reach of all these Chinese pens is severely limited by the lack of distribution networks, which –worth to notice—would increase the actual cost of tehis pens. But, is it worth for, say, Sailor to produce the Sailor Procolor (a cartridge-converter, steel nib, plastic body, JPY 5000) when Penbbs is selling a decent copy for less than JPY 2000?

Pilot, Lamy, Pelikan, Sailor, Platinum… might need to analyze seriously their new positions the market.


A Penbbs 308 (in red) and a Sailor Procolor. Similar pens with similar construction quality. Photo courtesy of Pedro Haddock, author of the blog El pajarete orquidiado.


2. The luxury end.

Western and Japanese companies preserve their position in the high end of the market. However, these luxury pens rely more on the decoration and exotic materials than on the intrinsic quality of the pen as a pen.

This trend, consequently, opens the market to small manufacturers with limited production. Needless to say, this is not new as we all know operations like Edison, Namisu, Eboya, Conid… My contention, though, is that this trend will continue and we might see new small brands not bound by the necessity to mass produce in order to be profitable.


A luxury pen made by a small company: a Hakase made of buffalo horn. My thanks to Inquisitive Quill.


3. Small selection of nib points.

Nibs are becoming boring and predictable. Pens might look different and exciting, but under the cap we mostly find the same type of nib: rigid and with the very trite trio of F, M, and B points. And any variation on this is bound to result in additional costs.

The exception to this simplification are the big three Japanese makers, who offer a might wider selection (see, for instance, Pilot).


4. The ink inflation.

Ink makers have realized that people buy colors —many colors— instead of volume. On these Chronicles I have seen the cases of Sailor and Platinum, but this situation also affects to Caran d’Ache and Montblanc, at least.

Again, this is good news for small companies because these higher prices allow create some room for higher production costs. Now, is there a limit to this inflation of makers, colors and price?


Sailor's Ink Studio inks: inflation in colors and inflation in price. Is there a limit on this trend?


These are my reflections. And I could be very wrong.


Kubo, Momose and Iwase – Sailor Blue Iron

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, June 6th, 2018
labels: tinta, mercado