30 March 2020

Curidas. 2. Contenders

As I said on my previous Chronicle, the obvious competition for the newly arrived Platinum Curidas is the basic Pilot Capless model with steel nib. The reasons are easy to see:

The two contenders: Platinum Curidas on top, Pilot Capless with steel nib on bottom.

– Affordable price in the order of JPY 10,000, albeit the Curidas is significantly cheaper.

– Steel nibs on both of them.

The construction structure of both pens is quite similar, but the materials involved on them are different. The Curidas is made mostly of plastic whereas the Capless is fundamentally a metallic pen. The Pilot Capless has a metal-to-metal thread—a lot sturdier solution that the metal-to-plastic of the Curidas. The plastic material of the later does not seem particularly resistant and it might compromise its durability.

Basic disassembly of the Curidas. The metal-to-plastic thread is clearly visible on the body.

Sturdier construction of the Pilot Capless. A metal-to-metal thread on the body. It also costs JPY 3000 more than the Curidas.

This detail connects the Curidas with the previous Capless model of 1984 (FCN-500R and FCN-800R). This Capless has been highly praised by many because of its unobtrusive clip and light weight. And like the Curidas, it is made of plastic and closes through a metal to plastic thread that makes it a bit fragile.

Platinum Curidas on top, 1984 Pilot Capless (FCN-500R) on bottom. Both implement metal-to-plastic threads on the body.

Mechanism-wise, that of the Pilot model is much smoother than the Platinum's. Both of them, in any case, feel and sound reliable, although that of the Platinum has not yet passed the test of time.

About the dimensions, all that is actually relevant is summarized on the following table. And whether is pen is for you is for each of us to decide... by trying it.

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

.Pilot FCN-1MR 1998.
Length closed (mm) 153 141
Length open (mm) 140 138
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5 13.3
Weight, dry (g) 25.5 30.9
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6 0.9/0.5
Nib points (**) EF/F/M F/M
Price (***)(JPY) 7000 10000

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters. In the case of Pilot, the converter is the CON-40.
**: Steel nibs. Pilot offers six nib points on gold nibs: EF, F, FM, M, B, and stub (SU).
***: MSRP prices without taxes.

Capless or Curidas?

Cosmetic-wise, both pens offer five different body colors, Platinum's being transparent or semitransparent. On its side, Pilot's nibs are gold plated and are mismatched with the silver body trim of this inexpensive version. The Curidas does not show much trimming save for the removable clip and the central ring. And both match the silver color of the steel nib.

Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 23rd, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless

23 March 2020

Curidas. 1. Context

Finally the Platinum Curidas arrived in general retail shops in Japan; the wait is finally over and we can buy it at regular shops –instead of only at a couple of them--, and even at discount shops. Then, how is it?

The Platinum Curidas. At last!

A lot has been said already (::1::, ::2::, ::3::) after all the hype Platinum wisely generated to release its second capless pen after the Platinum Knock in 1965. The Knock was the first attempt of Platinum to compete with Pilot on its own grounds. But the Knock was short lived –a couple of years in the market-, and now it is more of a well sought-after anecdote than a real landmark in the history of pens.

Then, 55 years later Platinum tries again. This time, the strategy is totally different. In 1965, the Knock rivaled with the Pilot Capless in similar terms—both were in the same price range between JPY 2000 and JPY 3000, and both with gold nibs (model C-300SW and variations). Pilot, however, also marketed the cheaper C-100RW model for JPY 1000 with a steel nib in that same year of 1965.

Three capless in 1965. Only two Capless: C-100RW (top), and C-200SW (middle). And the Platinum Knock (bottom).

The situation now is different—Platinum's bet is on an inexpensive pen –JPY 7000—to challenge the Pilot's supremacy in the capless market.

The obvious competitor for the new Curidas is the cheapest version of the Pilot Capless—the regular model (FCN-1MR, 1998) with gold-plated steel nib sold at JPY 10000 (plus tax). But I can also think of a second competitor on the side of Pilot—the previous model of 1984 (FCN-500R and FCN-800R of 1984); also named as the faceted Capless.

Three current capless, only one Capless. The FCN-1MR (top) and two Curidas.

Although this model was discontinued in 1998 and there is an active second hand market on it, it is also possible to find old remains of unsold units at the original price. At least in Japan.

On the following table we can see the basic characteristics of these three pens:

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

.Pilot FCN-1MR 1998. .Pilot FCN-800R 1984.
Length closed (mm) 153 141 137
Length open (mm) 140 138 135
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5 13.3 11.7
Weight, dry (g) 25.5 30.9 17.5
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6 0.9/0.5 0.9/0.5
Nib points (**) EF/F/M F/M F/M
Price (***)(JPY) 7000 10000 8000/market

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters. In the case of Pilot, the converter is the CON-40.
**: Steel nibs. Pilot offers six nib points on gold nibs.
***: MSRP prices without taxes. The FCN-800R commands high prices on the free market.

The old faceted Capless FCN-800R (also labeled as FCN-500R) of 1984, on top on the picture, is also a valid rival to the Platinum Curidas, particularly if found at reasonable prices.

The Curidas has just arrived and it is still difficult to gauge the impact it might have in the market beyond the initial waves wisely managed by Platinum. Its future might strongly depend on the interest of the company in making more variations, more luxurious based on this canvas.

This new pen poses some interesting questions—is the latest battle in the fountain pen market focused on the low to middle end segment of pens? Can Platinum compete with the Chinese production of fountain pens? And finally, is the Curidas going to change Pilot's policy regarding its Capless family of pens?

Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 22nd, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, mercado

11 March 2020

S System

Early Pilot pens, in those first 10 or 15 years of the brand, employed a number of filling systems. On these pages we have seen a number of them—the very early inner tube system (naikan shiki), safety pens, star system (hoshiawase), lateral lever (teko shiki), plunger, Japanese eyedropper (inki-dome shiki)... Some of those, of course, were more successful than others, and survived beyond those early days.

However, the usual literature does not mention the very simple eyedropper system, an eyedropper without any shut-off valve, just like Waterman and Parker (and others) used at the turn of the twentieth century. And that is why the following pen is so interesting.

A mid 1920s Pilot.

The pen is in immaculate condition. It even sports the original sticker showing the price –JPY 4.50-- and the nib point –細, F. It seems like it had never seen any ink, although a letter from the technical service of Pilot suggests that there had been some issue with the pen.

JPY 4.50, F nib point (細).

The instruction sheet calls its filling system S or standard type. And the instructions also warn the user that ink drops on the nib (or on the paper!) are indicative of having little ink in the deposit—a typical problem of eyedropper pens even nowadays.

A Western eyedropper, or the S System.

Signed by Pilot Technical Service, without date. The owner had sent the pen because of some ink leak. The response suggests that the only problem was a small amount of ink in the deposit. The letter assured, finally, the pen had been thoroughly checked for optimal performance. Somehow ironic...

The color of the ebonite is also very interesting. Its very uniform brown color, inside and outside, suggests an original non-black ebonite. In fact, we know of some Pilot (or Dunhill Namiki) pens of the time with a similar color.

Early 1930s Dunhill Namiki. Photo courtesy of Mr. A. Mur.

This is a small pen. It implements a size 1 nib made of 14 k gold . These are its dimensions:

Length closed: 122 mm
Length open: 113 mm
Length posted: 155 mm
Diameter: 9.5 mm
Weight: 7.3 g (dry)
Ink deposit: ~ 0.6 ml

On the barrel: '"PILOT / NAMIKI MFG. CO. / MADE IN JAPAN'. And the lifebuoy encircling an N.

Size 1 Pilot nib: "14Kt GOLD / "PILOT" / 1 / MADE IN / JAPAN". Mid 1920s.

All in all, an interesting pen that shows a number of uncommon features in a Pilot from mid 1920s—a regular Western eyedropper (S system in Pilot terms) and an unusual ebonite color.

And on another text we will revisit the filling systems Pilot used in those early years of the company.

My thanks to Antolin2.0, A. Mur, Poplicola-san and TinJapan.

Sailor FL Black Luster – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 11th, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, soluciones técnicas