Showing posts with label Capless. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Capless. Show all posts

03 July 2020

Plaid

Once a pen brand has a successful model, changing colors or external materials are easy and inexpensive strategies to update and revamp it. Platinum, for instance, has consistently done that with the 3776 Century model for about ten years. And Pilot has also done that with a number of models.

Among them, the Capless has seen a large number of cosmetic variations, particularly on the regular Capless model marketed initially in 1998. This model has come with rhodium, gold and black trims; with plastic, urushi, metal, wood finishes; in plain color or with some patterns...


Gold trim, black trim, rhodium trim; plastic, urushi; plain colors, lines, raden... but all of them are, in essence, the same pen.

In 2000, Pilot marketed a mini series of Capless with plaid decoration. The basic reference for this series was FC-17SR, which indicates that the price in Japan was JPY 17000 (plus tax, 5% at that time). There were four different colors: grey, blue, green, and red. The available nibs points were F, FM, M, and B. Nibs were made of 18 K gold.


The four plaid Capless (FC-17SR) from 2000.

These pens were in the Pilot catalog for several years, until around 2007, but I cannot pinpoint the exact date of the production end. Any information on the matter will be greatly appreciated.


Platinum Curidas – Private Reserve Dakota Red

Bruno Taut
Nakano, July 3rd, 2020
etiquetas: capless, Pilot

05 June 2020

Luxury and Silent. II. Analysis

So, how does this new Capless perform?

In summary, we can describe the Capless LS as a new box for an old pen. The new box is bigger and heavier. And comes with a new release system.


The raison d'être is this new Capless is the silent mechanism to release and retract the nib. The first operation is done by pressing the end button. And to retract the nib you must rotate a conical knob below the push button. An internal spring –like in the Fermo-- helps to retract the nib once the know is rotated a small angle. Fermo and LS (and Hermes Nautilus) share this feature with the sole difference of how fast or slow the return spring acts.


The LS, as I said, is bigger and heavier than any other Capless. On the table we can see the dimensions and prices of all four current models.

.Capless.

.Décimo. .Fermo. .Capless LS.
Length closed (mm) 141 140 141 146
Length open (mm) 138 137 149 139
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.3 12.0 12.3 13.5
Weight, dry (g) 30.9 20.4 33.9 40.6
Center of mass to nib point (mm) 69 65 80 80
Price in Japan (JPY) 10000 - 15000 15000 20000 35000

Prices before taxes in Japan for the basic models. The JPY 10000 Capless implements steel nibs, whereas the JPY 15000 version uses 18 K gold nibs. There are more expensive models of some of these pens.


Despite the bigger dimensions of the LS, the pushing knob is thinner than those on the Capless and on the Décimo, and it looks a bit out of proportion and even weak. The nose is now conical and, contrary to that on the Capless, is totally detached from the clip. On this detail, the LS is closer to the Fermo. But whether the clip is intrusive or not is up to each user.


The nose and the clip. And the nib too.

The rotating knob used to retract the nib is not perfectly conical. It sticks out on one side to allow for operating the pen with just one hand. In fact, both pushing the knob and retracting the nib can be done with the thumb. This is the selling point of the LS over the also silent Fermo.


The push button, and the rotating knob.

The extra weight and the new mechanism affect the writing comfort—the pen is not only heavier than the Fermo, but also pushes up the center of mass to a similar point as in that model, which is higher than in the two other Capless models. But again, it is up to the user to decide whether this detail is cumbersome or not.

Aesthetically, the LS does not depart much from the regular Capless. However, there are some minor details that might displease some—the shiny central ring (on three of the colors), the thicker aspect ratio, the additional knob below the push button...


Written sample. Capless LS (M nib) with Iroshizuku's Yama-budo.

In conclusion, the Capless LS –Luxury and Silent-- is an expensive version of the Capless family. It is bigger than any other model. The mechanism works well and delivers the silent performance the name of the pen suggests. Whether this pen is luxurious is a different matter.


Pilot Capless LS - Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 4th, 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, capless

04 June 2020

Luxury and Silent. I. Context

The year 2019 ended with the release of a new version of the Pilot Capless and the rumor of a new capless pen by Platinum. Platinum soon confirmed the new model while starting a careful campaign on the Internet. On the other hand, Pilot's strategy was almost non-existant, and six months later little has been written about that new model.


Pilot Capless LS.

The new Capless LS –Capless Luxury and Silent-- is a new variation of the well-known Capless family of pens. The selling point is the new mechanism to release and retract the nib. On this pen there is still a push button to release the nib, but the retraction is done through a rotating knob located just below the push button. In actual terms, this mechanism is a combination of the knock system of the regular Capless and Décimo, and of the rotating known of the Fermo. The result is a silent acting pen –even more silent than the Fermo— with a hefty price tag: JPY 35000 (plus tax).

This price puts the LS as the most expensive –and more luxurious?-- model of the Capless line by a large margin. The Fermo costs JPY 20000; the Décimo, JPY 15000; and the Capless, JPY 15000 with gold nib, and JPY 10000 with steel nib (see link ::1::).


Current lineup --save changes on color and trims-- of the Capless family of pens.

LS stands for “luxury and silent”, and the luxury part seems associated solely to the price decided by Pilot. It indeed changed the field on which this pen plays in the market, and makes the LS compete with more upscale pens –I am thinking mostly of the Lamy Dialog 3--, although in essence this pen is little else than a regular Capless or Fermo.


Capless on top, LS on bottom. Two different models, a factor 2 on price differences. Same nib units. Newer nib units, though, have a lower content of gold by making the nib neck narrower, as can be seen on this photo.

And that might be the actual hurdle for the LS to overcome—same nib unit as the Fermo or Capless but JPY 15000 or JPY 20000 more expensive for a silent mechanism that can be operated with just one hand. This sounds a tad too expensive.


The Capless LS on Pilot's website. These are the four colors currently available.

The Capless LS comes in four colors. In Japan only two nib points are available: F and M.


Pilot Custom 74, Yamada Seisakusho nib – Sailor Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, June 3rd, 2020
etiquetas: capless, mercado, Pilot

07 April 2020

Curidas. 3. Analysis

Then, how is this pen? And by “this” I mean the Platinum Curidas, about which I have spoken endlessly since January (::1::, ::2::, ::3::, ::4::, ::5::). And not only me—the hype Platinum created around this new pen inspired many an aficionado to publish his own impressions on it. So, is it possible to write anything new?


1. Appearance.

The Curidas is a capless pen with a very large push button made primarily of plastic, and it implements a removable clip. The nib is made of steel.

These are, once again, the actual dimensions of the pen:

.Platinum Curidas 2020.

Length closed (mm) 153
Length open (mm) 140
Barrel diameter (mm) 13.5
Weight, dry (g) 25.5
Ink deposit (*) (ml) 1.1/0.6
Nib points EF/F/M
Price (**) (JPY) 7000

*: Capacities of proprietary cartridges and converters.
**: MSRP price without taxes.


The removable clip addresses a regular complaint among users of other capless pens, and in particular of the Pilot Capless models. It is in the nature of these pens for the clip to be close to the nib. This location is inconvenient for some users and removing the clip might be the strategy they might choose with the result of Platinum gaining some additional buyers.


The pen, the clip, and the tool to remove and to reattach it.

Removing it is relatively easy following the instructions (and video) and using the tool, both included in the package. However, fellow pen connoisseur Inky Rocks have reported some problems doing that to the point of cracking the central guiding notch. So, careful operation is advised.

There is a second function, I found, for the clip—it informs you of the right orientation of the pen. Without it, the lower notch is more visible and gives the false impression of being the reference point to grab the pen correctly, but by doing so the nib will appear with the feed facing up.


Two notches on the body. The one on the top is the guide for the clip. The one on the bottom protects the position where the retracting mechanism is anchored when the nib is released.


The clip also serves as a guide to know where the nib is placed and in which orientation.


2. Construction.

The pen is externally made of plastic and is held together by a metal ring. The thread opening the pen is metal-to-plastic, which is often a vulnerable point that can affect the durability of the tool. This thread sometimes becomes loose during normal operation of the pen. I reckon, though, that this might be caused by my fear breaking the pen.

The releasing mechanism seems and sounds robust, but it is not particularly smooth or soft or silent. At times, the movement of the nib can be rough enough to splash ink drops inside and outside of the pen.

As is suggested by the length of the push knob, the movement of the nib is also long–about 30 mm. This detail allows for a larger portion of the nib exposed when writing, and a better view of what is being written. The drawback is the long button, which makes the pen to look disproportionate.


3. Nib and Writing.

Three are the nib points available to this pen: EF, F, and M. I tested extensively only two of them, F and M, and my words are mostly about them.


Two of the three nib options on the Curidas: F and M. There is also an EF nib.


Preppy and Curidas's nibs side by side. The Curidas's seems an evolution of the Preppy's.

The nibs are related to those present on a desk pen now discontinued, the DP-1000AN, albeit with minor variations on some parameters. This desk pen was well-known in the Japanese market after many years in the catalog of the brand. seem derived from those in the Preppy family of pens (Preppy, Prefounte, Plaisir, etc.). However, the Curidas units are narrower and sport a proper breathing hole, although this is a misnomer and its presence is merely cosmetic.

These steel nibs on this pen do their work perfectly. Reasonably smooth and with a perfectly controlled flow.

The F point is very thin –probably about 0.3 mm, as that is the figure Platinum usually associates to F—, and seems perfectly symmetric. Smooth, ma non tanto.


Writing test of a Curidas with an F nib.

On the contrary, the M point (about 0.5 mm) is a bit stubbish, which adds a bit of character to its performance. This point is a lot smoother than the F.


Writing test of a Curidas with an M nib.

The nibs are quite resistant to drying up. Platinum, on its marketing, explains that the pen is designed creating a small chamber for the nib that is sealed when retracted. Inky Rocks tested this feature with inconclusive results, particularly when compared to the performance of the Pilot Décimo.

The weight of the pen, around 25 g, might seem on the heavy side, but the pen is well balanced and is quite comfortable over extended periods of writing.


4. Maintenance.

The nib unit is easy to extract from the pen and, being a cartridge-converter, cleaning it is not difficulty. Further disassembly of the nib does not seem easy at all, but it is not necessary for regular use.


As for the pen body and mechanism, not much is needed save for the occasional cleaning of ink splats—an easy task when the nib is not in place.


5. Cost and value.

The price of this pen in Japan is JPY 7000 (plus tax), and can be found for less at discount shops. For that price you get a retractable pen with steel nib and a reliable mechanism.

It is also less refined that other similar pens, but they are also more expensive.



6. Conclusions.

In summary, these are the more relevant characteristics of the Platinum Curidas:
– It is a correct pen with very reliable nibs.
– Its mechanism is also reliable albeit a bit inconvenient given its dimensions—long knob, long displacement.
– Original looks that might drive some users away.
– Plastic body. Not the sturdiest in the market.
– Removable clip that might attract those dissatisfied with other capless pens.
– Contained price at JPY 7000 in Japan.


Platinum Curidas, F nib - Diamine Teal

Bruno Taut
Nakano, April 5th, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, capless

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.
***: 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 points:


.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

13 February 2020

Curidas Marketing

I finished the year 2019 saying that Japanese brands had a hard time dealing with social media and advertising their products in the Internet. And then, 2020 came and we see Platinum skillfully promoting the soon-to-be-released platinum Curidas on the Internet.

It is hard to pinpoint where and when the first rumors originated, but by the end of December they had reached many of us. Then, actual docs generated by Platinum reached Facebook and the rumor became news. Since then –if not from before-- Platinum has managed the tempo to raise a great anxiety in many of us. Short videos, pics, early sale events, controversies on the price (in the US), plain information... All that repeated, re-broadcasted, and relayed by many of us on social media, blogs, and videos. And now we are waiting for that day in which the pen will be finally and openly for sale.


Part of the teasing campaign--a Curidas at a shop in Tokyo, but just to test!


One of the docs created by Platinum that found its way to the Internet.

Well done, Platinum!

This strategy contrasts with what Pilot has done with the latest version of the Capless—the Capless LS.

It might only be that there is not that much new on this later iteration of the well-known model, but Pilot failed at making it exciting.


The Capless LS as it appeared on the Pilot website.
Source: Pilot press release at https://www.pilot.co.jp/press_release/2019/12/06/post_60.html (retrieved on 4/Jan/2020).

Some might appreciate this absence of induced anxiety about the new release, but I doubt it was a wise move to increase the sales of the new pen.

And so, we are mostly speaking of the Curidas and not of the Capless LS.


Sailor FL Black Luster – Sailor Black

Bruno Taut
Nakano, February 3rd 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, redes sociales

26 January 2020

Curidas's Name

Japanese companies –and not only in the stationery industry-- have a hard time naming their products, and I have pointed at some examples in the past.

More often than not, the issue is simple—the Japanese and the overseas names are different: Capless vs. Vanishing Point, Elabo vs. Falcon, Profit vs. 1911, etc.

Some other times, the problem is associated to the lack of consistency among Japanese on how to transliterate their own language into alphabet: Ohashido vs. Ohasido is the most evident of all, but there are more: Fuyu-shôgun vs. Fuyu-syogun, Sho-ro vs. Syo-ro, Doyô vs. Doyou, etc.

And now Platinum goes one step forward with the soon-to-be-released Curidas model. According to the company, the name is related to the Japanese word “kuridasu” (繰り出す, くりだす), that could be translated as to roll out. And the word would be something like “koo-ree-dah-soo”. The other associated word, also according to Platinum, is the English word “curiosity”.


Kuridasu, curiosity; Curidas.

But Japanese are often concerned about how English speakers might pronounce their Japanese words. Or, alternatively, they are worried about sounding too Japanese. Anyway, at the time of writing “Curidas” in Japanese, Platinum changed it to キュリダス, which transcribed to alphabet becomes “kyuridasu”.


Could Platinum at least be consistent?

And the whole mess is served. We will see the name of this pen written both as Curidas and Kyuridasu. And both of them are correct.


Pilot with steel overlay, Yamada Seisakusho – Sailor Blue-black

Bruno Taut
Shinjuku, January 22nd, 2020
etiquetas: Platinum, japonés, capless

04 January 2020

Retractable 2020

I finished 2019 saying that there had been very little new in Japan in the pen scene, and 2020 starts in a very different way.

On the last days of 2019 we saw Pilot marketing its latest variation on the Capless family—the Capless LS. Its novelty is a new mechanism to release the nib by a push button without making any noise. The nib units are the same as on the other members of the family. The LS is, in actual terms, a hybrid between the Capless-Décimo and the Fermo.


The Capless family (save variations on body color and trim) until this past December. Now there is a new model,the LS.


The newly released Capless LS.
Source: Pilot press release at https://www.pilot.co.jp/press_release/2019/12/06/post_60.html (retrieved on 4/Jan/2020).

And the price is also a combination of both the regular Capless –JPY 15000—and the Fermo –JPY 20000—: JPY 35000, plus taxes.

But more exciting news are those of Platinum's: this company will release its own version of a capless model in March of 2020. Its name will be “Curidas”, after the Japanese word “kuridasu” (繰り出す, くりだす)--to roll out.


This document has been published on a number of social media, including Facebook. Intentional leak?

The Curidas will be an inexpensive model –JPY 7000— aimed at the business market, according to the leaked leaflet, although some other sources speak of the student market.

The lineup includes five different body colors, all of them transparent. There will be two or three nib points on steel nibs. The pen clip will be detachable.

The big question is whether the nib is a totally new unit or an adaptation of one of the several steel nibs Platinum currently manufactures. The filtration (intentional?) did not go that far.


Pilot Short – Bril Turquoise Blue

Bruno Taut
Kusatsu, January 3rd 2020
etiquetas: Pilot, Platinum, capless, mercado

23 April 2019

Japanese Parochialism

A number of stylophiles outside of Japan complain about how Japanese pen companies keep some of their products limited to the domestic market. Some even go to the extent to say that Japanese companies keep their best products for themselves—for the domestic market.

I am the first to admit that Japanese companies seem, in general, quite reluctant to accept the reality of the globalized market.


However, those limitations do not always favor the Japanese customer. An obvious example is the stub nib Pilot manufactures... for other markets. Those stub nibs are not available in Japan, and should the Japanese stylophile wanted them, online shopping seems the only option.


This stub nib for the Pilot Capless is not available in Japan.

Just like Western buyers do when craving for any Japan-only pen.

Japanese parochialism works both ways...


My thanks to Mr. Fukucho.


Sailor Profit Naginata Togi – Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Bruno Taut
Bunkyo, March 26th 2019
etiquetas: plumín, Pilot, Capless, mercado