In this 4K video I review the Pilot Custom 845 Fountain Pen. This is a high-end fountain pen with an urushi lacquered ebonite body and a solid 18kt gold nib. For a while this was the top of the line pen in the Pilot Custom Line.
This is the first and only paper product I have tried from Pilot. The cover accurately states that this is “Super Quality Paper For Fountain Pen”.
The paper is considered “semi-B5” measuring 177 x 250 mm. Each page only has fifteen grey lines making for a rather wide 12mm rule. The paper is not lined on both sides.
The pad has 30 sheets and a one blotter sheet. The paper does not bleed or feather in my tests and is quite nice to write on. The paper is on the thinner side and it’s weight is not specified but I suspect that it is somewhere around 70-80 gsm.
The matching envelopes come in a pack of ten and open on the short side. They have a paper lining.The paper used in the pad and the envelopes is not watermarked. I purchased these in Japan for about $7 USD for the set and at that price they are great as every day stationery. I have seen this paper for sale in some stores in the USA at much higher price and for me, even though this paper is excellent, it doesn’t have enough character to justify a price much beyond $10 for the set.
As a general rule, I do not purchase ink while traveling. My reasoning is that if a $15 bottle of ink breaks in my luggage I would be out hundreds of dollars in ruined clothes. Yes, I broke my rule.
On my way out of Itoya in Tokyo (after buying some pens I didn’t need) I saw some well-packaged mini bottles of Iroshizuku in a lovely presentation box and that was that…I picked the three colors I wanted and here we are: The Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo Fountain Pen Ink Review.
Yama-Budo in Japanese means “Crimson Glory Vine” and it is a pinkish burgundy color that I really like. Like all Iroshizuku inks, it performs beautifully, well-behaved with a good flow. This ink has really nice shading to it.
This ink isn’t really appropriate for a professional setting but it is a fun color that looks great in a demonstrator.
I am not sure I could go through a full-size 50ml bottle of this one but I feel confident that I will be able to make my way through 15ml.
When I heard that Richard Binder was winding down his retail business I knew it was finally time to give one of his “ItaliFine” nibs a go. For those of you who do not know, an ItaliFine nib is a combination nib that offers an italic point on one side and a fine point on the other.
As you can see from the pictures this nib started life as a standard 18kt gold broad nib which Mr. Binder customized into an ItaliFine.
With the nib right side up the nib writes with an italic point. This nib is a true 0.9mm italic and as such is quite sharp and offers a good deal of line variation.
With the nib upside down the nib writes with a fine point. I have found the fine side to be a bit more tricky than the italic. The fine side does not like pressure and will skip with anything but the lightest pressure.
Also the fine side of this nib is position sensitive as its opposite side is fatter and straight cut. For me there was a short learning curve with this nib and now that I have it down, it is a wonderful nib that has transformed my Pilot Vanishing Point into a pen that is now a joy to use. The cost of this nib while still available is $125 and that is expensive for a VP nib but it really works as two nibs that you can use in the same pen on the fly…it’s worth it.
Side Note: Some of you may have noticed that I have been gone for a little while. I have been in the process of moving and I am still working on getting my office (The Unroyal Warrant HQ) set up but as of today I am mostly operational, a new computer and some new furniture is on its way but I will be able to provide regular content 1-3 times a week going forward.
The Pilot Custom 743 is the only pen to use Pilot’s full line of #15 size nibs. In the store I tried three of the more unusual nibs: a music nib, a Waverly nib and a falcon nib. I ended up picking the falcon nib, which is a soft flexible nib.
Like most pens in the Custom series, the 743 is a very traditional and classic looking executive pen with a black plastic body and yellow gold furniture. The trim level is the same as you get on the Custom 823 and they look almost identical. The trim ring on the bottom of the body is closer to the end of the pen than on the 823 (the 743 has vacuum mechanism to accommodate) but otherwise they look the same.
The cap has a rounded top with a clip that starts broad and narrows ending with a ball; this is the classic Pilot/Namiki clip and I think it looks great. The gold band at the bottom of the cap reads “* * * CUSTOM 743 * * * PILOT MADE IN JAPAN”. The letters are filled in with black (paint?) just as you would see on the Custom 845 and Custom 823. The large 14ct gold #15 nib is plain, with no decoration to speak of. The cuts on the sides of the nib help to increase flexibility and in my opinion make up for the lack of decoration.
The gold trim is much more yellow in color than the 14ct gold nib. This is quite apparent with the cap posted. I would like to have seen the gold match a bit better but it’s not a big deal.
All things considered, the Custom 743 is a clean looking pen with no strangeness to its proportions. It’s not going to score any points for originality but it’s a nice looking pen nonetheless. Score: 3/5
The build quality like most Pilot products is quite good. The section (as on the Custom 845) has two big seams that just look cheap on a $300 pen.
Unlike the Custom 845, the 743 also suffers from seams on the body as well. They are clearly defined in the threading on the body and then they disappear about a quarter of an inch in on the glossy part of the body. You wouldn’t really notice any of this unless you are looking closely. The fit and finish is otherwise quite good and I suspect this pen will last a long time. Score: 2.5/5
Size & Weight
The Custom 743 measures about 5.9” capped and about 5.2” uncapped. At its widest point it is about 0.6” and weighs about 25.6 grams with a converter full of ink. Like the 845, the 743 is a good sized pen similar in girth to a Montblanc 146 but closer to the 149 in length. I find the 743 to be well balanced in my hand. It looks quite long posted but it remains comfortable. Score: 4/5
I think it is fair to say that this pen will not be for everyone. I was lucky enough to try it in a store in Japan before I purchased it. It would be a mistake to think you are getting a new pen that is going to write like a vintage flex pen; it does not and I haven’t seen a modern flex pen that does.
The falcon nib is a bit on the scratchy side, not unpleasantly so but there is a good amount of feedback. With little or no pressure the nib writes with a pretty fine line, definitely an extra fine by western standards.
If apply some pressure you can get the line to become broad but this will require more force than you would need on most vintage flex pens. I find that with nib flexed and writing slowly (as you should) the pen has a tendency to railroad by which I mean produce two thin parallel lines instead of one fat line. The feed seems unable to keep up with the pen.
I have been experimenting with different inks and I have found Diamine inks to work the so far. I tried Noodler’s Blue Eel as I thought that might help with the railroad situation but alas it performed the same as the Waterman and Pilot inks I tried.
In normal writing there are no real performance issues and I can get some nice (not huge) line variation with medium pressure without causing any problems but if you want to make extra extra fine lines and triple broad lines the Falcon nib isn’t going to cut it. With a careful hand (sadly not something I possess) I have seen some beautiful western writing with the 743 Falcon. Score: 2/5
The Custom 743 uses Pilot’s top-of-the-line Con-70 converter that is considered by many to be the best converter on the market. It holds a good amount of ink and is quite easy to use.
The 743 has the standard metal Con-70 which is not quite as nice as the black one you get in the Pilot Custom 845 and most Namiki pens but the function is the same. Score: 3.5/5
I bought my Custom 743 in the low $200s, which I think is a pretty reasonable price for this pen. The retail price is 30,000 Yen (approximately $295 USD) is pretty high. If the pen had no seams and the gold trim matched the nib nicely I could easily justify a $300 price tag for the 743. Score: 3/5
The feed prevents the 743 Falcon from living up to its full potential as a “flex” pen.
Much like the Pilot Precise, the Pilot Razor Point is a classic. The Razor Point is a simple felt tipped pen that (to my knowledge) has remained unchanged for at least a decade now. The completely opaque metallic blue plastic body and the thin metal clip are clues that this pen was designed quite a while ago. I personally find the design refreshing as I am so used to loudly colored pens with horrible branding and translucent bodies.
The Razor Point has an extra fine felt tip that writes with a smooth wet line and manages to stay true to its specified 0.5mm width.
There are a couple downsides to the Razor Point that its modern peers do not share. First off, the ink in the Razor Point tends to bleed more than other porous tip pens like the Copic Multiliner or the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner. Second, the tip is not particularly durable; in my experience the tip gets worn out before the pen runs out of ink.
While there are better felt tip pens out there, the Razor Point is really quite likeable and I think worth a try if you are curious about it.
Here are some great reviews of the Pilot Razor Point:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
The Pilot Precise P-700 has been one of my favorite hybrid gel roller balls for quite a while now. The benefit of a hybrid gel roller ball is a smooth writing experience with a low resistance liquid ink, making it a great pen for writing in cursive. The line is clean and smooth and the ink is ultra fast drying making it a great pen for lefties. The ink is permanent and unfortunately the pen is not refillable.
The Precise is an old pen and to my knowledge the design has never been updated and as a result it doesn’t really look like many other pens on the market. The body has a marbled appearance that to me looks like clouds. The ribbed grip is comfortable but not soft. I haven’t been a fan of the looks of this pen in the past and my opinion hasn’t changed; it’s ugly.
The Pilot Precise comes in two widths 0.7mm (P-700) and 0.5mm (P-500) and five colors, black, blue, red, green, and purple. At $2.42 it’s quite affordable and if the looks don’t bother you I highly recommend it.
Here are some great reviews of the Pilot Precise P-700 / P-500:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
The Pilot Ageless line comprises high quality pens with a patented two staged twist mechanism that completely retracts the pen tip. They come in two flavors: gel and ballpoint (the refills are not interchangeable). There are two barrel options that come in a variety of colors, the Future has a metal barrel with a silver grip section and the Presence has a plastic body with a translucent grey grip section.
The design of the pen is nice and clean and is great for pockets as the tip completely retracts; no more getting stabbed by your pen. I like the Carbon Grey body of the Future which looks and feels high quality. The clip is small but strong. The Future is nicely weighted without being too heavy.
The Ageless Gel is one of the smoothest gel pens I have used. The refills only come in fine 0.7mm with blue or black ink and they aren’t that cheap; a pack of 12 costs $37 (about $3 a refill). The fine 0.7mm line is on the fatter side and the ink doesn’t look that sharp but I do enjoy writing with this pen and I can’t say that about many gel pens. The pen comes in a white tube which works as a storage box as well as a pen stand. The Pilot Ageless Future Gel makes a really nice gift for someone who wants a great everyday pen.