In this video I review the TWSBI Diamond 580 AL R Fountain Pen. This is a demonstrator fountain pen with a piston filling system. This is one of the best fountain pens on the market under $100 as well as on of the best fountain pens on Amazon.
TWSBI is a Taiwanese fountain pen manufacturer that has been around for about half a decade now and for some reason they never really called my name. While in Taipei earlier this year I wandered into a fountain pen shop and walked out with a couple of TWSBIs, a Vac 700 and a Micarta.
When I picked up the Vac 700 for the first time I was impressed with how nice the pen felt. The body is made out of a laminated polycarbonate and compared to my other plastic and even celluloid pens it feels much nicer; more sturdy and more satisfying to interact with.
The design of the Vac is a bit of a pigs breakfast, mixing a bunch of different materials and shapes and yet somehow it actually looks pretty good (maybe not elegant but attractive in it’s own way). The polycarbonate is ultra clear and as a result the pen looks quite beautiful when filled with ink. The cap and the blind cap have a sort of diamond shaped faceting to them while the barrel is rounded with a slight taper to accommodate the vacuum mechanism.
The section and blind cap are made out of a translucent grey polycarbonate and all of the furniture except the clip is chrome. The clip has a very rough almost sandblasted aluminum look to it. It is rough to the touch but feels quite solid. The finial has a red jewel with the TWSBI logo. The cap band has big inelegant branding on it.
The vacuum filing system holds a good amount of ink and with some practice you can get about 2ml of ink into the body which is four times the capacity of your average converter. With the blind cap screwed down tight, air is shut off from the filing system making it airplane friendly. So far I have flow with it on eleven flights and can report that there have been no problems. It doesn’t leak and it works beautifully at altitude. The downside to the air shut off is that if you wish to write more than a couple of pages the blind cap needs to be unscrewed to keep the ink flowing.
The Vac 700 is about 14.5cm long and weighs a hefty 32.6 grams. The pen posts nicely but for my smaller hands it throws off the balance so I use it uncapped.
The large Jowo nib is nicely proportioned with the rest of the body. The 1.1mm stub point is a joy to use. No performance issues to speak of.
I LOVE this pen. This is my new favorite sub $100 pen that I have tried and I am hard pressed to think of a $200 pen that I like better.