Platinum. The name of a super precious metal, and one of the largest pen companies in Japan. Part of the Big Three: the trifecta of Japanese pen companies that make almost all of the quality writing instruments in Japan; Pilot, Sailor, and Platinum.
This means that when you pick up a pen from one of these three you’re bound to be holding a very good one. Of course, such quality isn’t born overnight. Each company has been working on perfecting the writing instrument for around 100 years, and every pen is born from that collection of experience.
Platinum is no exception.
The History Behind Platinum Pen Co.
Platinum has been in business since 1919, though Syunchi Nakata began the company under the name “Nakaya”. Apparently, they were the first to create a cartridge filling system for fountain pens, amongst other innovations. Today they are the Platinum Pen Co of Japan, and Nakaya is the name given to their custom, luxury pen branch.
Today, their range is rather limited at a glance. Two main models, and a lot of cheaper pens such as the Preppy. The two models that make up most of their fountain pen range include the lower level 3776, and the high level President model. Nakaya make a huge variety of customised premium pens, ranging from the basic $300+ range, to models costing thousands of dollars.
In this review I will be talking about the 3776. I own several of these because they are just amazing pens. Cheaper than Sailors, but just as good, the 3776 holds its own against even the best of the best fountain pens. This particular model is the Music Nib version, which you would have seen in my editorial on the purposes of a music pen. I obtained this pen near new, in a trade on the FPN classifieds.
What’s in the box?
Platinum have always surprised me with just how much extra they put in their packaging. Typical boxes from Platinum are a dark blue, leatherette style that pop open like jewelry packaging. This pen is no exception, with a white cardboard sleeve bearing the Platinum logo in gold on the top. Opening the sleeve, removing the box, and taking a look inside you are presented with the contents.
As is fairly standard with most fountain pens from Japan, the box includes:
- Instruction manual and warranty papers
- One, boxed piston style converter
- A cartridge or two (typically proprietary, black ink)
- The pen, within a plastic sleeve
Previous Platinum pens I have bought have also contained a small adapter that you can slip on the section to allow you to use standard international cartridges and converters. This is a huge boon for anyone that has amassed a large number of standard international cartridges from other vendors, or who find the included converter not to their liking.
Overall great presentation initially, and a standard array of included accessories. Can’t complain!
- Body – 14g
- Cap – 9g
- Together – 23g
- Capped length – 136mm
- Uncapped length – 117mm
- Cap length – 65mm
- Posted length – 149mm
- Width at widest point (base of cap) – 14mm
- Clip length – 40mm
- Clip width – 5mm
- Left/Right handed – Both
- Body Texture – Glossy
- Crown details – Rounded point
- Materials – Gold plated steel (trim), 14k gold (nib), plastic (feed), plastic resin (body, section, cap)
- Filling system – Cartridge/Converter. Converter has gold trim, and international cartridge adapters come with some models.
- Retail price – Approx. $160.00 AUD
- Available colours – Standard colours (black, red, blue), plus unique celluloid patterns such as koi, pink blossom, ocean blue, and others.
- Cap system – Screw type
- In production – Yes
- Other features – Gold trim rings around nib section neck, crown, and end of body, plus an engraved cap band that reads “Platinum #3776 JAPAN”
- Markings – Engravings on nib, and cap band
- Number of pieces – 5 (cap, body, grip section, feed, nib)
- Removable nib/feed – Yes (very difficult)
In the hand the pen is surprisingly light for its size, but this is mainly because of the slightly cheaper plastic used in the body, cap, and section. It does make the pen feel of lesser quality when compared to competitors such as the Sailor 1911, but Platinum has recently upped the quality considerably with the release of the #3776 Century model, which we will review at a later date.
The name comes from the height of Mt Fuji in metres, 3,776m. This is a similar concept to Mont Blanc engraving on each of their nibs the height of the Mont Blanc mountain. I don’t believe it has been copied either way, however. The name is displayed front-and-centre on the cap band ring, which is engraved “Platinum #3776 Japan”.
From top to bottom: Pilot Custom 74, Platinum 3776, Sailor 1911
Beyond the initial feel, the pen is very comfortable to hold. My preference is towards medium to light weight pens, and the 3776 fits well within that range. Heavy pen fans with very large hands will be better off purchasing a Platinum President (review soon!), or if you don’t have the extra dough, a Pilot Custom 74 (review soon!). In my hands, the size is medium-large. It’s larger than a Sailor Sapporo (review soon!), but not as big as the Pilot Custom 74.
The cap posts, and posts in such a way that I really enjoy for a reason I can’t really put my finger on. It seems to hug the pen and sit in a way that is analogous to the way it sits when you cap the pen. It sits further down the body and gives the whole pen a much more substantial feel. Sailor’s tend to post in a “just hanging on” sort of way, and the way Pilot Custom’s feel when posted is gargantuan, like a heavy front, light middle, and heavy back.
Unposted, it’s too light for my tastes, like a paint brush with a block of lead on the end. Overall the comfort is great, but only when posted for me. Your mileage may vary, but I prefer the look as well when posted!
The Nib: Flow, Feeling, and Consistency
The centrepiece of any fountain pen is the nib. This one is an extremely complex one, being a music nib, and close up that complexity shows. The feed is special too, to make use of those two ink channels. This is what the premium over the standard 3776 pays for.
As I said in the beginning, I received this pen used. Despite this, it arrived in new condition. The nib is no exception, nary an ink stain or microscratch on it. However, there were a couple of problems beneath the surface…
Flow issues. Now in a pen where flow is meant to be present in droves, this was kind of weird. I took a quick look under my loupe, but I had not experienced a music nib before, and thought the even misalignment of the left and rightmost tines was part of the design. Perhaps they were meant to bend into alignment when being used? I googled “music nib alignment” and found squat, nothing that suggested the alignment of a music nib had to be different to a standard nib.
You can see here that the left and right tines are a little bit too low, causing bad contact to the paper and skipping issues
I took the plunge, decided I would get them all straight and then see how it went. It was extremely difficult as the tines were almost set in stone. Stiff as they were, a lot of pushing got each one into a position close to perfect alignment. One went too far, which was very difficult to correct as the nib is basically impossible to remove (the feed gets in the way when pushing tines downwards, so great care must be taken to not damage the feed).
Eventually the tines were perfectly aligned, and after a check from every angle and making sure the tines were flush with the feed, I put nib to paper.
And there it was: the perfect flow, a seriously wet line characteristic of music nibs, and all it took was a bit of pushing and prodding by hand. The nib was perfect, and it still is. Smooth doesn’t come close to describing how well this nib writes, and the nice layer of ink between tip and paper makes it all the better.
So the flow is now fantastic, flawless; my hand cannot move fast enough to make this nib skip, something I’ve never experienced in any nib from any brand. With a dark, highly saturated ink you get a very broad, deep line from downstrokes, and thin, medium width horizontal strokes. Overall this thing writes like a grown up stub, as is the design. My impressions before receiving mine is that it would by no different to a wide italic, however this is a completely different beast and a very easy pen to use!
In my music nib post I showed you how these pens are supposed to be held when writing music, but I don’t think I will ever be writing notes with it. It’s a simply fantastic nib for signatures, as the very efficient flow is great for fast, sweeping strokes. A less obvious application is technical drawing. Architects, graphic designers, and other professionals wanting to integrate a fountain pen into their work will most likely find a music pen very suitable.
Flex is there somewhat, but all you really get is an increased flow, not an increase in line width.
A fantastic nib on a great pen, the Platinum 3776 Music pen is something every enthusiast should try out. Composers will love it, but with such a high flow you will want to let your pages dry off to the side; make sure you buy some quality paper!
Price is definitely a consideration, and at $160 retail it’s a hefty chunk of dough, but check eBay: plenty of these pens available for under $100 if you place your bids right. Overall, I’m very happy with this one, and it’s a fantastic, and unique, addition to the collection.