There are few pens stranger than retractable fountain pens. They’re like a contradiction; fountain pens are cumbersome and complex by design, so why bother making one retractable? Well, I think it’s mainly because they can, but also because doing so forms one of the most iconic and unusual writing instruments in recent memory, whilst also making something so hopelessly practical that it’s a wonder why Pilot are the only ones to mass market such a product.
The Vanishing Point (VP from hereon out), or “Capless” as it’s known in some countries, marries the writing pleasure of a fountain pen, with the convenience of one-handed operation. Slip it from a breast pocket, click the button, and begin writing in one swift motion, and with one hand. What is considered by some to be a gimmick in fact enhances the whole experience of an entirely extraordinary pen, one that even without the capless mechanism would be fantastic in its own right.
So, it’s a noteworthy product, and one that I can wholly recommend; something I hope to show you in this review.
About a week ago the guys at Pen Chalet contacted me to see if I would give an honest review of the Pilot Knight fountain pen. I’ve been a long time fan of Pilot pens in general, so naturally I said yes.
I know a bit about the Knight, but in particular I know that this pen houses the same nib assembly found on the cheap 78G, the mid-range Prera, and a few other sub-$100 Pilot pens. I think it would be suitable to see how the Knight stacks up, and just give you my thoughts on this pen in general.
It’s no question that some of the best fountain pens made today are coming out of Japan. Quality and materials beyond most anything ever seen, and nibs that go finer than fine; Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor are Japan’s “Big 3″ pen companies, the ones to go to for a writing experience like no other.
But why? To understand the reason why Japan is one of the best places for writing instruments, you have to look at its history. Over the course of the last century Japan has become a central hub for technology and innovation. This translates to improvements in design, manufacturing, and overall quality of products across the spectrum. If you buy a TV these days, chances are you will be looking at Japanese brands. The same goes for cars, phones, computers, almost any piece of tech you can think of.
Now most people may not associate the term “modern technology” with something as archaic and (perhaps incorrectly) basic as a fountain pen, but the two have blended together significantly over the past 50-60 years to produce futuristic “classic” fountain pens that exhibit the feeling of a vintage writing instrument and the features of a modern piece of technology.
Although most people think the best fountain pens can be found in the $100+ range, there’s a price bracket way, way below that often, but shouldn’t, get ignored. Disposable fountain pens aren’t exactly common, but a few brands sell them because some people simply don’t want to fork out anything over $5.00 for a writing instrument, but enjoy using a fountain pen. Now the term “disposable” is loosely used, as many of these pens can be refilled one way or another. That word simply refers to how inexpensive they are.
The main contenders today can all be found at JetPens, a site you all should know about (and perhaps love!), and are available for under $5.00 each. I’m here to show you which one is best, from the view of a fountain pen enthusiast, but also from the view of a ballpoint user looking for a cheap entry point into fountain pens. I’ll compare each of them with each other, more expensive pens, and the common rollerballs and ballpoint pens you often see on people’s desks. Let’s go!