I have not done any formal pen reviews before, but I have a life-long love of fountain pens. My pen interest started when my father bought me a classic Pelikan 120 from Sam Flax on 5th Avenue in the late 1970s. I was maybe 11 or 12. I think his father may have bought him one when he was a young boy in Europe at about the same age, and for me it is a treasured family heirloom. I later inherited a very rare Parker 75 Place Vendome from my dad after he passed away, a pen I will review one day soon. When I got older I started to pick up other vintage pens, including a number of Parker and Sheaffers that I will review in the future.
So despite having a bunch of fountain pens, I do not own very many new ones. I like the look and feel of older pens, and think they are incredible bargains as analog and fountain pens are less used and valued by the broader population (present company excluded, of course). But as I have visited pen stores and web sites it has been hard to miss the buzz and reputation about TWSBI pens. So I decided recently to take the plunge and purchased two TWSBI pens.
The first is the TWSBI Diamond 580 RBT (corrected) and the second is the new line of TWSBI ECO.
For each pen I’ll look at: How Does It Write, How Does It Feel, How Does It Look, and Overall Thoughts.
TWSBI Diamond 580 RB – Purchased from Pen Heaven
How Does It Write: The pen came with a fine nib and is extremely precise. It writes a remarkable clean line, and the nib is very stiff and firm. When I apply extra pressure, it will give a bit and spreads, but with regular use it is crisp and true. The piston feed holds a good amount of ink, the flow is consistent, and the ink flow starts up right away after even a couple of days being idle.
How Does It Feel: The pen is very solid in the hand and is a bit heavier than I would expect. It has an acrylic body with aluminum accents, so it is not hefty by any means, but has a substantial feel for an acrylic pen. It weighs in at 28.5 grams, and is light enough to use all day. The pen is a little longer than the Parker Vacumatic at 5.6″. It carries well in a breast pocket, pen roll or kit bag. Here is a side by side comparison with my favorite Parker Vac and a Kaweco AL.
How Does It Look: I spent some time finding the pen style I wanted. In the end, I ordered from Pen Heaven in England because they were the only outlet I could find that had the red, clear and blue colors I wanted. I am glad I waited (and waited, thanks to poor delivery times from USPS, even via registered mail and even with the extra effort and customer service provided by Pen Heaven). It is a striking pen. To me it exudes a kind of art deco 1920s style feel to it.
Overall Thoughts: For about $50 it is hard to see how you can find a better, more stylish and well made pen on the market. The look and feel are excellent, and the pen writes well and with precision. I will be curious to see how it holds up over time, but look forward to many years of good solid use from this lovely product. I suspect this will become a daily use pen, along with my Kaweco collection.
B+ overall, excellent value, look and feel with superior writing qualities.
TWSBI ECO (purchased from Jetpens)
At the slightly lower price point for TWSBI is the ECO. I was not immediately drawn to the looks of this pen on line, but now that I have one I do think it is good looking. It is less stylish and sleek than the Diamond, and is also made with acrylic and aluminum. Mine came in the transparent blossom red, and it is both transparent and more blossom (think more pink than) red. If I were to buy another, I might get the solid cap color (the ECO Cement Line) but again, I am happy with the overall look.
How Does It Write: Overall, the pen is nice to write with. In comparison to the Diamond 580, the ECO nib is more flexible and looser, less precise. I am not sure why this would be since I assume they aluminum nib is the same for both pens, but I may be wrong here. I like the precision of the 580 more personally, but the ECO flows more smoothly and more quickly over the paper. It has a place if I am writing notes or quickly, but is a little loose for my personal tastes. However, the ink flow is excellent and the writing is consistent and fluid.
How Does It Feel: Coming in a little shorter and lighter than the Diamond, the pen feels less substantial in my hand. This would normally be a plus for a note taking pen, but because the nib was a little soft I find I had to grip a little tighter and therefore flex and relax my hand a little more frequently. the “pinch/grip” at the end of the pen is also shaped a little more ergonomically on the ECO, which helped my hand feel. While less solid, the blocky feel was a nice touch and I like the pen. It is less solid overall, but more substantial than a disposable FP.
How Does It Look: Like I said at the get go, I was not thrilled with the look of the pen on line but like it more in person. It has a more block/industrial feel than many of my other pens. I like the red and with a nice fill of Pilot Fuyu-Gaki red ink, the pen has a really nice overall look. It will get comments.
Overall Thoughts: I like the pen. For the price point it is probably a little less than I would have hoped but it is still a very nice, daily use pen that like my Seiko or Timex beater watch will get a lot of use. I will be curious how it stands up to use out and about. Two little nits at that the pen cap does not screw in quite as tight as I expected and requires a little extra twist to secure, and also the pen cap does not fit securely onto the end of the pen when writing. Not an issue for me since the pen would be too long with the cap on the end, but a slight knock on precise manufacturing.
B – a good, solid pen. Maybe a bit less than I expected for the price, but a nicely made pen that should stand up to good daily use.
The pens are both inked with Pilot Iroshizuku inks and the reviews are written on Tomoe River paper in Nanami Seven Seas Notebooks.
I purchased both pens with my own funds and was not provided anything of value for these reviews.
Correction: The original review incorrectly identified the pen as a TWSBI 580 AL, when in fact it is a 580 RB. Thanks to readers for correcting me. It takes a village.