Before going into the actual review of the pen, I would like to recap part of my experience with fountain pens.
I used to write with fountain pens from secondary to high school and I ceased when I started attending university, for sake of ease (that is what I thought those days).
I still remember my green Pelikano and red Auretta, the short blue cartridges and some questions about their mutual incompatibility ... I started again some years ago out of curiosity and since then I have focused on affordable pens: in spite of the fact I am a product manager in a high tech company (... sort of ...), I use to write down notes by hand, so a pen is first of all a work instrument, then it must be reliable, available and cheap.
My search of the perfect balance of quality, functionality, features and appearance has not yet finished and never will, of course.
On the contrary, I learnt a lot of things that I am more and more fascinated by, like construction materials and technologies, filling systems, behaviour of different combination of inks and nibs and so on.
And knowledge of product increased too: I started from the "classic" manufacturers and I bought an Aurora Ypsilon, a short afterwards I got a black Lamy Safari as an everyday writer, since I felt the former being too ... luxurious (but I do like a lot my Ypsilon!).
Then came Chinese products and converters: a Baoer 79, some Baoer 388, a Baoer 100 (my first review: see here) and many more.
Then, looking for a cheap piston filler (a Lamy 2000 is definitely out of budget) I discovered Fountain Pen Revolution and I became a loyal customer.
Indian pens are joys and sorrows, their average quality is lower than Chinese products, but I feel the latter soulless and the former more related to me, and they can hold surprises for you, like the Serwex 962.
Today I own four Serwex 962: a red, a dark blue, a green and a black one and I first came into possession of the black one as a bonus pen, added to an order from FPR that included a Camlin 47, a Serwex 1362 and a couple of Serwex 362.
Array of Serwex 962 di S.R.GE, su Flickr
I was happy of having the opportunity to try that pen: I had already noticed it on FPR site and I read an internet review of it, together with its big sister, the 362.
My first impression was quite positive: the pen is small and well proportioned, even if its design is quite linear and simple, so I bought three more, to complete the colour set.
Let's go into details.
Appearance & Design: 6/10
First of all, Serwex 962 is a piston filler: a solution that is rarely found in this price range.
General aspect of this pen may be defined utilitarian: sleek and linear when capped, a bit less harmonious when uncapped.
Serwex 962 di S.R.GE, su Flickr
The cap is satin-finished metal, while the body is plastic with smooth finish and pleasant feel; barrel and section are separated by a yellow transparent plastic segment, that acts as ink level check window - in the later part of the review, I will refer to the ink window as part of the section.
The nib can be really defined as minimalist, as it is really small, but linear, tidy and somehow elegant.
Cap is screw-type and has a most linear clip, whose colour can change depending on sample, from gold yellow to steel grey; the former is a better solution, since it couples very well with the standard golden nib.
On the thread side the cap has smooth finished band where brand name SERWEX is engraved: the band finishing stands out on the cap, a quite sophisticate detail that I would not expect from a pen that is made to be simple (but not easy, indeed ...!).
Serwex 962: cap comparison di S.R.GE, su Flickr
When uncapped, the pen seems a bit rough: although it is overall slim, section and barrel have different width and being the section very thin, the edge between the two has a noticeable width, that breaks body's harmony.
Serwex 962 uncapped di S.R.GE, su Flickr
Construction & Quality: 6/10
The Serwex 962 is a simple pen and it has an overall sturdy appeal, and indeed no remarks can be done to construction of pen's body: the piston knob is perfectly connected to the barrel and when the former is well tightened in working position, it almost disappears.
I may have some concerns about plastics, that have a cheap look and feel and the typical smell of Indian pens!
Quality of material seems to vary from sample to sample, in fact my black one has a failure into the ink window, as shown in the picture below:
Serwex 962: section defect di S.R.GE, su Flickr
Again, the cap of the black one has a manufacturing flaw: the rim of the opening has a kind of crack as shown below:
Serwex 962: cap defect di S.R.GE, su Flickr
Such defects do not appear into the other three units, indicating some variability in quality of materials and workmanship.
Weight & Dimensions: 7/10
First of all, some figures: the pen capped is 135mm long, 116mm uncapped, the maximum diameter is 10mm and 8mm at section and it weights about 13g filled.
Being the cap screw-type, it will be unlikely used posted, also considering that inner threads could damage barrel plastics; this is not a problem for me as I hardly write with fountain pen posted.
Nevertheless, I feel Serwex 962 very nimble, light and, in a word, handy; as I said in a previous review, I am not for bulky pens, especially at work, but I think this pen could not be comfortable for everyone, since it can be felt as really thin, also because the section is thinner than barrel.
Nib & Performance: 7/10
Serwex 962 comes with just fine nib and it can hardly be replaced with a different one, being it so small.
The nib is a standard design, gold plated unit, even if very thin and carries an incision saying "IRIDIUM POINT" (uh ...?), while "SERWEX" is engraved on the feed below, even if is very hard to be seen.
Here again there is some variability from sample to sample, both in line width and in tactile feeling.
Common properties are: nib rigidity, direct consequence of its shape and size, the substantial wetness of flow and prompt start.
The line is fine, a bit wider than expected from such a slim nib.
What is different:
- the black and green samples have a thinner mark
- the blue and green sample have some slight skipping, especially when performing close curves and more evident in the blue one
- the blue sample is slightly more scratchy than the other three
- the blue sample has a sort of square line, while the other three are more smooth.
As a general consideration, this model has a pleasant behaviour, with partial exception of the blue one: I tried a bit of tuning with partial success, aligning tines and enlarging them a bit, but without grinding, a technique I do not like, since tailors the nib too much to my hand.
Here below a writing sample of the four pens - I apologise for my bad writing.
Filling System & Maintenance: 8/10
As anticipated, this sleek pen is a piston filler; ink capacity is limited by the reduced section, but arguably it can hold more ink than a couple of short cartridges and definitely more than a Chinese or Indian standard converter.
The piston works well, but as always, performances and quality are not homogeneous: the green one is hard to push down and the black one presents a potentially defective gasket, because moving the piston up and down after having emptied the pen, it does not perfectly clean ink from the check window as expected, but actually I have never detected ink leakage from piston knob as predictable in case of infiltration through the piston.
Filling operation is very easy, the system sips ink quite up to full capacity and very few cleaning is needed at end.
I noticed a slight tendency to blot when the pen is almost empty; I think the cause may be similar to what happens to eyedroppers in the same condition: probably because barrel is quite thin, the hand warmth could heat the air inside, making it expand and eject the ink.
Maintenance is limited to the nib, that is easy to be extracted, being friction-fit.
I saw on Fountain Pen Revolution site the pen completely dismantled, piston mechanism included, but at moment I have not been able to figure out how to remove piston, worm and knob.
I noticed on the back of the knob a sort of round seal, maybe it is a cap for a screw, but I have not had dare to try.
Cost & Value: 7/10
As told, I received the first sample new as bonus pen from Kevin at Fountain Pen Revolution, but its price is 7$ on that site: buying a bunch, the 2$ of shipping cost can be easily amortised (actually, I recently noticed shipping at FPR is now 3$ ... after all I am a Genoese: very, very worst of Scots!).
Anyhow, even 10$ for a piston filler is worth to try: the result is a reliable, sturdy pen for every day use.
Conclusion (Final score: 39/60)
My final verdict about Serwex 962 is a mixture of positive and less positive opinions, but no really negative issues arise.
The pen writes well after all and it needs less tuning than other cheap pens I tried, in fact I bought four for every day use.
Its look is sleek and unbalanced at same time, cheap, but with sophisticated solutions.
What I like is its linear appearance, especially when capped, its handiness and nib performances in most cases.
In few words: simple, not easy, but handy.
Edited by ser.rep, 06 May 2013 - 20:14.