Review of the Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze 1.3mm stub
Note: Higher-res photos available here
This week I finally gave in and purchased a Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze with a 1.3mm stub nib. Ever since I first saw photos of this stunning pen, I've been wanting to own one. Lava, bronze, palladium and titanium? Yes, please!
This is my second fountain pen. This January I got myself a Waterman Carène with a fine nib, followed by a stub nib about two months later. While it is a very nice pen, I just couldn't resist the even wider nib, the unusual look and materials, and the supposedly very smooth and wet Dreamtouch nib of the HS.
So a few days ago I finally went to a very nice store called La Couronne du Comte here in the Netherlands to get the pen, along with a metal traveling inkwell by Visconti. What I noticed when testing it out in the shop was that it took some effort to initiate the inkflow to the paper. Once it got going it wouldn't stop until the pen was lifted from the paper, but I found I had to push a little to get it to write. Not being sure if this was due to dipping the pen rather than actually filling it, I decided to go ahead and take it with me anyway.
When I got home and filled the pen I got roughly the same results. It didn't take long to diagnose the nib with a mild case of baby-bottom, as applying no pressure when writing showed two ink trails from each of the tines.
A small push down and the (copious) flow started and stayed intact for as long as the pen touched the paper.
After tracing some figure eights on a fine nail file, the problem is virtually non-existent and the nib has retained its deliciously smooth operation. I am now truly delighted with the way it writes!
- Appearance & Design (9) - Just plain awesome!
This is about 90% of why I bought it.
The clip has a nice spring to it, but it will have to be lifted if you intend to use it as it runs flush with the barrel and there is no rounding going on to allow it to slip on by itself.
The nib looks gorgeous! The two tones and the decorations match nicely. It says Visconti, 23k Pd 950, Firenze and 1.3 on the nib. The breather hole is crescent-shaped, with the tips pointing towards the barrel.
The final aesthetic aspect I would like to point out are the indents between the grip and the section. These are part of the locking mechanism: you're supposed to push and twist simultaneously to uncap, but in practice you can simply twist without pushing and the cap will still come off. This doesn't bother me but it's something you should be aware of. Don't expect it to uncap by itself though, I can't see that happening at all. Visually, I really like the grooves as I find they resemble some kind of Greek pattern which fits right in with the general theme of the pen in my opinion.
- Construction & Quality (9) - Very good, but...
Quality of construction is excellent for the most part, but I do have three issues I want to mention.
Firstly, the fact that this nib required pressure to start writing is something that really bothered me and absolutely had to be remedied before I could enjoy using this pen. I applaud Visconti for wanting to give their users the smoothest experience possible, but having to deal with baby-bottom is not my idea of Dreamtouch. Fortunately I was able to resolve it but I think this should simply not happen to such a high-end pen. I have read that Visconti's stub nib is more prone to this defect than their other nibs.
Secondly, and thirdly, Visconti needs to work on their printing/painting process as this leaves something to be desired: the black on the clip looks like it is printed using some kind of dot matrix, but on one side the entire printing is very slightly misaligned with where it's supposed to be, whereas on the other side some dots have not printed. Also some of the letters look a bit jagged because of this process when looked at closely. This should be clearly visible in the high-res photos on Flickr.
Moreover, on the band that reads 'HOMO SAPIENS' the text is colored black, but the m is not entirely colored. This is also visible in this photo.
Fortunately however, none of these issues affect my daily enjoyment of the pen: the nib problem has been cured, and the paint anomalies are too minor to notice without really inspecting the pen or looking for it. As a side note, I should add that the traveling inkwell I was first shown featured quite ugly misprintings and even some scratches, almost like it was a secondhand prototype or something. The seller said that this was the way the newer, plastic inkwells all looked and then offered me the metal one from a display case for the same price, an offer I gladly accepted!
- Weight & Dimensions (10) - Perfect!
The size of the pen is perfect as far as I'm concerned. Capped it is as long as my Carène, uncapped it is slightly longer. The big difference is in the circumference of the pen. It is a much fatter pen, which I really appreciate. The section has a very comfortable shape and the fact that it is also fairly wide means it is a pleasure hold. This together with the smoothness and wetness of the nib are what constitutes the Dreamtouch I think.
- Nib & Performance (9) - Wet, smooth, some feedback
Over the last few months I have learned that I like my nibs wet and smooth. The HS delivers in both respects, and when looking at the current performance it is all I hoped it would be!
However, when considering only stock performance, I would give the nib about a 6: it would write, but only if I apply some pressure first. This would be a major issue for me, but perhaps you don't mind or wouldn't even notice.
- Filling System & Maintenance (8) - Power filler!
The HS bronze uses a power filler mechanism to suck up ink. I love using it and think it's much cooler than a converter. Just unscrew the blind cap, pull the titanium rod back, submerge the pen up to the section and push the rod back in. Near the end of the travel, the vacuum will be released and the pen will suck up quite some ink. For optimal filling you should use the traveling inkwell as that allows for a full fill by inverting the pen whilst filling.
The big downside of this mechanism is the fact that cleaning can not be carried out by using a bulb syringe, and thus is much slower than usual. This is especially annoying when using e.g. Rouge Hématite as all you can do is repeatedly suck up water and expel it again which can take ages! Given the fact that the pen is just so nice in virtually all other aspects, I can definitely live with this but you should consider it when buying this pen.
The nib can only be removed using a special tool that I saw the seller use, I wouldn't risk trying to remove it without this tool.
- Cost & Value (8) - Alright, I guess....
Going for about €450 in the Netherlands, this is not a cheap pen. Whether or not it is worth it is as always a very subjective matter. For me it clearly was or I would have returned it, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were other cheaper pens that write (almost) equally smooth and wet. As for looks, you really don't have much of a choice but to pay up, or pay even more for the limited edition Mazzi version of the pen. Since I will be using this pen for just about any writing I will do, which, being a college student, can include quite a bit of note taking, I simply consider getting a pen that writes awesomely the same as any other time you buy a quality tool for something you do on a regular basis. The fact that I can couple this with the visual appeal of something like a wrist watch in one object and stand out from the herd of cheap ballpoint users just adds to my personal enjoyment!
- Conclusion (Final score [53/6]: 8.8) - Not perfect, but excellent
The few issue that my specimen of this pen has have either been resolved or are too insignificant in the grand scheme to significantly affect my appreciation for it. When a pen can couple stunning looks and writing performance, that is a winning combination for me and I do not regret the purchase at all. I look forward to lots of writing with it and feel no desire to purchase any other pen after this one. Overall, I would definitely recommend the Homo Sapiens as well as the brand Visconti to anyone looking for a good looking, smooth writing pen. Do make sure to test it out at a shop though so you know what you're getting, especially in terms of nib performance.
Edited by Piro_Flipper, 27 May 2013 - 07:40.