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Hakase Rw15C - Rosewood Flat-Top, Fine Nib

hakase japanese handmade custom fine gold wood

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#1 mongrelnomad

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 09:36

There is a wise catch-phrase coined by the seminal 90s British sitcom Spaced. "Skip to the end." And so I will: 

 

This is the single best pen I have ever owned, ever held, ever used. It is so good that it has made me believe - maybe just a little bit - in the old, oft-told myth of The One Pen

 

There. Good. I uttered the sacrilegious words. Now that they are free and I am free too we can backtrack a bit (as I take a deep breath) and I can attempt to explain how this little cylinder of rosewood, ebonite and gold caused the furnaces of hell to freeze to ice.

 

As some of you will remember, this is not my first Hakase. The first - a rather fetching buffalo horn torpedo - confused initially, before wrapping its tentacles firmly around my heart. This pen too came as something of a shock (no, slow down - I am getting ahead of myself), but even then there were no, even fleeting, feelings of disappointment. I had long wanted a wooden pen and after being gently guided through the options by Hakase's Mr. Ryo Yamamoto, I slowly narrowed my choices to the shape (flat-top), size (large) and wood (rosewood). I paid my deposit and began my wait.

 

The photographs I recieved from Mr. Yamamoto in answer to my questions - 1. l-r: buffalo horn torpedo, RW15C, RW10C; 2. l-r: ebony, rosewood, cocobolo

 

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The pen arrived with little fanfare as all Hakases do: a small wooden box wrapped in the company's steel-grey wrapping paper. Open the paper, pull the lid off the perfectly-fitting box and there was the pen. It was, and is, absolutely gorgeous.

 

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The shape is highly unusual but deceptively simple - a large cap worked to a slightly conical summit allied to a voluptuous barrel that narrows to an abrupt end (where the signature Hakase production date is carved into the wood). This allows the cap to post comfortably and securely. The pen, though large, is light and comfortable, and is is perfectly balance whether the cap is posted or not. Only the gold roll-stopper breaks the clean, unadorned lines.

 

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Although the pen is exactly what I expected, some details still manage to surprised. Google translate being what it is, I intended to ask Mr. Yamamoto how one could possibly fill, empty, clean and care for a pen constructed entirely from wood but could not reduce the question to sufficiently simple syntax. Not that it would have been necessary, for the apparently wooden section turned out to be the most glorious, warm, sensual ebonite, polished to a lustre that would make even the old vintage gods of yore weep. 

 

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The wood itself as I wished: it smells deep and sweet and organic and is pockmarked with veins and crevices and seams. It feels as I expected the buffalo horn to feel: rough and intimate; perfectly flawed as only a once-living, experiencing thing can be. It has been masterfully worked, from the hand-carved threads that screw on and off with the faint rubbing sound of rope being fed through an old loom, to the nearly imperceptible join where the cap's hollow section and rounded top meet. 

 

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The furniture is as to be expected of Hakase: solid, hand-beaten 14k gold. I understand from Mr. Yamamoto that white gold and sterling silver are now options but I cannot think of a single Hakase model that would benefit from a more monochromatic palette. As my buffalo pen had a circular nipple roll-stopper, I chose a pyramid for variety, and I am glad I did for it seems to catch the light and gleam in a more three-dimensional, more dramatic, way. Hugged lovingly within its trough, the band is neither loose nor tight and I find myself absentmindedly rotating it around the barrel as one would a wedding-ring on a fleshy finger: smooth as olive oil and hypnotically satisfying. Reassuring even.

 

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Nib, converter, feed: all Pilot. Off-the-shelf, yes, but of the highest quality nonetheless and perfectly integrated. For this pen I requested a fine nib and once again Hakase delivered. It is without a shadow of a doubt the single best nib for me and my illegibly cramped style of writing that I have ever used. Even by Japanese standards its line is fine, but it is so consistent and predictable, so smooth and forgiving of angle and pressure, that I have not been able to put it down. 

 

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I have an obsessive methodology that governs my writing. Ever since I began work on the second first draft of Unpublished Novel #1 ™ I have changed both pen and ink every day. This was not only an excuse to amass and horde, it had at its root a practical purpose. Not all writing days are created equal, and altering the visible signature simplifies the thankless transcribing process months later. General rule: if a colour (day) begins eloquently, it will most likely remain eloquent. If not, skip ahead to the next colour (day) and fill in the blanks later. This simple regimen has remained unbroken for nearly five years, through two and a half novels and countless edits and rewrites. Until now.

 

Since I received this pen, held it in my hands and first filled it with Iroshizuku Shin Kai, I have used no other. This is not out of necessity - I am not currently travelling (even then I carry between three and seven pens) and I have over a hundred pens and probably a good deal more inks easily to hand. No. I have, quite simply, not wished to use another pen. 

 

Size comparison - MB149, RW15C, Buffalo Horn Torpedo

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To add insult to injury, the price is also shockingly resonable. No, you're right - calling a pen that retails for ¥162,000 (~$1,600) good value is a sure sign of insanity, but stay with me. First, because of the lack of embellishments (read: gold), this pen is several magnitudes cheaper than most of Hakase's creations. Then, when we remove immediate family from the contest and look at alternatives based upon price, all are big brand variations on a mass produced theme. And so the question becomes: would you rather pay for a fancy finish (raden on an M1000 for instance), elaborate gratuitous embellishments (MB POA 4810s, themselves 30%+ more expensive), or a unique, handmade product of singular skill and obsession where your fingers can sense the love and attention in every touch?

 

Before we reach the foregone conclusion, allow me a brief addendum, for I bought a Hakase case with my pen and must include at least a mention in this review. Outsourced to these people, it is constructed of the most beautiful fragrant leather and is crafted as immaculately (and with the same methods, last and all) as hand-made shoes. Although I ordered it as a separate entity, it has been custom-made (without me asking) to fit this pen and this pen only. There is no strip for a clip (visible on the website here), and a little hole has been cut at exactly the height of the roll-stopper. It holds my pen, and my pen only, perfectly and it is impossible to appropriately describe how lovely it feels to have the pyramid slide into place and to see it poking out through its rabbit-hole into the light.

 

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But forgive my brief digression, for now we've returned full-circle back to where we began. This is the single best pen I have ever owned, held or used. It is so good that it has made me believe, maybe just a little bit, in the old myth of The One Pen

 

Perhaps now you will understand why.


Edited by mongrelnomad, 17 July 2013 - 06:43.

Too many pens; too little writing.

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#2 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 09:51

wonderful pen and nice review :thumbup: thanks for sharing


Edited by georges zaslavsky, 16 July 2013 - 09:53.

Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#3 Daisy25

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 10:23

When I first got into this fountain pen world a few months ago, I (naively) didn't understand the lure of a thousand dollar plus pen.  I have learned.  And this is certainly one of the great examples: what a beautiful and unique pen, and how perfect to be working on your own unique work of art with the pen itself being a unique work of art.  What a beautiful pen -- thank you for the entertaining review and great photos.


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#4 mongrelnomad

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 14:16

wonderful pen and nice review :thumbup: thanks for sharing

 

Thanks Georges - my pleasure!

 

When I first got into this fountain pen world a few months ago, I (naively) didn't understand the lure of a thousand dollar plus pen.  I have learned.  And this is certainly one of the great examples: what a beautiful and unique pen, and how perfect to be working on your own unique work of art with the pen itself being a unique work of art.  What a beautiful pen -- thank you for the entertaining review and great photos.

Daisy - happy that you enjoyed it. They say that "a true cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing" - this pen is far more valuable than the (not insubstantial) cost implies. 


Too many pens; too little writing.

#5 Montblanc owner and lover

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 14:24

This pen is absolutely splendid! I love the look of rosewood,it's so warm and deep. Just one thing i don't like so much,the look of the gold ring. And the pen case made for YOUR pen how can it be better?


A people can be great withouth a great pen but a people who love great pens is surely a great people too... Pens owned actually: MB 146 EF;Pelikan M200 SE Clear Demonstrator 2012 B;Parker 17 EF;Parker 51 EF;Waterman Expert II M,Waterman Hemisphere M;Waterman Carene F and Stub;Pilot Justus 95 F. Nearly owned: MB 149 B(Circa 2002);Conway Stewart Belliver LE bracket Brown IB.

#6 Jadie

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 15:43

Thank you for taking us with you on the wonderful journey of getting your perfect pen. It was a lovely read. ^___^


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#7 Sblakers

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 17:23

Great !  Thanks a lot. Now I have to have one. I'm sure my wife will be thanking you.  Your review was too good and I blame my next splurge of money on you !



#8 ehemem

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 17:45

 

Thanks Georges - my pleasure!

 

Daisy - happy that you enjoyed it. They say that "a true cynic knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing" - this pen is far more valuable than the (not insubstantial) cost implies. 

 

 

 

A beautiful pen and a great review! Glad you are happy with it.

 

(Hey! The little quote should read "philistine" and not cynic. :) )



#9 quinden

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 18:49

mongrelnomad, this pen is heart-stopping (in the best way).  Your review (especially the conclusion) really resonated with me - bravo!!!


Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

#10 Jezza

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 19:07

Speechless!  Congrats on a gorgeous and unique writing instrument.  I will simply have to content myself with Pilot #15 nibs in Pilot pens, for the time being.  But, I envy you!



#11 drgoretex

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 19:36

You are really determined to see me into the poorhouse, aren't you?

 

I don't know how much longer I can hold out on a Hakase (well, actually, yes I do - as long as it takes to build up that kind of pen fund...), but posts like your last few are truly pushing me over the edge.

 

Ken

 

Edit:  In case it wasn't obvious above, I LOVE that pen of yours, and your descriptions border on poetry.  Sigh...


Edited by drgoretex, 16 July 2013 - 19:37.


#12 rhk

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 20:04

Thank you for this review, I am happy yo enjoy your Hakase pens as much as I do. I would like to know if there are any reasons why the section cannot be made of wood. Maybe it is easier or more reliable to attach a feed and the metal part for the cartridge/convertor in ebonite? Ruud



#13 Mkim

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Posted 16 July 2013 - 21:22

Beautiful pen there!

I am deliberately trying to stay ignorant with Hakase pens...there are just so many gorgeous Japaneses pens that are killing my pen fund, I don't need another one :gaah:

 

Thank you for this review, I am happy yo enjoy your Hakase pens as much as I do. I would like to know if there are any reasons why the section cannot be made of wood. Maybe it is easier or more reliable to attach a feed and the metal part for the cartridge/convertor in ebonite? Ruud

 

I believe the section is ebonite due to staining that occurs with wood when in constant contact with ink...of course this is just my speculation but that would be my design logic. When filling the pen, the ink comes into contact with the section (sometimes dipped partially into the section barrel for a full fill).



#14 ethernautrix

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 01:43

*Faints.

 

 

 

*Eyes fluttering...

 

Oh my goodness... Your review pushes me closer to the Hakase edge....


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#15 ParkerBeta

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 02:38

What a lyrical review!  Perfect for the pen it describes!!  Long may Hakase continue to prosper and its expert artisans continue their obsessive quest for perfection in manufacture and harmony in design!!


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#16 mongrelnomad

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 06:56

This pen is absolutely splendid! I love the look of rosewood,it's so warm and deep. Just one thing i don't like so much,the look of the gold ring. And the pen case made for YOUR pen how can it be better?

 

It can't. It really can't. :)

Thank you for taking us with you on the wonderful journey of getting your perfect pen. It was a lovely read. ^___^

My pleasure. I only hope my review managed to convey how besotted I am with this pen.

 

Great !  Thanks a lot. Now I have to have one. I'm sure my wife will be thanking you.  Your review was too good and I blame my next splurge of money on you !

Pleasure ;) I think a Hakase of your own is worth a little bit of an earful... at least I hope it will be! 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful pen and a great review! Glad you are happy with it.

 

(Hey! The little quote should read "philistine" and not cynic. :) )

Thanks... though I'm sticking with 'cynic'.   :P

 

mongrelnomad, this pen is heart-stopping (in the best way).  Your review (especially the conclusion) really resonated with me - bravo!!!

Thank you quinden! Glad you enjoyed it!

 

Speechless!  Congrats on a gorgeous and unique writing instrument.  I will simply have to content myself with Pilot #15 nibs in Pilot pens, for the time being.  But, I envy you!

Don't want to be a party pooper (please forgive me for what I'm about to say!), but my Hakase nibs consistently outperform my Pilot Pilot #15 nibs by a huge margin. I have numerous fine Pilot #15 nibs and they feel so different to this example that they may as well have been made by a different company. I guess it goes to show how dramatic an effect a nibmeister can have. 

 

You are really determined to see me into the poorhouse, aren't you?

 

I don't know how much longer I can hold out on a Hakase (well, actually, yes I do - as long as it takes to build up that kind of pen fund...), but posts like your last few are truly pushing me over the edge.

 

Ken

 

Edit:  In case it wasn't obvious above, I LOVE that pen of yours, and your descriptions border on poetry.  Sigh...

Glad you enjoyed the review. I can't wait to read yours when you finally take the plunge...

 

Thank you for this review, I am happy yo enjoy your Hakase pens as much as I do. I would like to know if there are any reasons why the section cannot be made of wood. Maybe it is easier or more reliable to attach a feed and the metal part for the cartridge/convertor in ebonite? Ruud

Ruud - the man who opened the floodgates. Thank you, for without your photographs, reviews and scanned brochure I would never have reached the pen-nirvana I now inhabit. 

 

About the ebonite, I think Mkim is right: staining would be a very serious issue, and I'm not sure I'd particularly like to let a piece of beautiful wood 'soak overnight' during cleaning. It may be worth asking Mr. Yamamoto for his opinion, though...

 

Beautiful pen there!

I am deliberately trying to stay ignorant with Hakase pens...there are just so many gorgeous Japaneses pens that are killing my pen fund, I don't need another one :gaah:

 

You do need another one. You need a Hakase ;)

 

*Faints.

 

 

 

*Eyes fluttering...

 

Oh my goodness... Your review pushes me closer to the Hakase edge....

If you need anyone to push you off...  :D

 

What a lyrical review!  Perfect for the pen it describes!!  Long may Hakase continue to prosper and its expert artisans continue their obsessive quest for perfection in manufacture and harmony in design!!

I completely agree ParkerBeta - this is a generational company where the old man and his son are the only 'employees', and they personally make and sell all the pens. It is a mom-and-pop (or rather pop-and-son) enterprise the likes of which only seems to endure in Japan. Long may it prosper...


Edited by mongrelnomad, 17 July 2013 - 06:58.

Too many pens; too little writing.

#17 Bringiton

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 11:27

Fantastic review. Thanks for sharing. 



#18 Painterspal

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 11:30

I'm in spontaneously falling off chair mode - great review of a fabulous, unique and, if I may say, gloriously idiosyncratic pen. It's so organic and yet at the same time perfectly finished, I'm just in awe basically!

 

Thanks so much for sharing.


Edited by Painterspal, 17 July 2013 - 19:48.

D A N i T R i O f e l l o w s h i p

#19 Abhik

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 13:31

WOW! What a review Mongrelnomad!

High command over language and expression of imotion towards the pen!

Fantastic!

This pen might be the best pen reviewed during last one year or more! Wonderful pen!

Rgds.

Abhik



#20 hari317

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 15:56

I have been waiting for the review. Thanks!

 

I wonder if a black ebonite section and ebtrails would have looked better? why did they go for the rippled ebonite?


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