IN A WORLD... WHERE BALLPOINTS DOMINATE... (CROWD GASPS IN HORROR) ONE BLOG... GOES FORTH to compare two very well-known pens. The Lamy 2000 is “modern vintage.” It has been in production since the 1960’s and was around at the same time as when the Parker 51 was still being produced! The TWSBI is newer to the fountain pen scene (relatively speaking). Both are piston fillers and commonly recommended to people looking for reliable pens! (I should note that I have the TWSBI 540, an older generation of the now available TWSBI 580 so there might be some slight differences.)
Appearance & Design (1-10)
I think both of them are gorgeous and modern looking, but that’s my l opinion. The two pens are very different, so take a look at the pictures (or try to see both in person!) and judge for yourself!
Lamy 2000 (8/10)-The Lamy is very minimalist in appearance and still looks modern despite its age (it’s older than me!).
It only comes in one color too: black. People around you probably wouldn’t be able to tell it was a fountain pen at first glance. I’m a fan of the understated appearance.
The only branding on the pen is a very subtly engraved “LAMY” on the side of the clip and “GERMANY” underneath the clip. My camera doesn’t capture this at all though.
The only thing I don’t like about it is the ink window. It’s too small to really be useful (I guess you can tell when the pen is out of ink?) and for dark inks that cling to the walls it takes too long to see if your supply is running low. The body is very rounded so be careful if you leave it uncapped- it WILL roll!
For those of you who prefer a grip on a pen...the Lamy doesn’t have one as the body is tapered. If you don’t like narrow grips you’ll have to hold the pen up higher. It should also be noted that there are two little nubs on the pen that keep the cap on. Personally, I find them completely unobtrusive since they are TINY and blunt but some people can’t stand them.
(tiny silver "nub" mentioned- there are two of these)
TWSBI 540 (8/10)-The TWSBI is a beautiful pen. I have the clear model and I find it extremely eye-catching. The clear body really shows off your inks. It also comes in Amber, Sapphire, and Smoke (all are still translucent). One thing I love about demonstrators is that THE BODY IS YOUR INK WINDOW. Unlike with the Lamy’s tiny window, you can tell right away how much ink you have in your TWSBI.
The cap of the TWSBI has the red logo, which I think looks rather cool. The only branding I could find was on the silver accent on the cap (not the clip)- it says “TWSBI.”
(the words don't show up in the picture well)
The body is faceted (think diamond) so it won’t roll off your desk uncapped unless there’s a steep incline. Speaking of the cap... I don’t like it. The cap seems to be made of glass. It’s ridiculously heavy in proportion to the pen and I’m afraid of dropping it on a hard floor. It doesn’t post... well. (I think this pen doesn’t/shouldn’t post at all, but I’ve seen some people swear they love the way it feels when it’s posted so YMMV.) Posted the pen becomes very top heavy and too long and you have to jam the cap on to get it posted securely. Be careful though...the cap has a tendency to get stuck on the piston and create a mess when you remove it. If you don’t post your pens this isn’t a problem. I should also note the cap has an inner cap that works perfectly with keeping a good seal on the pen when closed. I’ve never had drying out issues or hard starts after leaving it capped for extended periods of time.
The grip on the TWSBI is round. I thought I would have problems with the grip being slippery since it’s plastic, but there’s a very well-designed grip stop (slight upward curve) that prevents your fingers from slipping down to the nib. (On other pens I sometimes find the grip stop too shallow to prevent slipping but on the TWSBI it’s perfect.)
(both "posted." You can also see the grips on both.)
Construction & Quality (1-10)
Lamy 2000 (10/10)- The Lamy is made of Makrolon. I don’t know too much about special polycarbonates so I’ll just say THE FINISH FEELS LIKE WOOD AND IS EXTREMELY DURABLE (see torture tests). The pen has a brushed finish so it isn’t slippery. The pen has just the right weight. It has enough heft to feel substantial but so perfectly balanced you don’t get fatigued while writing for extended periods of time. There is so much attention to detail on this pen- the piston is so seamless I wouldn’t notice it if I didn’t know there was a piston. The cap is spring-loaded stainless steel. It’s by far the best cap I’ve seen in terms of functionality since it really grips whatever you’ve clipped it to and can hold a lot. (Did I mention IT’S SPRING LOADED?great if you love to fiddle).
TWSBI 540 (8/10)-The TWSBI body seems to be made of some kind of plastic. It’s softer and feels more expensive than your typical ABS plastic. The cap is heavy and made of glass(?). The piston also fits with the pen nicely.
The reason I’m taking two points off this section is that with the 540 model there were numerous cases of the grip sections cracking. This never happened to me, but it did to some of my friends. Although TWSBI is known for its excellent customer service and new parts will be sent to you if you experience problems, I still don’t like that I have to use extra care when screwing on the section so I don’t overtighten it or expose it to any pressure that could cause it to crack. With the Lamy 2000 I never worry about throwing it around. I don’t have a 580, but the cracking issues were supposed to be resolved on the newer model.
Weight & Dimensions (1-10)
Lamy 2000 (10/10)-I think this pen has the perfect weight both posted and unposted. I prefer to post my pens though. It’s neither a featherweight nor bulky. It’s the most well-balanced pen I’ve held.
TWSBI 540 (9/10)-I love the feel of this pen unposted. Unposted I find it a little lighter than the Lamy, but it still is one of my favorites for long writing sections. The grip on the TWSBI is thicker than that on the Lamy (unless you hold the Lamy far up the pen) which I find more comfortable at times. One point off for terrible weight and being cap/back heavy posted. (If you NEVER post your pens this should not be a problem for you.)
Nib & Performance (1-10)
**I should note it’s a little hard for me to compare the nibs on these two pens. I have a Lamy 2000 in EF which is the FINEST nib I have ever used. My TWSBI 540 has a F nib but it writes like a western medium. So the smoothness of each is going to be different and I get more flow (and feathering) out of the broader nib. The TWSBI has easily interchangeable nibs too while with the Lamy you’re stuck with whatever you bought. The material each is made of is different too. The Lamy is made of coated gold while the TWSBI is steel.
ANOTHER thing to mention is both pens are known for being inconsistent with their nibs.
Lamy has a poor QC reputation and I’ve read reviews describing their nibs as too fine/dry/scratchy and others that have called it wetter and wider than the Amazon river.
I haven’t seen many complaints about scratchiness from the TWSBI- just their nib sizes. Their nib sizes can be inconsistent as well. I’ve read of medium TWSBI nibs being the same size as EF nibs. If possible, always try the pens before you buy them or buy from a good dealer who won’t mind testing the pen before shipping to make sure you get a good one.
(Lamy EF and TWSBI F both with the same ink: Noodler's North African Violet on a graph composition book. You can see the huge difference.)
Lamy 2000 (10/10)-The nib is hooded on the Lamy and is made of platinum coated 14k gold. This is my first gold nib and I LOVE IT. It has a certain “spring” to it. There’s a softness when I write that I don’t experience with my other steel-nibbed pens. I would NOT call this flex and I don’t get line variation unless I use pressure. It feels like a cushioned ride. My EF is super smooth and extremely fine. It’s the finest nib I’ve ever used. It works perfectly on cheap papers since it lays down a conservative amount of ink.
The hooded design works well for me since I have a tendency to pause while writing notes. I’ve never had problems with hard starts or drying out even with Noodler’s bulletproof inks.
TWSBI 540 (10/10)-The TWSBI is a steel nib but writes super smooth! The nib is more traditional looking than the Lamy which some of you might like! The nib on the TWSBI feels “softer” than the steel nibs on my Lamy Safari and Parker Vector. I would describe the Lamy Safari nib as a nail while the TWSBI has a bit more give to it. It’s not as springy as the Lamy 2000, but much better than other pens I’ve tried.
I have an F nib that writes like a medium. It’s broader than the Lamy Safari Medium I’ve tried and my Parker Vector Fine. I’ve frequently had problems with hard starts and drying out when I pause for a few seconds while writing using Noodler’s bulletproof inks. I solved this by using wetter, less saturated inks though.
Possibly the best part of the TWSBI nibs is that they’re interchangeable! You can buy replacement nibs at from EF-B to Italics for around $20. They unscrew and screw on easily and without a mess.
Filling System & Maintenance (1-10)
Filling (10/10 both)-Both are piston fillers that hold generous amounts of ink. So 10/10 for both on that part. I don’t know if one of them holds more ink than the other, but I honestly think it’s negligible considering the large volume they already hold.
Lamy 2000 Maintenance (6/10)- To me, it doesn’t seem like the Lamy 2000 was designed with user maintenance in mind. It doesn’t come with instructions on maintenance/taking the pen apart. Truth be told, I’m a little afraid to take it apart and mess around since there are parts like the nubs and the hood complicates things. The GOOD thing is that Lamy has a lifetime warranty and is known for their excellent customer service. So if you ever do need maintenance you just have to mail it in and include a check for the return shipping (which is reassuring but I find it inconvenient since it could be weeks before you get it back).
To clean it I suck up water (sometimes with a little bit of soap) and squirt it out. Rinse and repeat until clean.
TWSBI 540 Maintenance (10/10) The reason I gave Lamy such a low score is probably because of how much the TWSBI shines in comparison in this section. Unlike the Lamy, the TWSBI was obviously designed with user serviceability in mind. It comes with a wrench and instructions to take the pen apart as well as a little bottle of silicone grease to lube the piston! I haven’t taken it apart since I haven’t had to, but it’s nice to know it’s perfectly serviceable at home. I HAVE, however, greased the piston myself when it started getting stuck. It was easy and the bottle of grease included was appreciated since I’ve used it on my other pens as well (a little goes a long way!). It’s not a pen you have to tinker with out of the box (like the Noodler’s pens are known to be). But if you do need to perform maintenance on it, it’s perfectly doable at home with the help of a few youtube videos!
(underneath the TWSBI case- the metal wrench and bottle of silicone grease)
Out of all my pens, the TWSBI is easiest to clean. I credit this to the fact that the nib section easily unscrews. You can unscrew the section and rise out the nib, feed, and grip section (even scrub them if you want to). With the grip/nib section removed it only takes a few rinses with the piston to get it completely free of ink!
Cost & Value (1-10)
Lamy 2000 (7/10)- If it hasn’t been obvious from most of this review, I love the Lamy 2000. But when I consider the cost and value (and compare it to say...the TWSBI or other less expensive pens) I can’t say I’m super impressed. Is the pen worth it? To me, yes. It’s beautifully designed, durable, rugged, has great customer service, etc. But are there tons of other great pens out there I could get for the same price? Also yes. I got mine as a graduation present, but if I were spending my own money casually I would give it second thoughts. It would probably be on the list of “pens to buy eventually because they’re great but not right now because I could try so many other ones.” Back when it cost under $100 I would have had no qualms, but now at the almost $150+ price tag (depending on where you buy it from) I find it a tad expensive. The Lamy 2000 costs 3x as much as the TWSBI, but it isn’t 3x as good.
TWSBI 540 (10/10)-I think the price is perfectly reasonable for what you’re getting. Even more so now with price hikes on other pens. You’re getting a modern PISTON fill that writes great out of the box and has interchangeable nibs! Not to mention the fancy display case.
The TWSBI wins, in my book.
(sorry for the glare)
The main thing that stuck with me while reviewing both these pens was the last section- cost and value. While I love both pens dearly, the TWSBI won because it’s user serviceable, easy to clean, has affordable interchangeable nibs (with a variety of sizes!), and has an affordable price.
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