My first impression: The Pilot Knight is overpackaged. (Sharpies not included.)
It arrives in a three-pen box the size of something that could’ve held a strand of pearls. It’s a nice box but I only ordered one pen. Moreover, none of my other pens fits the slots in the cradle, so it’s no good for pen storage. In short, I have no use for this nice box. My second impression: I ordered Navy and I’ve received Black. Uh-oh. We’re off to a bad start.
I lift-out the pen cradle and underneath it I find the “plate-press” converter, a cartridge, a product registration card, and a use-and-care guide.
DESIGN: FORM & FUNCTION.
The Pilot Knight blends 1960s space-age design with minimalism. To the naked eye it is perfect. It is sleek yet appears to be curvy in all the right places.
But the appearance is deceptive. After I remove the cap, post it, and begin to write, the sleek minimalist appearance is undermined. The Pilot Knight is unnecessarily heavy. And something else is “off,” yet I can’t quite put my finger on it. I unpost the cap and try writing again. It still feels awkward.
And then I notice I’ve unconsciously gripped the pen at the ring on the bottom of the barrel underneath which are the threads of the barrel-section coupling. (My fingers assumed the Pilot Knight had a proper grip and just went where they thought they belonged.) As a tactile experience, this position is unacceptable. I scrunch my hand to force my fingers down onto where the grip is supposed to be but isn’t—it’s just a dead space that looks like a grip—and I write for a few minutes. This too is uncomfortable. My hand wasn’t built to scrunch down like that. I know I won’t be able to write that way for more than a few minutes at a time. Not being able to find any comfortable way to grip this pen would be a deal-breaker. I resolve to grip the pen on the barrel just above the ring and switch back and forth between posting and unposting. Unposted with this grip, the Pilot Knight feels as small as a Crayola crayon or a golf scorecard pencil. This is better than gripping that bumpy ring, but far worse than ideal. (Score = 2/10.)
CONSTRUCTION & QUALITY.
The body is metal with plenty of heft. It can’t help but feel solidly-built. And the cap securely snaps closed. This pen appears to be a safe and secure pen for one’s pocket or purse.
Once again the appearance is deceptive.
I’ve looked inside the cap and noticed a cheap plastic liner. If this liner ever cracked, the cap would never snap back into place properly. I know this because the same thing happened to me with another pen which had an identical plastic liner in its cap. And if the Pilot Knight’s cap couldn’t stay closed I’d probably put it into the limbo drawer with that other pen. So when I post the cap I post it gingerly. This wouldn’t be an issue if the body were plastic instead of metal. (Score = 5/10.)
WEIGHT & DIMENSIONS.
The photos above should give you a good sense of the pen's relative dimensions. The following measurements are mine. Closed: 135mm; unposted: 115mm; posted: 150mm. For comparison, here are the stats for the Waterman Phileas—closed: 135mm; unposted: 132mm; posted: 148mm. In case you missed it, the stubby Waterman Phileas unposted is 17mm—approximately ¾-inch—longer than the unposted Pilot Knight. I’ve already said this pen is unnecessarily heavy. (Score = 2/10.)NIB & PERFORMANCE.
I have three words to describe this Japanese-medium nib: smooth, wet, fine. Performance is flawless: no skips, no dry starts, and the nib lays down a perfect European-fine line every time. The nib is so smooth I can write as speedily as I’ve ever written with any writing instrument, including my favorite gel pen. What’s not to love? (Score = 10/10.)
The “plate-press” converter (“squeeze-bar filler” in Richard Binder’s lexicon) works like an eyedropper. I submerge the nib into the ink, squeeze the metal plate against the tube, release the pressure without removing the nib, keep the nib submerged for three seconds, repeat the whole process, and then remove the nib from the ink bottle. I can write seven pages on 8.5x11 college-ruled paper before the pen begins to get scratchy and I have to refill. Even so, I'm not sure I've mastered the technique. With more practice I might get another page or two out of one fill.
Unlike the typical converter which requires two hands—one on the converter body and the other twisting the knob—the “plate-press” filler is a one-handed operation. This should come in handy when I reach the bottom of an ink bottle and I can use my free hand to tilt the bottle to get that last drop of ink. (Score = 10/10.)COST & VALUE.
From Amazon this pen cost me $25.90, including shipping. Despite its shortcomings the Pilot Knight is a bargain at $25.90 because of its nib. However, I wouldn’t buy another if I had to pay the MSRP of $45. (Score = 7/10.)
OVERALL SCORE = 7/10.
(The overall score is higher than the average of the categorical scores because I don’t weigh the categories equally.)
The Pilot Knight, despite its flaws, has become my everyday knockaround pen. Its fine, wet nib saves it from the oblivion of the drawer. If Pilot improved the design of the grip and made the body out of plastic, the Knight would be the perfect all-around performer for letter-writing, Moleskine-journaling, note-taking, signatures, or anything else.
Edit: Add more photos
Edited by Bookman, 08 July 2009 - 19:38.