[Brief introduction] This is my third pen review in English.
Sailor launched Limited Edition Anniversary pen 75th, 80th, 85th, 90th in public. REALO is the 5th Anniversary pen in 2006 to commemorate the 95th Anniversary of its Foundation (1911). Only 500 pieces were produced(exactly speaking,according to the indication from a kind FPNer,there were two editions of the REALO made: XXX/500 for the Asian market and XXX/100 for the rest of the world. That is, in Europe and in the US only the 100 pen edition was available for sale.）. The origin of REALO is REliance And LOcus. Sailor says proudly in its explanation of REALO that: "2006 is the year of our 95th anniversary. We have been working with the technology cultivated over 95 years and with the materials and craftsmanship of the past ages and using the concepts of reliance and locus the special 95th Anniversary fountain pen "REALO" was born. This portrays our pride of being the first manufacturer of fountain pens in Japan, and moreover serious efforts to open new doors to the future".
At that time, I had no interest for fountain pens. So if I had Known the existence of REALO, I would not have bought it owing to its high price. Later when I began to want to have it, of course there are no REALO at any shops in Tokyo. I also wanted Pilot 85th Hiten then and heard "Papylos 21", a stationery shop in rural Matsue City, far from Tokyo, have Hiten. I inquired of the owner of the shop about Hiten by telephone, she answered they had only one Hiten that is an article not for sale. I was disappointed deeply but to make sure of it, I also inquired about REALO. "Yes we have, but no plan for sale." I felt the difference of nuance between the 85th and the 95th. I did not give up and pleaded with her to sell REALO for me even if the price is higher than the list price. At last she gave in and sold REALO to me.
REALO is the only piston filler among Sailor pens. Fountain pen lovers who like sailor pens seem interested in the combination of Sailor nib and piston filler. So I have decided to try telling you details of this pen.
1 First Impressions (10/10) – I received the parcel in my place of work. You can see the reason, can't you? The box is dark blue cardboard on the lid of which gold characters of " REALO SAILOR" was stamped. It is comparatively small and fairly plain for an anniversary pen box. I had a favorable impression for these things to the contrary because I do not like too big and pompous box. When I opened the box, there were the REALO, special bottle of Sailor black ink, the 95th commemorative metal plate on which the serial number was engraved, papers(booklet about REALO, guidance of SAILOR PROFIT CLUB and so on) and yellow polishing cloth. Under the small box on which REALO was set, Koushu Inden* pen pouch was put. When I saw the pouch carefully, I found the symbolic marks of Sailor, anchors, were treated by urushi and the mouth of the pouch were covered with black leather to protect the pen. This was made specially for the 95th without doubt. Of course, REALO. Glossy black and gold pen! Big size! Honestly speaking, I could not help be deeply moved at that time. But I could not have enough time to enjoy deep emotion at work.
* Koshu Inden : Koshu is old name of about present Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan. Inden is traditional craftwork with a history dating back 400years using wild deerskin specially treated with urushi lacquers. It is very light, tough and splendid, so it was favorably used for helmets and armors of military commanders in the age of civil strife,16th century, in Japan.
upper:REALO's pen pouch lower:ordinary pen pouch on the market
2 Appearance & Design (9/10) - The basis of REALO is the original acrylic "King of Pens". Sailor says that King of Pens is introduced as the top of the range, developed as the symbol of Sailor's technology, quality and writing perfection. The materials of the body is PMMA black resin with metal parts plated by 24K gold. The design of the pen is similar to KOP, long, big, traditional shape of a typical fountain pen. The nib is the oversized 21K solid gold nib with gold/rhodium selective. The black of the body is very glossy and seems of superior quality .On the other hand, I feel the gold of the pen is too shining and the pen looks slightly flashy. The difference of appearance between REALO and KOP must be cap ring at a glance. That of REALO is fairly broad and "SAILOR JAPAN 95th ANNIVERSARY" is engraved gloriously. To the contrary, model name REALO ,year 2006 and serial number( XXX/500) is carved inconspicuously on the cap. Of course, ink tank window is left. If you take a casual glance at REALO, you may not notice it. But when you hold REALO (capped) to the light, you must be surprised. Yes! Ink tank window is equipped in the body to observe the ink reservoir even when the pen is capped.
A controversial point must be resemblance of Montblanc149.It seems that the shape of 149 is not original for Montblanc and someone says a guitar is a guitar. However, it is fact that many Montblanc fans around me dislike Sailor because of its resenmblance to Montblanc. I would like to recommend them to have Sailor in their hand and to examine it by touch. I think both pens differs considerably in fact(I love Montblanc very much,too.) .
3 Weight & Dimensions (10/10) – The length of this pen capped is a bit longer than that of Montblanc 149, measuring 153mm long, but almost the same , when uncapped 130mm long and posted 167mm long. That is, not only the cap is longer, but also the thread of the screw is carved at a little nearer to the center of the barrel. The maximum diameter of the barrel is 20mm a bit thicker. Generally the feeling of REALO resembles Montblanc 149. It weighs about 35 g, heavier than Montblanc149, but also suitable weight for long writing.
For me, REALO is fitter to my hands owing to its bigger size and heavier weight. I let my wife who is a beginner and do not know what both pens are, also the prices of them, choose one pen that feels easy to write with. To my surprise, she chose REALO in spite of her smaller hands. Does Sailor have discovered another ideal size for writing? How did they decide the size? After that I tried the similar experiment to my 10 colleagues(9men and 1woman). Sad to say, almost all of them have little interest in fountain pens. None knows names and values of the 2 pens. 6 people chose Montblanc149 and 4 people chose REALO. Adding our couple, accidentally just 6 vs 6(These experiments are from the feeling of hold,not nib performance.). After all it looks that Sailor may have found only another possible size within this range.
upper:REALO lower:149Rose Gold
4 Nib & Performance (8/10) – This pen comes with a 21kt solid gold triple tone(gold-silver-gold,2 colors) NM(Naginata-Togi M) nib (other width were not available.). It is an oversized nib similar to 149, one and a half times as large as 1911 Large series. The nib design is the same as 1911 series. I felt very happy to notice that the patterns of part plated in silver came to the front black distinctly when the ink came to the nib. The most characteristic point is that the nib of REALO is Naginata-Togi*. But I think I can not master the special nib perfectly. I am not good at calligraphy. And the width of the line is too broad for me at my ordinary angle of writing. The pen is smooth but rustles a little and I felt rough slightly like Aurora pens. Above all, I became disappointed with the skip of the ink (in spite of using attached Sailor Jentle Black Ink). So I went to a "pen clinic" by Mr. Akihiro Kawaguchi* held in Itoya, Ginza, Tokyo. He repaired the pen in the twinkling of an eye. The cause was the gap between the nib and the feeder. After that I asked a professional artisan to regrind the nib finely. Finally I have become almost satisfied with the nib. The width of the line is almost the same as that of pelican M750 M or Waterman Leman200 M and practical enough.
* Naginata-Togi : Sailor explains this special nib as follows, "Tthe shape of a Naginata-togi nib is rather long compared with other pen nibs. The pen point is ground into a shape similar to the blade of a Naginata sword. This unique pen nib allows a broad range of writing angles and provides smooth calligraphy even when writing with light pressure".
*Mr. Akihiro Kawaguchi : A famous "pen doctor" in Japan , a staff of Sailor. The schedule of Sailor pen clinic is announced in its HP. The object of the clinic is not limited to Sailor pens, and free service. It started from 1985. But in 2001 he was urged to resign, and finally met his fate with resignation. He went to the sea for his favorite fishing. After half a year passed, Sailor called him back. The request to reopen the clinic was sent to Sailor from all over Japan. The number of pens to be repaired or maintained by him is 200,000 for 25years. Several years ago, a young lady came to the clinic with her pen. She said I want to write a will. Mr. Kawaguchi felt angry to think that his work is to repair or maintain pens to use for several decades. He said to her that I will repair your pen and you should give a matter some thought. Tears run out of her eyes when she saw the ink came out from her repaired pen. Later she sent a letter to him. She said in the letter that I would write a different letter , not a will, thank you. Some people burst into tears when the pens presented as keepsake of dead persons are restored to life. He has shared the feeling in the scene of this kind. (The sourses: 22/6/2009 the evening edition of the Asahi.)
left:REALO right:149Rose Gold
5 Filling System (9/10) –Of course piston filling system. This is the first piston filler in Sailor's 95years history. Sailor explains the reason to run the risk of making inexperienced mechanism that REALO should be a writing instrument of mature person who enjoy time luxuriously, so the system must be piston filling that needs more time and labor to supply ink but makes people find their mind at peace. I entertained some apprehensions about the degree of completion, for example, airtightness, durability, smoothness of turning, and so on. To my relief so far the quality of the system seems almost the same as that of Montblanc or Pelikan. The capacity of ink is 1.5cc, the same as montblanc149 or Pelikan M800. But the clearness of ink tank window does not reach the highest level .By the way ,as stated above, the position of ink tank window is unique. I wonder if this position is meaningful practically, but very enjoyable and I guess Sailor only want to see the people surprised joyfully. Sailor must be a lover of pleasure.
6 Cost & Value (10/10) - The list price was 80,000yen(+4,000yen consumption tax), about $800 at current rate. How do you think the price? The list price of Present KOP (PMMA resin) is 60,000yen,that of KOP(ebonite) is 70,000yen. Do piston-fill system, Naginata-Togi( and special pen pouch) justify the price margin of 20,000? I think so. The price is consientious rather than high. But we can get present Montblanc149 at 600$ through website. Accordingly ,the price is appropriate for persons who want to have REALO. In Japan, many fountain lovers are serching for REALO. However the pen is rarely put on the market. The contract price at auction is usually rather higher than its list price. So I think I got a good deal.
7 Conclusion (Final score: 9.3)- I use this pen to write memorandum about my daily events using Pilot Iroshizuku Tsukiyo(Moonlight Night) at the close of days. The more time to write with REALO I have, the more I become attached to REALO. This pen is not famous indeed. But I am convinced that it is worth having throughout your life. If you happen to find it luckily, I recommend you to think of getting it.
Edited by rokurinpapa, 20 July 2009 - 23:22.