This was the second Haolilai I ever purchased. After my good experience with the 601F (see the Reviews section), I decided to try this model. Todd at isellpens.com carries a bigger selection of Haolilai than anyone I've found, so it was fate that I would buy another from him. The fact that it was a bargain helped!
First Impressions: Design and Appearance
The 611F is a good looking pen; the black body is set off by a gold cap. It's a classic shape, too, nothing radical - just a time-tested set of design elements that are brought together.
The body is a high-gloss jet black, with a flat, gold-colored bottom jewel, but it's the cap that holds considerably more design interest.
It starts with a polished band; the body of the cap is a matte-finished gold color, while the crown is again polished - featuring a black groove for more interest.
It's that last bit that some may find controversial; it's very Cross-like, and after owning it a while I began to think that it may be too Cross-like. Granted, it's a lot bigger than a Cross crown, and carries the Haolilai logo on the top; it's not as if they are trying to appear as something they're not. When does an homage become a copy? I'll leave that to the philosophers amongst us - but for me I'll live with it.
The clip is a simple tapered affair in a polished gold tone, but with the Haolilai logo in a badge on the clip. Haolilai has used several clip designs on their pens, and I think this is one of the better. I was initially put off by the badge, but it's not ostentatious and gives a needed differentiation to the pen.
The clip and crown make this a pen that looks great when clipped into a pocket. I have several other pens that don't stand out when in a pocket - the Duke 2017 comes to mind - but this one does. Yes, I know it's shallow, I know it's vain, but sometimes it's just fun to have such a pen around!
Features and Construction
The pen is what I'd call medium-large sized - 5-1/2" long capped, 4-3/4" uncapped, and 6-1/4" when posted. The girth is just shy of 1/2".
The weight is less than I expected; some may think of it as a medium weight, but I was slightly surprised when I first picked it up; it just wasn't as heavy as I was anticipating. Balance when unposted is perfect for my taste; while i don't normally post any pen, I find it to be at better balanced than average when posted.
The cap is of the snap-on type, with a good solid closing; the force needed to remove the cap is perfect, neither too much nor too little. (This is a bit unusual for Haolilai, as I've found they really prefer extremely tight-fitting caps.)
The cap, though, is the source of my first complaint about a Haolilai pen: it leaks air like a sieve! Blowing into the cap reveals a huge air leak around the clip attachment point. It's this air leakage that no doubt accounts for the pen drying in as little as a day or two when unused. Squirting some glue down into the cap, sealing that area, solved the problem.
The section is what initially drew me to the pen. As I've written before, I prefer a textured section for a sure grip. This has the same finish as the 601F, which I found to really like. The section on this pen is a different part than the 601F, being somewhat longer, but shares that wonderful texturing. It's not only functional, it looks good!
The body of the pen is constructed of lacquer over brass - the lacquer is highly polished, and seems quite hard. The section appears to be made of lacquer over copper! Fit and finish on all the parts is quite good.
Filling is by the common international-size cartridge converter.
The Nib and Writing Performance
The nib - marked "22KGP" - is a very pretty, two-tone gold plated unit of conventional design. The nib carries the Haolilai logo, and the plating is perfect - no gaps or runover of the plated areas, faults I've seen on some more costly nibs. The feed has an uncommon pattern of alternating deep/shallow serrations.
Inked with Noodler's Legal Lapis, I was pleasantly surprised with a very wet line of approximately medium width. I say "approximately" because some may consider it a wide fine; it's ever so slightly thinner than an Esterbrook #2668 medium, so I'll let you decide what to call it!
Haolilai, as I've come to expect, knows how to make a nib that writes well and this one is no exception. It is very smooth, with just a hint of a "rollerball like" tooth. Compared to my ultra-smooth Cross Century, it has just a little more feedback from the paper surface.
As you may recall from my earlier reviews, I'm not really a big fan of the ultra-friction-free nib feel, in the same way I'm not a fan of 1970's style American power steering - I prefer just a bit of friction in the nib, so that I know I've touched down on the paper surface. In reality, I don't use my Cross much because of its friction-free, feedback-free feeling; the 611F, on the other hand, is darn near perfect for my tastes.
Let's talk price: I paid $11.99 for this pen. Nit-picking aside (like the breezy cap), this is a superb writing instrument for the price. It's not very much more than, say, a Hero 616, yet the Haolilai fit and finish is far better. Looks better in the pocket, too!
(Thanks to Todd & Theresa Nussbaum, the owners of isellpens.com, for taking a chance on the Haolilai line. In retailing it takes something of a leap of faith to stock items that no one else does, and they should be applauded for bringing in new and different pens at decent price points. They're now stocking a pretty good selection of Haolilai, which means that I'll end up giving them even more money as time goes on...)
Edited by GrantC, 09 July 2006 - 21:19.