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Pilot M90


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30 replies to this topic

#1 ayhc

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 15:28

Bandwidth warning: This review is graphics-heavy.

What's in a name?

This is one of those instances where the name, like the pen, is small but speaks volumes. "MYU" () refers to the pen's small size ( is shorthand for "micro-"), and to Pilot's original series of MYU pens produced during the 1970s; "90" is a reference to Pilot's 90th anniversary.

First impressions

This pen caught my eye in the display cabinet of a local pen store. Amongst a sea of traditionally-styled fountain pens, the M90 looked like something out of science fiction. Naturally, I ended up buying one.

The pen comes in a presentation box made of what appears to be balsa wood with a rippled black coating applied to it. On this particular box the bottom flap had come off; this was fixed with some double-sided tape.

Pilot M90 Box (1)

Opening the box revealed the pen itself, seated in black foam, with a descriptive label on the clip and some marketing bumpf printed in Japanese on greaseproof paper.

Pilot M90 Box (2)

A generic fountain pen user;s guide and one Pilot proprietary black ink cartridge are included. A CON-20 press-bar converter was supplied separately by the dealer.

Pilot M90 Box (3)

Appearance and design (9/10): Everything old is new again

The combination of an integral nib, stainless steel construction and sleek lines makes the M90 resemble a cross between a quill pen and the Pan-Am shuttle from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is truly a joy to behold, even in comparison with my late-model Parker 45 Flighter:

Pilot M90 and Parker 45 (1)

Pilot M90 and Parker 45 (2)

The cap walls are quite thick good for durability, but the result is that the cap is noticeably wider than the diameter of the section/barrel.

Pilot M90 (2)

The M90 has a streamlined chrome-plated clip with M90 etched on one side. An artificial jewel is embedded in the crown of the clip. Opinion appears to be divided on the jewel; personally, I rather like it.

Pilot M90 (3)

Construction and quality (8/10): Good, but could be better

As mentioned, the pen appears to have been constructed from quality materials but the M90 is not without faults.

The brushed stainless steel finish means this pen can get quite slippery this has already resulted in my dropping the M90 from desk height onto a hardwood floor. That, however, is an almost inevitable result when stainless steel meets sweaty hands.

(I should add that the pen suffered no noticeable damage from this misadventure.)

More worryingly, there is a bit of free play in the cap when it is posted on the barrel probably due to the design of the clutch ring joining the section to the barrel. I tend to revert to the wrong grip when writing and grip the cap as well as the section, this sometimes results in an unsettling clicking while writing. Despite this, the cap still seems to be secure, whether the pen is capped or posted.

Weight and dimensions (10/10): Easily pocketable

The M90s body is made entirely out of stainless steel so this is not going to be a featherweight. Capped, its about 2cm shorter than a capped Parker 45; posted, its about 1cm longer than an uncapped (but unposted) 45.

The M90 is about 1cm across at its widest point (the cap rim).

Suffice it to say that this pen is small enough to go into virtually any pocket.

Nib and performance (8/10): A smooth nail

This particular M90 has the F nib, which is roughly equivalent in width to the EF nib on my Rotring 600.

Pilot M90 and Rotring 600

The nib is stainless steel and has no give at all, but is generally quite smooth. However, occasionally the pen will stutter and needs some pressure before ink flow resumes.

If you like nails, have small handwriting, or write Chinese, Japanese or Korean characters, you will probably like this nib.

Filling system and maintenance (7/10): Slightly finicky

Theres very little to say about the CON-20 converter it works just like any other squeeze-bar converter. However, because the M90 has an integral nib, it is harder to judge how far to immerse the nib. Slightly more care must be taken in cleaning the nib/section after filling.

In addition, ink tends to seep out from the gap between the embedded feed and the nib/section of the pen. I have only filled the M90 with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuyu-kusa ink, so cannot comment on whether this is an ink-specific phenomenon.

Cost and value (7/10): Depends what your benchmarks are

This particular M90 (with CON-20 converter) was purchased in a Hong Kong pen shop for HK$1,600 (about US$200).

For a steel-nib pen, or even a pocket pen, the M90 is undoubtedly ludicrously expensive an Ohto Tasche or Muji compact aluminium fountain pen can be had for much, much less. But compared to other limited-edition pens, or to the original MYU series, the M90 is spectacular value.

Conclusion (8/10)

Despite its various foibles, the M90 is the one pen that I carry on my person daily its small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, (generally) reliable enough to be used anywhere, and stylish enough to look presentable anywhere.

Recommendation: Buy (or at least try)
Currently using:
Pilot M90 F - Pilot Iroshizuku tsuyu-kusa
Rotring 600 EF Lava - Waterman black
Rotring Newton F Copper - Pilot red

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#2 SimonOW

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 15:52

Excellent review. My M90's on the way, so very interested to see if I experience the same issues with the posted cap.

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#3 dandelion

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 16:19

Thanks for a pleasant and nuanced review of one of my - maybe even the - favourite pens. I haven't experienced either the clicking when posted or the problem with ink seeping, though. I have tried plenty of different inks in mine. Interesting to see how opinions of the same pen varies - I find the integrated nib extremely easy and neat in regards to converter filling; easy to wipe off. :)

Edited by dandelion, 21 November 2009 - 16:20.

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#4 downwiththepc27

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 18:22

How's the nib in terms of wetness? In alot of the writing samples I've seen the pen seems a little dry - is it drier than standard Pilot nibs?

#5 MYU

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 19:58

Interesting perspective on the M90. I agree that stainless steel can become slippery to sweaty hands, but I find this particular finish to be better than most. As for the quality of construction, I consider it top notch. The cap will have a little bit of play to it when posted, but I wouldn't say it detracts enough to mark it down for that. The shape and size when posted is perfect for my hand and seems to be something that would scale for a wide range of hand sizes.

The CON-20 is an OK converter. I'd like to see Pilot come up with a slightly shorter version of the CON-70 that could be installed in this pen. As for filling, I don't see a problem--just be sure the upper curve of the nib back side is submerged. The best thing to do is use a manually refilled cartridge.

As for pricing... ludicrous? Check your facts. Unfortunately, you overpaid for yours. On the open market, I've seen the M90 sell for just over $100 on eBay. A few on-line retailers have been letting the M90 go for anywhere between $128 and $159. There are some vintage pens with steel nibs fetching far more than the M90. Steel is easily seen as inferior to gold, because it's not as scarce a material. However, steel nibs can perform just as well as gold. I find my M90 nib (fine) to be one of the best pens I have, in terms of smoothness, ink flow, and very wide sweet spot (you can hold it at many angles and still get good flow).

Edited by MYU, 21 November 2009 - 20:01.

[MYU's Pen Review Corner]   |   "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small


#6 MYU

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 20:02

How's the nib in terms of wetness? In alot of the writing samples I've seen the pen seems a little dry - is it drier than standard Pilot nibs?

I wouldn't call it "wet". I'd say "normal", as least for the fine nib. You probably get a wetter line with the medium.

[MYU's Pen Review Corner]   |   "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small


#7 Bull Winkle

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 00:33

I've got one coming, it's in DHL's shipping system and should be here first part of the week. I paid 135.00 for mine. I got the medium nib so I hope it is a little wet. It does look very classy and tech at the same time. I will do an amateur review after I get it and use it for a week or so.
Lamy 27 OM,Lamy 99 M,Lamy 68 B,Lamy 2000 EF
Pilot MYU 90 M,Pilot VP Raden M,Pilot Custom 74 M,Pilot Blue Decimo B
Pelikan 205 Blue Demo B,Pelikan 215 Lozenge W 14K two tone M
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#8 Flourish

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 00:44

I am going to have to try this pen while I can still find one available. A stainless steel quill, yummy.

#9 silverjen

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 02:27

As far as posting goes, I find that I have to push the cap on my MYU90 one extra "click", and then it seats itself quite securely. When it is fully posted, I can only see a sliver of the clutch ring. I'm curious whether the OP is getting play in in the cap even while it is fully posted. I don't get any, myself.

My MYU has become my goto pen. I hemmed and hawed and worried about spending too much money, and then I noticed that this pen was getting both harder to find and more expensive, so I dove in and grabbed one off the 'Bay. Wow, am I glad I did. I love the very precise feel of the pen. Because the nib is in the same plane as my forefinger it gives me the feeling of a more direct connection to the paper. That can be good and bad--if my hands are wobbly it shows in my handwriting. But it's rather addictive. Oh, and the jewel is smaller than it looks in photos. I like it myself.
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#10 JohnCruzNg

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 03:01

Luckily for me I do not have sweaty hands and I've never had ink seep out from the feed section either. It might be that ink (I'll be picking it up on Wednesday I'll let you know. Maybe a defect?) and I carry my fountain pens with their nibs down all the time (a line of outraged fountain pen enthusiast are probably lining up outside my door right now) with no problem.

""MYU" () refers to the pen's small size ( is shorthand for "micro-")"

Never knew about that, interesting concept.
Check out my ink reviews.

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#11 PatientType

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 04:25

Thanks, good review and nice pics, too.

I currently have two of these a fine and a medium. I find the caps to be far more secure in posting than most other pens in that the cap clicks/snaps positively onto the cap ring. One of my M90s pens has a little wiggle when posted the other not, but both are secure and not about to pop off.

The fine is, indeed, equivalent to a western extra fine and the medium is on the narrow side of a western fine. Both these pens deliver a medium wet line ... I'd characterize the fine as a 4 out of ten in wetness and the medium a 5 of ten.

When I got my first Pilot m90 the pen felt too small. I normally use large to very large pens. However, with time, I got more used to it and I'm currently using these pens on a regular basis.

By the way, a lot of people paid $200 for the pen and, in a few months, you may start to see some sales at above that price. M90s are currently listed at Jet Pen for $180 (plus shipping) and a quick check of a few other mainstream on line pen stores including Swisher, Art Brown, Fountain Pen Hospital, and Fahrney's shows them as sold out or they're no longer listed. Whether in Japan or the US, brick & mortar purchase prices are likely to be higher than Ebay.

#12 ayhc

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 16:31

Thank you all for the feedback - always nice to know one's work is appreciated.

A few things arising from the posts I've seen so far:

downwiththepc27 - just to add to what's been said so far, in my experience my M90 F has not been a wet writer.

MYU - I take your point that online retailers or eBay sellers sell for less.

That having been said - I graded the other pens I reviewed by the brick-and-mortar prices I paid, and thought it only fair I should do the same with the M90.

(By way of context, I don't buy pens online - I would never buy a fountain pen without having tried it first, and buying from a brick-and-mortar shop also means I can talk to someone face-to-face if something goes wrong with the pen.)

I should also add that most pen shops in Hong Kong sell the M90 for nearer to HK$2,000 (about US$256).

silverjen - the cap is fully posted but still has a bit of play to it.

On the plus side, this is forcing me to stick to the textbook grip.
Currently using:
Pilot M90 F - Pilot Iroshizuku tsuyu-kusa
Rotring 600 EF Lava - Waterman black
Rotring Newton F Copper - Pilot red

#13 Cheapogit

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 16:52

I haven't experienced either the clicking when posted or the problem with ink seeping, though. I have tried plenty of different inks in mine. Interesting to see how opinions of the same pen varies - I find the integrated nib extremely easy and neat in regards to converter filling; easy to wipe off. :)


Well, as for seeping (I had read the previous review of it, where enricof had and mentioned it and posted photos of it in that review). Although I recieved my M90 just under a week ago, I was waiting for a new ink to arrive to try it with, but I couldn't wait any longer, and charged it up today with Diamine Prussian Blue (not mad on it so wanted to try a different blue). After filling, I did a quick scribble and note test, and then capped it, and put it in my shirt pocket. Came to use it a couple of hours later, and got a couple of fingers covered in blue...:o Now it may be because I just filled it and it was getting rid of the excess that was under the nib or I don't know... But I'll keep my eye on it and if it keeps doing it than you shall hear about it... and so shall my retailer... :)

Edited by Cheapogit, 23 November 2009 - 17:24.

Cheapo.

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#14 Cheapogit

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 17:01

As for pricing... ludicrous? Check your facts. Unfortunately, you overpaid for yours. On the open market, I've seen the M90 sell for just over $100 on eBay. A few on-line retailers have been letting the M90 go for anywhere between $128 and $159.


Hey, here in Blighty (Online, may I add) The average retail price of them (that I could find) is GB180 and not many around on UK-Ebay(well, not anymore, when I did a search)...Mind you, don't know what shop prices are, I haven't really looked.
Cheapo.

Current quote:
'He who studies evil is studied by evil.'
-Ranjen Solbor

Long-time user of Fountain pens...but new to bottled inks and not quite obsessive...yet...

Please forgive me if I over-edit (and constantly re-edit) my posts...I tend to have a problem saying 'That'll do'...but I'm working on it!

#15 theblackpen

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 17:42

Thank you for the nice review. Personally I enjoy the graphics-heavy ones :-). I always thought that the M90 was smaller but looking at it side by side with the Rotring, I'd say that it is just the right size for me. The blue jewel does not fit with the pen imo or the concept of a heavy duty writer's instrument.Still, I'm placing this on my never-gonna-get-them-because-i-m-broke want to buy list.
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#16 ralphawilson

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Posted 23 November 2009 - 23:30

I noticed the "slight bit of play" of the cap on the body when posted when I first got the pen, but don't notice it now, a couple months later. Could it have improved with use? Also, I find the blue jewel quite cheerful when I look down at the pen in my pocket. Sapphire being my birthstone, I pretend it is one.

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#17 Bull Winkle

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 01:02

alright after waiting for the dhl guy he finally showed up, man I tell you I got 3 days service from Malaysia. I love living in the times that we live in. First impressions, this is really a cool pen, both simple and techy at the same time if that is possible. Anyways I'm going to have it on me for about a week and then I will do my first ever review of this pen, it writes smooth and started out a little dry but has improved some. It's a medium nib. Anyway I now have a trio of Pilots, VP, 78g,and now the m90.
Lamy 27 OM,Lamy 99 M,Lamy 68 B,Lamy 2000 EF
Pilot MYU 90 M,Pilot VP Raden M,Pilot Custom 74 M,Pilot Blue Decimo B
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#18 bensuzuki

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 13:12

Hi. ayhc. From which shop did you buy the pen? I am interested as I live in Hong Kong.

#19 buffalowings

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 15:04

it looks very refined and sophisticated,thanks for the great pics
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#20 ayhc

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 06:32

Hi. ayhc. From which shop did you buy the pen? I am interested as I live in Hong Kong.


bensuzuki - I bought it from the Pen Gallery in Star House.

Edited by ayhc, 26 November 2009 - 06:32.

Currently using:
Pilot M90 F - Pilot Iroshizuku tsuyu-kusa
Rotring 600 EF Lava - Waterman black
Rotring Newton F Copper - Pilot red






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