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Review of Pilot M90 LE


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36 replies to this topic

#1 ImolaS3

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 22:57

Well, after thinking they were a great looking pen for a few month I decided to take the plunge and buy one. It arrived the day before my Lamy Studio Violet pen.

Initial opinion was one of extreme disappointment at the look of the thing in its box (see photos). The box is very cheap and nasty and looks to me like it was made by a kid for a craft show on a bad night with limited resources!
This initial disappointment was increased when I dug out the pen and found the converter. Cheap and nasty do not do it justice. I have not had a converter like this since I used cheap Parkers' 30+ years ago at school. The plastic end piece on the filler looks to be made particularly cheap materials. This pen cost me the same as my my Cross platinum Verve, £50 more than my Cross Merlot Verve and £15 less than my Cross Sable Apogee (all purchased in January). The packaging and build quality of the pen are no where near any of the Crosses, never mind a Pelikan (this M90 cost the same as my Pelikan M600) or MB.

I left it a while and then filled the pen with Diamine Umber ink and tried it out. I have now used it every day for a week and a half and thought it about time I wrote about my experiences.

It is a fairly dry pen (unlike the Lamy which is very wet), but not so dry as to encourage me to open the tines any. The pen starts to write reliably and writes beautifully. I have really enjoyed using this pen and feel much happier about it now. The feel is fairly smooth on the paper (I am writing on a filofax page, Paperchase notepad and 90gsm printer paper) but still a little scratchy. A very nice balance to the feel of the nib on paper but not as nice to use as my MBs or Pelikans and much dryer than my Crosses and Lamys.

The cap clicks very securely into place when capped and posted which has given me the confidence to carry the pen in my trouser pocket without mishap.
Although the filler mechanism is cheap and nasty, the pen fills very well and I have only filled it once so far although it is impossible to see the ink level in the filler which is very annoying as my inks are at home and the pen is used at work!

So overall
Style 9/10
Nib feel on the paper 7.5/10
Box and packaging -10/10 (negative 10)
Value for money? 5/10 I think I paid about twice what I now think this pen is worth. My Lamy Studio Violet is a much better pen in much better packaging and writes wetter and a little more smoothly yet cost half as much as the Pilot.

Would I buy it a second time? Yes, but less readily at the price I paid.

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#2 langere

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 23:12

I'm afraid that most Japanese pens come in - how should we say? - less than impressive boxes. But then I just store my boxes and start writing with 'em.

That makes the pens more impressive. I do like my M90 - of course I had to get one! - but you are right, it is a bit dry. I had a nibmeister (Bert Heiserman) increase the flow a bit, so I hope it now is a bit wetter (haven't used it since then).

This pen grows on you and I will use it again soon!

Erick

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#3 PatientType

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 23:29

I was slow to fall in love with the M90. I was drawn to the timeless elegance of it's lines and the integrated nib but I like large pens and this is not a large pen. I'm also accustomed to pens with a little spring in the nib. The M90 nib has no spring.

When I first got one, a fine, I used it once and set it aside. It wrote dry and was small to my hand. The fine nib was closer to what I'd describe as an xf. However, I traded that one for a medium which wrote smooth and with an average ink flow. It wasn't long before I found myself reaching for the M90 whenever I left the house. The stiff nib was handy at the Post Office when I had to complete self copying forms. The pen was also very flexible about writing on must surfaces and handling most inks without problems. And, it was small in my shirt pocket but posted into about average pen size.

I bought a second M90 when a used one came available in good condition at a little over $100. These are great little pens. They offer dramatically good looks along with very sturdy & reliable performance. I very often get inquiries about the pen and compliments on it. The reason I use it so much is that it is well designed and quite reliable. I invariably use larger pens when I'm home and doing serious writing projects. But, these M90's are my go to pen when I'm on the go.

#4 markc

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Posted 12 February 2010 - 23:44

Thanks for the review, I think its very fair!

I guess I was quick to fall in love with this pen because I had already come to appreciate the other Japanese fountain pens like the Pilot Elite, Platinum and Sailor lines. The M90 is as good as you're going to get to a MYU in a contemporary pen I think..

As for the box, well to be perfectly honest, I don't care about the box that much.. I just try and store them away, in case I decide to sell the pen.

The CON-20 in the pen I feel is a decent converter. It reminds me of the Parker Aerometric fillers. Pilot has 3 converters, the 20, 50 and 70 .. Of the three, the 70 is the best.. But its a whole different kind.. Its larger and is a plunger filler.

I'm glad that you "came around" to the M90, its a very nice pen, in fact I ordered another today as a backup.. Though unfortunately, I had to get another Fine nib and I had hoped to get a medium.. Oh well:)

Regards,

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#5 troglokev

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:07

Is this a review of a pen or a box?

#6 Dan Carmell

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:37

Isn't it awful that we have to store these boxes, even when we don't care about them, on the off chance we will want to re-sell the pen again someday and don't want to have to ask a lower price just because we pitched the stupid box? I have about four banker's boxes filled with pen boxes down in the basement!

For myself, I would buy the nicest pen in the world in a cardboard tube--as long as it was safe from harm--to keep the price down. I've had these huge useless boxes that I don't care about, I had a glass box big enough for a good-sized goldfish duo from my Tibaldi Iride.

I had to fish in my M90 box to remember which converter converter came with the pen. Mine came with a CON-20, which is a great little converter, but it sounds like you got one with the CON-50, the piston filler. The CON-50 is more or less like every other piston filling converter, it seems to me, except that the open end is shaped for Pilot pens. I've seen $500 pens with this type of converter and maybe they were stamped with the maker's brand name, but a converter is just a converter, IMO--unless it's a CON-70, of course (as markc says)!

I think you have been spoiled by those high-end Cross pens! :notworthy1: :notworthy1: :notworthy1:

Dan

#7 Yuki Onitsura

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:01

Wouldn't make much sense for an M90 to come with a CON-50. They don't fit.

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#8 Dan Carmell

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:16

Wouldn't make much sense for an M90 to come with a CON-50. They don't fit.

Yuki


Oh, I'd never tried one. What was the "plastic end piece on the filler" the OP mentioned? That doesn't sound like a CON-20.

Dan

#9 pen2paper

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:25

Emailed serious inquiries during the M90 release..

Discussions of the dry nib, and the blue jewel skewed my initial impression..
I Am surprised to hear that the packaging was less than layers of special... especially for a LE.
Also, viewing the inside of the clip.. for a sleek, spare pen, viewing its underneath parts-just appears wrong.



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#10 markc

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:26

I wasn't saying that there was any other choice of converter for the M90, it comes with the CON-20 because it is the only one that fits..

But, for what its worth, I've seen fountain pen manufacturers ship pens w/o converters (parker for example) making the user pay extra for that.. So its nice when I get a pen with a converter. :)
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#11 markc

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:31

Wouldn't make much sense for an M90 to come with a CON-50. They don't fit.

Yuki


Oh, I'd never tried one. What was the "plastic end piece on the filler" the OP mentioned? That doesn't sound like a CON-20.

Dan


It sounds to me like he was talking about the blue plastic insert in the converter chamber itself. Its the seal or compression sleeve that allows the converter to make a good physical connection to the stem on the inside of the pen I think. The CON-50 is the standard twist style and the CON-70 is the pump. :)
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#12 Yuki Onitsura

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:33

I wasn't saying that there was any other choice of converter for the M90, it comes with the CON-20 because it is the only one that fits..

But, for what its worth, I've seen fountain pen manufacturers ship pens w/o converters (parker for example) making the user pay extra for that.. So its nice when I get a pen with a converter. :)


I don't think Pilot ship the pen with a converter. Most sellers just bundle one with it because it seems rather absurd otherwise.

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#13 Dan Carmell

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:35

It sounds to me like he was talking about the blue plastic insert in the converter chamber itself. Its the seal or compression sleeve that allows the converter to make a good physical connection to the stem on the inside of the pen I think. The CON-50 is the standard twist style and the CON-70 is the pump. :)


Yeah, I guess so. Funny, I never thought of the CON-20 as a cheap or nasty filler--I'm rather fond of it!

Dan

#14 markc

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:40

It sounds to me like he was talking about the blue plastic insert in the converter chamber itself. Its the seal or compression sleeve that allows the converter to make a good physical connection to the stem on the inside of the pen I think. The CON-50 is the standard twist style and the CON-70 is the pump. :)


Yeah, I guess so. Funny, I never thought of the CON-20 as a cheap or nasty filler--I'm rather fond of it!

Dan


I'm fond of it as well, it really does remind me of the parker aerometric, one of my favorite filling systems...
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#15 markc

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:43

I wasn't saying that there was any other choice of converter for the M90, it comes with the CON-20 because it is the only one that fits..

But, for what its worth, I've seen fountain pen manufacturers ship pens w/o converters (parker for example) making the user pay extra for that.. So its nice when I get a pen with a converter. :)


I don't think Pilot ship the pen with a converter. Most sellers just bundle one with it because it seems rather absurd otherwise.

Yuki


My Pilot M90 came with the CON-20 converter. My Elites and Sailors didn't. The new pilot custom 74 that I have with the music nib didn't come with the converter and I put a CON-70 in it. :)

The Sailor 1911 also didn't come with a converter and I had to purchase it when I bought the pen extra ($8.00 or so)

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#16 Yuki Onitsura

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 02:47

Funny. My Elite came with what I think is a CON-W (basically a smaller CON-20).

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#17 rokurinpapa

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 03:09

Thank you for your frank review.I have different opinion. I have heard that the produce of M90 is not easy. So the cost may become high.
I appreciate the effort of Pilot to produce the 90th anniversary pen as moderate priced pen. So I like the smart box.

rokurinpapa

#18 professionaldilettante

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 04:11

I would have to defend the box, despite it being made of cardboard/dense paper, you have to look at the precision that it was made. Sure, it doesn't look like much, but like everything of this pen, it's in the subtle nature that it draws its beauty from. For those who have a box, take a look. Every cut is perfect, every fold is calculated and intentional. The lid meets with the body seamlessly. So yeah, it's a bit plain, but there is some striking beauty in the box too, that apparently goes unnoticed.
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#19 effrafax

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:06

Wouldn't make much sense for an M90 to come with a CON-50. They don't fit.

Yuki


Hate to be contradictory here, but the CON-50 fits perfectly in the M90 (I'd take some pictures, but I'm just about to take my boys to the beach!).

It doesn't, however, fit in the 701, which is odd. The pens are the same length, but the feed in the M90 is seated further down the section to allow for the CON-50.

BTW: I have trouble with the the spring grip in the cap of the 701 - it keeps coming out, and no amount of 'encouragement' will keep it in place. Anyone else have that problem?
Cheers,
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#20 Dan Carmell

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Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:16

Wouldn't make much sense for an M90 to come with a CON-50. They don't fit.

Yuki


Hate to be contradictory here, but the CON-50 fits perfectly in the M90 (I'd take some pictures, but I'm just about to take my boys to the beach!).

It doesn't, however, fit in the 701, which is odd. The pens are the same length, but the feed in the M90 is seated further down the section to allow for the CON-50.

BTW: I have trouble with the the spring grip in the cap of the 701 - it keeps coming out, and no amount of 'encouragement' will keep it in place. Anyone else have that problem?


After Yuki made this comment, I tried a CON-50 in my M90. Seating it as deeply as I could, the "barrel" (such as it is!) would not screw down completely into the section. There was a minute gap left and that suggests to me the barrel could unscrew and detach. It may be, effrafax, that yours allows the converter to seat just a bit deeper and thus yours is secure--it wouldn't take but 1 or 2 mm to make the difference.

Dan






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