First Impressions (5.0)
The pen arrived in an attractive, nicely designed transparent plastic case with a white plastic base. The case, I think, is very much in keeping with the pen's design and the company's philosophy. Underneath the base was a nicely printed set of instructions as well as a tool to remove the piston filler mechanism and a small bottle of silicone grease. You get the impression that this is a fountain pen user and enthusiast’s pen and that TWSBI evidently intends that this pen will be used for a long time to come.
It’s an attractive pen. This first version of the pen is only available as a demonstrator. The cap and piston filler knob are round. The barrel is round with a faceted diamond pattern. The trim is sturdy and attractive. The company’s name and the pen’s model number is laser etched on the cap band and the company’s logo is suspended in a cabochon with a red-orange base on the end cap. It’s nicely done.
The size and weight are just right for me. The Diamond 530 is about the same size as the Pelikan m800. The company obviously put a lot of thought into this pen and there is a lot to be said about the design. I don’t agree with all of their choices, but it is quality construction from the jewel to the end cap.
The body is faceted, probably the inspiration for the model name. The design looks nice enough and the faceted body won’t roll of your desk if you put your pen down uncapped, but I would have preferred a smooth round barrel. The facets slightly obscure a clear view of the interior, but this is a demonstrator and a clear view of the interior is its purpose. I find the mixed shapes between cap, barrel and end cap a bit jarring, and while the Diamond 530 is comfortable to hold, it would be more comfortable with a round barrel. This, of course, is my own personal preference. Some may feel they get a more secure grasp on their pen because of this design.
The TWSBI has a twist cap and it takes a revolution and a half to remove or replace the cap. This is pretty good, but I prefer caps that can be removed in less than a full turn. Not many pens can make that claim, although I had a Pelikan that did. There is an o-ring at the end of the section, giving the cap a slightly “mushy” feel when tightened. This was probably a design decision that helps keep an airtight seal when the cap is on the pen. I wish that TWSBI would turn their design talents to something a little more high tech, like a bayonet or magnetic locking system that is fast and secure.
The clip, cap band and the top end cap are all heavy duty stainless steel. The clip is spring loaded and the jewel makes the pen easily identifiable as a TWSBI.
The TWSBI posts securely, but does not post all the way down the end cap. It looks a little funny when posted and is quite long -- a full 7”. The designer could have tapered the end cap more, but that probably would have looked a bit strange. Regardless, the 530 is long enough to use unposted and it’s one of the few pens that I prefer to use that way.
The TWSBI has a Schmidt stainless steel nib engraved with their logo and some decorative markings. The nib width is laser etched near the edge of the nib. Out of the box the flow was excellent and the nib performed well. While smooth, I wish the nib had been polished with a slightly finer grit. My TWSBI came with an extra fine nib. To me, the nib runs a little wide and is what I would expect from a fine nib.
Filling System (5)
The 530 has a smooth piston filler mechanism. Interestingly, TWSBI included a tool for you to disassemble the piston if you wish. The manufacturer also includes a small bottle of silicone grease to lubricate the seals and O-rings in the future, if needed. The piston mechanism is plastic, helping to keep the pen’s weight reasonably light. I imagine that this won’t affect the longevity, but if the piston mechanism ever did need to be replaced, you could do it yourself in a few minutes.
Cost and Value (5)
What would you compare it to in this price range? The Waterman Phileas, Lamy Safari? I'm pretty sure that the Diamond 530 is the best built modern $40 fountain pen that I've seen.
Intelligently designed. I think that if Pelikan released this pen and charged $150 for it, they would probably earn accolades. TWSBI’s first offering is a winner. It's a high quality fountain pen at a price that nearly anyone can afford. I look forward to new designs and styles from TWSBI.
Edited by jonro, 12 July 2010 - 02:30.