Like many of y'all, I have the TWSBI Diamond 530 and am highly impressed by it, sufficiently so that I now also own their newer-older offering, the Venezia.
I gather (though corrections and clarifications are welcome) that while the same people were involved in the design and manufacture, it's an older model originally introduced under the "Montesa" brand and which they're now selling alongside the 530.
First impressions: it's hard to avoid comparisons with the 530, which has (imho) a bunch of really brilliant design elements in both its packaging and in the pen itself. That said, the pen ships in a tasteful enough (if unremarkable) black sleeve with a cardboard double-flip-top box within. The box has two channels within it, one holding the pen (in a soft pouch), the other holding a pair of cartridges and a convertor, the latter three all in plastic pouches. While there's a Montesa product catalog enclosed, I think it suffers from a lack of any real documentation. ("Congratulations on purchasing your new Montesa Venezia! Your pen uses standard international cartridges or the included convertor.", and so forth. Basically, I'd like to see all that stuff they covered in the great 530 documentation.)
Anyway, to get on with it:
1. Appearance & Design: 8 I really like the aesthetics of this pen. The fit and finish are excellent, with well-plated fittings and a flawless body. I have the dark blue colour, which is a blue so dark that when I first unpacked it I wondered if I'd been sent a black one instead. In better light it's a dark lustrous blue that I quite like. It's got a dark blue jewel at each end, enough to be interesting but without being blingy. I'd be happy to wear it in a suit pocket when I don't want to have to answer the sort of "hey, what's that?" questions that most of my more-striking pens would get me.
2. Construction & Quality: 8 Everything fits well to both the eye and the touch. The clip is a very solid spring clip, and there's something very satisfying about screwing the cap into place. It feels solid without being heavy; it actually surprises me that it's just as light as most of my metal pens.
3. Weight and dimensions: 33g inked, 133mm closed and 160mm posted. Diameter at the widest is 11mm. This is right where I like things, so I'll rate it another 8, but really, weight and dimensions are subject to both personal preference and almost completely quantitative, so draw your own conclusions. The balance feels quite nice.
4. Nib & Performance: 8 I have the Fine nib. It's quite good out of the box, and as modern production fine nibs go I'm more than impressed. It's just a touch toothy on Rhodia with one of my preferred German inks that most of you find wretchedly dry (in particular, Lamy Blue-Black), and I expect that a larger nib, a wetter ink, and possibly a bit of use would take away even that. It was absolutely zero fuss; I filled the converter, inserted it into the pen, reassembled it, and started writing. Even after leaving it horizontal and uncapped (as I've done several times while writing this review), getting it started again was no harder than lowering my writing angle just a bit more than usual or giving it a touch of pressure, and if I actually cap it (crazy, I know) it's flawless.
Note that the guts are (as far as I know, anyway) all made by Schmidt. While I don't know if there are differences between different Schmidt nibs used by different companies, I do have a couple of others on Danitrio pens and have generally found them all to be pleasing and functional.
5. Filling System & Maintenance: 8 I've so far only used it with the Schmidt K-5 convertor that it came with, about which I have no complaints. It also holds a pair of standard short cartridges back-to-back (two of which are included) if you want to do things that way. Zero leaks, zero fuss, I just inked it up and off to the races.
6. Cost & Value: 7 At $60 I think this is a decent enough value, though not as compelling as the 530. While I only have a few days of experience with it so far, it's been a pleasure to hold and a pleasure to use. That said, at this price point it's pushing into what I think of as middle-tier pens, and there's some stiff competition in the US$60-110 range, though I believe this pen could be sold for half-again as much from a better-established brand and nobody would blink.
7. Conclusion: 7.8 A delightful nib, a solid value, understated elegance, and internals that Just Work. I'm pleased.
Edited by amb, 27 December 2010 - 08:14.