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Two New Pilot Capless Models Compared


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66 replies to this topic

#1 Dan Carmell

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 03:19

Before I move to these two models, I want to briefly re-cap the remarkably long history of the Pilot Capless, first introduced in 1963 and thus in continuous production for 43 years, a record very few pens can match. By 1971, after almost a decade of frequent and significant model changes, the basic design was set, albeit in stainless steel and aluminum. By 1981 that design was revamped in stainless steel trim and a faceted plastic body and it remained available in various colors until 1999, when a larger luxury version was introduced.

The new model, now called the Capless, while its predecessor had used the name "Vanishing Point" in the U.S. market only, has gold-plated or rhodium trim and a number of colors and designs in enamel over brass. It's bigger, heavier, and more expensive, but while it remains popular seven years on, the price of the earlier light bodied plastic pen has rebounded because users have realized that its clip position and light-weight makes it a much better writer for some.


Now, in one year, two new Capless models have been introduced, although not in the U.S. market. They are the Decimo and the Fermo. The Decimo is a slightly smaller, lighter pen, and the four colors in which it has been introduced suggest that it is aimed at women. The Fermo is the first twist action Capless since 1966 and only the third in the pen's history (the original Capless was a twist-opening pen). Both of these models, I believe, are only available with the rhodium trim (my preference in any case!) and with an 18K rhodium plated nib.


Let's talk some weights and measurements first. The current regular Capless is 30 grams (almost twice as heavy as the prior plastic model), 142 mm long, and 13 mm width at the barrel opening. The Decimo is smaller and lighter: just 20 gm, 140 mm long, and 11.5 mm wide. The Fermo is the heaviest of the lot at 34 gms, but is closer in size to the regular Capless, at 142 mm long and 12 mm wide. I think you will agree, whether you prefer heavy or light pens, that weigh matters and the Fermo weighs a 1/3 more than the Decimo.


About the barrel materials, I assume the Fermo is made in the same manner as the Capless, that is, lacquer over brass. That would account for the weight and I'd guess that the Fermo is slightly heavier (4 grams) because of the twist mechanism. The Decimo, on the other hand, is aluminum and the slightly sparkly finish (the colors are referred to as "mica" and that's not a bad comparison) is likely some form of annealized treatment.

Now, on to styling. Let me start with the Fermo, because I have a lot of positive comments to make about its styling. While its overall shape hasn't departed from the recent models, it has a number of accent points that make it a stylish and handsome pen. The twist knob, for instance, looks much more intregated into the pen body that does the slim click button on the Decimo or other Capless models. Interestingly, the clip is mounted on the body of the pen, not on the "nose cone" trim piece as with other recent Capless models. Again, this makes the Fermo look much more like a traditional pen and is a departure from the rather unique look of most Capless models.

Let's look at some styling details, beginning with the clips and "cap" end of the pen:


The Fermo's clip features an upturned end, making it easy to clip onto a pocket. It has a very thin waist, which makes for an easier grip. The Decimo's clip does not have even the slightly thinned waist of the current Capless, but simply has a long, gradual taper to the clip end. Both the Decimo and the Fermo have clips that are considerably lower in profile than the Capless and thus will be an easier adjustment for those whose finger placement is bothered by the clip.


While the nose cone of the Decimo departs from the Capless only in ending a bit more bluntly, the Fermo has a step in the nose cone that is a nice detail--and it mirrors the twist knob's jewel, as we'll see in a moment. Another thing I like about both these new models is that the trim rings where the cap and barrel piece meet are slimmer and flatter than the Capless--I've never quite liked the slightly bulging trim rings on the new Capless.



There's not much to be said about the Decimo's click action button and end trim, as it's basically the Capless' configuration, downsized slightly. However, the trim around the button does have a very thin raised ring where it meets the barrel, a nice accent. The Fermo's twist knob is plastic, nicely kurled, and the black plastic is infused with a sparkly material that gives it a subtle emphasis. It's not gaudy at all and I have to look close to be sure it's not just a lighting effect on the kurling. This is another clever touch that serves to emphasize the kurled knob knicely (couldn't resist, sorry). The plastic, by the way, is heavy and doesn't feel cheap at all. And it's crowned by an end jewel that mirrors the nose cone at the other end.


Let me try to sum up. Obviously, I liked and was impressed by the Fermo's styling. Really, it feels all of a piece. It's well balanced, the clip is not obtrusive (caveat: I am not someone bothered by any of the Capless models' clips), and it is generally a solid, well-built pen. The Decimo is a lighter, very slightly smaller Capless in every way. Let me emphasize the "very slightly smaller" point: other than in girth, the size different is not terribly apparent. What is apparent is the weight difference: it is a feather weight compared to either the current Capless or the Fermo.


The Fermo's twist action is a fun innovation. It works well and feels very sturdy; it is not going to fly apart anytime soon. I've seen comments that it can be opened one handed and this is technically true but in a practical sense rather difficult. As a practical device, the click action is still a superior mechanism. But let's face it: we are not practical people, we are pen nuts! Most of my pens have threaded caps, so I can hardly carp about a twist action pen when I generally carry a pen that requires me to screw off the cap before writing.



I've been asked which of my five Capless models I like the best. Without a doubt, the Decimo wins. It has the superior build and luxury of the current model, is only 4 grams heavy than the faceted plastic model, and has the ultimate ease of use of the click opening mechanism. I admire the overall shape and styling of the Fermo but it is a bit too heavy for me. The Decimo has a number of subtle styling cues and feels great in my hand. As a tool, it would be my choice every time.


Thanks for wading through this over-long and ponderous review with me. If the colors look a little odd on some photos, chalk it up to my continuing struggles with lighting! Let me give credit to Carmen Rivera's excellent Pilot Capless website at http://www.riverapen...shing_point.htm. I borrowed heavily from Carmen's Capless timeline for my opening paragraphs.

best, Dan

Edited by Dan Carmell, 06 May 2007 - 14:38.


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#2 TMann

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:43

Wow, Dan! Thanks for the great review. There are many, many VP users here on the forum, and I think that most of us have at least considered trying out one of the new models. However, since neither of them are sold in North America, (and Europe?) it's been a bit tough for most of us to figure out which pen would be the best choice.

After reading your review, I think that I am going to go with your favorite choice as well: the Decimo. I really like the click mechanism of my VP, and I think that the functionality of the VP/Decimo models trumps the more conventional styling of the Fermo. I can see the Decimo replacing my VP as my "take-everywhere" pen. And now that Richard B. has started selling italic nibs for the VP, I can find another use for that "demoted" VP. biggrin.gif

TMann

Edited by TMann, 30 October 2006 - 04:44.


#3 thewolfgang

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 04:55

Hi Dan,

Same here. Great review, esp. for answering the primary questions on the minds of the VP community. Sounds like the Decimo for me, too, if I can ever be tempted into trying to write with that darned clip in the way!

Doesn't sound, however, like you're especially keen on the available colors.

Laurence

#4 Ann Finley

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:21

Thanks for the good review and comparison, Dan. I don't have the others, but I surely like my Decimo, too!

I consider my gold "Harvest Yellow" pen to be gender neutral in color, and I like the color. Which they'd offer more colors though.

Best, Ann

#5 Maja

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 07:55

Thanks for the excellent review (reviews), Dan---Bravo! biggrin.gif

Does anyone know if the company has plans to introduce the Decimo and/or Fermo into the international market (edit: I meant North American market----I see it is available in the U.K.) anytime soon?

Edited by Maja, 30 October 2006 - 07:59.

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#6 Dan Carmell

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 15:01

Laurence--

No, no, the colors are nice and fit the pen. I wish they had it in sparkly black, though, as my VP collection is focused around black pens, due to the '67 and faceted VP's color.

And Ann, I agree about the colors--even the pink is not a "girlie" color (whatever that might be these days!) per se and I was really just repeating the suggestion from Ujuki's description of the pen.

best, Dan

#7 thewolfgang

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 15:17

Dan,

I guess I could live with the blue or gray.

Assuming the nibs are the same, which do you prefer?

Laurence

#8 Taki

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 15:17

QUOTE(dcarmell @ Oct 30 2006, 10:01 AM)
And Ann, I agree about the colors--even the pink is not a "girlie" color (whatever that might be these days!) per se and I was really just repeating the suggestion from Ujuki's description of the pen.

I agree with you re: pink decimo. I would describe it as a "brownish pink" smile.gif

#9 Dan Carmell

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 15:59

Well, I bet the blue is nice, but that's just speculation on my part, Laurence, as it's hard to really get a take on the colors from the photos I've seen. I like the "dark grey" I have but I tend to like blander (or to be kind to myself, more subtle) color schemes.

Dan

#10 thewolfgang

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 16:01

Like the cognac coloring on that fine chap who poses as your avatar?

#11 Dan Carmell

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 17:12

Oh, her color may be subtle, but she isn't, especially at dinner time!

Dan

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#12 thewolfgang

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 17:29

She looks very sweet!

#13 pigpogm

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 17:59

Fantastic comparison, Dan. With the Capless and Decimo around, I'm actually carrying and using the Decimo. It's in the white finish, and it's very pretty. A nice subtle sparkle to it. From the pictures I've seen, the pink is beautiful - doesn't look like they're making that one available in the UK, though.

Not sure if I've given up any pretence of manliness by admitting to liking a pink Decimo there, but never mind...
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#14 a11en

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 18:29

Doh! Now I want a Decimo! GRrr....

smile.gif
-Allen

#15 note2sb

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 16:20

Next pen is a decimo.
Our live are not shaped by our circumstances; our lives are shaped by our reactions to our circumstances, and those reactions are made by our free choice.

#16 jd50ae

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 16:29

QUOTE
note2sb Posted on Dec 14 2006, 11:20 AM
  Next pen is a decimo.

QUOTE
a11en Posted on Oct 30 2006, 01:29 PM
  Doh! Now I want a Decimo! GRrr -Allen 


What they said ........ GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR wallbash.gif

#17 mholve

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 18:11

It's great to see more models coming out and they look really nice.

I recently picked up a VP/Capless and I'm completely pleased with it. I prefer beefier pens so I don't really have any interested in a Decimo and part of the charm of the VP was the clicker... Fast, easy, one-handed. So unfortunately, the Fermo doesn't really appeal to me either.

But that's the beauty of the new models - there's something for everyone! Right on, Pilot/Namiki!

In the end, you can't go wrong with any of these models, IMO. They really write wonderfully!

#18 thewolfgang

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 18:18

Is the Japan pen shop still the best place to get a Decimo?

#19 southpaw

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Posted 14 December 2006 - 19:58

Great head-to-head review, Dan. Thanks for all the hard work.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#20 spanky

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 09:47

Hi, I just wanted to let all you VP fans know that if you happen to be in Northern California, specifically San Francisco that I saw a store that stocked both the Decimo and Fermo. I was surprised because I thought these were not imported into the US. Anyway the store is called Maido lacated in the mall @ 845 Market street. They also carried Sailor 1911??? and other high end Pilot pens, sorry I can't be more specific, but my SO rushed me out because she knows how dangerous I can be in these stores. Especially around Xmas, I have a tendency to buy pens for myself.






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