Note: I apologise in advance for some of the slightly shonky photos. Most of these were taken indoors under one of those energy saving light bulbs. If you'd like a clearer picture of anything in particular, leave a comment and I'll try to get a better shot when I have some free time during daylight hours.
So without further ado, I give you...
As is the case with all Visconti pens, the presentation is top notch. The Cosmopolitan came in a large wooden box identical in size and shape to the 'burl wood' boxes the Opera Master and most of the other high end pens came in. The only differences are that the new boxes are finished in a glossy piano black and instead of just the company's logo, the new boxes also have the words 'the writing renaissance' printed on both the outside of the box and on the upper cushion inside.
Super glossy black box!
Once I opened the box, I found the pen sitting on a white leatherette tray. The tray has a nice indent in it for the pen to sit in instead of relying on elastic to hold the pen in place. The inside of the lid is also padded and bears the Visconti logo and motto. I very much doubt that the cushioning would prevent a great deal of damage to the pen in the case of the box being dropped but it is a nice touch none the less.
Removing the tray from the box, I found a compartment underneath containing all the usual paperwork and promotional material. Additionally, there is also an identification card with the pen's LE number on it and a mini-DVD with some instructional videos and more promotional stuff on it.
Opened box showing the pen in the tray, the ID card and mini-DVD.
I could probably sum up the appearance of the pen in three words: Oh. My. God. But since this is a review, I suppose you'll be expecting a bit more information (and some photos).
Let me start by saying that it's impossible (for me at least) to accurately capture the colour of the pen, let alone the way light shines from the surface. I've probably spent as much time twirling the pen in my hand and watching the light reflect off it as I have writing with it. If anybody's ever seen the way light reflects from a well polished celluloid pen, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. For those who haven't, well, here's the best photo I could manage to show what I mean.
Of course, the most noticeable thing about the pen is its very peculiar shape. The shape is probably best descibed as a twisted pentagonal prism. Not the most elegant description, I know, but that's what it is. To elaborate, the pen has five sides which gently spiral downwards much like a helix or a screw.
In addition to the obvious things, Visconti have also done an excellent job with the small details like the numbering on the end of the pen, the branding on the trademark arc-shaped clip, the latch capping mechanism that ensures the facets of the pen line up every time, the 'framed' ink window, and the word 'Cosmopolitan' engraved in a spiral pattern on the filling knob (
LE numbering. Also, note that the pen is five sided.
Ink window 'framing' and latch closing mechanism.
The familiar sight of Visconti's arc-shaped clip.
Filler shaft with 'Cosmopolitan' engravings.
Function and Quality 9/10
As you'd expect from a pen of this price, everything fits together perfectly. No rattling, squeaking or any other noises that you shouldn't hear from a pen. As I mentioned in the previous section, the latch closing mechanism ensures that the facets on the lid and the pen body will always line up properly when the pen is capped.
In terms of size and weight, the pen is fairly large and probably on the heavier end of the scale. Having said that, neither the length nor the weight of the pen are an issue when it comes to comfort. Yes, the pen is heavy, but not unduly so. Ditto the length. Celluloid really is on a whole other dimension to acrylic when it comes to tactile sensation. The celluloid warms to the touch and is an absolute delight. I'm also quite pleased that the section is also celluloid and not steel.
The ink window is also quite a handy way of being able to tell how much ink is left without having to hold the pen up to a light.
The only two problems I see with the design in terms of function are:
1. Posting the pen causes it to be very very top heavy and unbalanced.
2. The five-sided spiral, while very gentle and fairly rounded, may be uncomfortable if you just happen to hold the pen at the 'wrong' height or angle.
Neither of these is a problem for me personally but they might be for other users so I've knocked off half a point for each of these very minor maybe-issues.
Size comparison on 7mm lined paper. Left to right: Edison Pearl (clipped), Visconti Cosmopolitan, Pelikan M400, Waterman Carene.
Nib Design and Performance 10/10
As with all current high-end Visconti's, the Cosmopolitan comes with one of Visconti's patented palladium 'dreamtouch' nibs. Mine is a 1.3mm stub nib and I have to say that 'dreamtouch' is no misnomer. It ticks off all the boxes on my checklist of things that nibs should do. Luscious wet line? Check. Starts first time every time? Check. Smooth with just enough tooth for a bit of control? Check.
There's been a bit of discussion about just how flexible the palladium nibs are and to be honest, I wouldn't call them flexible or even semi-flexible. I'd say they're very soft nibs that provide a bit of line variation when pressure is exerted. That being said, I did get a stub nib and I'm sure that the line variation would be much more prominent with the fine and extra fine nibs.
Some minor variation but it's hard to tell whether it's the result of the stub or the flex.
The design of the nib is also very fetching. It's the same design as the one on my Opera Master so to borrow from my own review...
I'd describe as being the love child of a star and a fleur de lis. This nib design was one of the things that first drew me to Visconti. The breather hole is a nice crescent shape rather than the usual circle and it's yet another nice little touch.
Filling System 6.5/10
The Cosmopolitan uses Visconti's push-pull touchdown system (which is a bit of a mouthful). For those unfamiliar with it, there is a 'button' at the end of the barrel. Pressing the button causes it to pop out just a bit so you can grab it and pull it out like a syringe. Once it's been extended all the way, the nib section is submerged in ink, the button is pushed all the way back in a single stroke, and ink is sucked into the barrel via a vacuum.
While the system certainly sounds elegant it is not without its drawbacks. Firstly, it is very difficult to get a complete barrel full of ink in the one stroke as per the instructions. A quick search of FPN will produce a couple of methods one can use to obtain a complete fill but some of these are a bit finicky.
The other major drawback of this filling system is that it is an absolute pain to clean out completely. There does not appear to be any way to flush out absolutely all the ink and/or water from the barrel of the pen. The best I could manage was to get most of the ink out by diluting it via the tried and true fill-flush method and then shaking/flicking the water out (with the nib carefully wrapped in tissue paper of course). Even with this, there will still be a very minute amount of water left. Enough to drive someone with OCD crazy but not enough to make any noticeable difference to the saturation of the next fill of ink.
No matter how you stretch the definition of the word 'cheap', there is no way to fit this pen into it. Like all limited edition pens, it is definitely on the 'yikes' end of the "how much did that cost?" scale. That said, it is a numbered limited edition and you are getting an incredibly functional piece of art. And to be quite honest, as far as limited edition Italian fountain pens go, Bryant's offering these at an absolute steal.
Would I recommend this pen? Well, yes and no. Yes if you want a pen with looks that stand out but without being gaudy, and a pen that you'll be writing with. No if you're totally anal about ink stains and rate 11/10 on the OCD scale.
What I can recommend without any hesitation at all, however, is buying pens from Bryant at pentime.net. His communication is quick and very friendly, and as many other members here will attest to, you'll want to both hug him for his low prices and damn him for leading you into temptation time and time again.
And as usual, a couple of random shots to see you off.
Edited to add photo of plunger shaft under 'Appearance' sub-section
I had the Visconti logo on the cap top replaced with a black stone.
Little blotch of ink there! Oops!
Edited by Yuki Onitsura, 29 June 2011 - 11:31.