As I havent seen any reviews of this pen on FPN (apologies if i missed it, I did look), I thought I'd do a write-up.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 9/10
One of the things I like about a brand like Sailor, as opposed to others, is the quiet, understatement and this is evident right from the start, with the packaging. The Hakone came in a non-descript wooden box in a thick paper outer case. Nothing that impressive at first blush, and nothing indicating that inside lay a fairly expensive pen.
On extracting the box from the paper cover and opening up, I saw the expected bits'n'bobs: a converter in a box, warranty papers and manual, some cartridges... and, hello, what was that? A case for carrying converters, made of matching wood.
That was a pleasant surprise - while I do not use catridges, it was a very thoughtful touch by Sailor.
APPEARANCE AND DESIGN - 10/10
Made of 4 different woods arranged in a rectangular pattern, the pen is, in a single word, gorgeous.
I love wooden pens - in addition to this, I have a Pilot Custom in maplewood, and a $10 handmade pen I picked up while in Uganda a couple of months ago, and I am going to pick up a Nakaya Briarwood at some point. I like all of them. But this is the One Pen, to rule all the other Wooden Pens.
This is a pen that says "look at the amount of skill it took to make me", not "see how expensive I am". I like that!
The wood feels nice and smooth to the touch, with a matt finish that is has a very pleasing tactile quality. The overall level of workmanship & artistry that has gone into combining the wood is phenomenal. Going purely by look and feel, I wouldnt be able to tell that this pen consists of 4 different types of wood
The Hakone is finished like other Sailors - gold-plated clip and a broad band on the cap, with the words Sailor 1911 written on it: standard stuff, nothing unusual. While I generally prefer a chrome finish to gold, I find there here, it adds a little bit of pizzaz to the pen.
Initially, I was wishing Sailor had made it the same size as the 1911L (it is a bit smaller, as the photos later show), but once I had it my hands, I realized this was just the right size. Too big and it would have been visually over the top, and gone from elegant to gauche. As it is, it is visually arresting, but the medium size keeps it classy, as opposed to over-the-top. But that is typical of Sailor - barring the KoP, most of their pens are modestly sized and dont scream "look at me, see how big my pen is is" (although I do own a few monster sized pens and I dont want to speculate about what that says about me!)
WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS - 10/10
The pen is about 136mm long and weights 18.4gm or thereabouts, based on what I could find on the web. The following photo shows how it compares size-wise to the other members of the Sailor family:
From left to right: Sailor 1911L, Hakone, 1911M, Pro Gear and Sapporo.
As you can see, it falls right in the middle between the 2 1911s - it is about the same diameter as a 1911L, but just a little shorter. I like bigger pens, and the slight increase in size over the 1911M makes this just right for me.
NIB AND PERFORMANCE
The Hakone has a stock 14kt Sailor nib - like all Sailors, it runs a little small. I got a M, and it would be comparable to a F on most Western nibs. The entire section of the Hakone is actually interchangeable with that of the 1911M or the Sapporo, so if you have either of these pens, you can actually swap the sections around without needing to extract the nib.
Writing performance - out of the box, the pen was a little dry. I pulled out the nib, and did my usual non-FPN-recommended "blade in the tines" thing, which fixed it. After that, it wrote just the way I like my "extensive use" pens to write: adequate wetness (6 or so on a scale of 1-10), smooth and consistent, with a hint of tooth. The analogy I've used before is that of skating on freshly-zambonied ice: smooth but you can feel the nib skate over the paper.
FILLING SYSTEM - 9/10
It uses a cartridge. 'Nuff said.
I know some people hate that but I am perfectly ok with it. Makes it easy to clean the pens; if something goes wrong, I just need to buy a replacement converter and not send the pen off for repairs.
COST AND VALUE - 8/10
I paid about $530 for the pen. I think I've seen it marginally cheaper on Ebay, but getting it here then involves a big dance with shipping it to my US address and forwarding onwards by Fedex/DHL - the local post is very unreliable where I am (a point of disagreement which has led to my deciding to never buy anything from a certain very popular UK-based seller of an inexpensive pen, but that's a different story). Once I factored in customs, waiting time, etc. the small premium over Ebay was a non-issue.
I buy from a local subsidiary of Engeika, and my contact person there told me that they had one of these in stock, and I wouldnt have to wait for it to be made-to-order. So that swung the deal in my favor.
As for value - is it good value? As far as pens go, not really. It has the same writing performance as a $150 Sailor 1911L - not surprising, as they use the same 14k nib. So the extra money isnt getting you anything there. You are paying a premium for the workmanship and unique nature of the pen. And that, by definition, becomes a matter of personal preference.
That being said, Sailor, would it have killed you guys to put the 21k nib on it?
Make no mistake - there is nothing high-tech about this, nothing bling, no fancy metals or other things. It is a handmade work of art - and the price premium that you are paying is for that. Personally, I feel that there is very little to be gained in writing performance once you go past the $200-250 mark (and even that mark is perilously similar to the performance at the $50 mark) - anything additional you pay is for the uniqueness of the pen as a tool.
For me, the level of workmanship, understated elegance and unique nature of this pen make it a far more attractive purchase than a stock MB146/149 or other comparable pens. My only regret is that I didnt get it with a B nib (I already have a couple of Sailors in M and F nibs), but since it is easy enough to swap sections, I may yet pick up a B-nibbed Sapporo and change the nibs with it.
Edited by de_pen_dent, 31 October 2012 - 16:25.