INTRODUCTION: I reviewed the Sailor Chizusugi Cedar Wood Sapporo some time earlier this year and my interest in wooden pens was re-ignited. The new range of Precious Wood pens landed in February and I literally saw them come out of the shipment box, so I was really excited to get my hands on them.
As I mentioned in my reviews, I have always been a fan of wooden pens but many of them are quite pricey. The new Sailor Precious Wood Series is no exception - in fact, prices have risen from the previous series of wood pens, so be prepared to pay more for less. (If you wonder what I mean by less, I refer to the packaging. Sailor is no longer using wooden boxes but instead, packaging the pen with the typical Sapporo boxes.)
Unfortunately, I was not able to get my hands on the Kokutan (Ebony) and Tagayasan (Ironwood) versions of the first run, as I was unable to afford them all and find them too small for my daily use. I also very much prefer lighter coloured wood pens.
Anyway, this time I will be reviewing three pens in the new range called the Precious Wood Series, and I hope you enjoy the review and photographs!
Sailor’s Precious Wood Series consists of six Sapporo sized pens which include the Kokutan, Tagayasan, Chizusugi, and three new pens constructed from Chestnut, Japanese Quince and Black Persimmon woods. The new range is the perfect addition for those who like wooden pens, although they are C/C filled and rather small in the hand.
The pens come in a blue Sailor box typically found in the Sapporo range, and enclosed you will find there are three cartridges, an instruction manual, converter, the pen and a yellow cleaning cloth that I still find no use for. The box also includes a small card indicating the type of wood, origin and uses. Quite underwhelming considering the beauty of the velvet lined wooden Paulownia box previously seen.
Anyway, here’s my background - I've long been an advocate of Japanese pens. I am a serious Sailor fan - I started out with my first pen, a Lamy Vista, many years ago. Eventually I progressed to the Lamy 2000 and a Sailor Professional Gear which I still write with daily today. Recently, I got hooked on Omas pens and I got an Arte Italiana and 360. I also got the Sailor Hakone Yosegi-zaiku pen with a literally stunning mosaic finish.
1. Appearance & Design (8/10) – The new Sailor Precious Wood of the World pens are very beautiful specimens of how wooden pens should look like. The really minimalist outer appearance is appealing but doesn't scream Sailor, and the design and shape is distinctive and recognisable especially to those who like Sailor or wooden pens. I really like the flat tops because they are more modern.
Of all the wooden pens in the new range, I must say that I like the light coloured Chestnut wood the best because of its very clean look. I’ve always liked light coloured wood like cedar wood compared to the iron wood and ebony wood versions. Light coloured wood pens also show a more obvious grain pattern as compared to the dark coloured versions. Of course, the light coloured Chestnut wood pen doesn't have a striking grain unlike the Quince version. However, I actually prefer more subtle looking grain.
As I’ve mentioned before, the wood isn’t polished to look really shiny, and it has a nice and raw matte look. As you may already know, the way the wood is processed is all-natural and the pens were created using a high-temperature compression process. On the whole, all are diminutive pens that don't scream for attention.
So here’s a basic rundown - there are three new pens:
Lightest coloured of the three new additions and in the whole series. Originates from Japan. Described as a “light yellow brown” with a lustrous finish and heavy rippled grain. It is a soft and easily worked wood used in furniture, mainly tables.
b. Japanese Quince
Light brown with a striking grain, the grain is the most obvious in the whole of the series. Originates from Japan, Southeast Asia and China. The grain is very straight and the surface is lustrous. Used in writing instruments, high-end furniture and architectural material.
c. Black Persimmon
Darkest coloured of the three new additions. Originates from Japan and China. Described as a “very dark brown” with an unusual black grain. It is a very hard and strong wood used in architectural material and furniture.
The pointy clip in the range is unique to the wood series, and the accents are plated like traditional Sailor pens. I do like the 24 karat gold ion plating because it blends perfectly with the wood.
The new Sailor Precious Wood Series is really refreshing and it is always nice to see new wood specimens added to the range. I wonder how long Sailor can keep this up with new additions though!
2. Construction & Quality (10/10) – These new additions to the Precious Wood Series are just as well built as the old series and are really solidly constructed. They are compressed, so the grain gets closer and has a more dramatic look than what you’d normally see.
Visually, the pens are rather similar to the old series. But there are subtle changes such as the gold plated accents and flourishes on the gold ring above the nib section which tell of the quality and attention to detail by Sailor. The gold ring is of course significantly larger than in the previous range, to accommodate the change.
While they are nothing spectacular in terms of innovation - the Sailor Hakone Yosegi-zaiku being one great innovation - they are certainly eye catching and classy looking in terms of the new finish and appearance.
The new Sailor Precious Wood Series Sapporo pens really give a more high-quality, luxurious feel because of the flourishes and thicker gold ring on the pen body. I’m not blown away, but I definitely find the construction quite appealing because it is a slight step up from the original models. I think that Sailor has made a conscious effort make the new range more classy, which is good.
Given the aromatic qualities of my Chizusugi Cedar Wood Sapporo, one may wonder if the new wooden pens have any scent. I must say that I couldn't smell anything from afar. I could only catch the scent by placing my nose extremely close to the wood surface and inhaling deeply. I guess it is safe to conclude that the new range doesn't have an obvious scent.
If I may blatantly borrow from my previous review - “I have always been drawn to wood pens. Wood is a natural material and unlike plastic, it takes more effort to produce. Unlike typical pens made of “precious resin”, “cotton resin” and metal, wood has this feel to it that is neither cold nor sticky, nor slippery. It feels just right. Unlike other materials, no piece is the same. The grain can be seen as sweeping lines going across the body, a testament that this had once lived.”
Similarly to my previous review, it would be interesting to note that the pen was made pretty naturally - the wood went through a high temperature compression process during which a temperature of 120 degree celcius was applied while the wood was compressed. After the treatment, it is sprayed with 180 degree celcius water vapour to further form the final product you see with its tight grain. Amazingly, no chemicals were used in the whole process.
The clip is not the screw-type found on many Sailor pens. This clip is friction fit but very secure. Come to think of it, I suspect that the reason for this construction is so as to protect the wood from being damaged from over-twisting the cap.
Anyway, it closes with a secure “click” and does not feel like it will come loose in transport over time. My only fear with Sailor’s wooden pens is the same as any other wooden item - that they will come into contact with ink and be stained permanently, given the fact that they are not coated. Of course, the Black Persimmon is more likely to be resistant to ink stains.
It is also good to know that most of the pen is made from wood and that there aren't any plastic parts inside the barrel. I can actually see wood bits going onto my converter which shows that it’s all natural! Don’t worry though, you aren't going to get a splinter.
3. Weight & Dimensions (7/10) – As noted in existing reviews on FPN, the current range of Sailor wood pens are all pretty small - my Chizusugi is barely large enough for my hand and the new Precious Wood of the World series Sapporo pens are no different. I am just able to write with them and prefer posting the cap. I wish they are Pro Gear sized, that would be perfect.
The pen is obviously wooden and thus fairly light. It is just as light as the Chizusugi in my earlier review. However, posting the cap is sure to make it rather imbalanced and top heavy. I therefore do not recommend posting the cap. I also fear that posting the cap would damage the wood so I post the pens very carefully. Overall, I definitely consider my Yosegi-zaiku to be more suitable in size and more comfortable for writing.
Here are some technical specifications for people who are interested:
Weight : 18 grams
Length with cap closed : 124 millimetres
Length with cap posted : 142 millimetres
Diameter : 17 millimetres
4. Nib & Performance (8/10) – The Sailor Precious Wood series Sapporo fountain pens come with gold plated 14 carat solid gold nibs that match the trims. The nib writes like any other Sailor nib, fine and generally smooth with a slight bit of feedback. The tines were well aligned and I need not explain any further how much I love Sailor nibs.
I am not going to harp on and on about how good their nibs are because people generally accept that Sailor nibs are pretty reliable. Again, the focus of the pen here is the wood and not quite the nib, though it can definitely hold its own. It is definitely a very complete package as a whole. Strangely, the pen only comes with one available nib size, F, and that is what makes me shave a few points of the rating. Why not have more interesting nibs instead?
5. Filling System & Maintenance (8/10) - I do like the Sailor filling system. Here’s some elaboration taken from my earlier review -
I use Sailor converters and thus far I think they are among the best in the world. My Pilot CON-70 converter has threads that strip easily. The CON-50 is too small in capacity. The CON-20 is not see-through. So the Sailor converter solves all my problems. It is simple and reliable, I often open it up by unscrewing the piston to add lubricant or to clean the residue from carbon inks.
Surprisingly, Sailor C/C pens have become one of the most easy filling systems for me to deal with, despite the fact that I have a fair amount of piston fillers around. I must therefore say that I do respect the choice of Sailor to build a C/C system into many of their pens because they have generally provided a reliable system.
The nib is just like any Sailor nib and is friction fit and easy to pull out. Therefore, it is fairly easy to pull out and clean especially for those who use carbon inks often and are afraid of the ink drying and clogging the pen. It is always good to give a nib section a good cleaning after prolonged use, ensuring many more years of reliable performance!
6. Cost & Value (7/10) – The Sailor Precious Wood Sapporo series pens are unique in their appearance. So far, these are one of the most pretty looking wood pens in the market and have one of the most refined construction. However, I do feel slightly short changed on the box because they have reverted to the original Sapporo box instead of a wooden one.
At the same time, the new range of pens is also slightly more expensive than the previous one, so I must say that good stuff comes at a price! I would definitely recommend the new pens for those who enjoy wooden items with a tactile feel and like to enhance their collection. If you already own some wooden pens from Sailor, these may be irresistible.
7.Conclusion (Final score, 8/10) - The new Sailor Precious Wood Sapporo pens are really classy and cool. Nothing really amazing, extraordinary or new, to be honest. I guess the magical feeling is somewhat wearing off for me... I really like the Chestnut because it is light coloured and clean looking, and the Black Persimmon because of the deep, dark shade. I somehow can't appreciate the Quince grain pattern though.
Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re fantastic pens, but there isn’t anything very new here except new variants of wood. It certainly is better than adding another resin colour to the range, if you know what I mean. Wood is definitely an appealing material for me and I think that they are increasing in popularity.
The fact that every piece is unique adds intrigue, because every single pen is different. If you happen to be buying one of these pens, I would really suggest going to the shop because you get to choose between different patterns and reduce the risk of being disappointed by some strangely patterned grain. Some like uniform patterns (myself included) but others would rather have a unique, non-uniform pattern.
I would recommend the new Sailor Precious Wood Sapporo fountain pens for those who like to collect all the pens in the series. If you're new to this range, you'll also face a tough decision because they all look attractive. They are unique pieces to keep for years, and will deliver really good writing although nib sizes are limited and they are sized pretty small.
Till my next review, here are some pictures! Enjoy...
Edited by nicholasyeo, 05 March 2013 - 17:30.