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In A League Of Its Own : The Pilot Custom 823

pilotcustom 823 vacuum plunger demonstrator amber m805

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#1 sannidh

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 10:05

The Custom 823 pens have always been highly captivating demonstrators from Pilot Corporation (Japan), sporting the second largest nib (Pilot#15, Namiki#20 nibsize), with a vacuum plunger filling mechanism. The model number 823 refers to the price and year, of launch, although in a slightly intricate manner. Since this pen was released in the year of 2000, 82 years after the company’s inception (i.e. 1918), it carries the first two digits of the model number as ‘82’ and the last digit which is ‘3’ refers to it launch price of JPY 30,000 (3 X 10,000).

 

Also replicated the content with additional pictures in my blog, as the images are/will be reduced to a small thumbnail after a short-while by the image hosting service. Happy reading ! Below is a link to the same:

 

The Pilot Custom 823 Amber Demonstrator Review

 

The Custom 823 (for the Asian market) comes packaged in a standard pilot gift box (Z-CR-GN) which might not draw much attention, quite unlike the pen. The US merchandise comes with a silver sateen lined gift box with a complementary (hey! not really folks) bottle of Pilot/Namiki Ink-70 (Blue). The pen of course is a hot star. A golden label with a model number and nib specs is tagged to the clip. The box carries a user manual for a Type P fountain pen, which does mention keeping the knob slightly unscrewed (at a 2 mm distance) relative to the metal ring, while writing.

 

DSC_4033_zpsn5yia4uf.jpg

 

DESIGN - THE AMBER DEMONSTRATOR (6/6)

 

The Custom 823 comes in three standard designs of translucency transparency - Amber, Smoke and Clear resin, all with gold plated trims. The resin material seems substantial and feels heavy. A silver trimmed version may be a nice thing for many fountain pen nerds including myself. I went for an Amber one with a medium nib and find it quite challenging to resist getting another Smoke version, with recently slashed prices in Rakuten/Ebay. 

 

 

The Amber demonstrator given its lightness, is capable of bedazzling you even with a tiny bit of moonlight. A golden dazzle along the three bands and the clip, subtly delivers the rest. The finials at the cap along with the piston knob conclude the design with a brownish opacity.

 

DSC_4038_zps59uqxwrt.jpg

 

The cap feels substantial and unscrews with one and a half turn, revealing the elegant yet simply designed pen. The grip section is moulded from the same brown resin as the cap-final and the piston-knob, and another golden ring segregates the grip from rest of the body. The amber demonstrator translucency does reveal the steel rod with a plunger seal mechanism.

 

DSC_4058_zpsdj6urt8a.jpg

 

The cap does mention a few things etched across the broader of the concentric golden bands, including the model name CUSTOM 823 and PILOT MADE IN JAPAN with six stars of separations.  A thinner band above renders some more aesthetics to the overall design. The clip is tension fit and it encompasses a vertically embossed PILOT within its golden sheen.

 

Cap_zpsp81nns3m.jpg

 

FILLING SYSTEM (6/6)

 

The brown piston knob unscrews from the golden ring till an end stop, post which the plunger unit can be pulled out. The rod is made of stainless steel and is resistant to most of the commonly used inks. For IG (Iron Gall) and Pigment Inks, care must be taken to clean the pen several times, to prevent clogging or deposit accumulation inside the ink passages. 

The pen fills to more than two-thirds its capacity, once the nib is dipped in ink and the plunger is pushed back in. This can give a quick gush of ink inside with a comfortable volume of 1.4 - 1.5 mL, which again could last for several days. Although getting some more ink into your pen is quite possible.

 

Cleaning the pen is a similar ritual accompanied with some shake and I suggest you do it on a regular basis, for the ink stains if left may look ugly with time, and might require a light ammonia solution to go-off.

 

And as mentioned in the manual, while writing with the pen, you would need to keep the piston-knob slightly unscrewed (at a 2 mm distance) relative to the golden ring. This will displace a conical valve seal below the piston seal to allow passage of ink to the feed. Given the high ink capacity of these pens with plunger type filling mechanism, this has been done to prevent ink-leakage. And this is a nice thing to have, if you intend to carry the 823 in a flight.

 

DSC_4130_zpsjqcefo3d.jpg

 

For a rather crazy and complete fill, you do have a workaround. With the nib pointed up, you can pull out the plunger of a partially filled 823 and then by slowly pushing the plunger inside, you would get the air-gap between the inverted ink-levels and the visible end of barrel-section minimized. Once the inverted ink-level reaches the visible end of the barrel, you can submerge the nib in the ink bottle and push the plunger in. Voila! Done. This process may result in some ink escaping to the threads of the piston knob, but again you can repeat the same process with water/cleaning solution and shake a little to wash it off. 

 

 

NIB - ALL THAT MATTERS (6/6)

 

The nib is friction-fit and comes in a standard 14k monotone design across three stock widths - F, M, B (and some specially ordered custom widths of FA and WA). The nib has a standard pilot design.

 

 The tail end of the nib specifies the month and year of manufacture. An elongated hexagonal imprint separates the design from the outer shoulders and tines with an arabesque decor running inside its circumference, encompassing the circular breather hole in between. 

 

The branding and nib specifications of PILOT, 14k-585 (58.5% Au Alloy) along with the nib size and width, which are imprinted below the breather hole.

 

DSC_4151_zpscb3t9giu.jpg

 

A standard bluish grey plastic feed with thin fins and a decently sized feeder hole delivers the amazing ink suction.

 

DSC_4152_zpswsiiokoa.jpg

 

PHYSICS OF IT (6/6) – RELATIVELY SPEAKING

 

With a transparent translucent resin body in form of a traditional cigar shape, it does give a comfortable feel of length. The cap itself weighs 10 grams which makes it top heavy if posted. The overall weight of the 823s have thus a significant (one-third) contribution from the cap. There is then a comfortable grip section with around 1.1 cm diameter. 

 

Uncapped Length ~ 13. 2 cm

Posted Length ~ 16.4 cm

Nib Leverage ~ 2.4 cm

Overall Weight ~ 29 g

 

A capped and uncapped comparison with few of the standard large pens like Visconti Homo Sapiens Maxi, Pelikan m805 and MB 146 is posted below for your reference.

 

DSC_4154_zpsxjd20amq.jpg

 

DSC_4155_zpsieq78ytb.jpg

 

ECONOMIC VALUE(6/6)

 

It retails at around USD 288, and as usual it’s available at lower street prices towards a band of USD 200. I had got the pen at a cost of USD 220 at that time, which I thought was a good bargain. This year Rakuten sellers made it look lamentable by selling 823s at less than USD 190, inclusive of shipping! 

 

OVERALL (6/6)

 

This 14k nib has a wet flow, albeit a hint of softness like the custom 74. The nib is springy and lays a somewhat wider line with pressure. There is no significant variation among the horizontal and vertical strokes. These wet lines take almost 15 secs to dry a Sailor Jentle Sky High on MD paper.

 

DSC_4180_zpsxbepmpcf.jpg

 

Thank you for going through the review. 

 

Sonik


Edited by soniknitr, 05 July 2015 - 12:55.

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#2 hari317

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 10:41

Thank you for the review. I have an amber 823 in B from 2009 or so, it came in a fancy case with a sealed spherical bottle of Namiki black etc... Even though I am not a very big fan of 823, i enjoyed reading your review of it.

I learned today, from your review, about the reasoning behind the model number.

if it helps, I paid 296USD for my 743FA in Feb 2009. :crybaby:


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#3 delano

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 11:40

I really like this review.  I learned a lot.  And I want an 823.

 

But I think the most important lesson I learned is to never look at pen prices after I make the purchase.  There will always be "an incredible sale" that I missed.  If I wait for that sale I will keep waiting for the next sale because I never know when a better sale will come along.  And a better one will always come along somewhere. And I won't have the pen.  By getting the pen when I want it, I have it when I want it (unless it's on kickstarter or Massdrop -- where I've learned not to wait expectantly.)



#4 sannidh

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 13:16

Thank you for the review. I have an amber 823 in B from 2009 or so, it came in a fancy case with a sealed spherical bottle of Namiki black etc... Even though I am not a very big fan of 823, i enjoyed reading your review of it.

I learned today, from your review, about the reasoning behind the model number.

if it helps, I paid 296USD for my 743FA in Feb 2009. :crybaby:

 

Thank you Hari. I do find this pen an excellent value for price. I came to know of the model numbers from one of the Japanese sellers only when I had got my first custom 74 fp.  

 

You remember the chat we had about this rakuten effect and I don't even want to recall any of prices of my older Japanese FPs. I think most of us will have many pens, which would be available at 2/3rd the then prices :P

 

Check this  :wallbash:

 

Best,

Sonik


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#5 sannidh

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 13:28

I really like this review.  I learned a lot.  And I want an 823.

 

But I think the most important lesson I learned is to never look at pen prices after I make the purchase.  There will always be "an incredible sale" that I missed.  If I wait for that sale I will keep waiting for the next sale because I never know when a better sale will come along.  And a better one will always come along somewhere. And I won't have the pen.  By getting the pen when I want it, I have it when I want it (unless it's on kickstarter or Massdrop -- where I've learned not to wait expectantly.)

 

Thank you so much delano. 

 

And I completely agree with your philosophy to get a pen when you need it, rather than wait for an offer and by then you would have bought something else :) + do not look back after getting it..

 

 

Best,

Sonik


Edited by soniknitr, 05 July 2015 - 14:02.

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#6 hari317

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 13:32

 

 

But I think the most important lesson I learned is to never look at pen prices after I make the purchase.  There will always be "an incredible sale" that I missed.  If I wait for that sale I will keep waiting for the next sale because I never know when a better sale will come along.  And a better one will always come along somewhere. And I won't have the pen.  By getting the pen when I want it, I have it when I want it (unless it's on kickstarter or Massdrop -- where I've learned not to wait expectantly.)

I really agree with you. Lost years waiting for the correct price cannot be compensated.

 

The recent USD price is lower for things from Japan, since the Dollar has become more stronger than the yen and also the rupee was weakened tremendously when converting from INR to USD.


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#7 jmccarty3

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 14:16

Thank you very much for this fine review, and also for bringing the Tokyo Pen Shop Quill to my attention. Their shop special red lacquer 845 is very tempting, as are their Life notebooks.


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#8 Flounder

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 19:02

Excellent review, I really enjoyed reading it. Slighty disconcerted that the pressure of an inverted fill technique is enough to defeat the end seal! Your photos are outstanding.


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#9 Dr. Saleem Ali

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 19:27

Excellent  review ! And attracts to pen and acquire it !



#10 ThirdeYe

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 19:35

Excellent review. I have one of these in fine and it is such a great writer. It's surprisingly smooth for being such a fine nib. In fact, it's one of the finest nibs I own. I'm thinking of trading it for a M or B sometime in the near future since these do tend to write quite fine. I love the size and look of it, very comfortable. 


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#11 frogbaby

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 20:28

Great pen. I own a clear fine and just received a clear broad.

Looks beautiful. Feels terrific in the hand. Writes beautifully.

Turning the end knob to use is a small hassle but you become used to it quickly.

I probably should just buy a medium and then I'd have the set !

But I likely will trade or sell it and just keep a medium and a broad both of which I will have stubbed.

My favorite pen ... so far.


Edited by frogbaby, 05 July 2015 - 20:29.


#12 J_MM

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Posted 05 July 2015 - 22:59

Very informative review. I purchased the smoke version at $183 on a ebay auction recently.

 

First class pen -- well worth the money. It is the one pen that, if lost, I would purchase another immediately.



#13 Manalto

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 00:51

I join the others in thanking you for your excellent, informative review. 

 

Although demonstrators have never appealed to me, there's something about this model in amber, maybe it's your photography, maybe it's the color combined with gold - I'm not sure, but it's an elegant design and changing my mind about transparent pens.


James


#14 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 06:28

Thank you very much for this fine review, and also for bringing the Tokyo Pen Shop Quill to my attention. Their shop special red lacquer 845 is very tempting, as are their Life notebooks.

 

Thank you so much for your kind feedback. I am also quite intrigued by the red 845. (There was a blue one too, I do not remember having seen any on a sale though). Seems it's custom made only for the Tokyo pen shop quill, including the FA/WA nibs. I would have loved some democracy here though :)

 

Regards,

Sonik


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#15 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 07:00

Excellent review, I really enjoyed reading it. Slighty disconcerted that the pressure of an inverted fill technique is enough to defeat the end seal! Your photos are outstanding.

Thank you so much Flounder. The filler-collar unit actually drags a few droplets of ink, on its threads, when you go for an excess fill :) But believe me it's kind of minimal/nothing to worry about. And, I did clean the pen before taking the photos :D

 

Regards,

Sonik


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#16 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 08:24

Excellent  review ! And attracts to pen and acquire it !

 

Thank you Sir! You can find the pen with various Japanese sellers like Wancher(India) & Rakuten (Japan).


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#17 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 09:29

Excellent review. I have one of these in fine and it is such a great writer. It's surprisingly smooth for being such a fine nib. In fact, it's one of the finest nibs I own. I'm thinking of trading it for a M or B sometime in the near future since these do tend to write quite fine. I love the size and look of it, very comfortable. 

 

Thank you thirdeye. And your fine feedback tempts me to get another smoke version with a B or a WA nib. 


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#18 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 09:36

Great pen. I own a clear fine and just received a clear broad.

Looks beautiful. Feels terrific in the hand. Writes beautifully.

Turning the end knob to use is a small hassle but you become used to it quickly.

I probably should just buy a medium and then I'd have the set !

But I likely will trade or sell it and just keep a medium and a broad both of which I will have stubbed.

My favorite pen ... so far.

 

Thank you frogbaby. I could not agree less with your feedback. I do sometimes forget to turn the knob and after writing a few lines, the wetness of lines reminds me of the fact..


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#19 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 09:37

Very informative review. I purchased the smoke version at $183 on a ebay auction recently.

 

First class pen -- well worth the money. It is the one pen that, if lost, I would purchase another immediately.

 

Thank you J_MM. I am tempted by the smoke version at these prices.

And yes I would do the same, buy another immediately if I lost this one..


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#20 sannidh

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Posted 06 July 2015 - 09:43

I join the others in thanking you for your excellent, informative review. 

 

Although demonstrators have never appealed to me, there's something about this model in amber, maybe it's your photography, maybe it's the color combined with gold - I'm not sure, but it's an elegant design and changing my mind about transparent pens.

Thank you James for your kind feedback, I am happy for the fact that I stand corrected on the transparency of the demonstrator (and it's not translucent as opposed to a Pelikan m625/400). 

 

The 823 is indeed a beautiful pen. I am sure the pen is more elegant than these pictures :)

 

Regards,

Sonik


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