Everyone, thank you for the comments (and keep them coming)! Based on my use of it, I would rate the 659 as a six to eight dollar pen on my arbitrary scale of value. The 698 I am trying to get people to convince me is "worth" its current price, which is more than my value for the 659, despite having the same writing end. Some have chimed in that it doesn't feel the same and has better build quality so that is inching me towards getting one especially since the Taobao price is half the eBay price.
The clear feed, however, is also a contentious issue as mine are also stained by Pelikan 4001 Violet, and undoubtedly others
; I wish they also offer a black feed option as well, as the black material should work better for not being as hydrophobic. I have found the Victo-made nibs to be fully satisfactory right off the bat, but of course, TWSBI offers a greater variety of Jowo-made nibs, and are compatible with a wide variety of other nibs.
I have also ordered another Chinese-made piston demonstrator called Caliart Ego, which is relatively new but the maker does not have any international distribution channel; the pen itself appears to be a homage to the TWSBI Mini mechanically but with a totally different cap; I sure am looking forward to examining it and trying it out.
But that bit really does give me pause. My 659 works with Pilot feeds (mated to the WS nib), if I remember correctly, but it didn't look right. As to the nibs, I do like them but for some reason I don't pull them out of the drawer as much as my other pens which is weird since I also like the 78G form factor. A pair of 78G pens were the only pens I used for a few years before the local market grew and brought in new brands, so really can't put a finger on why I don't like it more and the worry that I won't like the 698 as well—offset by the feeling that I'm missing out on a good pen.
This Caliart Ego (for some reason I pronounce it as Eggo) is new to me and is half the price of the 698. From the pictures, I looks better to me than the 698 too. Please share your first impressions when you get it! I hope that the feed will not stain.
By the way, for a short time there was a listing for the WS 613-2 which is like a full demonstrator version of the Hero 616 but with a piston converter system. I ordered one a month ago but the tracking is telling me that it's going around in circles in the local post office. You may want to check that out.
Hi again, Antichresis,
Thanks to Bobje, you may want to read this review cited below:
I've only read the first paragraph or two and duty calls here at the office, but it sounds to me like the pen may have some build quality issues... you may want to proceed with caution.
Anthony, linking us to Vis's review is unfair. He can probably make a Manuscript pen look like a great buy with his photography skills!
I got my Caliart today and I really like it. It seems quite robust (this is to be confirmed, of course!) and a huge ink capacity - 2.1ml, similar to the Vac700R.
Bonus: the nib is interchangable with Pilot nibs. The stock nib is decent, but if you want something even finer, there's that option as well.
I hope you'll like yours too!
Lord Epic, thank you for the photos and I hope you will make a review of the Ego once you get a feel for it. It sure looks better than the 698 and I do like the visible screw rings on the piston (the reason I liek the clear Eco best) and the red piston o-rings (whcih remind me of the Lamy converter in a Vista). How does it compare to your other pens?
After reading the reviews on this forum I placed an order 3 weeks ago and I received it yesterday. I also ordered a WS 659 from the above mentioned eBay seller. Both arrived at the same time. The WS 698 is about the same size and girth of a Jinhao x750, while the WS 659 is about the size of a MB 144. It's a little fatter. After flushing both pens I inked the 698 with PR Ebony Brown and the 659 with Noodler's Midnight Blue. Both pens wrote without issue and reasonably wet. The 659 was wetter but I'm not sure if it was because of the ink vs the feed.
All in all, I'm very pleased with these new pens but the WS 698 has a better feel in my hand. The finish is superior to the 659 so I'm going to order 2 more. I wish I could try the 14k gold nib version. I saw a review on youtube by Mr Chen and it appeared to be more flexible than the steel F nib version. I haven't had the pleasure of writing with the Twsbi ECO but from what I've read it is a very good pen as well. I would have bought it if I didn't see the youtube video's on the WS 698 and read the comparison between the 2 pens on this forum. Cliff
The 659''s finishing really is quite poor. In the process of fixing mine all the cap markings disappeared. It's also easily scratched. Thank you for your comparison to the 698. Do get back to us when you finish the ink in the pen and tell us if your feed is stained as well.