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Visconti's Current Production-Line Fountain Pens Comparison

opera elements opera master homo sapiens divina medici

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#1 iruciperi

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 21:39

It is not that strange for me to find myself to be irrationally attracted by what I tried firstly, even after recognized that the first choice actually does not fit perfectly to my taste. My first serious fountain pen was Visconti Opera Master Black Guilloche with 14k gold fine nib. I thought it was a great pen, but it did not took so much time to feel that the pen was a bit heavy for me. So I tried Montblanc, Aurora, etc., but.. I kept attracted by Visconti, irrationally. I tried Visconti Black Divina almost without any investigation, And.. that irrationality gave me a huge chance to find a pen that fits perfectly to my taste. 

 

So I decided to try all current production-line Visconti pens as much as possible. Even though I missed some of them, such as Michelangelo and Pininfarina, I want to share my experience with five pens; Opera Elements, Opera Master, Homo Sapiens, Medici, and Divina. I will cover their nibs in separate review because five of them basically use the same nibs, and fortunately, they have all different nibs from EF to BB.

 

 

Appearance & Design (10/10)

 

fpn_1511120476__pens_capped.png

fpn_1511120427__pens_opened.png

fpn_1511120529__img_0607.png

 

From left to right, longer to shorter. Opera Master Black Guilloche, Divina Desert Spring, Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, Medici, and Opera Element Dark Amber. The right-most one is Montblanc 146 as a reference. 

 

Visconti is famous for its fascinating design. The Opera Master Black Guilloche is the most classic one among five of them, even though the black guilloche finish gives a bit of fanciness. 

 

fpn_1511122517__img_0615.png

 

 

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The other four pens do definitely have unique designs and materials. Divina Desert Spring is made of beautiful brown-based celluloid with a bit of white marble and blue- and white- accents. Most regular Divinas such as imperial blue and green have silverly or gold-colored metal lines along five facets turning around the pen, but this version does not have that. 

The pen body tapers towards the bottom and the grip section. 

 

 

fpn_1511120349__homosapiens_cap.png

 

Homo Sapiens Bronze Age is probably the most well-known and recognizable model of Visconti. It is made of resin mixed with lava, so it gives unique texture and feeling. Besides the body material, clip, finial, and cap band are made of bronze. The photo did not capture them correctly, but it is being aged so they have a hint of pink color.

 

fpn_1511120557__medici_body.png

 

Medici is, I think, the most underrated and out-of-interest pen among five of them. But its acrosilk body has astonishing depth and feels very solidly. It is facetted, so it reflects lights in a beautiful way. 

 

fpn_1511122556__img_0608.png

 

The last, Opera Elements Air, is my favorite among these pens aesthetically. The resin body is a bit translucent so you can see the grip section and converter in it through cap and body. I am really sorry that my iPhone camera cannot capture this pen's beauty. 

 

 

Construction & Quality (5/10)

 

Starting from the Opera Master, the facets are not perfectly aligned when it is capped. Actually it is the only pen that does not use the "Hook-and-Safe" mechanism, but that can't be a reason for the misalignment. Furthermore, the cap thread is not well-built so you can keep turn it feeling it is capped already.

 

The Divina Desert Spring, which is the most expensive pen out of these, is neither free of the construction quality issue. Even though the facets are perfectly aligned by virtue of the capping mechanism, but the captured converter is a problem of it. The captured converter is not well captured. It actually moves a bit when you write with it. It really makes hearable sound and unpleasant feeling to your hand. The capping mechanism also has an issue. In the case of Homo Sapiens, for example, the cap starts to be "Hooked" when you try to close the cap without any pressure. It means the "Hook-and-Safe" thread is so crisp that the cap can be pushed in by its own weight. However, it doesn't work properly in the case of Divina. It is made of celluloid as I mentioned, so it's lighter than Homo Sapiens' cap. However, in spite of the weight, it is not understandable that you need to really push the cap to make it hooked. Because it is celluloid pen, and there's no metal cap band on it, it feels me uncomfortable to push the cap till the cap finds its proper position.

 

The Homo Sapiens Bronze Age is actually the only one that makes me feel the pen is really well built. It feels extremely solid. I think this pen is the single most adequate pen for the word "Solid Pen".

 

In the case of Medici, the filling mechanism has a bit of issue. It uses the Visconti's power filler, so you have to turn the end knob to make the vacuum plunger work. When closing back the knob after filling the pen, I need to push one corner of the knob to make it turned. It means that the knob is slightly out of alignment with the main body. 

 

The Opera Element Air has two issue: one with its converter, and the other with its capping mechanism. It comes with a screw-in-type Visconti converter. But the screw-in is not perfect, so there's a little bit of space between the grip section and the converter even when it's maximally screwed in. Thus, the converter hits the body when you write with the pen. For the capping mechanism, it's "Hook-and-Safe" thread is a bit longer than the others'. It's not obvious because the others are oversized pens, but this one is not. I guess the spring is not working properly to make the capping smoothly with the long thread of it. It feels somewhat stuck a bit when I open and close the cap. 

 

 

Overall, construction quality of these pens are disappointing especially considering their prices. It seems like five capping mechanisms are made by two or three different manufacturers. The clips are too. The springs in the clips give all different feelings and have all different working-angle range. Clip on the Divina widens up to 15 degrees easily, but that on the Medici is a lot stiffer, and that on Homo Sapiens widens only up to 7 or 8 degrees. Engraving of their brand name on the clip mostly have some defects. I can't say that the construction qualities of these pens are superb. 

 

 

Weight & Dimensions (8/10)

 

The Opera Master and Homo Sapiens are quite heavy pens, due to the metal parts. But they are not off-balance in any sense. I would say the Opera Master is a bit too heavy for me, but it is just matter of my taste. The other two oversized pens, Divina and Medici, are quite lighter than Opera Master and Homo.Sapiens considering their sizes. But they are not as light as Montblanc 149 due to the metal parts of the filling mechanism, I guess. Opera Element, which is the only non-oversize pen in this list, has actually similar weight to the others because of the metal grip section. All five pens are well balanced unless they are posted. 

 

Regarding to posting the cap, I don't feel comfortable to post most of Visconti pens because of three following reasons. Firstly, magnets for "Visconti My Pen System" at the end of the cap makes the pens back-heavy when posted. Secondly, they cannot be posted deeply because of the spring inside the cap for the capping mechanism. Finally, faceted bodies cannot make enough friction to rounded inner wall of the cap. Surely, caps are also faceted but the inner walls are always rounded because of the capping mechanism. 

 

Overall, weight and dimensions almost perfectly fit to my taste, but they may not fit to whom need to post their pens.

 

 

Nib & Performance (1-10)

 

I posted a separate review on their palladium nibs. 

 

http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/329814-visconti-23kt-palladium-nib-comparison-ef-bb/?p=3953651 

 

To summarize, you should be ready for writing an e-mail to your favorite nib meister before buying broader nibs, if you are not comfortable fo adjust the nibs by yourself.

 

Filling System & Maintenance (9/10)

 

fpn_1511120410__img_0616.png

 

Visconti is famous for their Power Filler filling mechanism, which is basically a vacuum filler. Among five of them in this review, Medici and Homo Sapiens use the Power Filler. They have massive ink capacity. The only short point of this filling mechanism is that it is hard to clean the pen, but I feel cleaning these two pens are not that uncomfortable as you may guess. Yes, it is annoying to clean them compared with cleaning cartridge/converter pens. But compared with the piston filler pens such as Montblanc 146, Power Filler is better in my opinion because I don't have to continuously turn the piston turning knob to fill/empty the pen with water. For me, just pulling and pushing is easier than turning left and right. 

 

Divina uses so-called captured converter system, and I think it's one of the worst filling mechanism for this oversize pen. It does not have huge ink capacity, and it is not easy to clean. 

 

Opera Element is a conventional c/c filler pen with screw-in converter. I prefer screw-in converters rather than push-in types because it feels secure. 

 

Opera Master Black Guilloche has a bit unusual filling mechanism even among Visconti pens. It is basically a c/c filler, but the converter uses vacuum filling mechanism, not piston mechanism. So it holds more inks than conventional c/c filler pens. Originally the vacuum converter is glued to the grip section, but I could detach it to make the cleaning procedure easier, without any loss of its performance.

 

Overall, filling systems of all these five pens have somewhat unique features. Except for the captured converter of Divina, I would say they are all great. 

 

Cost & Value (8/10)

 

I bought Opera Master, Homo Sapiens, and Medici from local retailer. The Opera Master Black Guilloche, especially, was such a bargain. I remember it was around USD 400.00, while its MSRP is around USD 800.00. Divina is pre-owned one from a user here in FPN, and Opera Element is from Ebay. Visconti is not making the most practical and economical pens in the world. But considering their unique designs, nib materials, and filling systems, I would say most of their pens worth their price especially if you get them with a bit of discount. 

 

 

Conclusion (40/50)

 

An IT youtuber that I've subscribed often says that, it is more important not to have a critical defect, than to have something like 10GB RAM or world's best 8k display, for a flagship smartphone. Even though I'm a crazy fanboy of Visconti pens, I have to admit that their pens sometimes have defects, even except for their nibs. But I think their adorable design and unique features may overwhelm the quality control issue. 


Edited by iruciperi, 21 November 2017 - 11:49.


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#2 FOUR X FOUR

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 21:47

Nice pens. I love Visconti

#3 ArchiMark

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 22:14

Nice pens. I love Visconti

 

+1 !

 

And thanks for the review. Some very handsome pens!


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#4 Barkingpig

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Posted 20 November 2017 - 23:42

Thank you for the comparison & comments regarding these pens.

 

I only have the Opera Elements among these & two older Viscontis, a Ponte Vecchio & Leonardo da Vinci, both from the 1990's, each celluloid wrapped & cartridge converters.  I like the Amber Opera Elements, which was my first Visconti, especially it's stub nib, changed from it's medium by Cole's of London, as a courtesy nib swap.  

 

Even though the older pens have medium nibs, which I don't usually enjoy, each nib (one 14KT & the other 18) is so nice & springy, I find I am quite happy with them.  I admire the Divina Springs celluloid but have not felt I HAD to own it.  I am glad I have the three I have & since each is enjoyable for me, I feel quite lucky.  

 

Yours are indeed quite beautiful pens & I am glad to hear your comments about each model.



#5 iruciperi

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 06:17

Thank you for the comparison & comments regarding these pens.

 

I only have the Opera Elements among these & two older Viscontis, a Ponte Vecchio & Leonardo da Vinci, both from the 1990's, each celluloid wrapped & cartridge converters.  I like the Amber Opera Elements, which was my first Visconti, especially it's stub nib, changed from it's medium by Cole's of London, as a courtesy nib swap.  

 

Even though the older pens have medium nibs, which I don't usually enjoy, each nib (one 14KT & the other 18) is so nice & springy, I find I am quite happy with them.  I admire the Divina Springs celluloid but have not felt I HAD to own it.  I am glad I have the three I have & since each is enjoyable for me, I feel quite lucky.  

 

Yours are indeed quite beautiful pens & I am glad to hear your comments about each model.

 

 

Thank you for your comment on older Visconti pens. I am indeed planning to take a look at Viscontis from 90s, and list Ponte Vecchio and da Vinci on my watching list. I can easily find the photos of the Ponte Vecchio, but it's not trivial for me to find Visconti's Leonardo da Vinci at google. Could you please link some introduction pages for the da Vinci? 



#6 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 08:31

I have only two visconti one voyager in blue celluloid and a nato summit. I bought both from Mottishaw and both are great writers. My blue voyager has a stellar flexible b nib, the nato summit a nice extra fine nib but not a flexible one. As much the nibs are nice, they don't play in the same playground than Ancora, Omas or Stipula nibs. Sometimes the plunger filler can be very finicky and the ne palladium nibs aren't flexible ones.Visconti are great pens but too much overpriced for a beyond average quality control that is  hit and miss.


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#7 Dr. Saleem Ali

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 10:58

Thanks for a nice and critical coparison .I have only one time brief experiance of using visconti voyager ,the commendable nib was a broad buttery smooth gold nib wrote like a dream but I didnt like the overall design of these pens esp the quality control issuies wid these pens metioned by you and other people .For this high price range the problems reported in pen forums need serious consideration by Visconti makers .

#8 half_inked_one

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 11:35

I believe it would be fair from the Visconti company to add free voucher for nibmeister repair with every pen - if they put such a high price on their products and do not care for QC...



#9 iruciperi

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 18:18

I have only two visconti one voyager in blue celluloid and a nato summit. I bought both from Mottishaw and both are great writers. My blue voyager has a stellar flexible b nib, the nato summit a nice extra fine nib but not a flexible one. As much the nibs are nice, they don't play in the same playground than Ancora, Omas or Stipula nibs. Sometimes the plunger filler can be very finicky and the ne palladium nibs aren't flexible ones.Visconti are great pens but too much overpriced for a beyond average quality control that is  hit and miss.

 

 

Yes. I agree with you. As a luxury brand with higher price, its quality control is so bad. 



#10 iruciperi

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 18:21

Thanks for a nice and critical coparison .I have only one time brief experiance of using visconti voyager ,the commendable nib was a broad buttery smooth gold nib wrote like a dream but I didnt like the overall design of these pens esp the quality control issuies wid these pens metioned by you and other people .For this high price range the problems reported in pen forums need serious consideration by Visconti makers .

 

 

I believe it would be fair from the Visconti company to add free voucher for nibmeister repair with every pen - if they put such a high price on their products and do not care for QC...

 

Yeah. This QC is serious problem because it is not only for the nibs, but also the pen bodies. A user can fix the nib relatively easily or ask a nibmeister for fixing it,  but for the pen body, there's really almost nothing a user can do. 



#11 Prof7

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 23:27

Thanks for the review.  I found it quite helpful for me.  Visconti is a favorite of mine for their creative talent.  It's too bad their QC can't keep up.  Hopefully that will change.



#12 Barkingpig

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 04:03

For "iruciperi"

 

I would suggest a 2009 blog from PEACEABLE WRITER for a photograph & information about the Visconti Leonardo da Vinci pen.  It states there were 130 of them made for the Accademia Italiana & would be considered one of the first "Ragtime" pens made by Visconti.  The blog offers several other nice photographs of other early Visconti pens, with other references listed.


Edited by Barkingpig, 22 November 2017 - 08:01.


#13 half_inked_one

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 08:00

 

 

 

Yeah. This QC is serious problem because it is not only for the nibs, but also the pen bodies. A user can fix the nib relatively easily or ask a nibmeister for fixing it,  but for the pen body, there's really almost nothing a user can do. 

So true. That makes me think about Franklin-Christoph company - they have policy of 30-days free return, in case the customer is not happy. Now it is obvious why Visconti would never be able to afford same approach - they are not in the same league of quality :) . I have one pen from Visconti - but because of the problems I've had with it, I will never buy another one; I have three pens from Franklin-Christoph - and because of the quality and joy of use I am sure I will buy another one (Broad Cursive Italic by Mr. Masuyama!).



#14 whichwatch

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 14:41

Nice article and nice collection!

 

In contemporary Viscontis I have a HS Steel Age and a HS Crystal Swirl.  I would like to try a Divina Desert Spring or the new green and bronze piece that I have yet to see in person.

 

I have been particularly taken by 1990's celluloid Viscontis that come with big bouncy gold nibs.  It started simply enough when I picked up a Voyager in lapis, a material I love.  I  enjoyed the writing so much,  I recently added  the same model in a more rare coral color.  They make a nice pair!  At one time I had owned

 

IMG_0379.JPG

 

a Ponte Vecchio, but for some reason I quickly sold it, though to this day I do not know why.  I corrected that mistake when I found this NOS never inked set of the three Ponte Vecchios.  I haven't convinced myself to ink them yet, but no doubt will give in to the urge soon.   Meanwhile, they sure are a pretty group!

 

I apologize for using these quick and dirty pictures I took.  I'll try to get some proper photos taken next week and post them separately.

 

IMG_0419.JPG

 

IMG_0420.JPG



#15 iruciperi

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 18:05

For "iruciperi"

 

I would suggest a 2009 blog from PEACEABLE WRITER for a photograph & information about the Visconti Leonardo da Vinci pen.  It states there were 130 of them made for the Accademia Italiana & would be considered one of the first "Ragtime" pens made by Visconti.  The blog offers several other nice photographs of other early Visconti pens, with other references listed.

 

 

Thanks a lot! Nice blog with a bunch of information. It's surprising that Visconti made a beautiful celluloid pen with gold nib right after its establishment. 



#16 iruciperi

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Posted 22 November 2017 - 18:10

Nice article and nice collection!

 

In contemporary Viscontis I have a HS Steel Age and a HS Crystal Swirl.  I would like to try a Divina Desert Spring or the new green and bronze piece that I have yet to see in person.

 

I have been particularly taken by 1990's celluloid Viscontis that come with big bouncy gold nibs.  It started simply enough when I picked up a Voyager in lapis, a material I love.  I  enjoyed the writing so much,  I recently added  the same model in a more rare coral color.  They make a nice pair!  At one time I had owned

 

IMG_0379.JPG

 

a Ponte Vecchio, but for some reason I quickly sold it, though to this day I do not know why.  I corrected that mistake when I found this NOS never inked set of the three Ponte Vecchios.  I haven't convinced myself to ink them yet, but no doubt will give in to the urge soon.   Meanwhile, they sure are a pretty group!

 

I apologize for using these quick and dirty pictures I took.  I'll try to get some proper photos taken next week and post them separately.

 

IMG_0419.JPG

 

IMG_0420.JPG

 

I'm just WOWED. You are dragging me to the world of older Visconti pens! I'm seriously considering one of them, especially Voyager in blue color as my Ph. D. graduate present for myself. Thank you for sharing your wonderful collection.



#17 Trebiem18

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Posted 06 April 2019 - 01:15

Guys ,

 Any ideal where i could find the Visconti Element fire ?  and does the nib comes in gold or 2 cloor nis and whats the different of this both nibs appreciate the assistance .



#18 Misfit

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Posted 06 April 2019 - 06:17

So many lovely Visconti pens. I have 8, 4 C/C and 4 internal fillers all with stub nibs. Im happy with all of mine.

Edited to add those Pontevecchio pens are beautiful. Using their name style.

Edited by Misfit, 06 April 2019 - 06:20.

Posted Image

#19 iruciperi

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Posted 07 April 2019 - 02:23

Guys ,

 Any ideal where i could find the Visconti Element fire ?  and does the nib comes in gold or 2 cloor nis and whats the different of this both nibs appreciate the assistance .

 

It's out of production, so you should find second-hand market. All Opera Element Fire I saw has 2-tone nib. 



#20 frans-utrecht

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Posted 25 July 2019 - 08:42

Marvelous review in its objective honesty. Dante del Vecchio has designed unique pens and only an Italian could combine opulence and decorative elements with such elegance.
Still, some really are over the top for a European eye, even though I tend to be a bit of a magpie. But it's a global market and if garrish colors and glittering glass sell, that's what a smart marketeer offers. The celluloid Divina Desert Spring to me is unsurpassed in design and finish. The less than perfect execution is the what accompanies Italian workmanship. Pelikan and Lamy compare to Visconti and Ferrari da Varese as BMW and Porsche to Alfa Roméo and Ferrari.

Edited by frans-utrecht, 25 July 2019 - 08:45.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: opera elements, opera master, homo sapiens, divina, medici



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