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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.