This last year saw the arrival on the market of a number of new piston filling fountain pen from mainland China. Two of the pens have the Wing Sung name, the 698 and the 3003, and the third I am going to discuss is the Caliarts Ego. Two others that I know of are by Lanbitou and PenBBS.
I now have one of each (two of the 3008) and thought I would do a compare and contrast of these three pens.
The Wing Sung 3008 was the first of the three pens I bought, and the cheapest. These pens come with a Lamy Safari style nib, in F and EF. The pen holds a little over 1 ml of ink. The cap doesn’t have an inner cap, but there is an o-ring on the body at the base of the cap thread. This seals against a shelf inside the cap and stops the nib from drying out, at least over a few days. The barrel has 16 facets and is slightly tapered towards the far end. The end cap on this model doesn’t lock, and there is always a bit of slack. In practice, though, I have not had any problems with inadvertent leaks, in spite of carrying it to work in my shirt pocket for a couple of weeks.
The piston assembly is retained by a ring at the top of the barrel. Undoing this ring allows the whole piston assembly to be easily removed for cleaning and lubrication.
As mentioned the pen uses a Lamy Safari style slip-on nib which is interchangeable with a real Safari nib. The feed is relatively long, and has a key at the bottom so it can only be put back in one way.
Apart from the loose blind cap, the only other problem this pen has is that the screw head inside the cap that holds the finial and clip on gets rusty.
Overall, this is an inexpensive pen that feels good in the hand and has been a reliable and robust worker.
The Caliarts Ego was the next pen to arrive. This pen comes with a Pilot 78G style nib but the feed is a little different. I had ordered mine with a Fine nib, but it came with a second, EF, nib and a spare feed. This pens holds about 2 ml of ink, and along with the Fine nib, should mean quite a lot of writing between fills. Like the 3008, there is no inner cap, but there is the cap-sealing o-ring on the barrel.
The cap is a very simple affair and, I think, detracts from the pen a little. However, you can now get the Ego with coloured finial and end cap, and these look much more attractive. The finial screws into a threaded extension at the top of the cap, so there are no holes in the cap at all. The section and barrel are all one piece, as it is on the 3008. There is no metal ring on the end of the section, as there is on the 3008. I don’t like metal rings on the ends of sections, as I have had them leak (Jinhao 159, I’m looking a you, here…)
The body of the pen is very sleek, with the only break from the end cap to the end of the section being the barrel threads. These are much less prominent than on the 3008. There is no lock on the end cap, but it does screw down firmly and then doesn’t move. The step from the end cap to the barrel is quite smooth, almost as smooth as on a Lamy 2000 or Parker 51 Vacumatic.
The pen comes with a little wrench to unscrew the piston mechanism. However, others have said that the plastic flats inside are quite soft and easy to damage, so I haven’t disassembled mine yet.
I tried both the EF and F nibs that came with the pen, and they were both excellent, very smooth, especially for their width. I did have to make some adjustments to the F nib, as it was a bit too wet for my taste. Others might like it as it is. Then, using it on hard, smooth Japanese showed up another problem – skipping due to excessive baby-bottom. This didn’t show up earlier on softer, more fibrous, Chinese paper. Using the fine surface of a nail buffing pad I removed a tiny bit of metal, then buffed on the other side. This nib is now perfect, butter smooth for a Fine, Asian nib. Note that this was only a problem because of the combination of my nib preferences and my paper. Others might find they have no problems.
The Wing Sung 698 was the most recent acquisition (I have only had it for a couple of days). It is available in various colour schemes, and I got mine in transparent with gold fittings.
This pen is the 3008 made properly. It has a Pilot style nib, compared to the other’s Lamy Safari style nib, and both nib and feed are interchangeable with those of a Pilot 78G. In addition, the section unscrews completely for thorough cleaning, if necessary.
Unlike the overly simple cap of the Caliarts Ego, the WS 698’s cap is an impressive affair. There is a solid metal ring near the base, surrounding, and presumably reinforcing the cap threads. The finial is solid metal, held on by a large, possibly aluminium, flat-head screw. Unlike the other two pens, the 698 has an inner cap which seals against a chamfer at the end of the section. The o-ring on the body has been replaced by a metal spacer ring between the section and barrel.
The body is cylindrical, with the piston assembly held in by a metal ring, as on the 3008. However the end cap has a locking mechanism, where two keys on the cap mate with two slots in the ring. The cap then clicks into place when you push it down.
I bought mine with a Medium nib, which equates to a Western (i.e. Parker) Fine. You can also get it in F and EF, and spare nibs in all three sizes are available on eBay.
The nibs on these pens are not up to the standard of a proper Japanese nib, and even the genuine Lamy Safari and Pilot 78G nibs are better than what comes with these pens. However, the nibs are quite reasonable, and all wrote straight out of the box, unless you are as fussy as I am about nibs. See the last paragraph in the Ego section.
Below is a table of dimensions for the three pens. As you can see, they are very similar. The weights are with the pens empty, so you would add about 1 g for the two Wing Sungs when full, and about 2 g for the Caliarts.
Capped, from the top, Caliarts Ego, Wing Sung 698, Wing Sung 3008
Uncapped, from the top, Caliarts Ego, Wing Sung 698, Wing Sung 3008
Of the three pens, the Caliarts Ego is my favourite. The 3008 has value in being the cheapest of the pens, while being a robust and reliable pen. Its only real fault is the rusting screw head in the cap. The 698 is, as said, the 3008 made properly, and is a good-looking pen that works well. The Ego, however, is functionally flawless, is good-looking and feels good in the hand. Being able to swap nibs around, and get replacement ones, for all three pens, is a bonus.
Edited by dcwaites, 06 January 2018 - 21:17.