A review of the Pineider Avatar UltraResin (“UR”) amber demonstrator
In 2016, Dante del Vecchio ended 30 years of association with Visconti to join Pineider, a venerable Florentine stationery manufacturer whose history stretches back to 1774.
In an interesting and candid interview, http://blog.giardino...te-del-vecchio/ Del Vecchio explains that, at the time of his decision to leave Visconti, there were plans for Pineider to have pens produced for them by Visconti: when his decision to move became known, Pineider offered him an opportunity to join them and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Four years on, Pineider pens designed by Dante del Vecchio have been a major international success comparable to the arrival of Leonardo Officina Italiana and their “Momento Zero” fountain pens.
With his legendary flair for design, del Vecchio has produced a series of beautiful fountain pens including the “Avatar” line.
I had the good fortune to be one a “city break” in Rome to escape the rain and gloom of London at the end of February and happened to spot the Pineider shop near the Spanish Steps at 68 Via dei due Marcelli while shopping with my wife. FPN readers will be familiar with the next sequence of events: a long look through the shop window, the spotting of the fine writing instruments section, the “negotiations” with the spouse with the assurance that this is “just to have a look” and finally the stepping into the emporium… Like a bee to a flower, I went straight to the display of the new Pineider Avatars where the gorgeous Amber demonstrator was on display. In the interest of complete disclosure, I had already marked it as a “target” on previous internet searches…
I already own the earlier Avatar in the “lipstick red” colour, which I have used with great enjoyment this past year but the Amber demonstrator is different: I have a particular love for demonstrators which clearly indicate the remaining level of ink and the working mechanism of the pen. (For a fine review of the Avatar lipstick red, I would recommend
Sparing you readers the details, a few moments later I was the happy owner of the new Pineider Amber Avatar UR demonstrator with a medium nib…
Overall, I am delighted with it and the pen will accompany my Leuchturm 1917 notebook, tucked in the pocket these wonderful notebooks provide at the back. In terms of writing experience and design it is a very good pen and excellent value at €160. Nevertheless, there are a couple of negative points which prevent me from awarding it “5 Stars”. I would recommend it as a daily writer and jotter but Pineider should address a number of issues in its presentation and design which I will discuss in this review.
Information on the construction of this new line of Pineider Avatars can be found on their website at:
Pineider have used a mother of pearl compound resin in a special formula they call “UltraResin” or “UR”. The compound is very strong and tough and Pineider claim on their website that it is “nearly like metal, incredibly resistant to hits, very close to call it unbreakable”. I have not tested this claim of indestructibility for obvious reasons… but it certainly feels sturdy in the hand. Goldspot Pens did do resistance/breakages tests of the Avatar which shows it can withstand drops onto hard floors and similar every day accidents without damage- they even ran one over with a car, which left markings from the gravel on which the pen was crushed by the wheels of a car, but otherwise it survived… However, it did not survive being shot at with a gun or snapped by a metallic bear trap (!). For the exciting if distressing experience of seeing a fountain pen really undergoing stress tests, see https://www.youtube....h?v=o90-FLWDwok
Another interesting fact is that these pens are manufactured without glue but instead by “3D engineering and high precision manufacturing”…” Every component precisely fit each other by simple framed parts.”
I have no technical expertise to assess these claims, but they seem plausible in terms of toughness of the pen.
So I would award 10/10 for construction.
The Pineider Avatar Amber demonstrator is a very stylish pen, as one would expect of anything produced by the great writing instrument maestro Dante del Vecchio.
It is sleek, light in terms of weight but still with some heft so as to give the feeling that something substantial is in the hand, and it has a seductive warm amber transparent body that catches sunlight beautifully. Other versions of the new Pineider Avatar line are red, blue and clear transparent demonstrator: for me the first two are slightly predictable and boring colours while the clear demonstrator lacks the allure of the Amber version. A demonstrator, in my view, should do more than simply demonstrate: it should subtly attract the eye .
In this Amber Avatar, I also like the choice of silver trimmings, especially the signature Pineider clip in the form of quill feather. Another nice touch is the steel cap at the end of the pen which matches very well the silver coloured central band.
Here are a picture of the pen.
An attractive feature of the Pineider Avatars is that they all have clips showing the skyline of Florence’s historical centre: the silhouette of the Duomo, the Brunelleschi Tower and the belfry of Santa Croce are clearly visible, next to the Pineider logo.
This clip is, like all Avatars, a magnetic clip which is secure and reliable in closing.
When I studied Italian at Florence University back in the early 1970s, I was incredibly fortunate to find a flat with frescoed ceilings right in the centre where these wonderful buildings are located: the band on the pen therefore brought a smile to me as I remembered the magical experience of living and studying in Dante Alighieri’s great city…
The new Pineider Avatars also have a plastic sleeve to give the writer a firmer grip. In the earlier Pineider series, there was a steel section where the pen is gripped tapering down to the nib: I found this very acceptable and never had a problem of handling the pen but this new idea of adding a plastic sleeve to help grip more firmly is an agreeable new feature. In this Amber version, this is a golden sleeve that matches very well with the pen’s colouring. This is an excellent idea but there is a problem cleaning it after filling the pen- this is a drawback I’ll come to later.
I write with this pen capped and uncapped; both are comfortable writing experiences.
This is a very attractive and practical pen, with very imaginative standards of design. So 10/10 for design.
Pineider Avatars use steel nibs of high quality, (produced by Bock). Pineider only offer fine or medium grades of the nib, which is a pity as they surely could expand the range to include extra fine, broad and stub/italic. If TWSBI can offer this, so should Pineider.
I chose a medium nib and am happy with this decision as it has good flexy qualities. It keeps up well with writing at speed and is generally an excellent steel nib.
The nib’s flow is a little dry for my taste but perfectly adequate. After several days of use, I found the pen’s nib very reliable with no skipping or hard starts. A writing sample is provided below.
The scroll work decoration is pleasant to look at but nothing remarkable. Perhaps Pineider could be a little more imaginative with the decoration next time.
So 9/10 for the nib and general writing experience, as it is limited to only two grades and a little dry.
INK FILLING AND CAPACITY
The Avatar is a cartridge converter pen, which accepts international/standard size cartridges. I believe its converter capacity is 0.86 ml which is quite sufficient for a sustained writing session.
The converter Pineider supplies is stylish and it is nice to see the Pineider logo easily visible through the amber demonstrator body. It is not a threaded converter which I would have preferred.
However, I rather dislike the way it has a sign in English stating “Ink level”. Why not write this in Italian? Surely there is no need to pander to the English-speaking market like this and the fine language of Dante, Boccacio and Petrarch should surely be celebrated and not be hidden… Instead, they could just as satisfactorily have only used the “notches” on the converter to mark the remaining supply. I do find this irritating and a sign of trying too hard to appeal to an Anglo-Saxon market.
PRACTICALITY, INCLUDING CLEANING
The pen is easy to clean as the converter can be extracted and cleaned, and the nib flushed clean.
However, there is a problem with the result of inking the pen when filling the converter out of a bottle: some ink tends to seep under the plastic sleeve next to the nib (provided to give a more secure grip while writing). Here are a few photos of this happening:
You can try to squeeze out the ink under the plastic cap manually, but this does not really work.
The only solution (which is not suggested by the short booklet included in the box) is to take off the plastic “sleeve” and clean out the ink. This is not much of a bother, but it is not an entirely satisfactory process.
I would therefore rate the converter and filling experience as 5/10.
PRESENTATION AND PACKAGING (1/10)
Unfortunately Pineider have decided to go cheap on the presentation of the new Avatars: instead of the lovely box that housed the earlier version (looking a bit like a mini écritoire in stylish black and fake white leather interior, including a sample of Pineider stationery), the new Avatars come in a cheap and rather tawdry looking cardboard box. This is a real shame, as one of the attractions of the first Avatar line was the presentation box with its free samples of stationery.
Below is a picture of the box for the original Avatars (mine is a gorgeous “lipstick red” version of the pen):
Instead, the new Pineider Avatar have this really cheap, poor quality box.
This is real shame and I cannot give more than a 1/10 for presentation. Pineider really should do better than this!
This is a fine pen and I would recommend it for those looking for a reliable, attractive every day writer. It writes reliably and very comfortably and is sturdily built. For €160 it is good value and would make a very nice gift – or an affordable addition to a pen collection.
Obviously, as the English saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. It does not write as wonderfully smoothly as a gold nib pen would, but then steel nibs can be very good long-term writing companions.
Overall, my ratings would be:Rating (with 10 the maximum) Design 10 Construction 10 Nib/Writing experience 9 Practicality, including cleaning 5 Presentation and packaging 1 Overall 45/55 % 81%