First Impressions 7/10
The pen, on opening the package and seeing it for the first time, did not impress me. The material looked just like regular plastic and there was no sparkles or otherwise on the pen. But after handling it, and feeling it's balance and weight, I knew that it was of quality engineering and that it will not disappoint. But no bells or whistles but it was solid. the plastic was dense and certainly led to the weight of the pen. The definition of quality.
The pen's translucent barrel filled with ink and the dark brown hint of the plastic makes one classy looking pen. The gold plated hardware also helps with the appearance as you can see from the pictures, Figure 1. Pardon my photography. And the nib is one big fella and perfect for those with insecurities, Figure 2. It is beautiful and the point looks well made and aligned. The metal piston rod looks solid and I have every confidence in the pen based just on its appearance and feel. However brown might not be the color of choice for some people and the same goes for black. You're pretty limited in that department but I can say that I personally love the brown and an so happy for ordering that color.
Figure 1. Closeup of the cap showing off the gold plated furnishings and the translucent material.
Figure 2. Blurry picture of nib showing off it's relatively large size. It's not massive but it matches the size of the pen rather well and is quite impressive.
The only design flaw of this pen is the need to unscrew the blind cap to allow for the flow of ink from the barrel into the feed. I think the idea of sealing off the ink reservoir to prevent ink evaporation or leaking is a good thing but I don't really want to unscrew the blind cap all the time. Apart from that, the balance, the feel, the size (Figure 3), it's all perfect and I don't mind the screw cap. But it's not as mobile as other pens due to the blind cap issue. More for long stretches of writing.
Figure 3. Comparing the size of the Pilot Custom 823 (middle) with the Pelikan M605 (top) and a green Parker 51 regular (bottom). It's one decently sized pen and will feel comfortable in a large range of hand sizes. Ruler on top for reference.
The medium nib is buttery smooth but the point loss comes from the pen being a little picky about the ink that you feed it. I first had J. Herbin Black and it would require me to unscrew the whole blind cap for proper flow but when I filled her up with Noodler's American Eel Black, you only need to unscrew it around 2mm for proper flow. Apart from that the flow is superb and the nib is springy and provides a smooth wet line.
Filling System 9/10
The filling system on this pen has to be the best around today. It's the most fun to fill and the sight of ink flowing into the barrel fills me with pleasure. The ink capacity is also really high and I'm sure you can write lots with it.
Cost and Value 8/10
I know it's not as expensive as some other players out there but it is pretty expensive. In Japan its around ~$185 USD but you can't get it in the US so I had to order them from ebay for $244. But I heard that some were being sold for $200 so maybe that would put up the cost/value ratio. I wouldn't have gotten it if it was not an early birthday present. But it is one great writer and I am in love with fountain pens, and this particular fountain pen all over again.
Well this pen is great and I love it. Everything about it is superb except for the picky ink and the blind cap unscrewing thing that can prevent its use as a quick note taker. But I think the pen is designed more for comfortable and elegant writing on your desk and not for a quick note in the field. Pilot's VP is more suited for that. Overall a great buy with no regrets.
EDIT: One additional note is that for some inks, the pen's blind cap will need to be unscrewed past the threading for proper flow. But don't worry about the plunger extending further as you're writing. There is an additional mechanism that initially prevents the extension of the plunger. Good safety precaution. Also, you won't even notice the blind cap when you have the pen posted, which feels a little more hefty but well balanced in my hands. It feels around the same weight as a vanishing point but writes so much better.
EDIT: I forgot to add the points.
Edited by burmeseboyz, 15 July 2007 - 15:16.