I am happy to be doing my very first fountain pen review. I have been wanting to do one for a while, but I did not have a pen that really struck my fancy to devote the time to do a review on. I finally received one of the pens that I have been desperately wanting for some time: Visconti Opera Club in Typhoon Blue. (There should be a picture from the Forzieri website; I apologize that I do not have a digital camera).
1. First Impressions
This pen is absolutely stunning! I first noticed this pen, and the Visconti brand, in a catalogue from an online retailer. I loved the shape (squared circle) from the very beginning, but I also loved the blue color. In general, I like any pens that are not black. I have my one obligatory black pen (a Levenger True Writer Obsidian with gold trim and fine nib), but I was looking for something different. I first saw this pen at a store in Maryland, and the pictures do not do it justice (more on that later). The pen is also gloriously presented in a faux croc clamshell case with a bottle of Visconti black ink. The case is heavy and durable, and perfect for this jewel of a pen.
2. Appearance & Finish
As I was saying, this pen is stunning and no picture can do it justice. The swirled "Typhoon Blue" resin has a polish and depth of color that I have only seen in celluloid pens. I sometimes catch myself playing with the pen in the sunlight just to see the wonderful finish and depth. Everything about the pen is perfect and consistent, with one small exception. I tend to be a perfectionist and over-inspect my pens. In doing that process, I noticed that there are very small scratches (about three of them) on the edges of the clip. They are, however, barely noticeable to even someone who may be looking for them. Overall, if for no other reason, a person should buy this pen just to look at it and have others look at it.
The design of this pen is Visconti's famed squaring the circle. If you do not like the feel of faceted, or semi-faceted pens, the pen has a fully founded grip, so you do not even have to grip the facets while writing. Apart from the color and shape, the clip has to be the most striking and interesting part of the pen. It is Visconti's arch clip, and it is truly a work of art in itself. Very few pens have a clip to write home about. The overall design is wonderful! The size and weight of the pen is also what drew me to this model. The pen is about 5 7/8 inches capped, 5 1/4 inches uncapped, and 6 5/8 inches posted. These dimensions are not huge, but when writing with the pen (I always post the cap), it feels like the pen is much longer than it actually is. The pen is also on the heavy side of moderate weight. I love heavier pens because I like to know that there is a pen in my hand (I hate having to write with some featherweight Bic ballpoint). Like I said, when I write with the posted cap, the pen feels balanced, and I feel that I could write for hours.
4. Nib Design & Performance
The nib is a two-tone 14K gold medium point. I know that Visconti has changed the nibs on the Opera Club pens to single tone gold, but I, gladly, found one that still had the two-tone nib. The nib also has Visconti's crescent breather hole that adds a feeling of elegance that is lost with circular holes. The width of the line compares to the medium nib on my Pelikan M250 Demonstrator. The line, however, seems to be somewhat dryer than the Pelikan. I can write with the Pelikan pen and I end up using only one side of the paper due to the ink bleeding through. I have discovered no bleed through with the Visconti. The Visconti pen, though, holds the place of being the smoothest nib in my collection. It starts every time I put the nib on the paper. This pen has instantly become my workhorse pen due to the wonderful pen.
5. The Filling System
This is the only area where I am disappointed with the pen. I wish that the pen had a piston filler or even one of Visconti's specialized filling systems, like the Double Reservoir Power Filler. Alas, the pen has a standard cartridge/converter filler, but I do not plan on using cartridges in it. I have also read that the converter in these pens tends to get bubbles in, and I have had the same experience. The ink capacity, though, seems greater than some of the other converters that I own.
This category was of vital importance to me. As a poor college student, I do not have tons of money. Although the MSRP of $425 is not huge, it is still somewhat high for me. I also do not have any nice pen stores located in my immediate area (Roanoke, VA) so I was not looking forward to paying shipping costs. One day, however, I experienced the best feeling I have felt since I started collecting pens: an obscure Visconti dealer five minutes from my house! I discovered the dealer on Visconti USA's website. The place is called "Off the Beaten Path." The woman sells out of her home and has sold the brand for a number of years. She only sells Visconti, but she is happy to order any Visconti pen available (she even has Divine Proportion LE in stock). I was able to buy my Opera Club pen from her at around $330, and I got the added benefit of dealing with a human being instead of a website. (Disclaimer: I have no relation other than seller to buyer to the aforementioned dealer)
7. Overall Opinion
As if it is not apparent, I absolutely love this pen! If I had plenty of money, I would be all of the Opera Club pens. It is truly a work of art and will continue to be one of the first pens I grab when I need to do any writing. I have noticed, though, that when I write with this pen or any other fountain pen, no one seems to notice. I get so much joy out of my pens, but I guess other people just overlook them. That is a testament to how fast our society moves. I hope that you would slow down enough to notice the simple things in life, and if you get a chance, take a look at Visconti's Opera Club collection.
Edited by asexton, 29 February 2008 - 17:28.