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Pilot Custom 845


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35 replies to this topic

#1 J-san

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 04:55

Pilot Custom 845 – an excellent daily writer covered in urushi beauty

I had never before owned an urushi-lacquered pen. I was awed by the lustrous finish on the lacquered pens seen in the numerous photos posted by talented forum photographers. I was interested in some of the cigar shaped eye-dropper fill pens from Danitrio, but they seemed a little wide for my taste. Then, I discovered the Pilot Custom 845 and a match was made. It had all the good looks, beautiful urushi finish, and an affordable price. Now I am able to join the club of lacquered pen owners.

--- Packaging ---

The 845 arrives in a grey paperboard box with a small “Pilot” logo in the center. Inside is a brown hinged box with a velvety covering that lacks any logos or identifying markings. Cracking it open, we see the pen nestled on top of a plush satin cushion accompanied by a foam chunk, ink cart, and two pamphlets. One details the history and uniqueness of urushi and the other provide care and filling instructions. It is a fairly large box for one pen. I figure if I gut it and add dividers, I could probably store a dozen 845s in there. While the luxurious packaging is a great presentation, I prefer to have less waste for a single pen. Really, more materials go into the packaging than the pen itself. But the 845 is a high end pen, and pens of this calibre tend to warrant flashy packaging.






--- Design, Fit & Finish ---

The 845 is a decently sized pen at 14.6cm long capped and 16.51cm posted. Diameter is about 12.7mm and weight is approximately 28.6g. Compared to my Lamy 2000, the 845 is slightly longer, and is currently the longest pen in my collection. The 845 is constructed of ebonite, according to the included pamphlet, and coated in clear urushi lacquer. Gold furniture adorns the cap and body on this flat-ended pen. On the wide band of the cap is the lettering, “***PILOT MADE IN JAPAN***CUSTOM 845”. Opposite the clip is the word, “URUSHI”, indicating its special status, and the final bit of lettering is the “PILOT” brand name etched vertically into the clip. The clip tapers from the top down and ends in a solid ball. I find this ball facilitates clipping to whatever article of clothing you desire – no points or edges to catch on something.
As expected on a pen of this calibre, the fit and finish is outstanding. Everything is as should be and the finish of the lacquer is perfect. The cap threads on in 2 turns and fits snugly when posted. The grip section is comfortable, though mine has a faint seam on one side. Not sure if that piece is lacquered as well, but that is the only minor “flaw” I can find so far. The lacquer has a brilliant sheen and a wonderfully smooth and hard finish. At a glance, it can resemble polished resin, but feels different to my fingernails compared to that of my Sailor Professional Gear.












--- Nib and Writing ---

The business end of the 845 is just as elegant as the rest of the pen. The #15 nib is a 18k two-tone piece that is of considerable size. It really stands out nicely and matches the size of the pen. I’ve gotten some curious onlookers inquiring about the pen, most mentioning the nib was what caught their eye. Mine is a F size and lays down a medium-wet line of Aurora blue about 0.4mm diameter on Clairfontaine paper. Fresh out of the box, the nib was very smooth at a wide variety of angles with only the slightest hint of tooth. I like my nibs to have a little feedback due to many years of having written with mechanical pencils.
[On a side note, I like to compare nibs to cars; toothy nibs are like the compact sports cars with really stiff suspensions allowing the driver to feel every bump and crack in the road. The silkiest of butter-smooth nibs are like the ultra-luxury cars with plush suspensions that isolate all the harsh nasties of the road from the occupants. Both are excellent nibs to write with in the hands of those who would best appreciate their respective qualities.]
The nib is stiff with a little spring to it, making writing feel cushy. I can induce mild line variation, but not enough to be worth the extra effort. It wouldn’t be a nib that would produce legible carbon copies, so it will remain a journal pen. Overall, the balance is neutral uncapped, and shifts rearward once posted. I’ve been careful with posting so as to not mar the urushi. So far, so good.














--- Filling ---

Ink supply is held in a pump converter that also has had the urushi treatment. The manual recommends pumping the button 6 times or so with the whole nib immersed. The converter uses an interesting valve system by means of a rubber stopper suspended in the middle of the reservoir by a piece of hollow tube. As you press the button, the stopper is pushed into a necked area of the reservoir, sealing it off and forcing air to be pushed out from the top via the hollow tube. Upon release, the stopper is pulled up and ink is drawn in. It is a really cool design and it has an added feature of having something in the reservoir to help break the surface tension of the ink to ensure the feed isn’t starved when ink levels are low. The 845 also came with a cartridge of Pilot’s ink, but with such a cool converter, who would use a cartridge?






--- Final Thoughts ---

It is the “grandest” pen in my collection both in terms of being the largest pen and having the largest packaging. I’ve seen my collection evolve from obtaining numerous cheaper pens in a short period, to waiting a good while to purchase a single high-end pen. The 845 is definitely a high-end writing instrument in my book and is a real pleasure to write with. The lacquer finish is a nice and subtle touch, although I wonder if I could discern between it and polished resin in a blindfolded test.
The packaging is probably the only gripe I would have with the 845. I’m more of the end-product type of person and the packaging should serve more to protect the contents thru delivery than to be elegant yet wasteful. But this pen likely has a history of being a gift pen and such an occasion would make elegant presentation a requirement. I can’t imagine a pen of this level being cut out of a plastic blister pack like a pack of ballpoints.
I’m glad to have filled the urushi hole in my collection so now the nagging voice in my head can finally shut up. I’m sure that voice won’t stay quiet for long and will probably latch onto something else that’s cool, like urushi-coated carbon fibre. If you're looking for a great lacquered writer that feels solid and well-balanced in the hand, the 845 won't disappoint you.


- jason
Jason's current rotation:
Lamy 2000 eyedropper
Parker '51' Vac
Sailor Pro Gear

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#2 Tsujigiri

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 05:25

Great review on an intriguing pen! Thank you for writing this review; I've been curious about this pen, but only able to find minimal information on it. Your pictures also really help to uncover all the dimensions of the pen.

#3 savarez

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 05:54

I am envious! Congratulations on a wonderful pen!
Currently Inked: Visconti Pericle EF : Aurora Black; Pilot VP-F (Gunmetal): X-Feather; Pilot VP-F (LE Orange): Kiowa Pecan; Lamy Safari EF: Legal Lapis
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#4 alvarez57

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:15

Good review; pen is beautiful in its simplicity and urushi feels very soft but not slippery to the touch (not from my Nakata).
Glad you got it!

sonia alvarez

 

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#5 Immoteus

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:39

Thanks for the candid and thorough review! I'm glad Pilot has put some thought into the presentation box that is fitting of the pen's value and appearance.
Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.


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#6 Escribiente

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:07

Wonderful review. I've been meaning to write one myself, but never got around doing it. I got a Pilot 845 a few months back, and ever since I filled it, it became a de-facto writing pen. I agree that the Fine nib performs beautifully out of the box, and writes with a nib that provides a little feedback, which is great when you write several pages at a time.

One feature that sets this pen apart from others is that Pilot designs their converters to match the pen. For instance, this pen has a urushi-coated converter, which is a small detail but tells volumes about the care put into the whole pen (no $3 converter for a $300 pen here). In addition, Pilot converters are probably the best converters in the market: they are easy to operate, hold a lot of ink, and they have been designed keeping in mind the odious superficial tension (the bane of most contemporary converters).

The Pilot 845 is probably one of the best deals in terms of quality, performance and price.

#7 hari317

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 11:29

Thanks for posting such a detailed review of the 845. I had been waiting for this pen to be reviewed a long time.

Is the section also made of ebonite or plastic?

Regards,
Hari


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#8 rroossinck

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 11:37

Great review, Jay. Looks like another winner! Interestingly enough (and I don't have one anymore to compare), the feed on this pen seems to match that of the one found on the Cross Solo! I wonder if Pilot uses the same basic feed for all of its pens, regardless of quality range?

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#9 goodguy

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 12:15

Absolutly great review.I enjoyed it very much.
Thank you for sharing.
I gotta tel you though that I loved the box and I truly hope you will not gut it as I think it is an important and integral part of the pen.

Edited by goodguy, 30 March 2008 - 12:20.

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#10 Immoteus

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 12:19

QUOTE(hari317 @ Mar 30 2008, 03:29 AM) View Post
Thanks for posting such a detailed review of the 845. I had been waiting for this pen to be reviewed a long time.

Is the section also made of ebonite or plastic?

Regards,
Hari


The feed is made of plastic.

QUOTE(rroossinck @ Mar 30 2008, 03:37 AM) View Post
Great review, Jay. Looks like another winner! Interestingly enough (and I don't have one anymore to compare), the feed on this pen seems to match that of the one found on the Cross Solo! I wonder if Pilot uses the same basic feed for all of its pens, regardless of quality range?


Pilot uses a number of different feeds in their pens depending on the size/type of the nib, section and the price range of the pen.


Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt.

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.


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#11 AndyHayes

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 18:57

Excellent review and plenty of great pictures. Thank you for making the effort to provide us with this.
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#12 sumgaikid

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 19:12

Excellent review of the 845 with great pics! I've been watching one on ebay;there are two questions that I have,however:
-Is the pen made of Ebonite?(my impression was that it was acrylic)
-I like to post my pencaps. Would that mar the urushi lacquer if I did?

Again,a great review! thumbup.gif clap1.gif

John
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#13 J-san

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:58

QUOTE(sumgaikid @ Mar 30 2008, 02:12 PM) View Post
Excellent review of the 845 with great pics! I've been watching one on ebay;there are two questions that I have,however:
-Is the pen made of Ebonite?(my impression was that it was acrylic)
-I like to post my pencaps. Would that mar the urushi lacquer if I did?

Again,a great review! thumbup.gif clap1.gif

John



I believe the cap and body are made of ebonite. I've been posting it ever since day 1 without any marks left on the finish. Just be careful to not twist the cap when posting and I think you will be fine.


I'm glad you all like the review. I really enjoy writing them and taking all the photos. I may have to invest in a light tent soon.
Jason's current rotation:
Lamy 2000 eyedropper
Parker '51' Vac
Sailor Pro Gear

#14 Shelley

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:13

Nice review, I have been eyeing one of these for quite some time now...

I see you have cut down you line of pens a fair bit-what pencil are you using at the moment?
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#15 J-san

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:34

QUOTE(Shelley @ Mar 30 2008, 09:13 PM) View Post
Nice review, I have been eyeing one of these for quite some time now...

I see you have cut down you line of pens a fair bit-what pencil are you using at the moment?



Actually, I've not cut much out of my collection. The list you see is just my current rotation of inked pens. My pencil is a Lamy 2000.
Jason's current rotation:
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Parker '51' Vac
Sailor Pro Gear

#16 greencobra

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 04:51

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I've thought about this pen, getting one that is, since I first heard about it recently. I do like the urushi finish, very beautiful.
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#17 Rapt

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 14:50

Thanks for the great photos. Its clear to me looking at the nice (and not very common) side view of the nib that much width variation with flex would be unlikely.

The nib is too "flat", looking at the mechanics to get width with flex should require some significant arch in the nib.
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#18 LouisA

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 15:47

Based on this excellent review and the very detailed photos I ordered on from a reseller on EBay and could not be happier. Just an awesome pen in every way.
I use a fountain pen because one ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to write a few reasonable words with a fountain pen.

#19 Brian

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 22:46

That's a nice looking pen and it would appear that the urushi would be stunning in person. That this piece is hard rubber is quite surprising making it all the more unique. I agree about the convertor. It really is one finely engineered piece of work. Put into this pen it makes it just so right on many different levels, e.g., precious urushi covered hard rubber, a classic and finely detailed shape, a great nib and feed system powered by one of the best engineered convertors yet conceived. Hats off on your excellent purchase.

#20 Scriptoris

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 04:16

Nice review and nice pen. clap1.gif Congratulations! At some point I'll add an urushi lacquer pen to my gathering of Japanese writing instruments. I love and respect Japanese writing instruments and nibs. I bought a Pilot Custom 823 clear amber with a M 14Kt nib in the same size 15. Currently inked with Private chocolat. Pretty nice writing nib. smile.gif I'm also currently using a Sailor 1911 21Kt M Naginata Togi nib created by Mr. Nagahara which is heavenly wonderful. cloud9.gif So wet and soft that, quite frankly, it feels like an erotic and sensual experience writing with this pen. puddle.gif I'm particularly happy with these two wonderful Japanese pens.






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