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Pilot Custom 823 M


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38 replies to this topic

#1 Tsujigiri

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 00:08

Pilot Custom 823 M



This is a pen that is not as well-known outside of Japan, and I didnít know about it for some time. It seems to be the only Japanese pen available with an integrated filling mechanism (no, I donít consider the Sailor Realo to be ďavailableĒ), and a variety of filling system that has become a rarity at that. Since I really like integrated filling, but also like Japanese pens enough to forgive their c/c filling systems, I was intrigued by this pen. This last summer I went on a homestay trip to Japan, so I decided to try and seek this pen out there.



Build Quality: 10/10
The first in-person encounter I had with this pen was in the Mitsukoshi department store (I think.. I could be mistaken about this). Anyway, they had a small pen desk at the lowest floor, and the one pen on display happened to be this very pen. They had one with a cap that had a chain affixed to it for people to try out. After picking up the pen, I was surprised at how heavy it was. Thereís no brass piston on this pen, just a thin metal rod in the middle. Anyway, itís not a bad heaviness, but it certainly does feel more solid than I thought it would. The build quality in this pen is exceedingly good. The parts are all very solidly secured, nothing clatters, and the cap screws on and off without a sound. There has even been some attention to detail in the lettering on the cap band, which appears to have some kind of embedded enamel instead of just being stamped. This pen seems like one of the most solidly built I have.



Grip, Balance, and Feel: 9.5/10
The grip doesnít catch any attention as being very small or very big, so itís just about right. They pen balances very well, posted or unposted. There are no problems here, but itís not that exceptional. Also, when it is posted, like most pens, the cap band rubs against the hand webbing between my thumb and forefinger. Itís not too much of a problem, but this band sticks out more than most pensí do.



Filling System: 10/10
A big part of why I like this filling system has to do with how unique it is. There are few pens now that use this filling system, although it is a worthy rival to the more popular piston filler. It is similar to the old vacumatic systems by Parker, and consists of a long tube inside the body that widens at the end closest to the nib. Inside is a cone shaped plunger that flaps and allows air and fluid past when it is travelling up the barrel, but holds a seal when it is travelling down the barrel. The back unscrews so the user can pull up the plunger, and then push it down while holding the nib in ink. When the plunger reaches the widened portion of the barrel, the vacuum formed as it was being pushed down is released, and ink quickly flows up into the barrel. I was surprised at how quickly the ink rises up, in a matter of just a few seconds. This method is faster and easier than piston filling to fill, but more difficult to clean out after use. It fills the barrel up about ĺ of the way with ink and a quarter with air, compared to a piston fillerís half-barrel capacity. Also, the blind cap must be unscrewed during use, or the ink will not flow. Iíve found it has to be unscrewed almost all the way, which makes for a slightly annoying gap at the back of the pen. When it is screwed in, however, the seal holds during airline flights (I tested this on the way back). Just donít open the pen up in the middle of the flight to see what happens, or it will spill ink on your fingers, as I found out. The barrel is translucent gray, which is nice because you can see the ink sloshing from one end of the barrel to the other. The dark but clear barrel gives the pen a sophisticated look that most demonstrators lack, but it also gives enough visibility to satisfy the gearhead in you. Itís also available in amber or clear, but I didnít think either looked as nice as this one. When I asked about the joint between the threads and the grip on the pen, the girl at the counter at Itoya said ďakenai,Ē meaning that it doesnít come apart, but I saw a picture on this forum in which someone completely disassembled this pen. If this is possible, the ability to disassemble it is certainly a plus to the mechanism.



Nib: 7/10
The nib is decent-sized, single-tone 14k. The design on it is simple but elegant. It writes decently well, but Iíve found it to be a little dry. I got a medium-sized nib, since I wanted a fine and Japanese nibs are a size smaller than Western ones. It looks like I should have gotten a broad nib. The pen writes well, but there is not very much ink flow at all next to the MB 149 EF, Pelikan m1000 F, and Sailor 1911 Sterling MF, which are in a category similar to this oneís.







Value: 9/10
The store I first saw this pen in was in the area of Shinjuku where some of the most expensive real estate is, such that a hundred dollar bill cannot pay for the amount of ground it covers. The price at the store was 31,500 yen, about $315. I figured that given the location, I could find it cheaper somewhere else. But from the large department stores to the hole in the wall stationary stores, the price was the same. I finally settled on Itoya, since it looked really cool. Three parts of the stores and 12 stories on the first one, all dedicated to pens, pencils, paper, art supplies, framing, and any other manner of similar items. Again, the prices was 31,500 yen, but Itoya is one of the stores that allows you to redeem the VAT Japanese tax if you are a foreigner and can provide your passport at a desk in the basement. The store also gives you credit for any item you buy in it. Redeeming the tax (which is included in the price) dropped the price to 30,000 yen. They gave me a little over 1,500 yen (about $15) in store credit in addition to the tax back, which I used to buy a Fude brush. So since I was planning on buying some calligraphy brushes while I was in Japan, anyway, the price was effectively 28,500 yen, or about $285. Compared to my Sailor 1911 Sterling at $300 and probably my all-time best buy Pelikan m1000 at $316, this is a reasonably good value. The price range is very reasonable for an integrated fill pen with a gold nib that is built this well. The pen is so unique and interesting that I would consider it an essential pen.

Overall: 91/100
Like many Japanese products, it seems that theyíve saved the best for the domestic market on this one. Itís hard, but not impossible, to find in the US. There are a few on ebay, Iím not sure where else to find them. This pen is an outstanding user pen for its solid build and interesting mechanism. I would recommend this pen to anyone who likes to use a well-engineered writing device.


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#2 tknechtel

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 00:23

Thanks for such a careful and complete review! It was especially interesting to see the photos of where you bought the pen. I bought my Pilot 823 from another FPN member and love it. I actually find the nib to be my favorite part of the pen: large and springy, a pleasure to write with.
Tom

#3 wykpenguin

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 02:11

Japanese feeds tend to be a bit on the dry end. This works well with writing Asian charaters with strokes cris-crossing each other and having to lift the pen after each stroke, if the pen were so wet that a mini puddle of ink was left on the paper, it would be easy to smudge out the holes, turning your characters into blobs.

Not too friendly with fast cursive writing though, even with Noodler's poalr black. Speaking from personal experience.

#4 thibaulthalpern

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 02:57

I have the exact same pen and I wouldn't say the flow is dry. It's rather wet, actually. When you use the pen, did you unscrew the blind cap about 2mm? If you don't, the flow of the ink to the nib stops.

I also disagree with the comment that this pen isn't good for fast cursive writing. In my experience with my pen, that hasn't been the case either.

Edited by thibaulthalpern, 14 December 2008 - 02:59.

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#5 Jared

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 03:13

I love the Itoya store in Shinjuku. It's one of my most favorite pen stores in the world. I visit there each time I have an opportunity when in Tokyo, and have found it a pleasure each time. Japanese customer service is second to none, and their selection is impressive, especially the European pen makers. It was there that I first tried out the Pilot Fermo--a great VP pen. If anyone happens to be in the area, I recommend visiting.

Jared



#6 lovemy51

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 04:11

very nice review! that's a great filling system!!

#7 Tsujigiri

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:10

Thank you all for the feedback. Yes, the fast cursive may be the problem, since that's the way I happen to write... But it still performs decently at speed. I've just found that both my Sailor medium-fines have been able to keep up with me perfectly while I write.

OK, so I tried dismantling the pen, and it actually comes apart quite easily. Here are a couple photos:





Looking more closely at the plunger mechanism, it appears that it works by having the seal loosely attached, so that when the plunger is pulled up, the rubber cone flaps around while ink goes through the inside of it, but when the plunger is pushed down, the cone tightens up against the wall and inner rod to keep a seal. There are also rubber rings on the back of the pen to keep the vacuum, too.

Finally, a comparison with the MontBlanc 149 and Pelikan m1000:



It turns out the Custom 823 is longer than either of these oversized pens, but it's smaller diameter makes it feel like an average-sized pen.

#8 goodguy

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:19

Thank you for the wonderful review.
I actualy had the chance to try the exact same pen and my impression is very close to yours.
I think the filler is briliant and overall quality is very good.
I was not too impressed with the M nib,it was smooth but a bit too dry and frankly simply boring.
Altogether it was a good pen.
Respect to all

#9 RevAaron

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 03:50

Great review for a great pen! My only gripe is the weight of the cap, which makes it feel very ill-balanced when posted. Such a long pen hardly needs to be posted, and I rarely post at all- but sometimes it makes sense. A more solid and quality feel than you get in many pens that cost twice as much, IMHO.

My only other gripe (only?) is the lack of nib selection- I'd love one of these wwith a sutab or music nib. smile.gif

Had one for a short spell- sold it when I lost my job- incidentally, on the same day it was going to be sent to Deb Kinney to be stubbed. Now that I've a job again, I regret selling it. :/

Edited by RevAaron, 16 December 2008 - 03:55.

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Also: Orthos Pens | Danish MB #4 nib | 1G Hundred Year Pen cap


#10 MYU

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 16:58

Very nice review! I like the touch of adding Itoya store photos. smile.gif I've shunned away from the "Montblanc" style that a number of other companies have copied (Sailor 1911, Pilot 823/845), just because it's so... common? But this version surprises me. Much more to it than I expected. It's on the acquisition list, of course once I'm employed again. wink.gif

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#11 andyk

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 20:59

Hi,

Great review of a fabulous pen, I didn't realise from the first couple of photos that the pen was transparent, which makes it even more appealing.

One for the want list I think if/when finances allow.

Andy

#12 thibaulthalpern

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 21:12

There are two colours: black and smoky brown. I think smoky brown looks way cooler. smile.gif
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#13 Immoteus

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 22:54

Theres also the colorless version of the 823, though it doesn't look as nice.
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#14 chibimie

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Posted 23 January 2009 - 12:53

For anyone interested in this pen (retails for 30,000 yen in Japan) who might be heading to Tokyo, you can purchase it at Sekaido for 23,940, which includes tax. The only requirement is to purchase their one year discount card, which costs 500 yen and lasts for a year. It gives you a 24% discount on just about all their stationary (pens pens pens, paper, . . . .). biggrin.gif



#15 Bug Guy

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 00:31

QUOTE (goodguy @ Dec 15 2008, 07:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thank you for the wonderful review.
I actualy had the chance to try the exact same pen and my impression is very close to yours.
I think the filler is briliant and overall quality is very good.
I was not too impressed with the M nib,it was smooth but a bit too dry and frankly simply boring.
Altogether it was a good pen.


I have to agree with you there. I have an 823 for about two years now and love it. However, a lot of other pilot pens have a large selections of nib sizes and types. If you get a 743, you would have such exotic selection such as "wavily" and "post" nib. I would like to see them available on the 823 as well. BTW, I have a 743 with falcon nib. That is one wonderful nib notworthy1.gif


#16 blackranger63

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 00:59

Great review. Just another reason why I am a Pilot fan. Now if they only started unloading those goodies over here ;-)
Blackranger
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#17 chibimie

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 03:45

Having used this pen for a few days now, I'm a bit confused re the need to unscrew the blind cap before writing. In writing no more than about a page (that's A4 sized paper pretty much filled), I get a very decent flow of ink--in my view between medium and wet--whether I unscrew the cap or not. Does this mean that I need to unscrew the cap only when I will write much more than this?

By the way, even if this proves to be an incorrect way to write with this pen (the instructions clearly state the need to unscrew the cap about 2mm before writing), it writes better than just about any pen I own. Something about its large, long nib perhaps? biggrin.gif

Edited by chibimie, 25 January 2009 - 03:46.


#18 Tsujigiri

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 07:46

Actually, when I first started using the pen, I unscrewed the blind cap only a little, which was insufficient. Eventually, the pen will run completely dry even though there's ink in the body, which is very frustrating. The amount of ink a pen holds in the feed is usually enough for a page of writing in my experience, so it makes sense that the pen would right well up to that point. But this pen seems to be finicky about ink flow, and will run dry unless you unscrew it all the way. The large nib certainly does add a lot to the pen...

#19 yellotrace

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 03:38

Is it possible to swap nib with a custom 743? (I'm guessing not with 742 as the nib size is 15)
I really like the FA nib and I like the plunger system very much, I'd love to combine the two.

#20 Tsujigiri

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Posted 12 February 2009 - 03:59

It's possible to swap the 15 nib on the 823 with another 15 nib (the nibs just slide out), and many people want to do just that with the FA nib as you suggest, but Pilot doesn't sell individual nibs, so you'd have to buy both pens.






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