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Introduction: It was not long before that I had bought my first ASA fountain pen that had served as the stepping stone into the vast world of handmade Indian fountain pens. Now, I’m the proud owner of two ASA Naukas- one in Tangerine, and one in the clear acrylic, TransNauka. I’m not known for my patience, so the wait time was really quite a period of impatience, but in the end, the pen makes up for everything. Now, lets get to my first review here .... Aesthetics and design: The pen’s design is reminiscent of a boat, hence the name Nauka (meaning boat in Hindi). The cap is almost cylindrical that has a bulbous dome at the top, which literally glows in my Tangerine Nauka in the right lighting, a bit less so with the TransNauka. The barrel has a significant taper towards the nib, but also has a slightly smaller taper near the end that ends in a point. The section is cylindrical with no taper at all, which really suits my hand. The cap to section threads are located on the top of the section, so that gives the pen almost a Lamy 2000 zeppelin-ish look. The looks of the pens really connect with me. The acrylics are brushed with abrasives. Some people compare this finish to a Franklin-Christoph but that is like comparing apples to oranges, since the F-C is polished on the outside, and rough on the inside, rather than brushed. I would compare it to a Lamy 2000, but slightly subtle. I imagine a Lamy 2000 demonstrator to be like this. In the right lighting, the Naukas glow. The Tangerine feels like a lava lamp. Both my Naukas are clipless and it just looks fantastic without a clip. But, that’s not going to be the case forever. I want to get some snake roll-stoppers for these Naukas, then they will be perfect for me. Construction and Quality: I’m not kidding here, but my TransNauka is flawless, almost to the point of believing that its not handmade, but it really is. My Tangerine on the other hand has a few scuffs here and there, but nothing intolerable. The quality of acrylic used is also quite nice. One issue however has crept in with the TransNauka. The engraving on the cap looks like it was done hurriedly. It isn’t really crisp and clear but has a blurred look. Other than that, I’m more than satisfied. Filling system: The Nauka comes in two variants: a simple eyedropper system, and a 3-in-1 system. Both of mine are the latter. A 3-in-1 system means the pen can be filled with a cartridge, converter or via eyedropper. In case you decide to eyedropper it, do remember to grease the section threads to avoid leakage. As a note, Mr. Subramanium will provide a small box of silicone grease with your pen. If you order the 3-in-1 system, you also receive a Schmidt converter. I don’t like using the converter since during filling, the cap threads are covered in ink and is difficult to remove. However, due to aesthetic reasons, I use a converter in my Tangerine Nauka. Writing comfort: The section of the TransNauka is cylindrical and has a diameter of 12mm. It makes for a comfortable grip for me, because I have unnaturally large hands for a 15 year old. It becomes slightly uncomfortable during really long writing sessions, however, it’s the most comfortable pen I own. This is true for both my Naukas. The pen can be used without posting and is really comfortable that way. The cap isn’t postable at all. Writing experience: The Nauka comes with three kinds of nibs: one are the ASA branded nibs in fine, medium, and broad, and these come with the simple eyedropper variant, two are the Schmidt nib units in fine, medium and broad, three are the JoWo nib units in fine, medium and broad, both available with the 3-in-1 system. Mine are the #6 JoWo nibs. The TransNauka has a fine nib in steel with no plating. It writes really well. It has a distinct feel of feedback, that’s not as unpleasant as my Platinum 14k medium nib. The fine JoWo nib is not really quite a fine. Its almost a fine-medium, that edges more towards the medium. Its wider than my Platinum 14k medium. But it’s a remarkable nib. The Tangerine has a 1.1 stub in steel, with a two-tone finish. This nib is really fun to write. It also has some feedback, but I quite like it. The line variation is also excellent and for me, the nib can be used for daily writing. But both nibs were dry out of the box, which was an easy fix. I have also tried the medium, but it feels characterless to me, so I ground it into a stub and that nib resides in one of my Deccan Advocates. Pricing: The Naukas are priced well. The regular TransNauka cost me 2400 INR without GST. The Tangerine commands a slight premium, at 3200 INR including GST. The international buyers will haver to pay more for many reasons involved, which I am unaware of. In my opinion, the pen is well worth the price, considering its handmade, has a JoWo nib, and is really comfortable. Final Thoughts: In the end, you get a really nice pen, with nice looks, great comfort, and reliable writing at a great price. If it was not for my Platinum 3776 Century Chartres blue, with that medium nib and mind-blowing resin, this would have been my favorite pen. The Naukas are a close second, I look forward to owning two more in the Aqua Blue acrylic and a brushed black ebonite. Only I happen to not have the funds for that. I hope my reviews are helpful to someone, and if they are, then mission accomplished. P.S. The photos were taken with a Nikkon D5300 and edited using Polarr Photo Editor for Windows. And in case you are wondering about the surface that my pens are on in the photos, that is a Pearl Jingle Cajon with an awesome rough finish.
ASA TranNauka - JoWo 1.1 Nib The review is simultaneously posted on my blog here : Link The pen I am about to review has sold in huge nos. and probably one of the best-selling pen of ASA. There was a time when I was after Mr. Subramaniam to make a demonstrator pen with screw in nib units from JoWo/Schmidt but somehow he was not able to procure the good material which could withstand the threading to be done for those units and then we gave up. Then one fine day he informed me that he had procured a new material and will be launching an already successful Nauka in the demonstrator version (which was named TransNauka) and I was too excited for the pen and I told Mr. Subramaniam it would sell in huge nos. and therefore I convinced him that we should do a group buy for the same on FPN (TransNauka Group Buy) and believe me, it was immensely successful. ASA TranNauka – In love with Rains The group buy was so successful that he had to stop taking orders on his website for a fortnight even after the Group Buy was closed because of his limited production capability. I have already reviewed a few pens from ASA as below: ASA Rainbow : LINK ASA Viraat : LINK (Absolutely love this fat pen) ASA Spear : LINK ASA Porus : LINK ASA Patriot : LINK ASA I-Can : LINK ASA Galactic : LINK It’s been three months since I have got this TransNauka and further below is my effort to do a detailed review of the pen. Design : 4.5/05 There is an old age saying: “Beauty lies in the eye of beholder” And to my eyes, this pen is the just pure aesthetic pleasure. It’s a beauty. TransNauka inspires awe when it is inked and I believe it one-ups the already existing Nauka. It’s simple, classic, sublime and is on the lines of Bauhaus Design movement which is a unification of art, craft, and technology. The design of Nauka was inspired by famousMORA STYLOS OLDWIN CLASSIC and in fact, one of the fellow fountain pen connoisseur Prithwijit was the force behind the development of Nauka. ASA TransNauka – Uncapped The pen without cap looks like it’s just one piece as the grip section merges with the barrel in such a form that there is no step down which is generally prevalent in many pens. The pen gradually tapers towards the bottom to an almost pointed end. Similarly, the pen tapers towards the grip section till it meets the threads at the top which holds the cap. ASA TransNauka – Comparative pic when pen uncapped and capped The pen comes only in the brushed matte finish and personally prefer the brushed version better than the polished version as the polished version tends to develop micro abrasions and smudges and also looses shine over the period of time. The cap of the pen unlike the bottom of the barrel is not torpedoed shape at the top rather it is like a hemispherical dome. The pen I bought comes with chrome finish ball-end clip and it also comes sans the clip. The cap is almost 3/4th the size of pen making it a very large pen. ASA TransNauka – Cap and Barrel ASA TransNauka – Cap is 3/4th of Pen when uncapped I found the pen very minimalist with no branding. One thing I believe can be improved is to reduce the gap between the cap finial and nib unit when the pen is closed. The pen is beautiful and is bang for the buck at the price and yeah this beauty is handmade. Built & Construction : 04/05 One look at the pen and you won’t actually believe that this pen completely hand-turned. It’s almost perfectly shaped and finished from the exterior. ASA TransNauka – Lovely Finish One thing I found that as much as the exterior is well finished and shaped, the interior of the barrel was not paid much attention. There are certain undulations in interior (1 or 2 places) of the barrel which result in the formation of O-rings like shape inside the barrel with ink. I received two pens, matte brushed finish and the clear polished one. The clear polished one was all over the places with regards to finish and thus it was not launched officially. This brushed finish is superb barring one area with regards to barrel interior area. The brushed finish is also better because of the fact that it hides the lathe marks and also is not smudge-prone. The quality of material used is quite good but is brittle in nature and thus one has to be careful with regards to handling (against falls). The acrylic used is the hard non-modified PMMA and apt thickness of the material are used in pen and is quite better compared to ones used in TWSBI. ASA TransNauka – Cap View showing material thickness and finish ASA TransNauka – Material thickness in Barrel and Grip Section The pen is quality finished one which needs to be handled carefully and if proper care is taken it will last you ages. I love my TranNauka but I care for every pen that I own. If you are the one who keeps throwing his/her pen here and there then I suggest you go for the ebonite version. Balance & Size : 04/05 The cap of the pen doesn’t post securely and that’s because of the design. But.. But… But… the pen is so big even uncapped @ 135 mm that there is no need for posting. The pen is little heavy towards the nib and I believe this could have been countered by providing solid crystal end at bottom of barrel. Nevertheless, this was no issue for me, it’s a minute difference and some of you won’t even notice. ASA TransNauka – Writing with it – Unposted and Posted Initially, I had trouble adapting to the grip of the pen because of gradual slope of grip section from barrel to top of nib unit but now that I am using the pen since 3 months I have gotten used to it. The grip might also be fat for some because of the design and might not be so good for people with small hands. Now for me, it was okay because I prefer big pens with good girth. The pen is big yet light in weight but one thing I noticed is that when uncapped it is lighter than Ranga Bamboo Demonstrator but almost 4 gms heavier when capped and both are equal in length when uncapped but when capped the TransNauka is larger of the two. ASA TransNauka – Weight – Capped and Uncapped Few specification of the pen are as follows: Length of pen (closed) – 160 mmLength of pen (open and unposted) – 135 mm (including nib)Length of pen (open and posted) – 176 mmLength of Cap – 78 mmMaximum Dia of Cap – 21 mmMaximum Dia of Barrel – 14 mmDia of Barrel ( Near Barrel Bottom) – 8 mmMaximum Dia of Grip Section – 13.5 mmMinimum Dia of Grip Section – 11 mmWeight of Pen with Cap – 27.9 gms (inked)Weight of Pen without Cap – 17.13 gms (inked) Below are the pictures of the pen in comparison with others : ASA TransNauka vs Pilot Custom 823 vs ASA Patriot vs Lamy Safari – Capped ASA TransNauka vs Pilot Custom 823 vs ASA Patriot vs Lamy Safari – Uncapped As clear from above pics its a bit fat compared to others. Nib : 3.5/05 The pen can be bought in a variety of #6 sized nib options from JoWo or Schmidt and in various point widths. The one I have here is JoWo Steel 1.1 Stub nib in Black Oxide finish. ASA TranNauka - Nib Shot in Rain The nib is a screw in nib unit and easily replaceable. The nib that I got was a lemon and was scratchy out of the box. I had to tune it and now it performs the way I want. ASA TransNauka – JoW0 1.1 Nib in Black Oxide Finish ASA Nauka vs Pilot Custom 823 vs ASA Patriot vs Lamy Safari – Nib Comparison Advice to people if you are buying the pen from ASA do avail the option of pen/nib testing this might delay the pen delivery but pen and nib will be checked for writing before dispatch and yeah there are no extra charges for that. Ink Filling Mechanism: 05/05 It can take international long or shot cartridges, international converter and can be used as an ED also. The pen looks best when eye dropper-ed and I applied silicone grease to the threads before using it as ED pen. ASA TransNauka – Using as an ED Pen Ink capacity as an eye dropper is 4 ml and will vary with every pen as it is handmade one. Below are the images of handwritten review of the pen sample writing: ASA TransNauka – Handwritten Review – Page 1 ASA TransNauka – Handwritten Review – Page 2 ASA TransNauka – Handwritten Review – Page 3 ASA TransNauka – Handwritten Review – Page 4 Conclusion : 21/25 The pen was bought at group buy price of Rs. 2200 and it was a steal at that price. And now the prices have increased yet it is a value for money option. Beautiful pen but I won’t recommend this to people with small hands. What I Like: Beautiful Design Handmade Quality Finish- Exterior Good Balance and Size Good Ink Capacity Well PricedWhat I don’t Like: Internal Barrel Finish Poor OTB Nib How to Buy: The pen was bought via group buy on FPN and there will be another group buy in near future for the same. Simultaneously who don’t like waiting for group buys can buy directly from ASA website : LINK. And the last I checked it's available on pre-order only with waiting for 4 weeks. For more reviews you can check my blog here : LINK