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What "justifies" the Namiki Urushi #20 (Yukari Royale) price?



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I ask this question with genuine interest in wanting to purchase this pen in some distant future, but I am not sure that I completely understand what "makes" it a pen that is $1500.00 USD (but I suppose a bit cheaper in Japan?).  To be clear, I am not asking if "this pen is worth it?" and opening a debate on value. It is completely irrelevant how much you or I think the pen should cost. I understand asking about the pricing of a fountain pen may be a fool's errand, but I was curious as to why it is priced as it is compared to say the Pilot Custom 845 or other urushi pens ie. from Nakaya. Is it because Namiki is considered a "luxury" brand, and the pen is produced in small batches and relatively difficult to obtain? Is it the case that people (I must add it seems owners of this pen from this forum and elsewhere are quite happy with it) purchase it and therefore the demand continues to inform its price?  Or is there something more quantifiable? For instance, the Pilot Custom 845 is also an urushi pen (which I own). Of course this pen has some plastic parts and is made from ebonite. However, it also has a similar 18k nib to the Namiki Urushi #20. Yet the price difference between the two is quite significant (2-3x more for the Namiki). So is there something about crafting a pen from brass that makes it more difficult? Or is there something about the urushi coating that is different, ie. more layers? more care? requires more expertise? I am not sure what the steps are required to produce the Namiki, but does perhaps crafting the pen itself and the time it takes to produce it also have something to do with the price? I also understand that it has lifetime warranty, and so does this also perhaps factors into its price? Again, I ask out of genuine curiosity and would appreciate if any of you can add from your expertise.

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peroride
5 hours ago, A-xy said:

Again, I ask out of genuine curiosity and would appreciate if any of you can add from your expertise.

 

My simple guess is that is the price the market pays for quality goods.

 

I have no expertise just observations.

 

When I went to Japan and visited stationary stores, there were price tags in Yen, the local currency. When I bought pens, I did not give a second thought to haggling and got the satisfaction of obtaining pens not found readily in my home country at full retail.

 

The Yukari Royale appears seasonally outside Japan though I do see occasional grayer market or retail sales from time to time outside of Japan but still over the 1000 USD mark. Royale is always 1500 USD and Emperor 2000 and that is the market conditioning over the years from Namiki.

 

I think that seasonal availability aspect contributes to the firm pricing. If you can get better pricing that maybe good, but one should factor in warranty support as well. Also whether in the future, prices will rise as it tends to be the case looking at historical data.

 

Interestingly, when I got my Conid Kingsize, I got same experience of firm pricing. 

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Maki-eMagic
6 hours ago, A-xy said:

I ask this question with genuine interest in wanting to purchase this pen in some distant future, but I am not sure that I completely understand what "makes" it a pen that is $1500.00 USD (but I suppose a bit cheaper in Japan?).  To be clear, I am not asking if "this pen is worth it?" and opening a debate on value. It is completely irrelevant how much you or I think the pen should cost. I understand asking about the pricing of a fountain pen may be a fool's errand, but I was curious as to why it is priced as it is compared to say the Pilot Custom 845 or other urushi pens ie. from Nakaya. Is it because Namiki is considered a "luxury" brand, and the pen is produced in small batches and relatively difficult to obtain? Is it the case that people (I must add it seems owners of this pen from this forum and elsewhere are quite happy with it) purchase it and therefore the demand continues to inform its price?  Or is there something more quantifiable? For instance, the Pilot Custom 845 is also an urushi pen (which I own). Of course this pen has some plastic parts and is made from ebonite. However, it also has a similar 18k nib to the Namiki Urushi #20. Yet the price difference between the two is quite significant (2-3x more for the Namiki). So is there something about crafting a pen from brass that makes it more difficult? Or is there something about the urushi coating that is different, ie. more layers? more care? requires more expertise? I am not sure what the steps are required to produce the Namiki, but does perhaps crafting the pen itself and the time it takes to produce it also have something to do with the price? I also understand that it has lifetime warranty, and so does this also perhaps factors into its price? Again, I ask out of genuine curiosity and would appreciate if any of you can add from your expertise.

So the YR #20 urushi is a 128,000 yen retail price pen (the price is in the model number, you can always see it on Namiki non limited edition pens), which is 1,166USD - the 1,500USD price is the international namiki pricing (which is a big markup). I think the price difference compared to a custom 845 is a combination of a reasonable increase in production cost (which shouldn't however be massive), combined with a much smaller production number (reducing efficiencies of scale) and probably more quality control. Then the markup for Namiki as opposed to Pilot based on the brand prestige, and factoring in the lifetime warranty as well. In terms of the difference between the two, I'd expect that the actual cost differences are significantly smaller than the price difference, and moving into such a famous pen a large part is just higher profit margin.

 

They are incredibly nice pens so highly recommended especially if you can find it at a more reasonable price. In a shop recently in Hong Kong I saw the price was just under 1000USD, with the #50 urushi around a hundred dollars more expensive - this means there is plenty of scope to find cheaper ones or find sale prices applied to the international website listings.

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i guess it would be the price point that marks a move from a writing instrument to a work of art.  this becomes even more apparent at an even higher price point eg with the namiki emperor nightline and its resale value at present

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Thank you all for your replies. They were very helpful.

 

5 hours ago, lionelc said:

i guess it would be the price point that marks a move from a writing instrument to a work of art.  this becomes even more apparent at an even higher price point eg with the namiki emperor nightline and its resale value at present

 

This is a good point, and makes a lot of sense.

 

8 hours ago, Maki-eMagic said:

 

 

They are incredibly nice pens so highly recommended especially if you can find it at a more reasonable price. In a shop recently in Hong Kong I saw the price was just under 1000USD, with the #50 urushi around a hundred dollars more expensive - this means there is plenty of scope to find cheaper ones or find sale prices applied to the international website listings.

 

I have no doubt that this is a wonderful pen. I would purchase the pen from an authorized Namiki/Pilot seller in Japan, but the price is firm 128,000 yen set by Namiki. I am assuming getting these cheaper prices ie. in Hong Kong would require one to physically visit a shop and purchase it. Am I correct?

 

 

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Maki-eMagic
1 hour ago, A-xy said:

Thank you all for your replies. They were very helpful.

 

 

This is a good point, and makes a lot of sense.

 

 

I have no doubt that this is a wonderful pen. I would purchase the pen from an authorized Namiki/Pilot seller in Japan, but the price is firm 128,000 yen set by Namiki. I am assuming getting these cheaper prices ie. in Hong Kong would require one to physically visit a shop and purchase it. Am I correct?

 

 

Well in Japan you might find it at that price and get it with a 5% store card discount or something similar, and get your tax back as well to end up slightly under 128,000. The HK price was in a shop, yes, I think you could probably find a similar price in Singapore (or so I hear).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Does anyone have a link or know of a place in Japan where it's actually available at 128,000 yen? I have been browsing Japanese websites and auction sites and the cheapest I can find is 140,000. I thought the 128 model number just indicated the original MSRP? Didn't they put the price up everywhere about two years ago?

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A Smug Dill
1 hour ago, m9andg27 said:

Does anyone have a link or know of a place in Japan where it's actually available at 128,000 yen?

 

I dunno, a duty-free shop, maybe?

 

1 hour ago, m9andg27 said:

I have been browsing Japanese websites and auction sites and the cheapest I can find is 140,000. I thought the 128 model number just indicated the original MSRP?

 

When the MSRP changes, then generally so does the product's model number.

 

I suspect you've neglected adding the domestic consumption tax in Japan to the tax-exclusive MSRP encoded in the model number. You were browsing Japanese websites aimed at customers in Japan, no?

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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25 minutes ago, A Smug Dill said:

 

I suspect you've neglected adding the domestic consumption tax in Japan to the tax-exclusive MSRP encoded in the model number.

Ah, yes! I forgot about tax. 128k plus 10%VAT is about 140k, haha!

Thank you!

 

I guess that makes the price here in Taiwan pretty reasonable. Converted to JPY it's 146,000.

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To begin with Namiki pens are not Veblen goods. They are, however, luxury goods in the sense that they are expensive and provide the owner with more than what they expected or need. Namiki enjoys well-deserved market leadership in terms of construction quality, consistency, desirability, writing experience, nib quality, packaging quality, and value retention. Compared to the pens you mention (Nakaya and Pilot) the Yukari Royale is, generally, a more consistently trustworthy writer with superlative fabrication and artistic execution. I have many dozens of high end urushi and maki-e pens from various manufacturers. Namiki is the one brand that never disappoints. It may not always offer the best of the best in this or that element but as a package Namiki is tops. Prices are fair for what you get. 

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