Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point “Faceted Version” Long-Term Review

It took me 20 years to write today’s review.

I don’t remember which one I got first, but I think it was the Pilot. I seem to remember getting it back when I was at graduate school at Ole Miss in 1995. I got the Namiki right after I moved to Japan in 1996. The latter came in a fancy pen coffin with enough room for three pens. Me being me, I got them both in basic black, although I wish I’d thought to get a different color.

The Namiki and the Pilot. Only the names have changed.

The Namiki and the Pilot in the coffin. Only the names have changed.

In the end, though, it doesn’t matter what order I got them, because they’re both basically the same pen with the same strengths and structural weaknesses.

As I’ve written before, my fountain pen history moved from a Cross Century to a GoldenStar 711 to a Retro 51 200 series before a friend introduced me to the Vanishing Point.

VPs are rather strange at first. The built-in clip takes some getting used to, but I found the “facted version” of the pen to be thin and light enough that I didn’t have any problem adjusting to it. I’ve used both pens enough that I’ve worn slight dents in the clips l where my index finger rested.

Oddly, when I switched back to regular fountain pens I found myself rolling the pen in ways I couldn’t with the VP. One advantage of the built-in clip is you always hold your pen correctly, at least if you are right-handed.

There’s also a charm to being able to click the pen into use rather than fiddling with a twist cap and posting and hoping you don’t lose the cap and then fiddling with the cap again and then doing it all over when you realize that in all the fiddling you forgot to write something down.

The VP nibs are terrific. I prefer the thicker Medium–that nib and Pilot Blue/Black ink is still one of my favorite pen and ink combinations–but had very few complaints about the Fine except the way it got scratchy on cheap paper. I otherwise never had any problems with them, even though I used them for almost 20 years and tended to flush them infrequently (once every five years or so, give or take).

The only complaint I’ve had in those 20 years was structural. The barrels on both pens–specifically the part with the “nock”–cracked over time. I suspect that it was partly a combination of over-tightening, being tossed in bags and occasional, sudden flights to the floor. It’s also partly the result of questionable design as the “female” threads are cut directly in the plastic and there’s no metal ring reinforcing them even though they are tightening over metal “male” threads on the pen body. (That sentence didn’t seem dirty until I wrote it.)

Several years ago, during a trip to one of the Tokyo pen shows, I asked the Pilot booth if it was possible to repair the pens. They referred me to the pen section of the store where the show was taking place. The clerk took both pens and sent them off to Pilot Pens which managed to find a replacement barrel for one. The other remains cracked and retired and I’ve always claimed I got the last replacement barrel in Japan. (It seems they were only out of black, though. I could have got another color.)

Eventually I replaced the “faceted versions” with a modern VP made of metal. I like the new style, and will review it some day, but nothing beats the sleek look of the “faceted” VPs. They are works of art.

Still good looking, even after 19 of use.

Still sleek and good looking, even after 20 years of use.





4 thoughts on “Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point “Faceted Version” Long-Term Review

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