Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review of the Cross Peerless 125 Tokyo Edition


Plurality of singularities 

Among many other fountain pen lovers, I do retain a high level of adoration for the way the Sailor nibs look, aren’t they just beautiful? Paradoxically enough, there is also a certain distaste, when it comes to my acceptance of their nib smoothness. My humble experience has been mostly with sailor nibs straight from Japan and not the US market. Alas! the glassy smooth angle to manoeuvre writing with the Japanese ones (except the Naginata one), wouldn’t work for me, ever with the five sailor nibs.  Also, I always felt an immense opportunity have something done with their relatively bland base pen designs and the CC filling system. Many times, I pondered whether it would be worth sending a sailor nib to Conid and have a pen made. The nib can be smoothened for English script rather than struggling on my part to learn the Kanji to have it used! 

As it turns out, I couldn’t justify the Conid plan for a long time, but I do intend to add one in future. By this time, Cross had relaunched the Peerless range in 2015, marking 125th anniversary of its original Peerless pen (1889). Hoorah! it came with a 18k Sailor nib! 

Cross was founded in 1846, in case you too thought this to be the company’s 125th anniversary :). Below is an ad, I could find with respect to the original peerless fountain pen. 


Presented in Style 

Presentation is exquisite consisting of a paper box wrapped around a luxury gift box, along with a brand leaflet and two spare black cartridges. The screw-in (8756) converter, comes fitted inside the pen. I hope that the following pictures will do more justice. And if you are thinking of gifting this, I can assure you, it’s altogether a fantastic package. Full Marks! The hinged box is sturdy and substantial with enough cushion for all residents. In fact, there is enough space to fit two more large sized pens and probably you could smuggle a turtle inside! 

DESIGN (5/6) 

Designed by Aliens 

Cross released the Peerless 125 in four finishes: 23kt Heavy Gold Plate, Obsidian Black Lacquer, Platinum Plate/Medalist, and Platinum Plate in three models initially: fountain pen, ballpoint and rollerball. Later, three special editions NYC, London and Tokyo were released in Silver, Gold and Black, that imbibed prominent works of architecture (Chrysler Building, Big Ben and Skytree) in the respective megacities. 

         I went for the Tokyo primarily because of silver accents and partly because of its availability over Obsidian Black edition. Eventually, I think that it was a good choice :) 

The pen looks elegant and appears quite substantial compared to a Townsend or a Century, while preserving in its signature cigar custom-design. The platinum coated metallic appointments at the centre, clip and either ends provide a pleasant lustre to an otherwise dull matt finish of the body. The taper is pretty nuanced and organically converges into the glitter at either ends. 

              The Skytree being the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest one in the world has a charm of its own, more so during night. It seems to blend between a pagoda and a futuristic spaceship control center, though is used primarily for Radio and TV broadcasts in Tokyo. Below go some pictures of Skytree at Night and Day! For the Peerless, the brushed black PVD coating of the body poses as the structural base and the circular glass houses perhaps get represented by the lustrous platinum appointments, although YMMV. 

        While the pen does look hefty and is quite an oversized pen, the semblance of size no way compromises the impeccable balance and comfort of writing, with the Tokyo. The cap seems to imbibe most of the heft within itself with a cylindrical cross section Quite delicately, the PVD body tapers down towards the metallic blind-cap. 

           The glazing finial looks quite industrial with the cross section of a conical frustum. Given the galvanising finish, it is prone to fingerprints! It may get misinterpreted as a piston knob. Apart from it’s enchanting shimmer, the black ring creates a step that serves for posting the cap securely. 

                             The tension-fit clip preserves the cross tradition, with a slightly elongated arclike structure. It carries the brandname CROSS imprinted on a black rectangular background, made to standout. Visconti also does that. Both ends of the cap have platinum plated appointments. The barrel end however has a thin sheen, thanks to the metallic ring at the end. The other side is well adorned with a jet hematite Swarovski crystal. The tassie carries the latitude and longitude of Skytree along with model name TOKYO and an individualised serial number. Pretty Cool! The centre band where the barrel meets the grip has a shimmering inscription of CROSS PEERLESS 125, deftly etched in black & silver. 

                  The jet hematite dazzles like a diamond with visible light and ambient angles. The tassie is anyway a frozen GPS of the Skytree. If you are lost on this planet with the Tokyo, and Aliens do come to your rescue, you can tell them exact location of the Skytree! When they turn rogue, you can probably deflect lasers with the jet hematite crystal or simply hit them with 43 grams of PVD and metal!

                   It is oversize but I never felt any heft, while using the pen. Very Cool! The cap unscrews with two and a quarter turns, revealing the elegant dazzle of a 18k Sailor nib, with rhodium plating. The silvery section threads along with the centre band go well in the overall design. Quite some attention to details! The section ends up with a little bump with a shinier loop of metal, before the mind is bewitched again, by the shimmer of the rhodium plated nib. 


It's a 8756!

The barrel unscrews from the section with four and a half turns. Now if aliens indeed attack, this is not the time you are found to be putting ink in the Tokyo! Sitting inside is a Cross piston type screw-in converter (#8756). I found that this converter has a better capacity than traditional sailor ones. And filling ink is clean and easy. The converter might hold more than 0.5 ml if you happen to fill the converter with a syringe. 

It’s not interchangeable with a sailor converter and you can see that the feed connector has a smaller diameter in case of Cross. 

I have no qualms of this being a CC, piston would have been nicer though! I wouldn't have paid an extra 100 $ for a piston, by the way.


In his majesty’s glittering service 

The dazzling nib is tested by hand, and comes in five different widths including EF, F, M,B, and sailor Z, the widths being Japanese. As mentioned earlier, I like the glamorous design of sailor nibs. The size and spread of the nib are standard#6. 

          The lower middle section of the nib specifies carries the brand imprint of CROSS with the nib-composition (18 K, 750) and nib width M, resting above it. PEERLESS and 125 are embossed just below the circular breather hole. The scrollwork runs in between the body and the shoulders which enhances the decor, probably in a very industrial way. Reminds me of the machine drawing classes, where every cross section had to be cross-hatched, else you lose a point or so. The tines elongate themselves in trademark Sailor style. Both the gold & silver accents look like adorable cousins. 

A black plastic feed with closely spaced fins allows to maintain balance against air-pressure with a good buffer capacity of ink. The feeder hole provides the ink suction for the converter. It’s as good or bad, as a sailor.


Newtonian Laws Intact 

The overall capped length is around 15 cm. I would prefer to use the pen unposted as both weight and balance seem perfect with a good nib leverage. The section has a comfortable grip of around 1.32 cm. I feel it’s very comfortable from an overall perspective, balancing amazingly well for an oversized pen with metallic appointments. 

  • Uncapped Length ~ 13.3 cm 
  • Posted Length ~ 15.6 cm
  • Exposed Nib Leverage ~ 2.3 cm (#6 nib) 
  • Overall Weight ~ 43.4 g (without ink, cap weight~16 g) 

Below are the pictures along with a MB146 and a Pelikan m805 for your reference. 


Demand < Supply 

While an expensive retail price of around USD 625 puts off many people, these market rates sometimes come with a 35-55% discount. The best part is that the pen in itself is quite difficult to fake , with many parts i.e crystal, nib and body, imported from around the world. 

OVERALL (5.3/6)


This is a great pen. The writing experience is as amazing as the nib looks, with just the hint of control which you would expect from a well tuned sailor nib. Some springy softness is present in the nib with little line variation between horizontal and vertical strokes. The lines dry within 25-30 seconds with Sailor Red Grenade ink, running on MD Paper. The nib runs quite smoothly even on copy paper. This is a Japanese medium nib with a wet flow, so any effects on ink shading might miss the normal eye. There is the slightest hint of feedback, typical of sailor but that’s all there is. No glassy angles, just well tuned for English script. 

The nib has never skipped and always laid a wet line, and seems to be one of the best sailor nibs in my small collection. If the cap is left open for a few minutes or so, you might need to put a light effort to get the wet lines flowing again. 


Coming up Next… 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

rOtring Rapid PRO BP Review

Rotring started in 1928 with a tubular tipped stylographic fountain pen popularly known as Tiku. It was incorporated as Titenkuli Handels GmbH. Later in 1984, the calligraphic ArtPen was introduced, which was followed by more famous and most sought after 600 series pens. There were a few changes in name in between which can be seen in the historical timeline linked here. In 1998, it was taken over by Sanford US, a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid Inc. Newell owns other known brands like Parker and Waterman. Rotring stopped manufacturing fountain pens soon after this acquisition.
And yes of course, rot ring literally translates into red ring, which can be seen in almost all its writing instruments as an iconic hallmark.

                   The Rapid PRO look like a modern avatar of the renowned 600 ball points. With evolution, rotring has perhaps tried to make the rigid hexagonal shape slightly more giving to curvature, in the rapid pro. While writing this review, I could find a Japanese ebay seller list a few rotring 600 ball points. I am fairly certain that these are fresh production and not NOS.

The RAPID pro comes packaged in a grey-coloured triangular cardboard box with brand and product descriptions. The country of manufacturing is mentioned as Japan. I found the box, quite a welcome change compared to the earlier one. You may see a deserted G2 refill, lying beside the box. Nothing wrong with the original refill itself, this can be completely attributed to my new found love with Monteverde ceramic gel refills.
Both the Silver Chrome and Matte Black designs are beautifully made designs. The silver one portrays a shimmering exuberance, while the black one is quite subtle, albeit wielding the same power. The weight and feel of both pens is quite comfortable, balanced and not at all on the heavier side. Warning-Don’t let the technical specs fool you!

Both finishes have a smooth audible click of the plunger button, to expose the writing tip, through the concentric cone-cylinder tip. I couldn’t find a decipherable difference between the knock of the two variants.

I use black and silver alternately. The black one exhibits subtlety and seems to be quite capable of hiding in dark surroundings. Even the indented rOtring logo on the friction fit clip appears to be quite understated although firm. The silver version in contrast looks vivacious. The mirror finished clip shimmers along with the conical tip, while the relatively duller grey shine of the barrel complements both ends willingly.

The red ring adorns both the pens well, in between the section and barrel. You can feel a noticeable difference between knurling of both sections. It feels a tad sharper on the silver variant. Even the branding on the black variant is understated yet suave while the silver one carries the brand with quite some panache. I feel the concentric cones & cylinder at the tip add to the style and render firmness in character to these pens.

A plastic insert serves the threading between the barrel and section, which can be a bit of trauma to the classical pen fanatic, for an otherwise near-perfectly made pen. The inserts seem quite thick and hopefully should be able to sustain added pressure of the metal parts, incase someone over tightens the barrel.

The clip rounds back at the barrel with clasps from both sides, leaving a small gap in-between.

Both the posers together. Some measurements for your reference: 
  • Length: 14.9 cm 
  • Diameter: 0.9 cm 
  • Weight: 24.6 g (Matte Black), 25.2 g (Chrome Silver)

The weight of the pen along with the knurled grip, make the rapid pros a pleasure to write with. And with the monteverde ceramic gel refills, the rapid pros deliver pro performance.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Montblanc Toffee Brown Ink Review

Montblanc Toffee Brown (Ident No: U0105188) is one of my favourite dark inks. It was added as part of the MB ink collection in 2010, when Montblanc launched eight colours (Burgundy Red, Irish Green, Lavender Purple, Midnight Blue, Mystery Black, Royal Blue, Oyster Grey & Toffee Brown) in newer bottles, from a new supplier. The bottle was also redesigned with an adorable new look and volume was increased to 60 ml. A relatively expensive ink bottle that with a heavy plastic cap, the bottle is well packaged with foam strips, in a coffee coloured cardboard box. The shoe shape involves a smaller reservoir to the front to help get a minimal level of when the ink runs low in the bottle. 

Indoor Lighting

Outdoor Sunshine


Well behaved ink without noticeable feathering on decent paper. It does feather and spread on cheap papers. 
  • Feathering: 😐 None on Muji (Good Paper only)
  • Ghosting: 😊 Not noticeable
  • Color Variation: 😍 Vibrant from deep brown to black
  • Sheen: Towards Black
  • Wetness: 😊

  • Saturation :😊 
  • Water Resistance: 😞 
  • Ease of Cleaning: 😊
  • Shading: 😊
  • Flow: 😊
  • Lubrication: 😊
  • Drying Time: 😐  40 seconds
  • Price: 😞  (Around US$ 18-24)

Digital Colour Meter




Main Supplies

  • MB 146 Fine nib
  • Muji B6 PP Cover Notebook, Dotted Paper

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sailor Jentle Sky High Ink (Old) Review

Sailor, as most of you are aware is one of the Big 3 companies in Japanese fountain pen industry. Apart from some great nibs, Sailor does manufacture some amazing inks. Probably, Sailor is the only Japanese company that has released many more variants of ink along the lines of store-speciality inks than under its own umbrella.

The ink I am reviewing is the old Sailor Jentle Sky High Ink with product code 13-1000-241. It been one of my favourite blue inks, although I do have a bottle of similarly hued and a newer Souten (13-1005-205). Sailor has also relaunched Skyhigh in international markets, which comes with product code 13-9171-241. I am yet to try the new Skyhigh.


Sailor Sky High came in a 50 ml bottle which looked like the below one. It was packaged in white cardboard box with everything, except brand and volume of ink, in Japanese 😏
                 There is a plastic funnel insert to help fill ink into your pen, which in my humble opinion is equally useless. Filling ink in a nibsize#6 pen (CC or piston) can be challenging, given the low bottom pan-like structure of the bottle, the nib/feed can hardly immerse itself in the bottle. So for me, the ink stays in a TWSBI Diamond 50 bottle.

Writing with Sky High

The ink is a well behaved with absence of any noticeable feathering on decent grade of paper including copypaper. Depending on the paper thickness there could be some ghosting, else it a pretty much 'no worry' azure blue ink.
  • Feathering: 😊 None 
  • Ghosting: 😐 A bit on Muji notebook 
  • Color Variation: 😍 Vibrant from light to dark shades
  • Sheen: Towards Violet & Red 
  • Wetness: 😊

  • Saturation :😊 
  • Water Resistance: 😞 
  • Ease of Cleaning: 😊
  • Shading: 😊
  • Flow: 😊
  • Lubrication: 😊
  • Drying Time: 😐 30 seconds+ 
  • Price: 😐  (Around $ 12 as landed price in 2014)

Digital Colour Meter


Pelikan Steel Italic Nib


Main Supplies

  • Pelikan M200 Cognac - Italic Nib 
  • Muji B6 PP Cover Notebook, Dotted Paper
Thank you for going through the review.