- A Fleeting Ripple
crystal clear: pilot custom heritage 92
A single bird squeaks outside. The gurgles and hums of the coffee machine fills the silence left in between. Behind the buildings, the sun rises to heat up the house. It’s slow, the windows are foggy and the morning is a welcome warmth after the storm last night. Strange shadows play on the walls, lengthening at first and then shortening. The sun is always, always rising. Moving. The shadows move with it, they reflect on the white walls at first, then to the shelves, then curving around green leaves. The light moulds the shadows around its objects.
The best pen, for me, is a pen that I can use day after day, a pen that I want to use day after day. My pen roll is tucked in safely in my bag, coming with me to school, to the library, to different cities. I always have a pen. Generally six-to-eight pens in fact. None of them vintage, all of them tuned to appeal to at least one aspect of my collection. “Workhorse” pens if you will. My commute time is a lot more these days, which is a welcome change, but that means my pens have to stay on the road longer as well. My writing habits are slowly changing too, a lot more handwritten notes and essays that get typed up at a later date. A sort of editing process. I never used to go through entire converters (yes, plural) in a day before. That is when the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 saved me.
It’s unreal to think that I didn’t own any Pilot pens at the beginning of the year. A Vanishing Point kickstarted my love. A well-loved one, with a slightly soft, fine nib that teetering on the edge of a medium. Then the 912, Kakuno and the wonderful 823. So many different pens with different feels. The one constant is the feel of the nib. Even in different nib widths, in different nib materials -steel or gold- you can say “this is a Pilot nib.”
Right around my birthday, I was trying to decide on my birthday pen. I wanted something beautiful, yet not in a swirly, sparkly kind of way; but in the way how a concrete skeleton of a building is beautiful. A little brutalist, a little functionalist. I wanted a pen that was a skyscraper.
And I wanted a Pilot.
The answer to all of those turned out to be a crystal clear Pilot 92 with a lovely fine nib. How things work and operate have always fascinated me, so it’s not surprising that I developed an affinity for demonstrator pens. This pen looks rather busy for a demonstrator and all that complexity is neatly housed in a clean barrel. The barrel transitions from a smoke end cap to the silver clip, then to the slightly different opaqueness of the inner cap, housed in a completely clear cap; then the shiny nib, smoke grip, clear barrel, black piston, silver rings to hold everything in place and lastly the smoke piston knob threaded into the clear threads of the body. It’s a lot. All of that is neatly tucked into an exceptionally comfortable and light pen. Clean lines, gentle slopes. It’s truly magnificent.
I respect a company that makes their pens transparent. Pilot pens always feel like well-engineered sports cars and you get to take a peek inside. A functionalist aesthetic and simple designs that perform way above its weight. You can see the whole filling mechanism -the piston in 92 and the vacuum filling system in 823- in action. Completely clear pens with different filling systems rather than a cartridge/converter shows some self-confidence in the manufacturer’s ability. It is well-deserved in this case. I filled this pen multiple times and it went extremely smoothly every single time. Perhaps the smoothest piston mechanism I owned.
I have been using this pen everyday for long reading & note taking sessions. The fine nib lends itself beautifully to this task, it is much finer than any other Japanese fine nibs I own. The nib is slightly springy, which is not as much as a soft nib, but nevertheless welcome. Some extra flair in writing is always welcome. I’d say the nib is as smooth as the medium nib on my 823, though the fineness gives it some feedback. Like it’s super smooth, the fineness only makes you feel the paper more. Perhaps a little like writing with a newly sharpened pencil and a dulled one. I enjoy this feeling a lot in smaller nibs, it gives much more control over the writing experience. It responds to the slightest movement, writing under virtually no pressure.
The 92 is currently inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-gao, which turned out to be an excellent pairing. The nib does need a slight help from a wetter ink as it is quite dry to achieve a thinner line. The blue colour is bright enough to pop-off any page, no matter the style of the grid or the line. I think I’ll keep it inked with Asa-gao for a while. I now understand why certain manufacturers make their own inks. Those inks work the best in their pens. All three of my currently inked Pilots have Iroshizuku inks. 823 with the Tsuki-yo, the Vanishing Point with the Yama-budo, and the newest 92 with Asa-gao. After trying out various inks in these pens, these seem to be the most comfortable.
Most of the time the thing that pushes me to ink up a new pen is a desire, a craving of a new writing experience, a different material, a feeling. Every now and then I come across a pen that I constantly want to keep inked. Those are the ones that fit right into my hand no matter what. The Pilot 92 is such pen. I kept this pen inked everyday since I bought it, which might not be a very long time, but it keeps me enjoying the work I’m doing and excited about writing more. It just works.
Thank you for reading this slightly late post!