My top 10 pens of 2012


Hello there, dear readers. Busy as I am, I have managed to squeeze time on the eve of New Year’s to scribble a final blog post of the year. And what could be more fitting than a summary of my best pens of the year!

Upon updating my pen list a few days ago, I have realised that 2/3 of my pens have been acquired this year. That is to say, my pen population had seen an increase of about 200% in 2012, as compared to 2011! That is quite an epic number considering I am a fountain pen amateur. Alright, perhaps only amateurs like me buy every pen they see, without considering too much (I want that pen, I just want it). But this is likely a good start for such a hobby, no?

I have not hit the 100s for my pen count yet, but already it is not an easy decision to only choose 10 from my entire posse. So, as the list goes on, it’s good to know that I picked these pens based on a variety of justifications: design, feel, nib, and price. The list is also made in no order of preference. I don’t want my pens to feel inferior to one another. So dear pens that haven’t been listed here, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you – I do all the same! I am an equal opportunity pen lover (or try my best to be one).


My top 10 pens of 2012

Counting down from left to right…
Mont Blanc #31; Waterman 52 1/2V; TWSBI Diamond 530; Jinhao Century; Parker Sonnet; Online Sinfonie; ZIG Scroll/Brush marker; Faber-Castell Basic Carbon Fibre; Visconti Opera Elements – Air; Sailor Clear Candy

DSC_0263Mont Blanc #31 – REVIEW

Likes: Lightweight, vintage, fact that it is a Mont Blanc (and a vintage at that!), nib needed little tuning to suit my writing angle, affordable Mont Blanc which enabled me to finally be able to own one.

Dislikes: It has actually caused me two occasions of agony when I dropped it and the ink splattered all over the floor. Red ink, too. The piston was a little stiff, so the pen often flew outta my hands when I was trying to adjust it.

DSC_0261Waterman 52 1/2V

Likes: It’s small, slim, and VINTAGE too! My second vintage pen after the Mont Blanc. It is likely categorized as a “full flex” pen, and enables me to produce very nice writing. The nib functions really well and I almost didn’t have to tune it at all to write.

Dislikes: SAC FILLER. I don’t like sac-filling mechanisms. Never seemed to be able to clean them properly after that. Also, a little too small for my hands.



DSC_0260TWSBI Diamond 530 REVIEW

Likes: Big, fat, and see-through. Piston-filler. I love piston fillers. The material is quite solid and it feels like a decent and premium pen. Price was also on the decent side, too!

Dislikes: Nothing, really. Except that the nib which was ground to a stub makes my writing angle a little more specific. But that has nothing to do with the pen as a whole.

Buy the TWSBI Diamond on Amazon US.


DSC_0259Jinhao Century

Likes: This pen is probably the epitome of “cheap, beautiful pens”. Costing me only about 10 SGD, I bought it to find out that, though imperfect in a few places that was hardly noticeable, it functions well as a whole. And the sight of it just makes you think it is too good to be true. Smooth nib that required little tuning.

Dislikes: Initial problem with ink flow, otherwise, no issue at all!

Buy the Jinhao Century on Amazon US.


DSC_0258Parker Sonnet Ciselé Sterling Silver REVIEW

Likes: Medium-heavy, but weight is evenly distributed throughout the pen. Nice gold-and-silver design, making the pen look very elegant. Gold nib, springy when I write. It was actually a “gift” from an ex-colleague, because he didn’t use fountain pens anymore!

Dislikes: It looks more manly than a pen for women. And actually, it is both expensive in looks and in actual price. So I hesitate to bring it out with me.

Buy Parket Sonnets on Amazon US or Amazon CA.


DSC_0254Online Sinfonia

Likes: Swarovski Elements-studded, this pen is made of metal but isn’t heavy. It’s also of a nice brown colour which I hardly see in a pen. I got it as a token of appreciation for organizing a fountain pen meet for the folks!

Dislikes: Fingerprints on the barrel! The barrel is glossy metal, so it invites sebum to be deposited on it… gotta keep remembering to keep it spotlessly clean!

DSC_0257ZIG Scroll & Brush marker

Likes: An affordable, 2-in-1 art pen, with two nib types that I had been looking for: a brush tip and a cleaved scroll tip. They helped me do some pretty lettering (so far more from the scroll tip than the brush), such as a Christmas greeting on my gift pack that was put up for gift exchange!

Dislikes: Impractical to buy the entire range of colours, so I do hope to find good dip brush and dip scroll nibs too!

Buy some ZIG Scroll & Brush markers on Amazon US or Amazon CA.

DSC_0255Faber-Castell Basic Carbon Fibre – REVIEW

Likes: Heavy, big pen with a solid feel to it. Broad-nibbed, it’s a smooth writer and I never tuned the nib. Great ink flow too! Plus the very fact that I bought this on my first trip to Europe (Paris)… nice!

Dislikes: Might feel a little more strained if you write for long periods of time, since the pen is top-heavy. Also, I wish it could be converted to an eyedropper; broad nibs do suck up a lot of ink quickly!

Buy Faber-Castell Basic fountain pens on Amazon US or Amazon CA.

DSC_0253Visconti Opera Elements – Air

Likes: Big, solid, heavy pen. Nice elegant brown and gold colours. It’s the most expensive pen in this list and also the most expensive pen I have ever bought in my life so far. I hope my pocket regains quickly…

Dislikes: The nib is a gold nib and it’s awesome, but has starting problems after leaving it capped for a while. Need some tuning I guess…

Buy a Visconti Opera Elements fountain pen on Amazon US.

DSC_0256Sailor Clear Candy

Likes: Lightweight, transparent, inexpensive, simple, has a fine nib that writes more like an extra-fine. It was bought in Japan by a pen friend and well, it also needed minimal tuning to get the nib right! It writes perfectly smoothly for a fine nib now.

Dislikes: The thin plastic looks cheap and brittle, thought I haven’t tested it out yet (if it’s fixed, why broke it?). Otherwise, no problems!

Buy a Sailor Clear Candy fountain pen on Amazon US or Amazon CA.


And so here concludes my Pen Year of 2012. What are your top pens of the year? Any similar ones to mine? Hope everyone enjoyed my list of tops pens that I bought this year. Looking forward to more in Pen Year of 2013!

Last but not least, I hereby wish everyone:



3 Responses

  1. Mike Grove 1 January 2013 / 10:19 PM

    Ok, just three comments;
    1) The words "I want that pen, I just want it" – I hear them all the time (and it's perfectly normal – trust me!).
    2) My favourite pen so far is my Visconti Opera Crystal Demonstrator – similar your Opera Elements Air, but see-through. It has a perfect nib, yes, perfect!
    3) Happy New Year to you and all the other pen-heads out there 🙂

  2. Shangching Huitzacua 1 January 2013 / 11:14 AM

    A nice assortment of acquisition! I bought Clear Candy as well, and was impressed by it. Granted the plastic can feel a bit thin, but it seems to be durable, since it survives in my bag so far 🙂

I would love to hear your thoughts!