Alright, I actually bought this pen for myself for my birthday in 2012, but I’ve been keeping it under wraps for almost 2 years now! Nope, it’s not a hideous pen that is unable to see the world. In fact, it’s a pretty pen, and a good one at that! Introducing… the Pilot Custom 742 with a soft fine-medium nib!
This elegant, classic-looking pen is black with gold trims, not very much unlike the Mont Blanc classic pens, or my Platinum Music pen which I reviewed here. I remember debating with myself for a long time, whether I should get the Pilot/Namiki Falcon, or this pen. I finally decided on this pen just because it’s a little bigger (and you know I love huge and tiny pens), newer, and pretty sturdy (sturdier than the Falcon or not, I’m not sure). The Falcon nib has a nice shape, and is able to flex just like this soft fine-medium (SFM) nib, but all I wanted was a flex pen, so either way was fine for me.
The golden trim around the pen cap says “Custom 742”. 742 is a nice number, I can’t really explain why. It’s just one of those nice numbers, you know… Also, recognize a Pilot/Namiki fountain pen by the round ball on its thin clip.
I took the pen apart to clean up the ink that had gone concentrated inside the pen. Surprisingly enough, with this pen being under wraps for so long without cleaning, there was not a single bit of dried ink. The ink was just really really concentrated. I could not remember what ink I used in this pen, but it was a brilliant purple (Pelikan Violet?). In the midst of washing out the ink, I realised that the nib and feed can be pulled out of the section to facilitate cleaning – such convenience!
You can see from the picture that I unscrewed the barrel and cap, removed the nib and feed, and I’m left with the pen section which was attached to the button filling system. For those of you who have never used a button filler before, it’s a really interesting mechanism where you push the black button on top of the ink chamber, and air pressure gets released from the pen; when you release the button, the negative pressure in the pen sucks ink into the chamber. Pretty cool stuff. You just need to keep pressing the button many times to fill up the ink chamber with ink.
Putting the pen together again is easy. One of the troubles I encounter in most other pens is the alignment of the nib to the feed. You will have to be careful to align them very well in order to have the best ink flow the pen can manage. However there is no such problem with the SFM nib and feed. There is a groove on the feed itself where you can attach the nib easily, to ensure that it’s flush with the feed! Talk about Japanese precision engineering! After that, just put the nib and feed into the section, push it in snugly, fill it with ink, and then screw everything else back together again. Great convenience!
For this review, I chose an awesome colour for showcase: Caran d’Ache Saffron, a bright orange ink from their Colours of the Earth range of inks. You can see my hand pressing the button to fill the pen in the picture below…
The SFM nib is a really beautiful nib, and on it is engraved “Pilot 14K-585 <SFM>” with a number 10 on it. 14K indicates that it’s a 14K gold nib. The #10 is the nib number, which you will want to get right because of the various sizes if you are buying just the nib to put into your Pilot pen. SFM, as I explained above, stands for “soft fine-medium”. It is a soft, flexible nib, which flexes from a fine line to a medium thickness. I would call this a semi-flexible nib. Be careful not to flex it too much! I’ve had friends who had sprung their nib, in which the tines are flexed beyond their ability, and like a broken spring, does not snap back together again. This means you’ll need a nib doctor to set it right again, or buy a new nib! Ouch!
Here’s a writing sample of the awesome Saffron colour with my Pilot Customer 742 SFM:
Just look at the shading! Just look at it! Ahem… shading, when it comes to fountain pen inks, refers to the variation in colour shades when you lay down a line of the ink. You can see that when I flex the pen, there are some parts of each letter that are lighter, and some parts which are darker and more saturated. I don’t know about you, but shading is something that is really pretty, especially with vibrant inks such as this Saffron.
Also, you don’t necessarily have to write in flex-cursive style while using this Pilot Customer 742 SFM pen. Normal writing gives a very fine line – fine but very wet. I’m not sure if it’s a property of this Saffron ink or the ink flow from the SFM nib, but every line I lay onto the paper is as juicy as can be! For a left-handed writer, this may not be ideal because the wet ink may be smudged as I move my hand across the page, but us lefties have ways of overcoming that, so it’s a small issue. What’s really more important is that, this SFM nib writes excellently out of the box, with no need for additional tweaking!
Here’s a close-up of the flex ability of the nib. Note that the fine line is really fine, and the flexed line is of a reasonable thickness. And look at all that shading!
- Length of pen when capped: 14.7cm
- Length of pen uncapped: 12.8cm
- Length of pen posted: 16cm
I bought this pen from Fook Hing Trading Co. at Bras Basah, do check them out if you’re living in Singapore – they are really nice people over there (and I’m not affiliated to them). Alternatively, you can easily get this pen on Amazon as well:
I love pens from the Land of the Rising Sun. How about you? Any interesting Japanese pens to share about? Leave me some comment love on this blog post!