The Pilot Vanishing Point is also known as the Pilot Capless, and it’s a pretty funky name for a fountain pen! I don’t know what exactly to say about this pen, as it reminds me of ball point and gel pens that have the clicky function to push out and retract the nib (and you know how anti-ballpoint fountain pen people can get 🙂 ). Also, the closest encounter I ever had with Pilot Capless pens had been during the Pilot Capless Event held in Singapore a year ago, where they showcased a variety of Pilot Capless pens from 1963 to 2013. I hadn’t gotten a chance to touch and feel the pens at that time!
However, thanks to Olli M. who I met during one of the SFPL pen meets, I had the chance to “own” a Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen for a few weeks! Olli has lent me his beloved Pilot pen to test out and review, and we briefly exchanged terms and conditions where 1) Once a pen gets into my hands, it’s going to be MINE (of course I’m kidding), and 2) Olli requested that if this pen is going to be mine, I’ll have to buy him a brand new Vanishing Point in return. Okay, agreement settled! 🙂
The Pilot Vanishing Point comes in a variety of colours and designs, and this one that Olli has lent to me is the classic version. New variants also exist around the fountain pen world, such as the Fermo and Decimo. These are all Capless/Vanishing Points, but there are subtle differences among them. For instance, the Fermo makes use of a twist mechanism to retract the fountain pen nib, while the classic Vanishing Point is a push-click mechanism. The Decimo variant, however, also uses the push-click mechanism, but overall it is slimmer and lighter than the classic Vanishing Point, somewhat like a Vanishing Point Lite.
As the Vanishing Point pens are really popular among fountain pen users, you can find a good number of comparisons between the different pens online, and here are some examples reviewing a Decimo, or a Fermo, and you may be able to see some differences for yourself. Also, there are variants of the Namiki Vanishing Point pens, which are essentially very similar to the Pilot Vanishing Points, but have beautiful designs on the barrel, such as this glittery Raden piece reviewed by From the Pen Cup. Warning: you may be tempted to get your own Raden.
When using the Pilot Vanishing Point, the first characteristic that caught my eye was of course the clicking mechanism. For those of us who have been using clicky ballpoints and gel pens all our school years (like me), this may be something very welcoming, as it takes only a one-handed click to be able to write with the pen. Of course, one may argue that they can also remove the cap of a regular fountain pen just with one hand, but I suppose that would need quite a bit of practice and finger gymnastics to do well! As No Pen Intended has written before, this can be really convenient for emergency situations, or when you are really short of time. The click of the pen feels very robust as you need some firmness in your force while pressing on the knob, implying a strong spring on the interior of the pen. It would be a decent one to use in classrooms as shooting missiles but could inflict a lot of damage (both on the victim and the poor pen itself)! On Fountain Pen strictly advises against doing so.
The second thing I noticed about this fountain pen is that the nib peeks out on the same end of the pen where the clip is. It just looks totally bizzare. Actually, in regular fountain pens, the nib is hidden within the cap on the same end as the clip, but I guess we don’t think so much of that when things are being hidden out of plain sight, do we? In retractable non-fountain pens, the nibs and clips go to different ends. I was originally concerned that the clip would get into the way or writing, but when I tried writing with it, it actually doesn’t! There is minimal to no interference at all with my writing posture. I can’t guarantee the same, though, if you have a totally different way of gripping the pen while writing, but from the way I see it, it shouldn’t pose much disturbance. What’s more, the clip can act as the “triangle” like in beginner fountain pens or the Lamy Safari, an indicator for you to place your thumb and index finger at proper places while holding a pen the right way.
It was not only till later that I found an additional function of the clip being positioned where it is: if you ever forget to retract your nib after writing, and you clip your Vanishing Point onto your pocket, the nib would be pointing upwards out, instead of going to the base of the pocket and staining your clothes…
Pilot is really ingenious.
As this pen doesn’t have a cap, you may be concerned about nibs drying out. For this Pilot Vanishing Point, it is hardly a problem because, due to another of Pilot’s ingenious ideas, there is a trapdoor mechanism on the inside of the pen that opens up when you push the nib out. And fret not, the trapdoor is not opened by the pointed part of the nib (that would totally destroy the nib over time!), but the feed. Talk about precision engineering! I guess Pilot Vanishing Points just have to work this well, or it would not have been able to survive so many years and still remain so popular! When the nib is retracted, the trapdoor is closed, and that helps to minimize significantly the evaporation of the ink.
Olli’s Vanishing Point fountain pen is silver with rhodium accents, and there are the gold accents available matching other colours as well. This nib is a 14K gold plated medium nib, looks really tiny, but writes really well! I’m not sure if it’s because Olli is a fellow lefthander and has used this pen so much that the nib has been accustomed to a leftie, or if he had been really lucky. I’ve read a couple of reviews online saying that the nib is not always satisfactory, but this pen that I tried out has a buttery-smooth nib. I can write slow, or fast, and I don’t feel feedback on the paper. This can definitely be a workhorse pen, being such a nice writer. Now I’m looking at all my other fountain pens and wondering why I never seemed to have one that has a nib as awesome as this. Grr…
Some vital stats:
- Length retracted: 14.2cm
- Length when the nib is out: 13.9cm
- Diameter of barrel at widest point (approximately where the circular trims are): 1.3mm
- Weight: medium-heavy, pretty evenly distributed but strictly speaking, feels very slightly heavier where the clip is
- Converters that can be used include the CON-20 and the CON-50. I’d personally go for the CON-50 if ever possible because I don’t like the CON-20
While I have mentioned many positive pointers about the Vanishing Point, are there actually flaws or not???
Well, it is indeed an awesome pen, but while it looks pretty and shiny, the metallic trims are actually prone to brassing/tarnishing/pitting(?) over time. I’m not sure why this quality is lower than expected of this Pilot pen, but some say it may be due to sweat from the fingers when using the pen often. On this pen, I noticed that the brassing indeed tends to occur on and around the clip area, where one would normally hold the pen while writing. If this is a huge concern to you, you may want to either not go for it, or buy it and store it properly and use it minimally. But as I mentioned above, being suitable as a workhorse pen of frequent usage, I do think it’s a good reason and excuse to keep getting new Vanishing Points. 😉
I’ve made a video of the Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen, do watch it (and subscribe to OFP on Youtube!) because I’m pretty sure you’d like to see my macro lens in action, peeking into the opening of the pen and looking at the spring and trap door in action on the inside! In the video I also show some close-ups of the metal trims where some pitting and brassing have occurred due to prolonged use/old age.