In case you hadn’t been aware, the Namiki Falcon is known as the Elabo fountain pen in Japan, while outside the Land of the Rising Sun, it is known simply as the Falcon.
Let us first have a look at the pen. It is black with gold accents, which is quite typical of a number of Pilot/Namiki pens – quite classic and elegant-looking. There is also a newer Metal Falcon which is slightly heavier in weight, and has silver coloured trims instead of gold. Read the review by Leigh Reyes on the Metal Falcon pen.
I quickly dismantled the pen to see what’s inside. The setup is simple, with a screw cap, a screw barrel, a section and a Con-50 converter inside. The cap takes 2 1/2 revolutions to come off and the threads, whether it is between cap and barrel, or barrel and section, feel smooth and soundless when they move against one another. I have come across a pen or two (not the Falcon) whose threads squeak and grind against each other. That sound is totally horrible! Soundless threads are great engineering!
The feed has a very black and smooth underside and doesn’t have any grooves.
Taking a look at the nib, you may be able to guess why the pen is called a Falcon. The shape of the nib imitates the style of a falcon’s beak, tapering to a fine sharp point at the end. The nib is claimed to be a “hooded” nib as quoted from the Namiki website, which perplexes me a little, as it looks very much exposed and not really hooded, as in the Parker 51. Anyone cares to enlighten me on this?
You can see very clearly on the engravings of the nib, that it is a 14K Namiki Soft Fine. It also comes in Soft Medium and Soft Broad if you like, unfortunately I don’t have the other two nib types to do a writing comparison for you! You can head over to the Goulet Pens Nib Nook and select the pens to have a look at how the writing compares among the various Falcon soft nibs. Pretty useful tool there!
As I’ve mentioned, Parka has also lent me a Namiki Falcon Soft Fine with a Spencerian nib modification, so let’s have a look at how they compare.
From this picture, can you identify which one is the Spencerian mod? I can’t really, as both nibs look exactly the same! The only slightest difference you can observe here is probably that the nib on the left looks a teenie weenie bit sharper than the one on the right. So yes, the left nib is the one with the Spencerian modification. To achieve a nice Spencerian style of writing, the nib has to be a little more flexible, while also be able to produce very fine lines when not flexed.
How do they write?
In case you were looking for a very flexible pen from the original Soft Fine nib, you may be a little disappointed. It take a little more pressure than I imagined to get more flex out of the soft fine nib. However, it springs back firmly when you remove the pressure on the nib. The nib itself gives quite a bit of feedback when writing, although I wouldn’t consider it very scratchy. In fact, the lack of sufficient flex was the reason why I got the Pilot Custom 742 (reviewed here) instead of the Falcon, back when I was looking for a modern flex for myself!
When I tried out the Spencerian mod nib, I was on one hand pleasantly surprised at the amount of flex it gives, plus the fineness of the hairlines it is able to achieve, while on the other hand not so pleasantly surprised with the scratchiness of the nib. Now, this is REALLY scratchy. I’m not sure I can say I love it, but this is probably what you get when you grind the nib down to this amount of fineness. You cannot really tell the fineness difference between the normal written samples, but you can surely make it out from the shading samples.
The widths of the flexes are also different. I used my digital vernier calipers to measure the width of the maximum flexed strokes: the original soft fine nib gives about 0.8mm width, while the Spencerian one gives 1.3mm width. That’s more than 50% extra flex! Granted, this number may be inaccurate and very relative to the user, but at least you can have a rough comparison from the same user – me!
Some stats of the Namiki Falcon fountain pen before I end this post:
- Length capped: 13.6cm
- Length uncapped: 12.8cm
- Length posted: 15.0cm
Have you had a Namiki Falcon before? What was your experience with it?