I first sampled this ink a long time ago back in the beginning of my foray into fountain pens and ink. I was in the market for a grey ink, and I was immediately drawn to the blue-grey of the Fuyu-Syogun. I’ve gone through three samples of this ink and have enjoyed them quite a bit, but I never caved in and bought a bottle. This past Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a bottle as a gift from my girlfriend, who had no idea that I had already loved the ink. It’s a great shade of blue-grey with nice shading properties, great performance, and nice flow. Every singe one of the inks in the Iroshizuku line that I’ve tried were very well behaved and cleaned out easily. Pilot really knew what they were doing when they made the Iroshizuku line of inks. I would highly recommend checking one of them out. I think there are enough colors to make anyone happy and the ink is an absolute pleasure a write with.
Sailor Professional Gear Imperial, Noodler’s Dark Matter, and a Large Rhodia Webnotebook
So, it’s that time again. For those of you (most of you) who haven’t seen a Black Friday feature yet, this is the third installment. On the last Friday of every month I’m going to be featuring a black pen, a black ink, and a black notebook. This Black Friday just happens to the blacker than the blackest black times infinity. To top it off, I was listening to The Black Dahlia Murder while doing the feature just to add that extra element of darkness. Also, a big thank you to Karen at Exaclair for providing me with the Rhodia Webnotebook!
From the second I saw the Professional Gear Imperial Black fountain pen, I knew I had to have it. Sailor took their standard Pro Gear and completely murdered it out. They even listed the pen being completely black as one of the special features. This is my first Sailor and I have a feeling it will not be my last. The pen is a joy to look at, hold, write with, and then look at some more. I hope you enjoy the review as much as I’m enjoying this pen!
Appearance & Packaging:
The appearance of this pen is what you’re really paying a premium for. Sailor has gone above and beyond in making the Pro Gear Imperial the blackest pen out there. The 21k gold titanium ion plated nib is a beautiful black chrome color, and somehow manages to be shiny, yet still very black. It’s a perfect match to the cap band, the band above the section, and the clip. The attention to detail is top-notch. Another thing that stood out to me is the material (resin) that the pen is made from. The mattified black resin has a great tactile feel to it. It provides an added amount of grip that smooth pens simply do not have. My hands can get sweaty and slippery during long writing or note taking sessions, and the little bit of extra grip/texture goes a long way
As far as packing goes, I did not get this pen in the fancy black presentation gift box. I ordered my pen from a Japanese retailer, and I’m not sure if they swapped boxes to save on shipping, or if the Japanese market pen comes in a different box. It came in a standard Sailor presentation box with velvet-like lining, along with the cartridge and converter. I was able to overlook the fact that the gift box was not included, considering I purchased the pen for significantly cheaper direct from Japan rather than one of the retailers in the United States. The box is an added bonus, but it really has no affect on the pen’s performance.
Nib & Performance:
I opted for the Pro Gear with a fine nib, knowing it would be more like a Western extra fine. The nib is quite smooth, especially when considering how fine the line is puts down really is. It always starts up and lays down a nice, consisten line. The pen has yet to skip either. I can place it down uncapped during short writing breaks, and it starts right back up when I need it to. The nib is very smooth, although it can be a little noisy. I think the sound it makes on the paper tricks my brain into thinking it’s less smooth than it really is. To test this out, I wrote the second half of the review with headphones on, and sure enough the pen felt smoother because I wasn’t hearing it. I don’t mind the audio feedback from the nib, but I think it was worth noting. Also, this could be further emphasized or lessened with a different combination of ink and paper. I love the way the all black nib looks. The engraving and filigree are top-notch, and an absolute pleasure to look at. The shape of the nib is different from what I’m used to as well. The nib has more of a swooping taper to the point, and is folded on the shoulders. I really like the aesthetic appearance of Sailor nibs. It’s something different in my collection. The ink flow is pretty perfect for my writing style, so no complaints there.
Now, onto the filling system. Many Japanese pens are shifting towards the cartridge/converter filling system. The Pro Gear Imperial Black is no exception, and is equipped with this filling system. While many people prefer a piston-filler, I do not have a definitive preference. The cartridge/converter holds a decent amount of ink (0.9ml) and makes pen maintenance much easier. Since the nib lays down such a fine line, it does not burn through ink, even with the medium flow. The converter that the pen came with is high quality, plus, it’s hidden within the pen. The converter can be completely disassembled, which makes cleaning a breeze. I really like that Sailor designed the converter this way, as ink always finds it’s way into the unreachable crevices, therefore turning the formerly unreachable into the reachable.
I briefly mentioned before how the matte black resin feels, wel…it’s great. I think it was necessary to add a category devoted to how the pen feels in hand because that can be just as important as how the pen writes. I wrote the entire handwritten section of the review straight through, and nothing got slippery or sweaty (sorry, I know, gross). The weight of the pen is pretty much perfect for me. It’s just a touch lighter (0.5g) lighter than a Lamy 2000. I’ve been writing with this pen posted and the balance and size in my hand is pretty much ideal. I like that it has a bit more heft than my Pelikan Souveran M605, but it’s not a tank like my Montblanc 149. The diameter of the section is very comfortable. The lip at the bottom of the grip is a comfortable stop for my fingers too. The barrel gently tapers into the section, and the threads are very unobtrusive. There’s no real step from the barrel down to the section, which makes the pen super comfortable in hand. I think the Pro Gear has an ideal weight, balance, and feel. The only thing that I feel is worth noting is that the pen is a little bit on the short side (for me) when it’s not posted. Other than that, it’s pretty perfect.
All Black Everything
Good Flow & Smoothness
Superb Fit & Finish
Great Feel in Hand
It’s pricey, considering the price of a regular Pro Gear is much less money
A little bit short when un-posted
I don’t have ten of them
I really, really love this pen. It looks amazing, feels great in hand, and it’s an absolute pleasure to write with. Un-posted it’s a bit short for me, but I prefer to write with it posted anyway. It’s definitely the highlight of the matte black collection I have going. Ever since it was announced, I knew it needed to be in my collection. Now that it is, I can finally sleep at night. I highly recommend this pen to anyone who has an obsession with matte black like I do. Even if all black isn’t your thing, the base pen is a Sailor Professional Gear, which is available in many other configurations. It’s a great writing instrument, and a must-have for all matte black enthusiasts, ninjas, and Batman wannabes.
Notes: Usually I’m not the biggest fan of purple inks, but this one was actually pretty nice. It’s not my favorite color in the world, but this one is a nice shade. Personally, I don’t have much use for a purple ink but since it came in the January Ink Drop from Goulet Pens, I figured I’d load it up and try it out. I decided to put it in the Apple Green Safari because I was immediately reminded of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The mix of the purple and green were the perfect mix for Donatello’s colors. Anyway…back to the ink. As with all the Diamine inks I’ve tried and reviewed, this ink is a solid performer. It had a little bit of shading, nothing crazy. I liked the level of saturation too. When I went over the ink a few times, it didn’t really get that much darker. I think I just ended up more thoroughly filling in the blocks I had drawn. The smoothness and flow were exactly as expected from Diamine. They’re one of my favorite brands of ink due to their consistency across the line, the reasonable price, and the huge offering of colors. If you like purple inks, I would definitely recommend checking this one out.
Starting on the left, I have my Kuru Toga mechanical pencil I sourced through Jetpens. I do not use pencil often but I do need one once in a while.
Next is the TWSBI Micarta with a B nib and Waterman Absolute Brown. I got the pen in a trade on FPGeeks forum.
I use highlighters quite a bit and the Zebra H301 fits the bill. It was given to me by a coworker that also enjoys pens (and is also my Jetpens buddy).
After that is the Zebra V301 fountain pen.
Next to that is my next review pen. The Platinum Century #3776 with a C nib (double broad) and currently loaded with Diamine Asa Blue.
Finally, we come to the Pilot Custom 742 with sutab nib (factory stub). It is also loaded with Diamine Asa Blue and is my anchor point for comparison to the Platinum.
I use mainly Rhodia Dotpad (see the edjelley.com review here) paper for my reviews (#16) but I also use Doane Paper notebooks at work with a leather Renaissance Art Moleskine Pocket Cahier cover.
It’s a secret for a future review. :D
Least Favorite Combo:
Not a least favorite but I know that some nib modifications will be forthcoming. The Platinum C nib is just to broad for my hand.
Ivan, you have a nice carry here, I especially like the case. I’m sure more people carry a pencil and a highlighter, but more often than not they don’t show them off with their fountain pens. I’m glad you did! Pencils are a necessary tool, and it never hurts to keep one close by. Same goes for the highlighter. I’m really curious as to how the Platinum and the Pilot stack up against each other. They look very similar. I don’t have experience with either of those pens, so I’m looking forward to hearing how they are. I think the Pilot has the slight edge in the looks department, but only because of the engraving on the nib. Thanks for sharing!