– Handwritten Review –
- Description: The Nakaya Neo Standard Writer (with clip) fountain pen is one of my grail pens that I recently purchased. Hand made in Japan.
- Nib: 14k gold, Soft-Medium nib adjusted by John Mottishaw of Nibs.com
- Material: Ebonite with urushi lacquer in kuro tamenuri (black over deep red)
- Filling Mechanism: Cartridge/converter system
- Weight: ~28.8 grams filled
- Measurements: 5.92″ closed, 7.00″ posted, 5.38″ unposted, 0.59″ barrel diameter, 0.41″ section diameter
- Ink Capactiy: ~0.5ml
- Price: $550 from Nibs.com
Handwritten Review Scans:
Well, I’m finally getting around to formally reviewing the pen after having it for about two months. Did I mention that this was my number one grail pen? Well, now I have it. Finally. I sold a bunch of other pens from my collection, and I’ve been saving up for a while. $550 isn’t an easy price to swallow, but I’m glad I finally got the pen. I was fortunate enough to be able to meet up with Cary of FountainPenDay.org and check out his awesome collection of Nakayas. Initially I had wanted a Piccolo or a Naka-ai, but the Neo Standard’s size and shape won me over. The pen is perfect for my hand, and the day after seeing his collection, I placed the order via phone to Nibs.com. The pen showed up a short two days later. Enjoy the review!
Appearance & Packaging:
First, the box. The Nakaya comes in a soft Paulownia wood (thank you for the correction Mr. Calhoon!) wood box, protected by a really cool rice paper outer box. The inside of the wooden box is lined with red velvet. Held in place by a ribbon of velvet, is the pen itself, wrapped in a silk “kimono”. The presentation is simple, yet refined and definitely matches up to the price of the pen. It’s definitely different from any of the other pens I have purchased, and it’s definitely not a throwaway. I really like the presentation, so much that I keep the box out on my desk.
The pen itself is a work of art. Its simple lines and deep red/black finish has an incredible amount of depth to it. It may seem simple at first, but it’s all in the details. There are many, many layers to the urushi lacquer, and looking closely in the right lighting you can really see how the finish builds on itself. The pen appears to be black, but at the edges, the deep red finish peaks through. Both the nib and the clip are gold, which adds a nice visual contrast to the overall look of the pen.
The nibs design is very nice as well. It’s not too complex or cluttered, and the ornamental design is visually pleasing. The heart-shaped breather hole is a nice departure from the standard circle. I absolutely love the simple, streamlined design. It’s totally understated and could easily go unnoticed by the untrained eye. I think that this may be part of why I love the pen so much.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
I should always put the filling system first, but I always forget to do so. The Nakaya Neo Standard employs a cartridge/converter filling system. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I really don’t mind the C/C system at all. Many people view it as a cheaper alternative, but I don’t mind the lower ink capacity. The included converter is very high quality (as expected) and there were some Platinum brand cartridges thrown in the box, which I haven’t used. The nib is where the magic happens. I opted for a 14k gold, soft-medium nib adjusted to a flow of 8/10, with a normal writing pressure and angle. John over at Nibs.com did an amazing job with the nib.
The 14k soft nib is by no means a flex, but it adds a wonderful cushion to your writing, making it seem both pillowy and smooth. You can get a tiny bit of line variation, but it really just puts a lot of ink onto the page when you push the nib. The pen has a generous flow of ink that’s capable of producing some really nice shading. The line width of the Japanese medium is perfect for my handwriting. It’s not too narrow, yet wide enough to really show off the color and properties of an ink. The Nakaya Neo Standard is an absolute pleasure to write with. There’s a bit of audible feedback from the nib, which can trick you into thinking the nib is scratchy. I put some headphones on, and it’s buttery smooth. I really love the way the pen writes.
Feel is another category where the Nakaya blows the competition out of the water. The urushi lacquered ebonite is one of the smoothest surfaces I’ve ever touched (not kidding). It’s expertly applied, and I can honestly say I like holding the pen just as much as I do writing with it. The contour of the barrel on the Neo Standard is amazingly comfortable. I’d say it fits like a glove, but I wish I had gloves that fit my hand this well. Seriously. It’s glassy smooth, light, warms to the touch, and is very comfortable and balanced in hand.
The step from the body to cap threads to grip is gradual, and doesn’t get in the way. The grip on the Neo Standard is just about an inch long, with a slight taper. It’s very comfortable, and allows for a variety of grips to be used without discomfort. The pen feels so great in hand, it’s kind of hard to believe. Watch out Lamy 2000…
- Attention to detail
- Amazing soft, springy nib
- Urushi lacquer is glassy smooth
- Body shape is really comfortable
- Looks awesome
- High barrier to entry ($$$)
- Diminishing returns for writing performance
I parted with several other pens to get this one. Do I miss them? Absolutely not, the Nakaya has done a great job of filling the gap and then some. The Nakaya Neo Standard is functional art. It’s constructed and finished perfectly. There’s not a single flaw on the pen. It’s very, very comfortable to hold and I love the way the finish looks. The soft-medium 14k gold nib is super smooth, with only a hint of audible feedback. I feel like the Neo Standard was made specifically to fit my hand, it’s that good. The pen comes in at a hefty $550. At first, it was a bit hard to swallow, but with some careful planning and selling, I was able to purchase my grail pen. I mentioned in the CONS section that there may be some diminishing returns in terms of writing performance. Be on the lookout for an article regarding that in the near future. Seeing some Nakayas in person only made me need to have one even more. The pen is truly amazing, and it’s the crown jewel of my collection. I will 100% be adding another Nakaya to my collection.