Monthly Archives: September 2015

Lamy Accent fountain pen review

A little bit of history  Lamy have been making pens in Germany since 1930, when a Herr Joseph Lamy, then working for Parker Pens, no less, bought up another pen company and went into business.  Joseph, and then his son, Manfred, ran the company for 76 years.  In that time they produced one of the most respected fountain pens there is, the 2000 – its 1966 design still looking fresh and modern – as well as what is perhaps one of the most easily recognised, almost ubiquitous, fountain pens, the Safari.  This particular model isn’t so well known but a reader asked if we could look at it and, thanks to Cult Pens kindly sending us review samples, we’re glad to be able to share our thoughts on the Lamy Accent.

How it looks  Very similar to a lot of other Lamy pens, actually.  The wooden grip is pretty stylish and offsets the sleek palladium barrel.  In our collective opinion, it’s reminiscent of a 1970s hotel lobby, which is no bad thing, forty years on.

Accent pic

How it feels  Hmm… not so great for us, sadly.  The grip is high, hard and comparatively wide, which meant none of us found it very comfortable to write with.  But we found friends who really liked it, so if you hold your pen high up – perhaps for drawing with – it might suit you better.  When posted, the pen is a little long for some, but unposted it’s a good weight and length.

Lamy Accent review

How it fills  As with all Lamys in this price bracket, the Accent is a cartridge/converter affair, using Lamy’s own versions of each.  Our pens came with converters (the Z26 version) and they’re good and reliable, holding a reasonable amount of ink. (The Z26 converter will fit any of Lamy’s c/c pens but, be warned, the Z24 version used in Safaris will not fit the Accent.)

Crucially, how it writes…  The reader who asked us to review the Accent liked the MK nib, with its round-balled tip, and this has now become the shape for the standard M nib, although a side by side comparison suggests the MK is a little wider. Flow is good and it writes nicely. As with all Lamy pens in this price range (and below), nibs are easily interchanged and are very good value.

MK test

Pen! What is it good for?  It looks great but we found it rather uncomfortable for extended periods of writing – so we’d say it’s best for quick notes or sketching.

VFM  The Accent is well-made, from good quality materials, but it’s hard to justify spending this much money for a pen if you’re not going to keep using it.  Much depends upon whether that unusual grip suits your style.Accent sampleIf this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…   Lamy produce a lot of similar-looking pens without the bulging grip, the Logo being particularly good.  If wood and shiny metal is your thing, the Faber-Castell Ambition is a similar price and looks fantastic.  It’s quite possible that the version of the Lamy Accent with the rubber grip is more comfortable, too.

Our overall recommendation  Definitely try before you buy.  If you get on with the grip then it’s a good solid choice, but if you find it as uncomfortable as we did, you may not be delighted.
Lamy Accent deconstructedWhere to get hold of one
  We’re very grateful to Cult Pens for donating these pens for review – we’re all impressed customers and generally feel that you can’t go too far wrong there!  If you want to shop around then, to be honest, it’s hard to find a fountain pen shop anywhere that doesn’t stock Lamy pens.  That seems like a vote of confidence in itself.

This meta-review references:

Thanks to Cult Pens for providing the pens we reviewed, at double-quick speed too – that really helps us.  Thanks to them for providing the Deep Dark inks, too – see the details of an exciting give-away just below!

Giveaway!  Cult Pens, in conjunction with Diamine, have their very own range of “Deep Dark” inks: Deep Dark Blue, Brown, Purple, Orange, Green and Red.  They have very kindly offered up a set of all six of these inks, in 30ml bottles, for one lucky reader.  Entries have now closed, and we’ll be in touch with the lucky winner soon.  Just to make sense of the comments below, we asked entrants to tell us which Diamine ink colour was there favourite.  We had a little think about what our own favourite Diamine inks are and came up with: Imperial Purple – Scribble, Asa Blue – Ruth, Twilight – Ian (who really couldn’t make up his mind and wanted to pick Autumn Oak and China Blue too, but that’s not allowed).  As for our readers’ choices, well, they’re illuminating.

TWSBI ECO fountain pen review

A little bit of history If you’re into fountain pens even a little bit you’ll probably already know about TWSBI.  If you don’t, the name may prove a little baffling, but the internet is full of exciting tales about how it means the hall of the seventh wonder of the world written upside-down by bees, or some such.  But let’s not worry about that here.  The main thing is that it’s a very enterprising Taiwanese company who really put the time in to listen to their customers and use the input to develop their new models, and this Eco is, as the name would suggest, the most affordable yet.ECO with Marine 3

How it looks  Like a prop from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, which is to say modern but groovy, in a subtle sort of way.  There’s no attempt at cheap bling, and whether you go for black or white caps, the barrel is clear, so you get to admire the main feature; that big barrel full of ink.

ECO full length

How it feels  Picking this up is quite a pleasure.  It’s full-length and well-balanced without needing to post the cap.  The finger-guide is effective without the sharp corners of the Lamy Vista, for instance.  The Eco feels solid and well-engineered.

ECO in use

How it fills  It’s a piston-filler!  That not only means that there’s a huge amount of ink in there – enough to get you through the average working week, we reckon – but it also marks this out as a manufacturing marvel.  Leaving aside some fun-but-fragile Indian budget pens, no-one has been able to produce a proper CNC-cut piston mechanism at anything like this price before (the cheapest Pelikan or Pilot pistons will set you back at least three times as much), and the Eco earns serious credit for this achievement alone.  There’s no removable section, but it’s still possible to clean thoroughly between fills as the feed and nib are friction-fit and the piston mechanism can be removed and replaced with the special tool provided with the pen (the box also includes a handy phial of silicone grease).

Crucially, how it writes…  Well enough at the price.  TWSBI has always used German nibs, switching from Bock to JoWo a couple of years ago, and while debate rages on incessantly about which is best, either makes perfectly good steel nibs to get started with.  The nib is a little smaller than on the 530/540/580, but they had to economise somewhere, and the surface area in contact with the paper to put the ink down is just the same, of course.  There isn’t much spring in the nib, and there can be some ‘feedback’ from the paper, but it’s not scratchy.  Many people do like that feel a lot – and you’re not going to find it difficult to run out of ink while you’re at it…

ECO writing sample

Pen! What is it good for?  We think this is just right for someone just getting in to fountain pens who wants to know what the fuss made of piston-fillers is all about, and probably a good choice for students too (albeit with the caveat that this is one to clip into a pocket rather than fling around in a pencil case, if leaks are to be avoided).

VFM  Absolutely stellar; a properly-engineered large capacity piston mechanism for so little money is a very impressive achievement, and there’s nothing much about the Eco that feels cheap and tacky (with the possible exception of the rather basic clip).

ECO nib

If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost…  Then take a look at some of TWSBI’s other models, many of which use the same piston-fill mechanism with slightly classier components.  The 580, for instance, uses a larger nib, has a removable/swappable section for easy maintenance and nib variation, looks like a premium pen and yet often costs only 30-40% more than the Eco.

Our overall recommendation  If you want a brand-new functional and fun piston filler at the lowest price possible, look no further.  Should you be in possession of a fair number of fountain pens already and be curious about TWSBI as a brand, however, the 580 or even the Mini may be more compelling attractions.  But you’ll end up buying one of these because it’s just so darn tempting anyway!

ECO logo

Where to get hold of one  We all got ours from Pure Pens,  and in the UK several specialist retailers including Cult Pens and The Writing Desk also stock the full TWSBI range.  Internationally, as well as other specialist pen shops, you can also buy direct from TWSBI in Taiwan (but watch out for postage and customs charges).

This meta-review references:

Thanks to Pure Pens for providing the pens we reviewed, and for putting up a nice discount for the first week after publication.