Regular readers will also know that I put a Pilot 92 on my top-five pen wishlist. Well, I’m a man with no self-control, and consequently said Pilot 92 has just arrived from Japan and is sitting in front of me, inked with Diamine Imperial Purple, an ink that I know well.
The 92 is everything I expected. Basically, it’s a piston-fill version of the 91 — a flat-topped, rhodium-trimmed, gold-nibbed fountain pen that’s at the cheaper end of Pilot’s range. No radical surprises in this review, I’m afraid.
Design and appearance
Aesthetically, I think this is a beautiful pen. I like demonstrators, but sometimes I think they look cheap — clear plastic, all the parts on show, no hint of mystery.
So the smoke colour of the 92 is just what I wanted. It’s a dark-grey translucent material (even for the finials, filler knob and section — only the feed is solid), so it functions as a demonstrator, without looking too busy, or cheap.
The level of translucency is a great balance for functionality and aesthetics. You can see the ink level and the general colour (I can tell that I’m using purple, for example) but the nib, inner cap, piston mechanism etc is broadly hidden. The clip, cap and body bands and nib are silver rhodium and contrast beautifully with the smoke plastic. This is an understated and classy pen.
Size and comfort
In the hand, the 92 has a slim section with a small nib, but it’s comfortable. I was expecting a bit more weight than the 91, particularly to the back, due to the piston mechanism. But, to be honest, I can’t feel it. It behaves just the same (in other words, very well) as the 91. Checking on the kitchen scales, the 91 with converter and a little ink comes in at 19g, including cap. The 92 with a full load of ink comes in at 21g. Not much in it.
Size compares well to other modern pens. The 92 is shorter than the gargantuan TWSBI Eco, and the section feels similar to the Platinum 3776 in length and diameter.
Filling mechanism and construction
As a piston filler, the 92’s barrel holds about 1.5ml of ink, better than the typical converter. The downside is that it’ll be a bit trickier to clean. The piston mechanism is very smooth — smoother than the Eco, a more direct feel between knob and piston than my Lamy 2000, and easily on par with my Pelikan M205. No complaints with the feel. In fact, aside from feeling quite light, the overall construction seems very robust and the quality of finishing is great. Lovely polish, no gaps or rough edges. Perfect.
Nib and writing
Both 91s I’ve bought in the past needed the nib loosening up a little to write wet enough for my preference. It’s easy to do: grab the nib and pull in just the right way, enough to separate the tines a bit. I did the same with the 92 as soon as I took it out of the box; five seconds of pressure on the nib shoulders and I was done. It wrote beautifully as soon as I inked it.
I went for the Fine-Medium width, which has served me well in the 91. As you’d expect, it’s between a fine and medium, which makes it a great all-rounder: enough body to the line to show off the colour, while small enough to fit into a single narrow line — like the 4.25mm dot grid in the Nock notebook below. Like all Pilots, the nib is smooth. Other reviews have called these smaller gold nibs stiff; I’ve found a pleasing amount of bounce and some line variation, too.
Value and verdict
The 92 is a great pen, and offers me something different in my collection: a Japanese gold-nibbed pen that’s not a cartridge-converter setup. Somehow that makes it feel a bit more premium.
That translates into the price. I paid £85 for this one, shipped from J-Subculture. You can get the Pilot 91 for about £20 less. Of course, in the UK you’re looking at about £150 from places like Cult Pens, and there you don’t get the choice of the smoked body or the non-standard nib size. So I was happy to roll the dice again on the chance of a customs charge. Either way, this pen compares well for value against the competition. A Pelikan M400/M405 — another small, gold-nibbed piston filler — costs over £200 in the UK.