Kudos to Opus 88 for designing a truly distinctive pen. The Koloro is available in four different colour schemes; this is the red. Each is made not just of the usual translucent plastic, but a generous helping of satin-finished ebonite in an accent shade.
I personally really like the design, even though red would not have been my first choice of colour (I’m a blue man, myself). Capped, it’s a sizeable pen with presence.
Most importantly, the design is executed to extremely high standards. The surface finish is consistent, and there are no detectable joins between the materials.
The Opus 88 logo is very neatly engraved into the cap.
The filling experience is unusual — for those of us who have never owned a high-end Japanese eyedropper, at least. The box contains a simple rubber-and-glass pipette, which you use to drip ink directly into the pen barrel, from the section end.
Then, screw the section back on and an o-ring takes care of sealing the ink safely inside the demonstrator barrel.
But what’s this? A metal rod runs down the length of the barrel. It isn’t a piston or vac rod, and has no role in filling at all. Its purpose is to operate a shutoff valve at the top of the section, which starves the feed of ink. This is nominally useful for air travel and for preventing hiccups caused by heat expansion.
The valve is operated by the ebonite knob on the end of the barrel. Unscrew to write.
Uncapping takes 3.5 turns by my count, which is borderline acceptable. Once uncapped the pen sits well in the hand, with a good swell in the barrel. The section is long and has a flair at the nib end, so threads stay well out of the way. But uncapped the pen is not as big as it originally looked. The nib is a small #5, and the section is much narrower than the size of the cap would suggest.
The writing experience has precision, but little personality. The steel nib is marked fine, and it’s definitely that. Apply some pressure and you get a little line variation as well as markedly more flow, and if this were my nib I’d try to open up the tines to make it run wetter by default. Right now, it’s rather dry. On the plus side, for such a fine and dry nib it’s really smooth. The tipping is nicely finished.
With a fine nib and enormous capacity (I reckon 3ml would be no problem), a single fill will last you absolutely ages. That and the shutoff valve mean the Koloro would make a good pen for business travel — if you don’t mind the smell of ebonite following you to your meetings. Or having to find a way to eyedropper fill from a hotel room when you inevitably leave the glass pipette at home.
For me the Opus 88 Koloro would be vastly improved by a #6 nib and I would choose a wider line to make better use of that capacity. I really like the bravery of the design and the quality execution, but I didn’t quite click with the nib.