I knew from the moment I opened the box that the Pilot Prera was way too small for me. This is not a big pen. It’s not heavy either. It’s all plastic, and with the included Pilot Black cartridge inserted, there’s not even the extra couple of grams of a converter to help add a bit of substance.
So, for me it’s not the most comfortable pen. Posting definitely helped, but even so I knew straight away that this would be donated to the smaller-handed people in my family.
I think it’s a brilliant pen anyway, for three reasons.
It looks great, especially for a budget pen
This slate-grey colour is what attracted me to the Prera in the first place. It’s sober and mature, but stands out against my typical black pens. Despite being a cheap pen, the grey finish here is lustrous and has some depth, and the grey has an interesting stormy blue undertone.
The bright silver clip and bands provide a bit of contrast, and the end result is a pen that looks much more expensive than it is. Compare it to the Rotring Newton I reviewed recently and the level of finish — in terms of things like casting lines — is much better.
It writes flawlessly
I’ve been pretty lucky with the pens I’ve bought and reviewed over the years, but I’ve still had my fair share of hard-starting, scratchy, baby-bottomed, dry or sweet-spotted nibs that drove me crazy. Some of those indeed were Pilot nibs.
But the nib on the Prera has none of those faults, as small and simple as it looks. From the first touch to the paper it writes immediately, at any angle, even reversed. It’s smooth, wet enough, and the line width (a Pilot medium, so a western fine) is great for all kinds of writing. There’s not much in the way of personality, but I think of it as a Goldilocks nib — just right.
In case you don’t trust my judgement, here’s a second opinion. I gave the Prera to my long-suffering partner to use, and within seconds of starting writing she remarked on how nice it was. So there you go.
It’s very easy to use
This is a pen that you pop cartridges in and forget about: it’s a workhorse. It has a slip cap that is completely fuss-free; in fact it has a very positive action and won’t come apart accidentally, yet isn’t stiff. The clip is firm and snag-free. The cap posts deeply and securely. In fact, aside from the diminutive size, the Prera’s only usability issue is the step down from barrel to section, which is a little sharp and can irritate.
At about 20 quid from Japan, the Prera is inexpensive, and I think a cut above some of the other budget pens that you’re already familiar with. For instance, it feels much more expensive than the Kaweco Perkeo. And if you’re frustrated that many cheap pens (such as the Safari) often seem at least partly aimed at kids who like bright colours, the dignified colour scheme of this Prera will be a relief. It’ll be at home on an office desk and punch above its weight on Instagram.
But only if you have small hands.
For me, the Prera (and the lovely Fermo) have got my hunting for another 823.