I’m always on the lookout for something new. That’s why I got so excited by the Karas Vertex recently — it went back to the drawing board and gave us a design different to any other pen on the market.
It’s the same reason I just plonked down £400 to import a Kasama Una from the Philippines to the UK. You may have read the superb review on Hand Over That Pen, but chances are you’ve never seen an Una in the flesh before. I certainly hadn’t.
One look at the Una and you can see it does things differently to most pens out there.
It’s a super short, super chunky clipless design, available in a dazzling array of materials. Mine is a naturally amber translucent plastic called ‘Ultem’, a polyetherimide designed for use in high-temperature environments.
As you can see, the Una is barely longer than a Lamy 2000, but wider than the gargantuan Opus 88 Demo.
The design is thick-walled and solid; the finish is textured almost like bead-blasting, with some machining marks left over, and the result feels rather like a medical device or kubaton instead of a pen.
It’s a simple design, but not without ornamentation. Two radial grooves are cut into the cap. (Note the moire patterns at the top — that’s not an effect of the camera, those are machining marks).
The Kasama palm tree logo is etched into the finial, and the edges are rounded or chamfered.
Unscrew the cap and the weirdness begins.
Like the Karas Vertex, the section extends past the cap when closed, but here it’s way past. The section is almost as long as the barrel.
The section is unique, to say the least. It features threads right on the end, like Oldwin, Franklin-Christoph or the Montblanc 1912. Then the grip section is deeply concave, before a long slope and an angled step up to the barrel’s full 17mm diameter (the cap is 18mm across). At its narrowest, the section is still 11mm across, so this is not a tiny pen.
All the threads on the Una are very large, very deep and sharply triangular. Your fingers need never touch them, and they close wonderfully. The cap comes off in just over one turn, just how I like it.
The barrel takes many more turns to open, and inside is a Schmidt converter. There’s no reason you couldn’t eyedropper the Una if you wanted to.
I personally find the Kasama really comfortable. Because the cap threads set the section far back from the page, I find the concave grip sits exactly where I want it to, and my fingers also stay well away from the step up to the barrel.
The Una is not a featherweight, but it is light, and the Ultem is both warm and grippy, so very soon the pen feels perfectly at home in the hand, with no tendency to slip. I wrote with it for two hours at a stretch this week and felt happy doing so.
It does post, but why on earth would you want to? It ruins the aesthetic and makes for a huge pen.
The actual writing experience is totally generic. Mine came with a branded fine #6 JoWo nib that wrote OK, but a pen this chunky cries out for a broad nib, so I swapped in the unit from my Opus 88 Demo. Filled with Montblanc Golden Yellow, it’s quite the ray of sunshine.
It pleases me that I may have the only Una in the UK, and that I’ve brought a bit of Philippines tropical climate to England. Kasama is just two guys working part time, and they sell in small batches at local pen meets. I ordered from them through Facebook Messenger, paid by PayPal, and the hand-addressed box arrived by DHL in just a few days. It was a good experience, a personal experience, and I feel happy that I’ve supported a small business with a unique idea.
Is that Kasama Una a good deal? Here in the UK where you have to pay £50+ for customs and £50+ for courier charge just to get the thing here, it’s quite dramatically overpriced. It works out nearly four times the price of the Opus 88 Demo, which is a similarly chunky JoWo-nibbed Asian pen. It’s twice the price of a Franklin-Christoph, and not far off the price of a Conid Regular, with all the engineering that goes into its filling mechanism. But really, the decision comes down to how much the unique design of the Una appeals to you, and indeed how much the idea of uniqueness appeals to you. I know I didn’t regret this purchase one bit.