Nakaya’s big brother: the 17mm

It won’t be a surprise to you that I’m a Nakaya fan. I think I’ve made my feelings about Nakaya pretty clear already.

When I wrote that post I owned two Nakayas: a Decapod Writer in Heki-Tamenuri, and a Long Cigar in Kuro-Tamenuri.

I recently bought a third, and it’s a rare beast.

It’s a Portable Cigar (short, clipless), in Toki-Tamenuri (dark over a pink/beige colour), with a soft-medium nib.


OK, none of that is rare. But this is a “17mm” Nakaya, which means it’s super-sized. It’s the same length closed as a “regular” Cigar model, but the barrel is 17mm across — truly chunky.

As you can see compared to the Esterbrook Estie, this is not a small pen.


The larger barrel and cap are fun, but most importantly for me, the section is both longer and noticeably wider than on a normal Nakaya.

So, if you’re interested in a Nakaya but have always worried about them being a bit small, this is your answer. Unless you want to wait a year for a Dorsal, the only other chunky Nakayas.

I purchased my 17mm from Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery in Belgium. The service was great, and the pen arrived beautifully wrapped within a week.

The packaging inside is standard Nakaya. Paulownia wood box, fabric pen sleeve, cartridge and converter supplied.

Of my three Nakayas, this I think has the most impressive craftsmanship.

Everything from the gloss of the finish:


To the smoothness of the hand-cut, multi-start threads:


And the beautiful colour gradations of the Urushi:


I was half expecting not to like the Toki-Tamenuri colour (it’s not easy to find pictures of it online). But actually, it’s a very rich and organic finish, and I like it a lot.


The shape and design are exactly what I’d hoped. The pen isn’t excessively long (it’s shorter than the Long Cigar), but the section is perfect: long and  wide enough at about 12mm. There’s a nice curve and a step up to the nib.


The threads are far enough back that you don’t touch them in use, and they are smooth under the fingers anyway.

One of the things that surprised me about this Nakaya was the extra weight. It really has some presence in the hand, and unscrewing the section reveals why. Ebonite is a light material, but it all adds up, when it’s this thick:


So, my main reason for buying the 17mm was comfort. It nails that. It really is comfortable and sits beautifully in the hand. It doesn’t have the agility of the featherweight normal Nakayas, so consider it an alternative that complements the other designs.

On to the nib. Mine is single-colour gold, in a soft medium. It has some bounce to it, and a decent amount of tooth, but lays down a good medium line, just as I expected. I have owned six Platinums and I’ve never had a single problem with a nib. So no complaints about the writing experience.


The only problem may be aesthetic. The pen is big, but the nib is the usual Nakaya size, a #6. The 17mm may have looked more in proportion with a larger nib.

As I write this my Long Cigar is out on loan to a friend. When it arrives home I’ll take some comparison shots to add to the wonderful set by Hand Over That Pen . For now, my words will do the talking…

This is a superb pen. All the things I love about Nakaya — organic curves, incredible Urushi finish, refined writing experience — but with a bigger grip and more presence for those that find the normal Portable, Piccolo, Decapod and other standard Nakayas just that bit flimsy in the hand.

At around £900, and rarely available in stock at Nakaya’s few retailers, this is a pretty special pen. I can say that the craftsmanship is worth the premium.





10 thoughts on “Nakaya’s big brother: the 17mm

  1. Think this is my actual grail pen, including the colour choice. Looks extremely comfortable to use with the broader section. Glad to hear the soft medium is nice as that’s what my deskpen will have as a complement to the soft fine on my 3776, love the bounce but the fine is extremely fine at times.


  2. The finish looks spectacular. When I was going through the decision process on my Nakaya, Toki-tamenuri was right up there as an option. it’s such a beautiful-looking finish.

    As well as the size/shape comparisons, which are really helpful when navigating the Nakaya models, it would be really good to see some time-based comparisons to see how the colours change. I get the feeling that some of the marketing shots are of ‘aged’ pens, which makes it much harder to to anticipate what your pen will look like out of the box (or how long you’ll have to wait for your pen to match the picture!).


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