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.





19 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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  7. Hi Anthony,

    A late reply on this post, but I am in the middle of trying to figure out which size could/would be best for a potential future highly uncertain but very desirable next Nakaya…this is a long sentence but you get the gist I hope…

    Do you have your Portable back from loan already? I would be very interested in your opinion (visualized please) on an 121 comparison – the differences in the grip, section, holding, feel, fit of the Portable with diameter 15mm versus the 17mm barrel.

    Many thanks in advance!!!


  8. Hi Arjen! I still have your wonderful email about your Hakase to reply to in my inbox — apologies for the late reply from me then, too!

    Alas the only Nakaya I still own is this 17mm. I do have some measurements from my Decapod, though:
    Decapod section ranged from 10.2-10.8mm diameter.
    The 17mm has a section that’s 11.3-13mm diameter.

    I will say that the 17mm is much more in line with modern larger pens from other manufacturers. The Decapod and other smaller Nakayas really aren’t that big in terms of section length and diameter, and that was part of the reason I sold my Decapod. The Long Cigar has a great section, but the overall length of the pen was impractical.


  9. Hmm, well, yes, the 17mm dimensions actually do come closer to some other pens I have and do like. The Namiki #20 or the Sailor KoP for example.

    But I think I will stick to the Portable. I have one that suits me very well (I will sell it though, to free up much required funds) and the “Thick Body” 17mm in the version I am looking at (Bamboo Woods) would add another substantial amount to the already ridiculous price.

    Besides, having one or two somewhat slimmer pens won’t hurt, wouldn’t it? I mean you yourself just added the Montblanc Rouge & Noir Coral to your collection and that pen is as slim as my oldest – a Sheaffer Targa from the 80s – which I still use.

    Anyway, lead-time is 8-10 months, so crunch time is not for now. And, heaven forbid, if I change my mind, my dealer will have no problem selling it on to someone else…


    • For me it is the combination of slim plus short section that’s the killer — in fact short section is my biggest comfort problem overall. 8+ months of anticipation should be fun 😊


  10. Fair enough – my Sheaffer and your Rouge & Noir do have a loooong section, so that would be different, but it does not seem to bother me that much though.

    On a side note, and thank you very much yet again, I am looking with refreshed interest at Montblanc R&N…the Tropic Brown one…I like that colour and especially in this combination with the champagne gold section and nib…let’s see how it looks/holds in real life…


  11. Dear Anthony,

    Great pictures and review!
    I need your help as I’m doubting over this for a while; whether to go for this C.17mm in Toki-tamenuri, or in Heki-tamenuri… I’m curious to see how the toki-tamenuri has aged over the years, there are not many pictures online as you said.



    • Hey Coen! Actually to my eyes the original pictures still seem to accurately reflect the colours — there are of course so many variables when taking photos that it’s hard to tell if any minor differences in before and after photos would be down to different lighting, sensor, exposure etc. To me, toki is the more beautiful finish for sure.


      • Thanks Anthony!
        I have given it some thought over the last days. I decided to go with a toki-tamenuri finish and a rose gold soft medium nib. Platinum/Nakaya nibs tend to be fairly stiff (at least the ones I’ve used) and I like the softer feel of vintage pens, so this seemed a good option.
        What ink have you been using? Do you tend to match them?


      • The soft nib is great. You’re right that the normal Nakaya nibs are nails. I have used a few green inks for contrast, but brown inks like SBRE too.


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