I’ve always liked the idea of a pocket fountain pen, but I’ve never managed to find one that I actually carry on a daily basis.
The Kaweco Liliput and Milim Pocket Pen are marvels of miniaturisation, but they’re just too narrow to use for more than a few sentences.
The Kaweco Sport is famously the king of pocket pens, but for me there’s something off about its design: although it posts into a long enough size, and the cap is chunky, the section and nib are tiny and that to me means it always feels cramped on the page.
Then there’s the fact that, to me, the Kaweco Sport is simply not small enough when capped (versus a normal pen) to actually count as a pocket pen.
And to me a pocket pen has to be utterly reliable. No worries about damage, no fear of the cap coming off in your pocket.
It’s a tough set of requirements to meet.
And all of this is why I was practically giddy to see the Schon DSGN “Pocket Six” fountain pen. At the risk of spoilers, this is simply a genius design and one that’s truly changed how I feel about pocket pens.
A pocket pen has no right to be this good.
There are five key design choices that make this pen so special.
A proper nib for a full-size writing experience
This is a pocket pen, but when you’re writing with it it’s basically the same size as a Pelikan M800.
That’s because Ian has started the pen design around a #6 Bock nib. Hence the name “Pocket Six”.
No piddly #5, no special design to suit pocket constraints. Just a normal nib. I immediately stuck an Architect RT from JC Ament on it, giving me an architect and an EF nib in one.
The full-size nib is paired with a normal (if slightly narrow) section that’s concave for grip.
Moving up, there’s a short barrel, just the size to fit a short international cartridge, and wide enough to count as a real barrel in the hand, without making it too chunky in the pocket.
And then the key to the hand feel: the cap screws on to the end of the barrel so that it’s precisely flush with the barrel and uses the full length of the cap to expand the pen. There’s no wasted length or extra girth overlapping the barrel as with the Kaweco Sport when it posts.
Although the Pocket Six is a metal pen (as a tough pocket pen should be), it’s made from aluminium (rather than heavier brass or steel) and clearly machined to be pretty thin. It weighs much less than an AA battery.
You can get a brass section for it if you like, or even the whole pen made from brass, but I got bored of the smell of brass pretty quick.
A no-compromises compact closed size
There is literally not a wasted millimeter in this design. This is the first fountain pen that I’ve actually been able to stuff into a coin pocket of my jeans. No kidding.
Capped, it’s shorter than a Space Pen. Shorter than a Kaweco Sport.
You can see that the bits essential to writing, namely the nib and section, are given tons of space, but everything else extraneous is cut to the bone. There’s no clip to get in the way or to add extra weight and complexity. The Pocket Six doesn’t feel much bigger than an AA battery.
Little touches to promote usability
With a featureless barrel and cap like this, I expected I’d be constantly grabbing the wrong end of the pen to write when I uncapped. How do you know which end is which?
But actually, the posting threads and the domed end of the cap help you orient yourself as you’re uncapping by feel alone, so you get it right 100% of the time.
Essential when grabbing the pen to quickly jot a phone number.
The machining is great, too. The surfaces are not rough, but there’s enough texture to provide some grip. Edges have been chamfered, tumbled or polished off (although the cap edge is so thin that it can still feel sharp). The cap threads and rear posting threads are precise and square-topped so they’re not as sharp as you might fear.
Safety without inconvenience
The Schon pen features an o-ring inside the cap that grips the section and stops the cap coming off in your pocket.
This is not unique, but with some other o-ring based designs, there’s a lot of friction and this can make uncapping a chore. Somehow Ian has tuned this o-ring so the drag is barely noticeable, yet the cap hasn’t loosened on me yet.
Beauty through simplicity
In case you hadn’t noticed yet, the design really is simple and functional. It’s almost featureless, just a couple of rings cut in the middle of the barrel, that dome on the cap, and the concave section. There’s no branding at all.
It risks being boring, in other words — compared to the cap coin/finial and facets and engravings and little bits of coining and steps and stuff all over the Kaweco Sport.
But then Ian goes and chucks some awesome splash anodising on it, in loads of different available colour schemes, and it suddenly looks really funky, and unique in the fountain pen world.
I love the Schon Pocket Six to bits. It manages to be a bit like the TARDIS: incredibly small from the outside, but spacious inside. It’s attractive, as simple as it can be, but also a no-nonsense writer and a showcase of high-quality machining.
At $114 for a hand-machined in the USA pen, I think it’s good value. I paid full whack for mine and I’m happy I did so. This is a keeper, and I have no other pen like it. You can get yours here.