I’ve honestly lost count of how many TWSBI Ecos I’ve owned. From the Golden Horse LE to the turquoise, hot pink, sunshine yellow, the funny-shaped Eco-Ts, all the way back to the full demo I bought first way back when… my house is with Ecos like NYC is with rats. No matter how many you get rid of, you’re never more than six feet away from one.
Despite this, I’ve never before published a review of the Eco. It felt a bit weird to do so, after featuring it in my various buyer’s guides for so many years. But with the arrival of this Jade edition, now is a good opportunity to set the record straight.
Let me get down just some of the things that make the Eco amazing.
First, it never dries out. I mean never. The Aral Sea dries up faster. I put this down to the o-ring at the cap join, which also means the cap never comes loose accidentally.
Second, it’s incredibly easy to maintain. The nib and feed pull straight out with no effort. TWSBI includes a wrench for the piston in the box, and an exploded diagram on the back naming all the parts. I feel empowered by this in such a joyful way.
Third, the nibs are always good. And I can say this with confidence. From the needlelike EF to the chunkiest broads and stubs, they always just write.
Fourth, it’s tough. I have cracked one… but only by banging it on the edge of a bathroom basin while flick-cleaning it.
Fifth, it holds a ton of ink. The piston fills beautifully with a nice smooth action and excellent seal. Of course with the demo barrel you can see how much ink you have left.
Sixth, it’s comfortable. The section is pretty narrow but long, and the pen itself is long and just… there.
It must be comfortable, because I never notice it.
I’ve never once felt the urge to post it, but hell, it will do that just fine too.
Seventh, it’s incredible value. A proper piston filler for like, £28? I’ve just checked and it seems to have gone up to £30. Inflation? Ha. The Eco is still the pen I use to shame manufacturers for overcharging for another boring CC filler.
Eighth, it comes in all kinds of colours, bright or sober, many of which are not money-grabbing high-priced limited editions. This is accessible fun.
Ninth, the packaging is amazing. A slim and tough plastic case with the pen safely snuggled in foam, a little bottle of silicon grease, a cheerful red wrench, a single information sheet… boom.
You could stack ten of them in the space a Visconti box takes up.
Any downsides? Well, the appearance is not to all tastes. Whatever colour cap and piston knob you get, the demonstrator is relentlessly revealingly. You can see the black feed, the black piston screw and seals, the black o-ring.
The trim is (almost) always silver, the TWSBI logo is (almost) always garish red plastic on the end of the cap. Some may feel the nib looks undersized. Others may say that, like the Lamy Safari, the Eco is kinda plasticky, kinda inelegant. The clip is preschool (or like a Montblanc M, if you will).
Type snobs will point out that there are three sizes of two fonts crammed on to the cap band.
All of those things are true, but then the Eco is what it is. I like it because it’s amazing at what it does, and it doesn’t give two shits what you think of it.
What about this new Jade version in particular ?
Well, the press photos are pretty accurate, the name is not misleading, the colour is exactly what I’d expect. It’s a pale yellowish green, with a lot of translucency. My phone camera refused to get the colour quite right.
It’s exactly the sort of colour you would expect to glow in the dark (but it doesn’t).
I think it’s very pretty, although this is one of the delicate colours where the bright red finial looks wrong. It would look so much better silver, white or clear.
Mine arrived with a lovely wet fine nib. It sucked up half a bottle of Kakimori pigment ink (which I’m not worried about staining the amazing plastic that the Eco is made of), and has given me a writing experience out of the box that few high-end brands can match.
Today I made the mistake of totting up how much my pen collection had cost me. The average price of the 18 pens in my pen tray at the moment is hovering at £600. None of them is a TWSBI Eco, which probably speaks volumes about what a moron, spendthrift and snob I am.
In many obvious ways an Eco can’t hold a candle to a beautiful urushi Nakaya or a silver Montblanc, the sublime nib of a King of Pen, the beautiful ebonite of my Santini. The Eco is not going to impress on Instagram or make you feel like a grand statesman. But it’s less than one twentieth the price of these fine writing instruments — and it writes a beautiful carefree line, right out of the box and whenever you next dig it out of a drawer, no questions asked, even after years of neglect. Make of that what you will.
I was sent the Eco Jade by Cult Pens to review. You can get yours here for £30 on the nose.