Beauty and Functionality – A Thought on The Namiki Capless Raden Stripe

I am sure most readers on here will of heard the famous saying “form follows function” but what if I told you, you can have both? That’s exactly what the Namiki Capless offers you. Now I could leave the review here, but A, that would make for a bit of a cop-out and B, I feel I wouldn’t be servicing this pen justice.

Let’s start with this perspective on why I chose this pen. When I started collecting fountain pens a few years back, this pen had initially caught my eye, but the asking price was out of my comfort zone. Even when the means to afford such beauty came into my possession, other pens captured my soul. I am sure a lot of you readers can sympathise with this! So fast forward to today, some money had come into my possession through a sale of a pilot custom 912 and 1 hour after the transaction, the money had burnt through my pocket and the pen was purchased. 

So the question is, does the itch go away? Simply put? No… I feel that as humans we have an addiction towards acquisitions. With those endorphins and dopamine rushing about the brain, resistance is tough! Now for readers, I spoke a bit about how I counteracted this in my previous article here.

Raden goodness

Firstly, I want to lightly educate you on abalone shells. Why? Well partly because it’s interesting and secondly it can affect the overall cost of your pen. Abalone is a collective term for a group of molluscs and can be found in different locations around the globe, although some of the most densely populated areas can be found around Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. But most interestingly, the colourisation of the shell is mainly determined by what these creatures eat! 

I couldn’t say what Namiki uses, but one thing is for sure, the execution is flawless. Typically speaking, to achieve smoothness you need time, patience and a lot of sanding. You also must place abalone by hand… sprinkling can cause imperfections due to varying heights. As for the application of the raden stripes, I couldn’t comment on how they are manufactured. Namiki does use a variety of modern practices to help aid manufacturing. 

Irrespective of how the pen was made, this is an aesthetically pleasing pen and one in which you can lose hours of concentration;  just spinning and admiring the beauty of this iridescent finish, is enough to leave anyone with a smile.

Taking a closer look, we can see the perfect alignment of the stripes, each offering a beautiful glimpse of the skilled artisans that oversee the production of these pens. 

Of course, if this model is not to your taste Pilot has two other offerings, that being the galaxy and the water surface. Both are beautiful pens and offer unique finishes, with the water stripe being more of an extension based on the pen I am reviewing today.

Great, it looks pretty, but how does it write?

The capless range comes equipped with an 18k hooded nib which is simply put a pure joy. For me, this nib showcases what a gold nib should offer; by this, I mean it’s soft and slightly bouncy, without it being too spongy which some 18k nibs can be.

Writing with the capless can be a challenge for some, depending on how one holds their pen, the grip can easily get in the way. But, for those that deploy the classic triangular grip, you do not need to worry! I have written several pages of A4 for long periods and I have to say, I am rather pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it is for longer writing sessions. 

Of course, writing is very personal and making recommendations is always challenging. I know people that detest writing with this pen, but I think we must consider the practicality of having a fountain pen with a retractable nib and how it’s so damned convenient!

Overall Thoughts

Depending on your region, these can cost differently. In the UK these will set you back 420 to 500 pounds ish, whereas in the states they’ll set you back about 840 USD. Which doesn’t precisely translate from country to country. I wish Pilot could sort out their pricing because in Europe we can pay almost twice as much! Having questioned them on this, their feedback has been that administration fees are a big contributor to why we pay more.

I have to say overall I love this pen, is it perfect? No, but what pen is? This is an expensive proposition, especially as you can get a regular capless for under 200 pounds, so you really have to love urushi and raden to warrant spending so much.  

Then there’s the practicality element of this pen. Yes it retracts, and yes you can plop it in a shirt pocket, but that clip for some will get in the way. My suggestion would be to go try out a pen before buying. 

Lastly, the pen does dry out… and it doesn’t take too much to cause that. I guess finding a perfect seal for this form factor is too challenging and cost prohibitive, but it does somewhat take away from what is otherwise a fantastic pen.

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