Pilot Custom Urushi Review
I will try my very best to keep this written review significantly shorter than the ramblings on my video review!
If you’d like to watch the video review, please click below!
Let’s get straight to it!
The Pilot Custom Urushi is the flagship of the Pilot line up. It’s an Ebonite pen, covered in Urushi lacquer. The black parts of the pen are some form of plastic/acrylic/resin (it’s all the same), but it’s all made very well to high tolerances.
The nib is a gorgeous Pilot #30 nib….. Which means absolutely nothing, as no one else uses that sizing guide! It’s pretty much the same as a European number 8, Montblanc 149, Pelikan M1000 and Sailor King of Pen.
The feed is plastic, and it takes a Con-70 converter…..
For reference, I picked this pen up for around £730 (£600 from Pensachi plus £130 in import fees).
If you are reading this review and considering buying from Europe (currently, that would set you back £1,000), I strongly recommend importing one from Japan.
I’m going to cover off the negatives first – Get all the bad stuff out of the way!
The Plastic Elements
Would it really have hurt Pilot to make the whole pen in Urushi covered Ebonite? How much did they actually save by using plastic on the section and other parts? It’s not a deal breaker at all, but it would have made the pen a little more premium, at a price point that is already eye watering high.
For absolutely no genuine reason what so ever, I’d have liked to have seen the feed in Ebonite at the least. I know the performance doesn’t differ, and arguably some new plastic feeds are better….. But to have an Ebonite pen with an Ebonite feed makes me sleep better at night!
Let’s be clear, I’d much rather a pen arrive in the bare minimum packaging if it made the pen cheaper – I don’t want to spending an extra £50 because the box is hand crafted in the fires of Mordor.
However…. I’ve had £20 pens arrive in more premium packaging than this. A flimsy faux leather/cardboard box is very sub par for a pen of this cost.
Despite my previous comment, the “unboxing experience” is real, and it’s a poor start to a pen that is at the very top end when it comes to production pens.
Is the Urushi worth it?
This is a big one, and a question I’m not qualified to answer.
It’s my first Urushi pen in any shape or form, and I’m well aware that most Urushi pens are hand made, which give them that extra “gravitas”.
Although this is a very low volume production pen, it’s still a production pen. The Urushi element doesn’t photo very well at all, and it’s much nicer in person.
There is a depth and warmth to the colour – It almost absorbs the light, whilst a plastic pen would reflect it and make it shiny.
However…. Would I prefer the pen to be made of plastic at a fraction of the cost? Yes. Yes I would.
Will I treasure this pen as one of the few Urushi pens I’m likely to obtain in my lifetime? Yes. Without a doubt.
If you stop reading here, I’m sure you’ll leave safe in the knowledge that your wallet is safe, the pen has a few bad points, and that’s that.
If you’d like to protect your bank account – Please stop here.
For you daredevils living on the edge…… As you were…..
On to the positives!
I’m just going to get straight into it – The nib is next level.
“What does that even mean?” I hear you ask! Let me explain…..
I have been on a quest to find my perfect pen over the past few months. I’ve bought 2 Montblanc 149’s (medium and broad), 2 Visconti Home Sapiens Bronze Age (medium and broad) and 3 Pelikan M1000’s (fine, medium, medium).
A quick run down of why I no longer have them….Oh, and all of these were bought brand new, with no nibmeister work done to them.
Montblanc 149 Broad – Terrible hard starts and an effort to write with (dragged).
Montblanc 149 Medium – Very hard nib, quite dry and dragged across the page.
Visconti HS BA Medium – New 18K Bock nib – Drier than the Sahara, unimpressive nib.
Visconti HS BA Broad – New 18K Bock nib – EVEN drier than the medium with an equally unimpressive nib.
Pelikan M1000 Fine – Almost kept it, and would have it I hadn’t kept the Medium.
Pelikan M1000 Medium – Smooth writer, terribly cut nib (one tine was much bigger than the other).
Pelikan M1000 Medium – Finally….. Perfect.
What did I like about that Pelikan M1000 nib? It was soft, wet (the medium writes like a broad)
The springiness and bounce to the nib made sweeping cursive feel like a dream. I couldn’t imagine a smoother writer, and I like a really smooth nib. The kind of smoothness where you feel nothing. No feedback, just inky joy.
So why bother looking at the Custom Urushi? Honestly, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind, and when I saw Pensatchi had this elusive model back in stock, I needed to grab one.
How is this nib “next level” and better than the Pelikan?
It’s smoother – Quite how that’s possible, I don’t know. But it’s smoother, with no hard starts, and an effortless way of gliding across the page. It is so incredibly nice to write with, I worry all other pens will become redundant now.
It’s soft and bouncy, without being “mushy” – I’ve seen people describe the Pelikan as “mushy” in the past, and whilst I disagree, I can certainly see where they are coming from.
The difference with the Custom Urushi nib is that whilst it offers the bounce and springiness of the M1000, it responds much quicker when the pen is coming off the page, which makes consistency much better, and the writing experience is much more responsive.
Looks aren’t everything, but I also prefer the “traditional” look of the 2 tone Custom Urushi nib, over the thinner, boxy shaped M1000.
The “Broad” nib is also a true Western Broad. So anyone thinking it will be a Western Medium (because most people class Japanese Broad as Western Medium), will be disappointed. It’s almost identical to my Pelikan M1000 medium, which again, would be classed as a Western Broad (or even a juicy Western Broad).
The nib makes this entire pen. If Pilot made this nib on another pen, I’d buy it in a flash – Nothing compares in my experience.
Out of the box perfection
I know, I know…. That’s what a nibmeister is for. However, I like to get out of the box perfection on things I buy (pens and other bits and pieces!) I don’t feel I should need to pay extra to send off a brand new tool to get it to work correctly.
You can see from my experience above how difficult that is. 1 pen from 7 pens, all of which cost over £400, were acceptable.
Pilot is known for it’s high QC, and I can’t see a single thing wrong with this pen. The grind is excellent, the finish is excellent, it writes perfectly, and all of those factors are reasons why I’d buy Pilot again.
Subjective one here, but I like the traditional look of the pen. I know I’m never going to grow old of how it looks and my only concern was getting the Vermillion.
I was very close to buying the black, just to play it safe, but I’m happy I went with the Vermillion – It’s a colour that has to be seen and held to be appreciated.
OK, let’s look at how it matches up with some other pens.
If you’ve got this far, you probably already know what I think.
It’s a pen that is likely to be one of (if not the most) expensive pen you’ll ever buy.
For me, I care less about the body of the pen, the materials that went into it and everything else that goes along with aesthetics. 95% of my concern is with the nib and how it writes.
I honestly don’t believe there is a better nib out there for me, and note, this will not be a nib that everyone likes.
If you don’t like the Pelikan M1000, I’d hazard a guess to say you probably won’t like this one too much either.
But it is absolutely something you need to try. It really is indescribable, and I fear I may just end up going around in circles trying to describe it!
Lastly, a shout out to Pensatchi who provided excellent service and quick shipping – It saved me £300 buying it from them, and that is very welcome indeed!
If you have any questions, comments, opinions or anything else, please ping me a message on Instagram @therandomcarry
Thanks for reading!