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The Pilot Capless: a stellar stealth pen

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It’s been four years since I wrote something about fountain pens, and I don’t know why, because they’re amazing. Only cricket noises were heard on Mastodon after asking which pen to buy lately. I’ll be the first to admit upper tier pens might fall in the category of snobism given the sometimes ridiculous price tags—especially since two fantastic pens I also own, the Lamy Safari and Pilot Metropolitan, are in the €20 range. You know how these things go. One starts to show an interest in these things, buys a cheap pen or two, reads up on the internet what’s even better, buys those, et cetera. Given my track record of analog note-taking, I do make heavy use of most pens daily, so there’s the excuse.

Still, I tend to avoid on overindulging and having to put up with the act of thorough cleaning rather than the writing itself. Therefore, I hope to just keep it to a few “regulars”—we’ll see how that fares. As a matter of fact, I like to categorize my pens into three groups: (1) quick note-takers, (2) long performers, and (3) drawing pens. The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 pen with a Wavery (WA) nib is my go-to for longer writing sessions, such as composing letters: it perhaps too proudly shows off the nib and has a screw cap. Fude nibs are great drawers: the more you tilt them, the more a line evolves from thick to thin.

Category 1 is, to me, the most important one. Quickly jotting down thoughts, creating little schematics of freshly devoured literature, dragging the pen across for a few speedy arrows, that sort of stuff. My Lamy 2000 with a fine nib is the go-to for this job. However much I like the pen, the sleek design, and especially the stealthiness of it (it’s safe to whip out at a meeting without others thinking you’re that guy with too much money), it comes with its own set of problems, of which the finicky writing angle is one. I seem to overly rotate my pens, causing the 2000 to stutter now and then. Especially when quickly pulling off the cap while the other hand is desperately searching for a scrap of paper to immortalize that fleeting but golden thought.

Oh, and I accidentally dropped the pen a year ago. Luckily, the friendly folks over at Lamy Germany fixed it by completely replacing the nib for free! Since then, it doesn’t quite feel the same though: the fine nib is a bit too thick for my note-taking tastes. Okay, enough excuses collected, time to press the order button. The result:

My trusty note-taking pens: the Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Capless.

After a few nail-biting delays (thank you, Panama Canal), it finally arrived: a Pilot Capless Matte Black (bottom), to fit in the stealth theme of the Lamy 2000 (top). The most remarkable aspect of this fountain pen is it’s nib: it is retractable. That is, the nib is invisible, and it has no cap. It’s a clicker. A clicker! See the thin long part on the left side? You know what to do. Click-click. As with the 2000, only a small portion of the nib is visible after clicking, meaning it’s considered Safe For Work!

Most negative reviews resolve around the awkward position of the clip, since this time, Pilot had to position it near the opening of the nib instead of onto a removable cap. Fortunately, I do not feel any discomfort during writing—I hardly notice the clip is there at all. That was my most most important concern. Others simply bent and break off the clip! What did surprise me, though, was the weight of the pen, which feels significantly heavier than any other pen I own. Not that it’s that big of a deal when note-taking.

As for the nib and the writing experience, it’s simply flawless. The super thin nib (A Japanese fine is thinner than a European one) is still buttery smooth, and it even writes great on cheap copier paper. It does not provide as much feedback as a Sailor nib would do. I like both. The thickness of the line is just right. Consider some scribblings below, of which the purple is Iroshizuku in the 2000, and the green is DeAtramentis Petrol in the Capless:

Dismantling the Capless reveals a rather thin body.

The biggest downside, so far, is the meager converter Pilot supplied with the pen. It’s the same as the Metropolitan, the CON-50, and I do wonder whether the bigger CON-70—or even the squeeze converter that eases inking up—would fit in the body. A longer writing session ended in sudden frustration when the pen started skipping, to the point that I thought it needed a refill. It doesn’t have a ink window so it’s pretty much guesswork. After resorting to another ink (again Iroshizuku), the flow was much better, and the issue was fixed.

When I read about the Capless (or Vantage Point outside of Europe), I was a bit skeptical. It looked like a gimmick—who would want to “click” (if you own this pen, it’s a verb, trust me) a delicate and arguably expensive fountain pen? Wouldn’t it feel to ballpoint-pen-ny? Actually trying it out convinced me that, yes, this was the pen I needed. The matte black design perfectly accompanies the timeless design of the Lamy 20001. Does the Capless provide a better writing experience than say the Metropolitan? Without a doubt. Is it worth the €180 price difference? I’m not sure…

When I showed the pen to a few friends, they didn’t even realize it was a fountain pen. Whether that’s an advantage or disadvantage is up to you…

Click-click. “Dear diary,” …

  1. If you’re not sure which of these two to pick, watch the Goulet Pen Battle of the Vanishing Point VS 2000! I’d say get both! ↩︎

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I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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