|WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW|
|Nib Material||14k gold|
|Nib Sizes||XXF-BB, 1.15mm Music|
|Filling System||Platinum cartridge/converter, International adapter available|
Section Ø: 10.5-12.6mm
Barrel Ø: 15.1mm
|Notes||Available with or w/o clip, and in multiple finishes.|
I’ve had more fun using the Nakaya Piccolo Writer than I’ve had with any fountain pen in a long time. The combination of quality craftsmanship, gorgeous heki-tamenuri finish, and a hand-ground cursive italic nib by yours truly makes for a fountain pen that has caused me to forget about everything else in my collection.
Let me start by saying that I, unfortunately, do not own this pen. It was sent to me by Lisa Miyako (her Daily Carry is the definition of ‘eye-candy’) to have the nib worked over to something of a fine cursive italic. She was gracious enough to allow me to hold onto it for a few weeks to review it, and for that, I thank her. Although, the more I think about it, maybe I should be cursing her for the post-pen depression I’m sure I’ll fall into once I send it back.
As with all Nakaya fountain pens, the Piccolo starts from a solid rod of hard rubber (ebonite), turned down to that familiar shape we all know and love, then many layers of urushi (Japanese lacquer) are applied. When I asked John Mottishaw at Nibs.com about the process, this is what he had to say:
I watched as the Piccolo was hand turned on a lathe in the factory outside of Tokyo by Kohsuke Matsubara. But as I understand, He now does the work at home, only coming out to demonstrate to show visitors. He has amazing hands and is surprisingly quick, cutting the overall shape as well as cutting the threads! I was surprised as he fit a cap to a barrel using only a hand guided thread cutting tool, resting on a post.
The entire process from beginning to end takes about 3 months to complete. I think that makes the asking price of $550 a lot easier to accept, especially when compared to pens from Italy or the UK that are turned out on a CNC lathe where the most manual process is blindly throwing a dart to pick the arbitrary number for their limited edition run.
It’s quite evident the high level of quality craftsmanship that went into the Piccolo. The finish has been polished to perfection and provides the kind of depth that can only be achieved by using multiple layers of lacquer. If we take a close look at the gap under the clip, or the lack of one, it’s clear that Nakaya pays more attention to the details than other companies. Most manufacturers just cut a giant notch out of the cap that’s much larger than the thickness of the clip and it leaves an unsightly gap under the bend of the clip. On the Nakaya, the notch has such tight tolerances it looks like the clip has magically sprouted from the cap. There’s really nothing I can complain about regarding build quality as you’re definitely getting what you pay for.
Normally, here’s where I’d mention how the best part of the pen is the nib, but with the Nakaya, the heki-tamenuri finish does an excellent job competing for that title. The green and brown urushi offer excellent contrast, yet complement each other exceptionally well. This is probably most well shown when uncapping the pen and revealing the section, where more of the green can be seen. If the heki-tamenuri doesn’t do it for you, there are many other options to choose from.
However, the nib is quite stunning, as well, mostly due to the fact that I customized it. I hate to toot my own horn here, but having a nib customized to suit your writing style just makes the whole experience so much better. I apologize for not being able to comment on the stock nib performance. If you’re buying this pen new in the US, it most likely means you’re buying it from John Mottishaw at Nibs.com (they’re the exclusive US distributor for Nakaya), so you can be assured it’s going to write perfectly when you get it.
The 14k gold nibs are excellent writers. They’re not rigid, but not flexible, either. They provide just enough ‘give’ to provide a soft, smooth writing experience. All Nakaya nibs come standard in yellow gold and are available in three different finishes, rose gold, rhodium, and ruthenium, for an additional $50. Seven different nib sizes are available from XXF to BB and a 1.15mm Music nib. On the nib you’ll notice the imprint says “NAKATA” instead of Nakaya. Nakata is the family name of the founder of Nakaya, who is the grandson of the founder of Platinum Pens.
Just looking at the Piccolo, I would have thought it much too small to use when not posted. It turns out it’s rather very comfortable and I was easily able to embark on 15 minute writing sessions without any discomfort. Posting the cap (don’t worry, I asked permission to do so!) results in a longer pen, obviously, and one that does a better job of filling your purlicue, but didn’t actually make the pen any more or less comfortable. Also, while the cap didn’t move while posted during writing, it didn’t feel all the secure either, which makes sense as the Piccolo was not intended to be posted. If you need a longer pen, then take a look at the Portable and Long models.
The Piccolo comes in two versions: Cigar (w/o clip) and Writer (with clip). I find the Cigar to be more aesthetically pleasing but it’s hard to ignore the functionality of the Writer and how useful the clip is. Of course, if this pen would never leave its case, then, by all means, go with the Cigar model.
The Nakaya Piccolo is truly an amazing pen. There’s no doubt that my next big purchase (over $500) will be a Nakaya. In a market where brand image and “limited editions” seems to be the driving force behind prices, it’s refreshing to know that the Piccolo costs as much as it does because of the manual labor involved and the resulting quality craftsmanship. If there was ever a fountain pen that was ‘worth it’, it’d be a Nakaya.
This pen was provided for review by Lisa Miyako.