Sailor is one of the big 3 fountain pen makers from Japan and are well known for their store exclusive pens and inks in a stunning array of colours. Today, I’m reviewing the Imperial Black, a stealth lover’s dream.
The imperial black was released a few years back and is in the Professional Gear model of pen, which has a flat top and bottom (compared to the 1911 which is a cigar shape). The body is a matte black plastic and all of the metal finishing, including the nib, all plated in black ion plating. If you have used a Sailor Professional Gear model, you will be familiar with this style of pen, otherwise, it is a well balanced, mid sized pen which seems to strike a happy medium between size and weight suiting both larger and smaller hands.
The black ion plating, especially on the nib, has been the source of a few issues from what I’ve seen in other posts. The plating can flake off or wear away. I haven’t had issues with mine and Sailor say that you shouldn’t have problems if you use their inks, but its worth noting that it may be a problem if you like to sample many brands of inks. I’ve not used non-Sailor branded inks in mine to be on the safe side and as my collection of Sailor inks has grown it has no longer become an issue for me. If you do choose to use non Sailor branded inks and you encounter a problem, Sailor have stated that this will not be covered by their warranty.
The one really annoying thing about Sailor pens that I will mention is that they do not provide converters with their pens – even in their higher end pens that I’ve come across. This pen retails for quite a bit nowadays and it comes with 2 ink cartridges, no converter. Given the price, it would be nice if were included, o wells.
Regarding the nib – sadly I’ve had some variable experiences with Sailor nibs – the nibs on my first two Sailor pens were super smooth and just the perfect amount of wetness straight out of the box. The nib on this one is probably the most inconsistent with the rest of my Sailors – it was extremely scratchy when it arrived and wrote a fair bit wider than my other mediums. The nib is also a hair drier than my other Sailors. Its not noticeable with most of the inks I use, but apparent with Sei Boku, the ink used in this review. My cursive, swooping Y’s, J’s and G’s run dry at the bottom but I can’t see any real issue with any other part of my writing. Having said that Sailor nibs also have a very small sweet spot, so it could be that the swooping cursive is extravagant enough to move the nib out of the sweet spot to run dry. All the same, I’ve not had this happen with any of my other Sailors.
All up, despite how good looking the pen is, its been a bit of a disappointment for me. I can deal with all of the issues but the scratchiness and dry nib has meant that this pen rarely gets used out of my collection. It can be easily fixed if you’re confident to work on your pens or are able to send them to a nibmeister to have tuned, but its just that little bit more complex when you don’t have those resources available.
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