The Curmudgeoclast

Thoughts, projects, and ramblings of Dave Astels

Sat 30 March 2019

Review: TWSBI Diamond 580ALR Nickel Gray

Posted by dastels in pens   

How I Learned to Relax and Love the Demonstrator

I'm not really a fan of demonstrator pens. Seeing the guts is interesting sure, but if you've seen one convertor you've pretty much seen them all. I have a Monteverde Monza so I'm good with demonstrators.

Or so I thought.

With all the hype and talk on Goulet Pens about TWSBI, and the loyal fan-base of the ECO in particular, I decided to give it a try and added a clear ECO to my cart. Then I did a bit more research and happened upon the 580s, specificly the Diamond 580ALR Nickel Gray. It had the same piston filler as the ECO (no converter as the body of the pen is the ink chamber) but the mechanical bits were matte finished aluminum instead of plastic. The trim and grip were also aluminum. It sounded like a solid pen, and looked amazing.

So out with the ECO and in with the 580.

Initial Impressions

When it arrived I hungrily opened the plan, yet well made box and the very nice actual packaging. Tucked away were the silicon grease and wrench. I appreciate that the pen (and other TWSBIs) are made to be torn down, maintained, and rebuilt. So obviously I grabbed the wrench and carefully broke it down into its,pieces. Machining and molding is high quality, simple, and elegant. Curiosity satisfied, I reassembled it and gave thought to what I might ink it with.

There were a few samples in the order that I was looking forward to trying. Chief among them was Zhivago from Noodler's. It's not what I would call a pretty colour: sort of a muddy, greasy, dark green. None the less, I find that it's very compelling, not quite black. It reminds me a verdent swamp. Again, that doesn't sound compelling. But I like it and, apparently, so do many others. So my ink choice was made. I stuck the nib into the sample vial and started twisting the piston knob. By the time the piston was fully retracted the vial was empty. I was shocked. That's right. The entire 2ml sample fit inside the pen. Checking the tech specs on the pen confirmed that the ink chamber was, in fact, 2ml. Amazing, when you consider that a standard converter holds a mere 0.86 ml. The 580 holds well over twice as much ink as that.

Since then I've switched it to Monteverde Capri Blue which look much nicer in the ink chamber.

The Pen

What about the pen actually being a pen and not just an ink holder?

It's a fairly sizable pen, huge compared to a Kaweco Sport, and just a touch longer than a Jonhao x750 (both capped) and just a touch thinner and lighter. The weight is misleading, seeming to be more more that it actually is. I think that's partially an effect of the pen being clear; the mind may expect it to be lighter.

Appearance-wise, this is a beautiful pen. The clear body shows off the matte aluminum workings, and along with the matching aliminum trim this makes for a stunning look. The red RWSBI logo in the cap finial give a splash of colour that pops delightfully. One slight distraction is the use of polished steel for the ring at the end of the grip and the clip. I'm assuming that it's used in the clip for spring, and maybe for strength on the grip. In any event, it's a minimal digression from the overall look.

While technically postable, I found the result a touch back-heavy and long for comfort. Unposted, it's a joy and I could write for hours with it. If you have really large hands, having the option to post will be of interest. However, you'd need to be careful not to twist the cap since it posts on the piston knob.

A nice detail is the "cap within the cap" that seals over the nib.

Overall, this pen was clearly made to show off the materials and production values of the pen mechanisms. It accomplishes this well.

But How Does It Write?

Incredibly well. The nib skates across the page. I got mine with a fine nib and with Zhivago it laid down a clean think line of ink, no skips, and no dry starts. The Capri Blue seems to be a wetter ink and the line is a little wider, but still very clean and crisp.

I expect this to be a standard part of my every day carry. I like it so well, in fact, that I'm considering picking up the Emerald version to load up with Diamine's Aurora Borealis.