Initially, my Atlanta Pen Show experience was tinged with disappointment because I didn’t have the chance to get this pen worked on by Mike Masuyama, who previously had tuned my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Edition to perfection. I had ordered this pen, the Sailor Pro Gear Sky Demonstrator, nearly three weeks prior to the show, but unfortunately (and due to no fault on the part of the good folks at PenChalet) the pen was backordered and didn’t reach me until after I returned. On a side note, during a conversation at the Atlanta Pen Show, I learned that Sailor actually doesn’t keep large numbers of pens in stock, but rather makes small numbers to order. So, if you order an in-demand, limited edition pen (like the Sky) or special order a hard-to-find nib, Sailor has to make an entirely new pen to fill your order. Explains a lot, and actually is kinda cool.
The delay was worth it. The Pro Gear Sky is an exceptional pen. The color is exactly what I was looking for, and Sailor once again lives up to its reputation for nibs that write impeccably out of the box. Lately, there has been a lot of focus on Nakaya in the pen blogosphere as the Japanese company that makes “the pen" for a lot of people. I must confess: Nakaya’s offerings, while nice, do not speak to me in the same way as my Sailor pens, particularly the Pro Gear series. There is something about the specific size, weight and balance of this pen, and the fact that it posts well, that fits my hand and style of writing perfectly.
Sailor’s Pro Gear Sky series is offered in three sizes: the Pro Gear Slim/Sapporo (the smallest); the Pro Gear standard (the pen featured in this review); and the Pro Gear King of Pen (the largest). All feature rhodium plated trim, including a rhodium-plated 21k nib, which nicely complements the clear blue acrylic body of the pens. The blue color is supposed to approximate the color of the summer sky. (It also matches up quite nicely with Sailor’s “sky blue” inks, such as Bung Box Sapphire, which was the first ink I used.) While this pen has been out since late 2014, it is a limited edition, so it won’t be around forever.
Like all Sailor pens, the Pro Gear Sky is sturdy and well constructed. Some clear plastic demonstrators feel, well, “plasticky”, and you often get the sense that they won’t survive a drop or hold up well over the long term. I don’t get that feeling about the Pro Gear. The acrylic feels substantial and the pen has some heft to it. There are no scratches, dings, or chips in the acrylic that are visible to my naked eye. The cap is snug and the clip fits well to my shirt pocket. Part of me wishes that Sailor offered a “Realo” piston filler model in the Sky series, but that’s a small complaint. The majority of Japanese pens feature a cartridge-converter filling system, and Sailor is no exception.
Sailor pens are known for their understated, classic designs and their high quality nibs. Every Sailor pen I have owned has written well out of the box, and this one is no exception. I opted for the fine nib (designated as Hard Fine, or H-F, on the side of the nib). As a Japanese fine nib, it approximates a Western extra-fine, so if you are looking for a pen that lays down more ink, start with the medium and go from there. My pen is not at all scratchy, however, and is relatively wet for a fine/extra-fine. I mentioned earlier that I originally intended to have this pen worked on by Mike Masuyama, and that hasn’t changed. This pen is an excellent writer out of the box, but as many of you know, Mike worked for Sailor for many years, and is especially adept at making Sailor nibs write perfectly. My Pro Gear Imperial Black wrote well out of the box, but after Mike was through with it, the pen became my favorite piece in my collection, and I consider it my “desert island” pen. This one will be no different.
Overall Experience and Takeaways
The experience of writing with a pen you really, really enjoy can’t always easily be reduced to words and accurately expressed on a blog. My Sailor pens provide enjoyment that I don’t get with other pens that I like and use regularly. I always have one inked up; and for the most part, it’s a Pro Gear.
One note on this pen: it feels ever so slightly larger than my Pro Gear Imperial Black, and I suspect that it’s due to the material being used (thick acrylic). The Imperial Black, while the same length, has an almost imperceptibly slimmer barrel than the Pro Gear Sky. To me the Imperial Black feels more comfortable, but that’s possibly due to the heavy use the pen has seen and the fact that its adjusted to my hand.
I purchased this pen from PenChalet, our sponsor, who carries a wide array of Sailor pens in stock and can special order most models. Their prices are competitive, and there is always a discount code or coupon floating around.