I've really gotten into Japanese pens over the past year. Sailor and Pilot are quite possibly my two favorite brands at the moment, and now Platinum has caught my eye. I have very little experience with Platinum's offerings--I owned a preppy or two when I was first starting out, but only recently tested their higher-end pens. Overall, I'm very impressed.
The packaging on Platinum pens is unremarkable. The pens arrive in a blue clamshell box with white satin interior. It's functional, but that's about it. What's inside the box is a different story. Platinum's flagship pen is the 3776 Century (apparently the number is a reference to the height of Mt. Fuji), and I opted for the colored demonstrators. Over the span of a month, I picked up both the "Chartres" blue demonstrator pen, as well as the "Bourgogne" red demonstrator. These are gorgeous pens: they are translucent, but only slightly so, and the color is incredibly deep and not cheap-looking at all. You can tell the pen is solidly built. For those of you not familiar with French history/geography, Bourgogne is a reference to a wine varietal/region, and Chartres blue is a reference to the unique color of the stained glass in the Chartres Cathedral.
In a perfect world, I would have purchased the blue pen with rhodium trim, but I wanted Platinum's "Ultra Extra Fine" specialty nib, which only comes in the gold. The Bourgogne pen also only comes in gold trim, which looks very nice. Again, the clip strongly resembles the hardware on Nakaya pens.
One pet peeve, however, is that these pens don't come with a converter. It irritates me to no end when pen companies do this: anytime you are spending over $50 on a pen (much less the $200+ these pens command on the U.S. market), the converter should get thrown in free of charge.
The nibs on my pens turned out to be a mixed bag. The UEF nib had some flow issues, and while I've been able to increase inkflow on my own enough to make the pen usable, it will need to be tuned at the Atlanta Pen Show. The UEF point is tiny, however, and you can write as small as you could ever possibly desire with this nib. Once it's tuned properly, I imagine that I will like it quite a bit.
On the other hand, the medium nib in my Bourgogne demonstrator was exceptional out of the box. I might say that it writes even better than the medium nib on the Nakaya I once owned. (That's not a coincidence--Nakaya uses Platinum nibs.) I have not experienced a single skip or hard start with this pen. Platinum uses a patented "slip-and-seal" internal cap that keeps the pen from drying out for up to a year of non-use. I don't plan on testing this feature anytime soon, but it's nice to know about, I guess.
This is where things get tricky. Platinum pens apparently are much cheaper in Japan than they are here in the U.S. For example, the Chartres blue demonstrator retails for approximately $228 at U.S.-based retailers, while those based in Japan (or who import directly from Japan) sell this pen at a much lower price point. While I typically try to support U.S-based retailers where I can, it's too much to expect customers to pay $150 extra on the basis of loyalty alone. I would note, however, that if you purchase from Amazon or eBay, you might get stuck addressing nib issues, etc. on your own, or experience long wait times returning the pen. For this good of a deal I'm willing to take that risk, but others may not want to deal with it.
At $75, the Platinum 3776 is an excellent value proposition and moves itself into competition for the "best first gold-nibbed pen" list (subject to the potential-lack-of-actual-customer-support qualification I mentioned). For a little more than a TWSBI Vac Mini or a 580 AL, you get a 14K nib that's pretty much the same as you would find on a Nakaya. I am withholding judgment on the UEF nib for the time being, until I get the issues sorted out, but I can strongly recommend the stock (F,M,B) Platinum nibs. The medium I have is one of the best mediums I've ever written with.
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