Of all the major pen brands, Visconti might be the one with which I have the least amount of experience. I own one Visconti pen - the Homo Sapiens Dark Ages - but very few of their offerings have spoken to me to the point where I would be willing to pay the premium prices that most Visconti pens command. Sure, there are a few special and limited editions that have made my "someday" short list (i.e., something with the Wall Street celluloid), but what's kept me from diving into Visconti in the same way that I have with other brands is Visconti's reputation for having QC issues with their nibs. Given that Visconti's signature 23kt palladium "Dreamtouch" nibs are somewhat high-maintenance, I wanted to see how the company did with something more basic. Appelboom was kind enough to loan me a steel-nibbed Visconti Rembrandt "Back to Black" for review.
Design and Build
The Visconti Rembrandt features a classic streamlined profile with very few adornments or flourishes, other than the finial and the engraved cap band. The most notable feature of the Rembrandt is the magnetic closure, which reminds me a bit of the cap on the Steel & Flint pocket pen in that it makes a slight "pop" when you cap/uncap it (though not as audible). The Rembrandt also features Visconti's signature spring-loaded "bridge" clip, modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, which appears on most other Visconti pens. People either love this clip or hate it - some think it looks ostentatious, but I find it to be one of the more understated elements of Visconti design, which can be ornate and a bit over the top. The clip doubles as an excellent roll-stopper.
Visconti clearly intended the Rembrandt to serve as a "workhorse" pen. It's nicely balanced and a comfortable writer that I was fine using either posted or unposted. Some might find the metal section slippery, though generally ruthenium plating tends to add some "grippiness." Also, note that there are NO THREADS on this pen due to the magnetic closure, allowing for maximum versatility in how you grip the pen (low, high, etc.). I don't generally have a problem with section threads hurting my fingers unless they're exceptionally sharp, but if this is something that regularly poses an issue for your, the Rembrandt may be worth checking out.
The Rembrandt features Visconti's "My Pen" system, which you can use to swap out the finial on the cap for a personalized initial, zodiac sign (yes, I'm not kidding), or birthstone.
Nib and Writing Experience
As much as I wanted to love this pen, things fell apart with the nib, which was dry and "squeaky," for lack of a better term. The pen wasn't necessarily scratchy, but I could definitely feel and hear a LOT of feedback from the nib. I suspect this is probably due to the coating applied to the steel nib to give it the "blacked out" look. I've experienced variations of the same thing with other coated or plated steel nibs, but not this severe.
If you're considering this pen (or really any Visconti, for that matter), I'd add $40-60 to the cost to cover your nib work. You may luck out and get one that writes perfectly out of the box, but you're just as likely (if not more likely) to get a dry writer, hard starter, or skippy pen. To illustrate how all over the place Visconti's nib QC can be, check out Matthew's review of a different, unplated Rembrandt nib over at Nib & Ink, where he had a completely different (positive) experience.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
While I appreciated the look, feel, and balance of the Visconti Rembrandt "Back to Black," the coated steel nib didn't do it for me, though at Appelboom's attractive pricing you may still have room in your budget for a nib tuning. If I were going to purchase this pen, I'd personally consider paying extra to upgrade to the 23kt Palladium "Dreamtouch" nib. While those have their own issues, and typically need some minor adjustments, they are capable of being outstanding writers with a lot of character.
Appelboom is currently offering the Visconti Rembrandt Back to Black edition for $129 US (excluding VAT). The "Dreamtouch" upgrade to the 23kt palladium nib costs an extra $140.
Disclaimer: This pen was loaned to me for review purposes by Appelboom. I was not otherwise compensated for this review, and all views expressed here are my own.