- I love Vanishing Points (or "Capless" if you're in Australia - so less imaginative a name!);
- I love Decimos (marginally smaller Vanishing Points - with another lack-lustre name - but great pens);
- I like Falcon nibs;
- I love the gentle cushioned "thwack" of the cap when you replace it on a Prera;
- I like Kakunos and the cheeky smily faces on the nibs.
- I love the ingenuity of Pilot Parallels;
- I love the quality of Pilot nibs - never had a Pilot nib that didn't work well straight out of the box.
There is no question: the Pilot light is on; but...
there is just no spark!
Ok, I'm just going to come out with it: Pilot Pens (other than Vanishing Points, Decimos and Kakunos) are dull; and yes, this includes the iconic 823.
There is nothing wrong with their quality, their ingenuity or even their creativity; but when it comes to design, (again with the notable exception of the VPs and Decimos) to me they lean towards "functional" over imaginative: the pen that takes you from A to B, no issues; then you park it, lock it, and forget about it.
THE CUSTOM HERITAGE 91
There is nothing wrong with the Pilot Custom Heritage 91.
Box: utilitarian (but that's fine).
Pen: yeah, it IS one. It looks like one, colour is nice. But gee, its ... O.K.
APPEARANCE AND DESIGN
I've mentioned this before but let me say again that: “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing”. Oscar Wild - The Importance of Being Earnest.
The Pilot Custom Heritage 91 is sincere.
I'm pleased that the clip isn't the ball-clip present in many other Pilot pens - ball-clips always remind me of the budget Sheaffer 'No-nonsense' pens - cheap but functional, 1970s clunky -. This clip is better, a touch more class (just a touch); but I'm not too sure about the "Pilot" engraving on the clip: simple, uppercase lettering on the top of the clip that again seems to cheapen the pen and make it look a little like the sort of throw-away pen you buy from a milk-bar or paper shop.
The Orange, as I've said, is a good colour - and quite bright for Pilot main-stream. The black section and finials (top and bottom) go well with the orange; and the silver hardware tops it off nicely.
The silver cap-band is probably my favourite feature from a style perspective - and I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it is that the band offers a touch of class, or variation to the pen that helps it to look a little less pedestrian, safe, and middle of the road.
WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS
It's a light pen.
Not too light, not too heavy. A good, practical weight for writing. Functional.
The 91 is a mid-size fountain pen (comparable in size to a Sailor ProGear Slim) at a length (capped) of around 136mm; uncapped around 123mm).
It can post comfortably, and due to the lightness of the pen this doesn't upset the balance at all.
While I tend to prefer my pens girthier and heavier; the Custom Heritage 91 delivers on what it promises here.
NIB AND PERFORMANCE
Pilot knows how to produce good nibs; and this, 14k gold nib is no exception. I managed to snag a soft medium (normally only available for the black model of this pen for some reason beyond me); and it is a dream!
Again for reasons that I do not understand, Pilot tends to make nibs like the Soft Medium (SM) unavailable outside of Japan.
I have used a Pilot SM nib before: at the Pilot stand at the 2018 Sydney Pen Show. When I last used it I remarked what a fabulous nib it was. Using the SM nib in this pen I was again aghast at why this nib isn't more freely available. It's supurb.
The nib wrote beautifully out of the box. A little wet (the way I like it), a lovely bounce, perfectly smooth, with a dash of line variation.
If I leave the pen alone for a while and pick it up to write again - no issues. It writes beautifully first time, every time.
The nib is a size 5 - just one size too small for my preference - but utilitarian.
As for the feed. It's plastic (as are most feeds in this range), and it works well; but for some reason, this one was a greyish colour which, for me, made it look VERY plastic and did no favour to the aesthetic of the pen or nib. The only reason I didn't score the nib higher was its size and the look of the feed; otherwise, best feature of the pen.
Piston fillers are always my preference. This pen is a cartridge/ converter pen. Nothing wrong with it. Easy to clean. No issue changing inks. Utilitarian.
COST AND VALUE
The Custom Heritage 91 is meant to be part of Pilot's mid-range. Being mid-range however, does not make this a cheap pen. At Bookbinders Design it retails for around AU$216. Expectations at this price are greater than say for a Pilot Kakuno, Prera or Metropolitan. For AU$200 plus, this pen has to kick a few goals; and it's good - just not interesting. With so many other choices out there, it really has to appeal to you to pay this sort of money.
This blog is a personal opinion; and I know my aesthetics are not everybody's (luckily). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the Pilot Custom Heritage 91; and there is a lot that is good about it (especially the nib).
It is utilitarian. It writes well. If that is what you are looking for in a pen, then look no further.
For me however, I'm (clearly) looking for a little more.
A similar size and colour Sailor just provides the spark for me that the 91 just doesn't. I know it'll work; but I want more.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts (politely of course); especially if the Pilot Custom Heritage 91 is your sort of pen.
AND, if you REALLY like this pen, thanks to Bookbinders Design, it could be yours!
Just write a comment on this Blog story or on my instagram post for this pen by no later than Friday 14 February, (Valentines Day), and I will select a random winner of this pen. Giveaway open to international.
Overall Score: 72.5/100
0-50 = to be avoided at all costs
51-60 = if it’s cheap and you don’t really care….
61-70 = a nice pen with the makings of something better (just don’t spend too much)
71-80 = A better than average pen with just a few flaws that stop it from being really good
81-90 = A good pen, a keeper only a few minor places off being great
96-100 = Grail