Josh Ginter reviews the TWSBI Diamond 580AL fountain pen →

August 27, 2014 |

Really great review, with outstanding photography as usual:

It's been pointed out to me that fountain pens are one of the deepest, darkest rabbit holes you can venture into. Once you try a fountain pen there's no going back.

Oh, there isn’t. Trust me on that. I first tried a fountain pen during my freshman year of college, and ballpoint pens were instantly and forever ruined for me.

There’s something special about a fountain pen. It’s a writing instrument, yes, but in my mind it’s so much more. It represents craftsmanship and precision. It is extremely unforgiving to bad writing habits, and it will force you to improve your handwriting in a way that’s hard to believe. When you use one, you feel centuries of tradition cheering you on. You become a serious writer, as if by magic.

It really is mightier that the sword.

Regarding the 580AL, I must say that, even though it’s clearly a high-quality pen, it’s not for me. Fountain pens live in a space reserved for tradition in my head, a place inhabited by names like Parker, Waterman and, of course, Mont Blanc. I also find the aesthetics of the 580AL to be quite distracting, and not in a positive way.

It looks too modern.

I do like its piston filling system, but I fear it may not very practical in every day use. It forces you to always carry an ink bottle in your bag, which is not ideal.

My pen of choice may not be as flashy but to me, it’s special. When I finished college, my father gave me a wonderful Waterman Perspective fountain pen. I love it. It is seriously classy and yet, understated, with a heft that instantly makes you realize you’re holding something substantial in your hand. That is exactly what a fountain pen should feel like: an object you can bond with.

About a year after I graduated, my backpack got stolen, and with it my Waterman. Even though it wasn’t even close to being the most expensive item in the backpack, I was crushed. And you know what my father did?

Yep, he bought another one for me, just like the one I had. Because that’s what dads do.