The origins of the Pilot pen, the best “heritage” pen
Why the best heritage pen? Well, Japanese penmakers, while beloved for their precision tips and fine quality, are not known for their interesting filling mechanisms.
The newcomer Pilot Custom Heritage 92 is a minimalistic pen making a name for itself by being the exception. With a sleek, modernized look but a piston filling system, this Pilot pen is another step in Pilot’s history of combining the old and the new and stands out as best heritage pen.
We all know the Pilot pen as a household name now, but it began as the underdog in the Japanese penmaking market. Once known as Namiki Manufacturing Company, Pilot was born in 1918 to a changing landscape. Japan was beginning to globalize, and to keep up, some traditions had to change. The Japanese quickly learned that their ornate writing system and brush tools were ill-suited to the whirlwind of global commerce. They started simplifying their characters, setting down their brushes and picking up pens. Their continuous ink flow and nib durability inspired the Japanese to call fountain pens “10,000 year brushes.” Familiar names like Sailor Pen Co. and Platinum Pen Company were founded in this era.
Ryosuke Namiki and Masao Wada and the Pilot pen
At the same time, a mechanical engineer and budding pen enthusiast named Ryosuke Namiki began studying the design of both European and Japanese pens and ink. He quickly identified quality flaws and began developing his own prototypes. Combining style and function and becoming the best heritage pen.
His innovations caught the attention of his college, Masao Wada, and together they founded Namiki Manufacturing Company. In less than ten years, the company had gone global with offices throughout Asia and Europe, but it was their line of Pilot mechanical pencils that really took off. Namiki and Wada shared a deep love of the sea, and they saw the Pilot pencil as their fleet’s flagship design. Twenty years after they established their company, Namiki and Wada changed their brand name to Pilot to honor their design.
Pilot’s next leap forward was their Capless design. Now known as the Vanishing Point, the Capless released in the 1960s was the first retractable fountain pen on the market. The popular Pilot pen became a writing staple, and antique models are still one of the most popular pens on online auctions. Yes, indeed, another reason for being called best heritage pen. Despite its reputation as a working man’s fountain pen, the latest Vanishing Point iteration made its debut on the red carpet at the 2014 Golden Globes.
Pilot pen, heritage 92, the best heritage pen
The Pilot Heritage 92 stays true to the company’s tradition of functionality with style. The 92 was designed to be a contemporary and minimalistic pen that is still classic enough to look sharp in an office. It’s flat-top design sets it apart from other Pilot Heritage pens. It earns my admiration for being a rare, non-cartridge Japanese pen. The quick-fill piston system and easy-cleaning plastic body are designed for use with bottled, colored inks. The piston is simple but effective and fills smoothly. Keeping in line with the “10,000 year brush” moniker, it holds a generous 1.5 mL of ink despite its sleek design.
The pen body comes in several translucent colors, including clear, black, blue and orange. Like most Pilot fountain pens, this Pilot pen comes with a 14k gold, rhodium-plated nib. Fine, Medium and Broad are available. It is not quite as flexible as other nibs, but it has enough give to give even quickly scrawled notes and sketches some style. Overall, the Pilot Heritage 92 is an excellent pen for bottled ink enthusiasts like myself that want the precision of Japanese nibs.
You can find more information, reviews and the price of this pen, here.