I have decided, on these last days of the year, to show you which fountain pen I consider to be the best I've used in 2011, or ever, for that matter. I have reviewed a fair number of fountain pens these past months but the winner is very easy to pick.
By a wide margin, I declare the TWSBI Diamond 530 (and later the 540) to be the king of my collection and the best fountain pen I have used in 2011.
The TWSBI is so good, in fact, that I have a feeling it could easily grab a "$50 or less fountain pen of the year" award if such a thing existed.
It is not hard to see why the TWSBI is such a big hit. If you haven't already, read my review, but here are some quick bullet points:
- very good build quality for a very affordable price ($40 for the 530 and $50 for the improved version, the 540)
- impressive industrial design which is both modern and timeless, comparing favorably to the Pelikan M800 both in size and weight
- very comfortable to hold thanks to the large size
- great writing quality and an easily replaceable nib unit in BB, B, M, F and EF sizes
- great modularity which makes it easy to disassemble for cleaning or repair
- great customer service which became apparent when the owner, Speedy, replaced any component that failed, without hesitation, no questions asked
In conclusion, the TWSBI Diamond 530 has really won my heart in 2011. My only fear is that I won't find another pen in the next year or two that offers such great value for my money.
But wait, there's more. If I were to pick a second favorite pen, it wouldn't be too hard. This happens to be one that I bought recently and I am referring, of course, to Noodler's Ahab. Once again, if a "$20 or less fountain pen of the year" award existed, the Ahab would win it hands down.
Compared to previous Noodler's fountain pens, the Ahab is a big improvement in quality and usability. At $20, it is also the most inexpensive modern flex pen, disregarding the original $14 flex pen to which the Ahab is such an improvement that it is worth every extra penny.
The Ahab's body is "fat" and very comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The piston plunger ink system is innovative and has a large capacity, not to mention that the pen can be easily converted to an eyedropper for even bigger capacity. The pen can be very easily taken apart which makes cleaning a cinch. The nib is not a wet noodle but it's a great intro to the art of flexing.
These are just two of the fountain pens that I have bought and used in 2011 but they are among the best that you can find on the market for $50 and $20 respectively. The future looks every brighter: both TWSBI and Noodler's are slated to introduce new models and designs in 2012. I can't wait to be a part of this future! What was your favorite fountain pen in 2011?