Pilot Vanishing Point Review
Giving a gift can be a daunting proposition. If you’re unfamiliar with the recipient, you run the risk of giving something unneeded, or worse yet, unwanted. But when you get it right, unexpected delight can result, as was the case for me when I received this pen.
Though I’ve been into the fountain pen hobby for some time now, I have been reluctant to give the Pilot Vanishing Point a try. Reviews and online comments had me convinced this pen would not be comfortable in the hand, so I...wrote it off (see what I did there?). Now that I have one of my own, it's time to find out if my reluctance was justified.
Materials & Construction
The version of the Vanishing Point I received has a gunmetal gray barrel with black accents. The finish on the barrel is polished lacquered metal and feels slick to the touch, while the accents have a matte finish with subtle texture. The added texture on the accents is welcome, particularly on the clip and section where the increased tactility improves grip.
The Vanishing Point is well-constructed: tolerances are tight, the finishes on the barrel and accents have stood up to ordinary usage without any imperfections so far, and the nib extension/retraction mechanism works flawlessly every time.
The Vanishing Point is instantly recognizable. With its innovative retractable nib unit and unique profile, the Vanishing Point is striking, if a bit polarizing. Due to the atypical placement of the clip on the section of the pen, some find the writing experience is compromised. I suspected the same, which is why I was initially reluctant to give the VP a try.
Now that I’ve experienced writing with the pen, I am still of the opinion that many people will find it unusable (or at least uncomfortable) because of the placement of the clip. However, for me personally, I was surprised to find that it did not bother me as much as I feared it would. Yes, at first I did have to be more intentional about how I hold this pen, but I adjusted to it quickly, and after a few days it feels natural in hand.
An aspect of the design I didn’t particularly enjoy was the “PILOT JAPAN” logo that’s printed mid-barrel. It looks cheap and draws unnecessary attention to an otherwise handsomely understated pen. I would prefer it if this text were either etched into the pen more elegantly, or left off altogether.
In the Hand
At 30 grams, the Vanishing Point is only slightly heavier than the Metropolitan, Pilot’s widely-praised entry-level offering. Other pens similar in weight include the Faber-Castell Loom (31 g) and Pelikan M800/M805 (29 g), but those pens are in different price tiers. The VP is slightly front-weighted toward the nib end, but not uncomfortably so.
One thing I have noticed is that I do need to place my grip closer toward the nib on the VP than I usually do when using more traditionally-designed fountain pens. Initially I was trying to grip higher up on the barrel, but I found that placement didn’t give me sufficient control, and my handwriting began to suffer as a result. Once I started gripping the VP closer to the nib, I found the writing experience to be a lot more satisfying.
Material & Design
I was convinced that I was not going to enjoy the design of the VP. I was even more convinced that I was going to dislike the nib. I usually prefer larger-sized nibs (#6 and up), and the nib on the VP is one of the smallest I have ever seen.
I was wrong again.
The 18K gold fine nib on this VP is polished smooth, and is naturally diminutive to enable it to be retracted into the barrel. The tines have an angular taper to them, and overall the design of the nib fits the aesthetic of the rest of the pen.
I was pleased to find that the VP consistently puts down a nice, wet, inky line, even in the fine size nib. The tines are perfectly aligned out of the box, and feedback is practically non-existent. The nib is relatively rigid, which I prefer, even on my gold nibs. The feed keeps up well without running dry or ‘burping,’ and I experienced no skips, hard starts, or other issues during my review.
As of this writing, the Pilot Vanishing Point lists for around $150 at most popular American online retailers. Given its unique design and the quality writing experience afforded by the 18K gold nib, the pen justifies its asking price.
It’s difficult to find a direct competitor to the VP, but other pens one might consider include the LAMY 2000 (similar price) and LAMY Dialog 3 (similar features/design).
The LAMY 2000 is an interesting comparison. Like the VP, the LAMY 2000 is a good choice for short, extemporaneous writing situations, like jotting a quick note. However, I find the VP to be a better writer and the retractable nib makes it just a touch more convenient. The VP also offers an 18K gold nib as opposed to the 14K nib on the 2000. On the other hand, the 2000’s more traditional design does make it easier to carry around, especially in a pocket or bag. Like the VP, the LAMY Dialog 3 has a retractable nib, but at over $300, it’s more than twice as expensive as the VP. I've not had a chance to write with the Dialog 3, so I can't compare their performance.
Would I Buy?
Would I buy the Pilot Vanishing Point? If you had asked me before I had the opportunity to use one, I would have foolishly said “probably not.” Now that I’ve had the pleasure of writing with one for some time, I understand its appeal, and it has quickly become one of my favorite pens for shorter writing sessions. Because the design doesn’t compromise my writing experience, and because I do think the VP provides unique features at its price point and a wonderful writing experience, I would happily purchase this pen had I not received this one as a gift.