Nemosine Fission Review
The matter of “best budget fountain pen” seems to be well-settled: ask a fountain pen enthusiast to recommend a good entry-level pen for beginners and you will invariably be met with some combination of “LAMY Safari,” “TWSBI Eco,” or “Pilot Metropolitan.” Certainly, there are other challengers worth considering, but is the Nemosine Fission one of them?
Materials & Construction
The Fission is an entry-level pen offered by Nemosine. It’s a step up from their less expensive Singularity model, which uses plastic materials as opposed to the metal components found on the Fission. The metal is coated in a glossy lacquered finish offered in a variety of colors, including gunmetal, white, “Classic Blue” (a light/powder blue), and navy.
The Fission is built well and I did not find any noticeable issues with its construction. The clip is sturdy and stays in place, and the friction-fit feed and nib insert and remove cleanly. With metal pens, I often worry that the section threads will either be too sharp or fail to mesh cleanly and silently with the cap, but none of those concerns proved true here.
The Fission accepts standard international cartridges and converters, and ships with six (!) cartridges and one converter included. Nemosine includes small, plastic beads in their converters to help agitate the ink. Though I do think they help prevent ink from clinging to the top and sides of the converter, it still does happen from time to time. The Fission is not a good candidate for using as an eyedropper due to its metal construction, which may corrode when exposed to ink for prolonged periods.
Overall I find the design of the Fission understated to the point of being bland. Let’s start with the cap: its end is simple, rounded, and unadorned. It seems a little odd to me that the rounding on the end of the cap is shallower than the rounding on the end of the barrel. I would have preferred a more symmetrical design.
The clip is squared off at the corners, and has a gentle taper that starts about midway down. It’s stiff, but usable, and is engraved with the capital ‘N’ from the Nemosine logo. At the bottom of the cap is a simple, narrow cap band that matches a complementary band on the barrel.
A set of metal threads rests at the end of the barrel, meaning the cap screws on to post. At first I thought I was going to enjoy this feature of the pen, but after having some time to use it, I find it more annoying than useful. It takes 2.25 turns to post/unpost the cap to these threads, which is just enough to be annoying (but note that it only takes 1.75 turns to cap/uncap the pen). From a design perspective, I also dislike that this wide thread band doesn’t really match the narrower, more attractive bands that appear on the other parts of the pen.
In the Hand
The Fission is a dense, heavy pen. At around 46g capped/posted, it compares similarly to other pens like the Conklin Herringbone (42g), Jinhao X450 (42g), Monteverde Invincia Deluxe (46g), and Visconti Homo Sapiens (43g). The Fission feels hefty in the hand, and I suspect some could find it too heavy to use comfortably for extended writing sessions. The cap makes up 15g of the pen’s overall weight, and does make it quite back-heavy when posted, which is another reason not to post this pen.
The section of the Fission leaves something to be desired. Though I appreciate that the section is long and spacious, the fact that it’s made of polished metal means it gets slippery easily. I found myself having to readjust my grip more frequently on the Fission than I do with other pens. In fact, every now and then my grip would slip so much that the section would start to loosen and unscrew from the barrel. Finally, I did not enjoy the thin, metal ridge that appears at the nib-end of the section. It’s there to keep my fingers from slipping onto the nib, but I found it sharp and generally uncomfortable whenever my fingers bumped up against it.
Material & Design
Nemosine offers a wide variety of #6 size steel nibs on the Fission: extra fine, fine, medium, broad, and 2 stub nibs (0.6mm and 0.8mm). The stub nibs are interesting as they are narrower than the traditional 1.1mm+ stubs, a quality that is hard to find, especially in the budget range. Nemosine’s nibs have shoulders that are slightly squared-off and down-turned, giving them an attractive, angular design.
I really enjoy the design of the scrollwork on Nemosine’s nibs, which feature a series of swooping, intersecting lines and concentric arcs, as well as the Nemosine ‘N’ below the breather hole. It’s eye-catching and unique, and adds a nice touch of flair to an otherwise subdued pen.
Writing with the Fission is consistent, but feels perfunctory and uninspiring. The grind of the nib is perfectly acceptable out of the box. It offers slightly more feedback than I prefer, but not to the point of being unwelcome. The nib itself is firm, but offers some amount of line variation when really pressed.
Out of the box, the tines on the nib were aligned a bit too tightly. For this reason, the Fission wrote a bit dry at first, but passing a brass shim through the tines and adjusting them slightly helped to open up the ink flow. The feed is a simple, plastic affair but generally seems to sufficiently support ink flow, even on this broad nib. I did not experience any skips, hard starts, or other performance issues, whether before or after tuning the nib.
Price & Comparisons
As of this writing, the Nemosine Fission lists for around $30. At that price, it competes directly with other budget offerings like the LAMY Safari/Al-Star ($30/$36) and TWSBI Eco ($31.50), but is more expensive than the Pilot Metropolitan ($18.50).
Unfortunately for the Fission, I’m not sure it has what it takes to compete with those reigning budget champions. The LAMYs offer superior writing experiences and more colors and finishes; the Eco provides all the benefits of a piston-filler and demonstrator; and the Metropolitan costs materially less. Unless one has a strong preference for heavier pens, #6 nibs, or the interesting stub sizes, it’s tough to find a compelling reason to pick the Fission over those options.
Would I Buy Again?
Personally, I don’t think I would purchase this pen if I could do it all over again. If you don’t mind the shape of the section on the Al-Star, I find it to be a superior offering that justifies its negligibly higher price point. Having said that, I can anticipate that others may enjoy this pen more than I; if you prefer a heavier pen and don’t mind the metal section, the Fission may be a better option for you.
Final Thoughts & Score
Inoffensive, if bland, design; solid construction
Nibs have attractive scrollwork and perform well
Wide variety of #6 size nibs, including uncommon sizes for stubs (0.6mm & 0.8mm)
Threads make posting a chore
Heavy (46 g, capped/posted); back-weighted when posted
Metal section is slippery