When the iPad Air came out, I had grand ambitions of finally making my life completely digital. I was going to use my 53 Pencil for all of my sketches and begin using Evernote to its fullest. This never really happened though. There's something very human and natural about sketching and writing on actual paper. Pen and paper flows in the same way my brain does, and it's still hard to say that about the apps we have today.
The Lamy and Pilot ink have been sent by JetPens but this has had no effect on the review.
JetPens has been a good friend of the blog for a while. They're one of the best places to buy and learn about pens and other stationary. If you're new to fountain pens, they're a good place to start. When they asked me if there's anything I wanted to review, I replied: "I’m open to reviewing what you guys think would fit my site the best - Lamy is a favorite of mine though."
They ended up sending me these two products (along with some paper). First is the CP1 by Lamy, a simple everyday fountain pen. It MSRPs for $70 but I've seen them go up to $100+. JetPens sells them for just $58, one of the lowest prices I've seen. Second is an ink by Pilot called Iroshizuku. They sent me the shin-kai (Deep Sea) color and has them for $28.
First off, we have the Lamy. The box feels expensive with an overly dramatic metallic plate.
The contents. Some documentation, the pen, a Z36 converter and a T10 ink cartridge in blue.
The moment you hold the pen, you're immediately struck by the significant density of the pen. The heft and solidity is really a surprise as the small diameter and muted design makes it look unassuming. The pen is lacquered in a matte black finish. Though better than black anodized aluminum, it does concern me that the finish is so similar in appearance to plastic. Yes, it feels different to the touch but I wish it could've achieved a bit more visual interest.
JetPens knows my appreciation for simple, well executed products so it's no surprise that the CP1 is exactly that. The pen is a perfect example of being premium while maintaining a quiet and modest expression. Microsoft stocks uni-ball Onyx at our office and I actually mistook the two on a few occasions when reaching into my bag.
The most visually flashy element of the pen is the solid stainless steel clip. It's has a very bold, architectural appearance that works well with the stark, black body. The pen is pretty much completely devoid of branding except for the tiny engraving you see here on the clip. Thumbs up.
Instead of having an uncivilized clip that relies on the material's flex, Lamy has engineered a spring loaded mechanism. Very German of them.
If you're anal like me, you'll be bothered that the bottom surface of the clip has a very slight step towards the top of the clip. I can't figure out its functional purpose which makes me even more bothered. To the left of the step, there's a light deboss showing that the pen was made in Germany.
There seems to be some confusion on what the CP1 is actually made from. JetPens' website says it's titanium but I've found websites saying it's aluminum and even steel. Lamy doesn't provide an answer but I'm almost certain that it's made from brass. The barrel and cap don't react to magnets and looking into them with a flashlight reveals a typical brass color.
The cap is fuss free and simply pulls off from the pen. I'm not a fan of crazy mechanisms on fountain pens as they can dry out easily. The CP1 is simple, creates a tight seal, and I'm happy.
One of my favorite things about the pen is how the cap fits perfectly on the back of the pen without ruining its silhouette. The male part of the pen entering the cap is made of plastic as a lacquered finish could scratch or chip more easily.
Lamy is nice enough to include two ink cartridges, the first being the T10 in blue. It's Lamy's standard cartridge for fountain pens. I personally find it to run a bit thin at times.
The cartridge you really want to be using is the Z36 Converter. If you didn't know, a converter is an ink cartridge with a suction mechanism and reservoir enabling you to use bottled ink.
This is where the Pilot Iroshizuku Ink comes in. The Iroshizuku series of inks were created to represent various colors in nature. This one is called "shin-kai" or "deep sea" - a rich blue-gray.
The Iroshizuku's bottle is absolutely gorgeous. It feels like an expensive perfume bottle and has an elegant paper label that just screams that it's made in Japan. Everything about it is very modern in shape but Pilot has maintained their classic faceted cap, a nod to their heritage.
My favorite part of the bottle is the really thick base. It's about an inch of glass that's there just to be gorgeous and add a nice weight.
This is when the magic happens. Filling the Z36 Converter is pretty simple, you just dip the nib in the ink and twist the end, sucking the ink into the reservoir.
The only precaution is making sure that you clean the nib after refilling the pen. It can get a bit messy but I find it to be an enjoyable little ceremony.
Lamy includes a polished steel nib with the CP1. The one I received has the fine nib, which is smooth and the perfect width for writing. I've been using a fine nib on my Safari for years and found it to be a fuss free workhorse that produces consistently good lines.
Writing with the CP1's fine nib paired with the Pilot Iroshizuku is really great. The nib travels really well on paper, and the ink loves to flow smoothly. I've always felt that Lamys were a bit thirsty but the CP1 seems to be less so than my Safari. The CP1 is also more comfortable than I had imagined and disappears in your hand despite the significant weight. As for the ink, it does feel slightly thin when writing on coarser papers without backing but I found it to be really great on my notebook of choice, the Ogami 195x240 Millimetri. My favorite thing about the ink is its color though. It's a beautifully muted blue color that has good legibility and simply looks so damn pretty.
In the end, what the Lamy CP1 and Pilot Iroshizuku do best is disappear. They fulfill their intended function with ease without making a fuss. I've been carrying the CP1 with Iroshizuku ink in my jacket pocket for the past few weeks, and they've earned their place as my default writing solution. You may be wondering why you'd want to spend $100 on a pen when a uni-ball is 50 cents. Well, that's a hard question to answer, and there's clearly no logical reason for spending money on a nice pen. As a designer, I believe that enjoyment of beautiful, well crafted products has real value though. Everyone can get to work just fine in a Kia but there are many willing to pay more for a German or Japanese brand. The Lamy is an Audi, and the Pilot a Lexus.