Sailor 1911 Black Luster fountain pen review

I don’t really like black color. I mostly use red, brown, green and orange inks in my pens. During last few years I’ve tried quite a lot of different inks and came to a conclusion that Sailor inks rock. Sailor offers hundreds of colors, sadly most of them are distributed only in Japan as a private label for Japanese stationery retailers (Pen & Message, Bung Box, Kingdom Note). Of course you can always order them. It’s simple. Just a few clicks and they’re on the way. The price however is rather steep. That’s why I restrain myself from acquiring them. Happily regular Sailor inks are also stunning.

I’ve been writing with Sailor inks for approximately two years. Funny thing is that since the beginning of my quest for perfect fountain I haven’t tried any Sailor pen. Not that I dislike them, on the contrary – I find Sailor pens appealing. However every time I was just about to pull a trigger and offer myself one of them, there were more important expenses. Besides as a wet and broad nibs aficionado I was hesitant about Japanese nibs. They are sometime too hard and too dry for my taste. And as Japanese pens aren’t exactly cheap ones I was keeping on refraining myself from taking a shot.

For a while.

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Until the moment I’ve spotted Sailor 1911 Black Luster advert somewhere. I felt instant attraction toward this pen. The pen that is black and classic. Resistance was pointless. Temptation was too overhelming. I’ve contacted my favourite Japanese seller (Cerisier Japonais) and ordered the pen. Of course you can buy it in your country of residence however I don’t like to overpay. That’s why I always order Japanese pens and inks from Japan.

Sailor 1911 Black Luster is sold in a plastic box covered with a layer of something mossy. I guess it’s supposed to look elegant and stylish, but to me it looks cheap. On the other hand I don’t collect boxes and I usually throw them away immediately after unpacking the pen. With few exceptions – for example I’ve kept Islander’s box. I like wood as a material.

Apart from the pen and free Sailor cartridges I’ve found also interesting note in the box:

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Good one. It seems they want to follow Montblanc. I’ve wrinkled the note and threi it and then I’ve unpacked the pen. I looked at it. Examined the design and the finish. The nib. And then nodded my head with appreciation. That’s stunning pen.

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Sailor 1911 is a very nice pen and the only drawback I see is the fact it’s design is strongly reminiscent of Montblanc pens. Yes, it’s stylish and elegant but I just don’t understand why Sailor – a company with over one hundred years of tradition – has copied pen design from another manufacturer? I suppose it has something to do with the fact that in the eighties Japanese products were building their reputation on the international market and Sailor designers thought it was good idea to try some design that was likely to appeal to foreign (European, American) customers. It’s just a wild guess. If you happen to know Sailor history it would be great if you could share with me.

I do not like black. Nevertheless, the Sailor 1911 Black Luster looks simply stunning in my opinion. This model comes with the lovely rounded top seemingly more blending with the entire fountain pen and the weight balance is at its optimum. Black and charcoal hues, give it a unique and modern look. This pen has a sharp-looking black resin finish, gunmetal ion plated trim and a weighted brass grip section. What can I say, every time I look at it  my salivary glands are stimulated.

Construction

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The pen looks and feels well balanced and the resin (let’s use the word plastic that pen manufacturers are so afraid of) has pretty good quality. It doesn’t collect dust, you don’t see a lot of fingerprints on the barrel even after long writing session. Metal section is heavier than the body – it adds heft where the thumb and finger meet and leads to greater control and ease of writing. Personally I find it really comfortable.

Branding on the pen is rather subtle which I like. Around the bottom you’ll find a thick band of the ion plated black rhodium etched with “Sailor Japan Founded 1911”. Because of the color used – black (who would guess?) – it is hard to read without holding the pen close. From a distance it simply looks like a pattern etched into the band. The only other branding is on the nib which is engraved with the Sailor anchor style logo and 1911 just above it. 21K and Sailor are also engraved below the anchor next to the grip of the pen.

The cap of the pen is threaded and must be unscrewed in order to be removed from the pen.  It suits me well – I enjoy screw caps. The cap can be posted on the end of the barrel but I never write this way. I believe also it could cause some scratches after some time. But I don’t know that for sure and I’m not planning to change my writing habits so you’ll have to ask someone else :)

Nib

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Not only is the nib pretty, proportionate and elegant, it also writes well and leaves wet line on the paper. Ion-coated black nib on the Sailor 1911 Black Luster is made from 21 K gold and can be bought in few sizes: EF, F, M and B. I wanted B but as it was unavailable at the time I’ve ordered the pen so I went for medium nib. It’s not my perfect size – it could be thicker but on the other hand this nib navigates flawlessly through notebook, copy, parchment paper. Sailor has undoubtedly mastered the art of the nib, it delivers ink to any paper and behaves well on variety of papers.

Filling System

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 This is where I have problem with the pen. It’s fuelled with proprietary converter or cartridges. The Sailor converter only holds 0.6 ml of ink which isn’t exactly impressive.  Compared to Visconti / Caran d’Ache converters is seems cheap. I wish the pen was piston-filler.

Dimensions

Closed: 141 mm

Open: 132 mm

Weight: 22 g

Summary

It is worth the price? Well, Sailor 1911 Black Luster is expensive pen. In Poland it costs around 1300 PLN (+/- 350 $). I’ve managed to buy it for 220$ but it definitely wasn’t impulse purchase. I wanted to try this pen and after some thought I’ve decided I could afford it. On the other hand, competition in this price segment is strong and diversified. Sailor’s pen is well-made and nice but it’s not innovative, it doesn’t offer funky filling system or even good ink capacity. Honestly I don’t think it’s competitive pen which doesn’t mean I regret the purchase. On the contrary – I am pleased with it. Regardless of the derivative design and boring filling system, Sailor 1911 Black Luster is a pen with character.

Pros:

  • quality
  • design
  • well balanced section

Cons

  • Price
  • Derivative design (I like it however it’s not innovative, so while it’s elegant it’s also too reminiscent of MB pens)
  • Proprietary filling system
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