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Fountain Pen Review: Pilot Custom 823


Pilot have forged a new flagship fountain pen with the introduction of the custom 823. Sporting a premium, minimalistic design and 14 karat gold, the 823 is not only one of the most luxurious fountain pen's you can find but also one of the most expensive. Pilot have poured their heart and soul into every aspect of this fountain pen to make it as visually appealing, as best functioning, as premium feeling and as low maintenance as possible in an effort to justify the price tag. 


  • Body Material: Amber Resin
  • Weight: 29g
  • Length (capped): 15cm
  • Length (uncapped): 13cm
  • Filing System: Vacuum system
  • Nib Material: 14k Gold
  • Colours: Clear, Amber, Smoke
  • Accessories: Gift box, a bottle of Pilot Blue ink


    The 823 sports a design that is adored by many but also hated my many. Therefore, your views on the 823's aesthetics are primarily going to be decided by personal preference. The 823 comes in three different finishes: amber, smoke and clear. All looking as luxurious as the next. Each of the three finishes' bodies are made form a translucent material therefore you can see the ink swirling around inside the pen; it's strange yet mesmerising at the same time. 

    The 14 karat gold trim and nib add to the premium look that Pilot are striving for, the gold accents compliments all three different finishes resulting in an elegant aesthetic. Despite the high-end price tag, the 823 adopts the all too common, standard torpedo/cigar shape; for the price-tag this design may leave you wanting more.

    Subtle details add to the minimalistic, graceful look of the 823. For example, the elongated, triangular clip has a sleek "Pilot" engraving whilst the cap sports a similar engraving of "Pilot Custom 823". Additionally, the nib has some beautiful scrollwork wrapped around it; further adding to the premium aesthetic. If you're after an elegant looking, cigar shaped fountain pen with 14 karat gold accents, this pen could not do any better 

    Construction Quality

    As you would expect from the high end price tag, this pen could not do any better in the construction department. All areas of the pen feel robust and strong, the clip is attached securely, the barrel is sturdy and the nib feels tight and firm. The plastic barrel is near impossible to scuff due to the Amber Resin material whilst the cap is near airtight and makes a satisfying pop when you put it on.

    Additionally, the overall construction of the pen is sleek and smooth, there's no hint of ruggedness. Usually more robust fountain pens have to sacrifice the premium feel of the pen for their sturdy nature; this is not the case with the 823. The 823 manages to feel extremely luxurious despite its tough nature. Furthermore, the 823 is extremely light due to it being made out of Amber Resin, and as you would expect from the price tag, the weight is evenly distributed throughout the pen making it a comfortable writer for extended periods.


    Despite being extremely light, the 823's barrel is lengthier and wider than most fountain pens. The extra surface area and light nature of the 823 means it's ideal for both small and large hands. Even when posting the cap at the back end of the pen, the 823 still manages to feel light and comfortable; this is mainly due to the light cap posting quite far down the barrel therefore not making the pen back-heavy or much longer.

    As previously mentioned, the 823's weight is well distributed along the pen, the balanced weight combined with the large surface area of the pen ensures the pen is comfortable to write with for extended periods of time. Lastly, the cap is well secured at all times, meaning its unlikely your ink will dry out without any human error.

    Writing Performance

    The Pilot 823 supports a size 15, large, sturdy nib. As expected, the 14 karat gold nib produces sleek, clean lines whilst not being guilty of producing any feathering, ghosting, skipping or hard starting. However, bear in mind that the nib provided has little to no flexibility if you're looking for something with abit more mobility. Having said that, the 14 karat gold nib provided has a nice bounce to it, resulting in a graceful writing experience.

    The 823 manages to perfect just the right amount of wetness, it's wet enough to produce smooth, clean lines yet has a ridiculously fast drying time meaning you don't need to be cautious about smudging and smearing your work. Another point worth noting is regardless of the paper quality you're using the 823 on, it performs equally as good on all different types of surfaces. 


      The maintenance for the 823 literally could not be any easier. Firstly, the vacuum filling system is in a league of its own. It's as simplistic as it's effective; all that needs to be done is pull the syringe out, dip the nib into your bottle of ink and pull the syringe back up until it snaps down. Furthermore, the vacuum filling system somehow holds an outrageous amount of ink; if you wanted to you could hold a whole bottle of ink in the filling system. The 823 is shipped with a large bottle of Pilot's blue ink, which can fill the Vacuum filling system as soon as need be. This vacuum filling system makes the 823 ideal for those who like to travel light because the 823 can store enough ink to last even the heaviest users a very long time. Additionally, the vacuum filling system means the pen is leak proof; further adding to its compatibility with those who like to travel as there's no need to worry about it leaking when packing. 

      One downside of the vacuum filling system is it can prove to be difficult to clean. Despite most of the ink being easy to wash out from the barrel, some ink always gets trapped in and around the threads; this is near impossible to get out with just standard cleaning supplies and will need an investment in a fine brush cleaner. Another point to bear in mind about the vacuum filling system is the pen needs to be held perfectly straight up when being refilled, therefore its better to do the refilling process on a flat and even surface. 

      Despite the vacuum filling system being hard to clean, the rest of the pen is fairly straightforward to clean. The nib, plunger and barrel all unscrew quite easily and can be washed from the inside to out without much trouble. Then the process to put it back together is equally as easy and straightforward.

      Value for Money & Conclusion

      Often described as Pilot's crown jewel, the 823 is one of the most luxurious fountain pens you can find. As well as being one of the most luxurious fountain pens you can find on the market, the 823 is also one of the most expensive fountain pens you can find on the market. At the time of writing this article, the 823 is priced around the £250 mark. 

      The 823 is incredibly hard to get a hold of in the UK. No major high street stationer is likely to stock such a premium fountain pen, instead it'd be wise to look at online specialty pen retailers to see if they have any in stock. 

      In conclusion, it's extremely hard to justify paying £250 for any fountain pen, however the Pilot 823 makes a compelling case. If you don't mind paying such a fee and gold, cigar shaped fountain pens are your thing, then you may want to consider the Pilot 823 for its stunning aesthetics, amazing writing experience, robust construction quality and it's easy maintenance. 

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