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Fountain Pen Review: Pilot Metropolitan


Introduction

First introduced in 2012, the Pilot Metropolitan is one of the cheapest fountain pens on the market today. However, don't confuse it's low price for meaning it's low quality; the Metropolitan is anything but low quality. It has become one of the most popular fountain pens in its price range through simply blowing away it's competition. 

Specs

 

  • Body Material: Brass
  • Nib Material: Stainless Steel
  • Weight: 26 grams
  • Cap Weight: 6 grams
  • Filling System: Cartridge and compatible with a squeeze converter 
  • Trim: Chrome
  • Length (Capped): 13.7 cm
  • Length (Posted): 15.2cm

Aesthetics

The regular Pilot Metropolitan sereis comes in various colours and designs such as gold, black and silver. However unlike it's competition at the budget-end of the market such as the Lamy Safari, none of the designs are particularly bold and eye catchy. Instead Pilot have opted for a more subtle, premium looking fountain pen. For those who do prefer the more bold and eye catching colours, Pilot have released a spin off series of the Metropolitans called the "Retro Pop Series"; the series consists of more colourful designs such as light blue and orange.

Despite it's ridiculously cheap price tag, Pilot have still managed to include some classy packaging to go alongside the pen. The transparent packaging is premium-looking and features a comfortable bed for the pen to lie upon and features a pilot engraving. This makes for a great unboxing experience. 

File:Pilot Metropolitan silver with python design.jpg

( Taken from Dllu, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Metropolitan sports more of a tapered look with a delicate zig-zag pattern running across the barrel. Similarly, the other aspects of the Metropolitan such as the cap and clip also wear a more subtle look. Besides the very feint zig-zag design and a glossy band around the barrel, the Metropolitan features very little in terms of decoration. Pilot's emphasis on a minimalistic, sleek design does wonders to create an aesthetic that suggests the Metropolitan is way above its price tag. 

Construction Quality

Unusual for such a cheap fountain pen, the majority of the Pilot Metropolitan is brass made. This makes the pen feel much more sturdy and robust compared to the majority of it's competition which are plastic made. Furthermore, the brass instantly gives the impression of the metropolitan being a more premium pen. 

Every aspect of the Pilot Metropolitan is functional and well constructed. Not only does the brass body pick up hardly any scratches but the scratches it does pick up are far from prominent. Similarly, fingerprints are far from prominent. These qualities mean that the Metropolitan maintains a premium look throughout the day.

The clicking cap is tight fitted, therefore you don't have to worry about the ink drying out without any human error and it also makes the satisfying popping noise that so many fountain pen users adore. Similarly, the clip functions well and is fairly tight meaning it stays clipped to most materials; it's unlikely that you're going to need to worry about it falling off. 

For the small price you're paying, the Pilot Metropolitan offers exceptional build quality. Every aspect of the pen functions well, feels sturdy and even offers a premium feel to the pen. 

Ergonomics

Weighing in at 25 grams, the Pilot Metropolitan is on the heavier side of most budget fountain pens; this is largely down to its brass barrel and thickness. Pilot have done an exceptional job of making this pen feel premium without making it unbearably heavy; the brass gives it a cold, luxurious feel whilst being light enough to use for longer periods of time without it feeling tiring or heavy.

The only drawback of the Pilot Metropolitan is the grip; the plastic made grip can become quite slippery after longer writing sessions where you're hands get slippery. This problem combined with the fact that the grip section is on the thinner side can lead to an awkward gripping experience for those with bigger hands. 

File:Pilot Metropolitan (26430911443).jpg

(Taken from M Dreibelbis from Cleveland Ohio, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Another small annoyance is once the cap is posted, the pen starts to feel abit unbalanced. The weighted end can start to upset your writing performance and can take some adjusting to. Furthermore, when the cap is posted it is quite a loose fit; the wobbling nature of the cap will be sure to irritate some. 

However overall, the pen provides an exceptional feel considering the low price tag. The small drawbacks are a minor price to pay considering all the positives of the pen.

Writing Performance

The Pilot Metropolitan provides a great writing experience compared to most of it's budget competition. The stainless steel nib is buttery smooth, offering no feedback even when writing for longer periods of time. Even more surprising is the fact that this pen offers no hard starting or skipping. 

The Pilot Metropolitan is on the juicier side, producing clean and smooth lines. However this means you should be cautious about the longer drying time to avoid smudging or smearing your work. Although it may be on the wetter side, the Metropolitan functions well on various different types of paper. 

The Metropolitan can be purchased with a fine and medium nib; bear in mind that the fine nib is extremely fine. Despite the nib being made of stainless steel, it's still fairly flexible; by applying different levels of pressure you can vary the width of the line you're producing. 

Maintenance

The Pilot Metropolitan supports the use of a squeeze converter, as well as ink cartridges. The squeeze converter system on the Metropolitan doesn't compare to the more common piston filling mechanism that other Pilot pens use. Firstly, with a squeeze converter you can't see how much ink is left in the ink chamber, making it incredibly hard to see if the ink chamber is full. Furthermore, the ink chamber in the Metropolitan is incredibly small; those who use the pen regularly are going to need to keep their ink with them due to the need to constant need to refill it.

The other option for the Metropolitan is to refill it with ink cartidges. However the Metropolitan only supports the use of Pilot's own cartridges. This can make finding the right ink cartridge a pain as they're only sold at specific high-street stationers. Instead you'd be better off ordering online. Additionally, the pilot cartridges are a bit more expensive than standard universal cartridges. Therefore bear in mind that the maintenance for the Pilot Metropolitan is going to be more expensive than most other fountain pens.

On the flip side, the Pilot Metropolitan comes packaged with both a pilot ink cartridge and a squeezable converter therefore you're able to use the pen straight out of the box. Considering that the pen is priced so low, this is highly impressive. 

Value for Money & Conclusion

Priced around the £10-25 range, The Pilot Metropolitan is available at most high-street stationers and online retailers. The Pilot Metropolitan is easily one of the best-value fountain pens on the mark. Furthermore, the Metropolitan is one of the only fountain pens at this price range to include high-end aesthetics; it's very easy to mistake the Metropolitan for a pen priced at the top end of the market. Not only does it look great, the writing experience is great and the pen is fairly robust. This isn't just a great value pen; it's a great pen in general. 

 

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