First introduced in 1963, the Pilot Vanishing Point has amassed a loyal fan base because of its convenience, quirky design and overall high quality. Since its release, the Vanishing Point has gone on to become the benchmark for all retractable-nib fountain pens.
- Body material: Metal
- Trim: Rhodium
- Length: 13.97cm
- Nib Material: 18 Karat Gold
- Weight: 30 grams
- Weight (cap): N/A
- Filling System: Cartridge and Converter System
The Pilot Vanishing Point comes in a range of colours and finishes; all of which look superb. However, the matte black finish contrasted by it's rhodium trim is especially classy and has that bit more style over it's peers. The Vanishing Point sports a standard cigar shape which tapers towards both ends, resulting in a smooth and sleek look.
As you can't see the nib, the pen has more of a minimalistic aesthetic to it. The only aspect that sticks out is the location of the clip. Its based towards the nib instead of the usual positioning towards the top of the pen; it certainly does take some getting used to.
Whilst many premium fountain pens do themselves a dishonour by packaging such great products inside a tacky cardboard box, Pilot have made sure they don't fall into that trap. Instead the Vanishing Point is presented in a windowed, premium-feeling box, whilst the actual pen lies on a bed of velvet. This makes for a great unboxing experience and generates excitement for the actual pen.
The Vanishing Point's body is completely metal made, therefore it's strong and sturdy. And, because it's predominantly metal-made, rarely does it show any scratches or scuffs. It's going to take a significant drop to do any damage to such a robust barrel. Similarly, you won't have to worry about constantly wiping off fingerprint smudges as the Vanishing Point's body rarely picks up any throughout daily use.
The biggest worry most customers have when purchasing the Vanishing Point is about the longevity and build quality of the retractable nib. Fortunately, Pilot have made sure that the Vanishing Point's nib operates smoothly and consistently. They've made sure that the retractable nib requires some force to eject it so that it doesn't come out by accident when carrying it around. Furthermore, they have included a small door which the nib slips in and out of at the end of the pen; this prevents air getting to the nib when not in use and thus the nib doesn't dry out.
Despite the odd position of the clip (which takes a while to get used to), the clip does it's job exceptionally. It stays clipped to even the most awkward of materials and rarely gives the user any reason to fear it's going to fall off.
If there's one reason why someone wouldn't like the Vanishing Point, it's because of the positioning of the clip. As previously mentioned, the clip is positioned towards the nib of the pen. Therefore, those who write using anything but a traditional grip are likely to find it a nuisance, it's going to end up digging into your fingers and make the whole writing experience uncomfortable.
On the flip side, if you do write with a regular grip the Vanishing Point is a very comfortable fountain pen to hold, due to the matte black textured grip. It weighs in at 30 grams, therefore it's on the heavier side of most fountain pens. However, the weight is extremely well distributed; meaning you're able to write for at least a few hours before it starts to feel heavy and tiring
Straight out of the box, the Pilot Vanishing Point writes immediately; there's no hard-starting or skipping anywhere in sight. It's rare to see an 18 karat gold nib these days, but the Vanishing Point wears it beautifully. The fine nib is on the drier side, yet it's still smooth with only a slight amount of feedback. Furthermore, the nib has abit of flexibility to it; if you apply some pressure, you can get some line variation out of it.
Pilot also sell Vanishing Point editions called the "Special Alloy Nib Edition", this is a fancy way of saying they sell Vanishing Points that come with a stainless steel nib. The gold nib is already on the dry side, therefore it's likely that this edition is going to be extremely dry and on the verge of being scratchy. Similarly, if you're not a fan of the gold nib but don't want their stainless steel nib either, you'll be pleased to know that the Vanishing Point supports interchangeable nib.
The Vanishing Point supports a cartridge/converter system. Fortunately, it comes with both a Pilot Con 20 Piston Converter and a Pilot cartridge. Therefore, once you've purchased the pen, you should be able to get some good usage out of it straight away, before even thinking about refilling it.
Because the Vanishing Point has a retractable nib, the build is alot more complex than most fountain pen's. It has a great deal of parts that go into the pen. Therefore, if you're brave enough to try cleaning the inside, it may take a longer time to assemble and re-assemble the pen. Similarly, the refilling process may take a longer time than which you're used to, due to the nib unit having to be removed beforehand.
Value for Money & Conclusion
Currently priced between £150 and £180, the Pilot Vanishing Point is on the more expensive side of most fountain pens. If you're a fan of innovative designs and quirky aesthetics, this may be the perfect pen for you. But if you're looking for premium aesthetics or the best writing experience possible, there are better options out there for you.