Pilot is certainly becoming one of my favorite brands. On my recent review of the Falcon I mentioned this, but I have simply been impressed time and time again with the overall quality and experience I get while using their writing instruments.
When we think of retractable fountain pens, the first one that usually pops into everyone's mind is another product by Pilot/Namiki, the Vanishing Point. I have definitely been a fan of the Vanishing Point since I first got my hands on one due to its functionality, unique design, and excellent writing. For around $140 from most pen retailers you can get yourself one of these in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and with an 18k gold nib.
Being a fan of the Vanishing Point, upon first seeing the Fermo on Pen Chalet's website (odd how I hadn't heard much about it before?) I was very interested in seeing what it was all about. Being made by the same brand, having a very similar "function", and the same nib I thought, "what makes it different from the Vanishing Point?" Is there an additional appeal to it that perhaps I was missing? I took the plunge and ordered a blue model with an F nib from Pen Chalet and am excited to give my thoughts on it.
The full retail price on the Fermo is $325 which is nearly double that of a full priced Vanishing Point at $175. That is a massive jump considering the similarities...
The first and major difference that stands out is the actual mechanism used to extend and retract the tip. The Fermo has a built in twist mechanism that sits at the bottom of the pen instead of the click mechanism of the Vanishing Point. Mechanically, the twist is extremely smooth and feels very fluid. When ready to retract the tip, one must only get the "twist" started and the pen does the rest with a sort of self-assist feature.
I really enjoy this as it ensures that the nib retracts completely so there is no guess work as to whether I've twisted it completely. In contrast to the Vanishing Point, this is a two hand gesture versus a single push with your thumb. Not a terrible inconvenience I suppose, but is a major experience change. As shown in the photos, the twist has ridges for added grip.
The barrel of the Fermo is glossy, polished and very elegant looking. It is very smooth and feels extremely comfortable to hold and write with. The right amount of rhodium accents make the rich blue color contrast beautifully. From a design standpoint, I think this is what distinguishes the Fermo from the Vanishing Point. In a way, it seems to have a bit more of a sophistication and stands out as being more upscale or classy? The clip of the pen is in the grip which may cause the same issue as its retractable counterpart for some.
Several friends of mine abhor the Pilot Vanishing Point design and feel it looks a bit awkward and clunky. I don't quite share this sentiment as I view it as unique and functional, but the design lines of the Fermo seem a bit smoother, a little more refined, and extremely stylish. I'll just say it; sexy.
The real question: is it worth the extra price for a twist mechanism and perhaps being a bit more easy on the eyes? These are very subjective questions that I'm still a bit indifferent in my opinions on. Again, design wise the Fermo is like the Vanishing Point, but perhaps with some of the rough edges smoothed out. I also feel that the tip of the Fermo is a bit less aquatic looking than the VP tip (which reminds me of a whale shark mouth...).
The fine nib is 18k gold and is a lovely writer. Being a Japanese nib, the fine runs at around a 0.5mm in comparison to your standard gel pen, but is a satisfying size and is not too small. I don't believe I could handle an EF nib with one of these...
I've been using the included blue Namiki cartridge which is a very comfortable blue, but I am excited to switch it out for some other ink colors and brands. The nib comes with an included Namiki converter which is easy to use and fill. I enjoy the fact that with the Capless pens you take the nib unit out of the pen to fill it which means you don't have to wipe off the grip section of the pen itself like you do with most converter or piston fillers.
I do enjoy the Fermo and I've found myself going to it more so than the Vanishing Point. Perhaps some of that is because it is newer and I've been getting my bearings with it, but it feels good to write with not just functionally, but visually. It is very stunning in my opinion.
As mentioned, I purchased my Fermo from Pen Chalet which always seems to have a good deal going. As always, the use of the promo code CLICKYPOST at checkout will get an additional 10% off any purchase.