The Pilot Prera fountain pen has been one on my list to try out for quite some time for review. I never seemed to get around to buying one until now (not sure why), but I've been intrigued by it primarily due to its "mid range" price point. Also, my recent draw to Pilot pens more so than any other brand could explain some of my subconscious rationale...
From the price standpoint, the Prera has a retail price of $70 US which isn't overly expensive where fountain pens are concerned, but not overly cheap either. It is kind of in that range where you think, "should I?..." The Pilot progression seems to be as follows: Metropolitan - $14, Knight - $40, Prera - $70, and then everything else breaks at least past the $140 range, but usually has at least a 14k nib. So, what puts the Prera up into the $70 price range and is it worth it?
First things first, I bought this pen from Pen Chalet and did not pay the full retail price on it. They currently have their Prera collection (all demonstrators) marked at $56 and with an additional 10% off using the code CLICKYPOST, you'll squeak through at just over $50 (and should still get free shipping within the US). I point this out as the price really is great and Pen Chalet is a great outfit to work with.
I opted for the orange trim Prera (tip and tail are colored) as it seemed to stand out, but there are 7 colors of trim to choose from if another may fit your fancy. The barrel of the pen is clear but has some "smokey" or slightly translucent areas primarily in the cap that breaks up some of the design.
The pen also has some nice chrome trim in the cap, barrel, and section which adds a touch of class and bling that helps the pen to stand out a bit more. Around the cap is imprinted some dots and a solid white line with the name "PRERA" and "PILOT JAPAN". I think it is a neat looking pen, but perhaps a little loud for my tastes? Still, I think it looks good.
The nib on the pen is steel and is the same "Super Quality" nib used on the Pilot Knight reviewed previously. It writes as expected with dark, crisp lines and some noticeable feedback. I wouldn't refer to it as "scratchy", but isn't buttery smooth. I tend to enjoy pens with a slightly grabby nib. Not too much of course, but I enjoy knowing that the nib is touching the page. Too smooth and it weirds me out a bit. The Prera takes either the Pilot cartridge or converter only.
The clip is chrome and pressed out of thin steel, but it does the job. It is stiff enough to clip easily to a shirt or pen case (something like a Nock Co perhaps?). With a good jerk on it I could see it bending a bit.
The build quality is pretty good on it as it doesn't have any rattles really. Everything feels sturdy, but not like "wow" type of build for a demonstrator. My Custom Heritage 92 demonstrator blew me away at how solid it felt, but the retail price on the CH 92 is about 3 times as much which hopefully should warrant a bit more attention to quality. I would wager to say the Prera is a slight higher quality than your average TWSBI pen.
I like how the cap attaches to the barrel. It isn't threaded but sort of "pops" onto it with a pressure fit. There is a distinct click when you have the cap properly attached, but it is so smooth. To remove the cap doesn't take an excessive amount of force, but we can rest assured that it is on there.
The Prera is actually quite small. Smaller than I expected! It makes the Metropolitan look like a giant. I've included a comparison shot to get an idea for what to expect against the Metropolitan and the Custom Heritage 92. With the decreased length, I definitely post the cap while writing. The pen comes in at only about 0.5 oz, so adding a little weight while writing feels good.
Overall, I think the Prera is a good little pen. Sturdy, eye catching, and reliable. Worth the full $70?... meh. $50? I would say so. If you missed the link...