The Pilot Murex? What is the Pilot Murex? Up until around a year or so ago I had no idea it existed. The Pilot Murex is a fountain pen model that was produced back in the 70's and into the early 80's, but has long since been discontinued. Really, an absolutely fascinating piece.
More than likely, most (if not all) of you follow Mr. Brad Dowdy of the Pen Addict whom I'd say really introduced me to the Murex which he reviewed back in January of last year. At the time, the Murex he reviewed was not part of his collection (is now...), so I must actually thank Mr. Thomas Hall (the legend) for allowing Brad the opportunity to review his.
The Pilot Murex is super stylish and ultra modern in a 1970's kind of way. The barrel, grip, cap, and nib are all made of stainless steel which gives it a super sleek look. The clip is a shiny chrome adorned with a parallel groove which is filled with a black enamel or paint of some sort. Definitely a sort of "space age" look from decades past, but is still fantastic.
What makes the Murex very unique when it comes to fountain pens is the nib. The nib is not simply hooded or inlaid into the grip, it IS the grip and is called "integral", meaning, it is one and the same. Pilot made the nib and grip out of one solid piece of stainless which is incredibly cool. While writing, it gets you a bit more up close and personal with the pen and paper. In some email correspondence with Thomas about the Murex, he said it well in saying that using the Murex is a "more direct writing experience" due to the nib. Couldn't agree more.
The Murex also has a predecessor called the MYU which seem to be almost more difficult to find and seem to run more expensive these days. Was Pilot the first to create such a pen? Oddly enough, Parker Pen made a very similar style (I believe the first of its kind) in 1970 called the T-1. The "T" stood for titanium... below is a picture I borrowed from Tom Heath who posted about the T-1 on Fountain Pen Network awhile back.
I'm planting all of these little nuggets to go dig into, aren't I?...
Based on the material used, I'd wager that the Murex will age extremely well considering I won't be leaving it in a damp closet anywhere. Think of the DeLorean... nearly all of those that have survived still look nice and shiny as long as someone didn't smash them. Or at least the stainless steel panels do. Another 30 years from now, I bet this thing will look as good as new.
It took me a little while, but I ended up purchasing a Murex that was New Old Stock for a decent price (although not cheap) in an F nib. This was a pen I couldn't wait to get my hands on to ink up immediately!
Upon receiving the Murex I was actually surprised by how compact it really is. It is a full size pen in length, but is quite slim. Although it is a smaller pen, it is not uncomfortable to hold. The grip section has been machined with 16 individual grooves or rings (yes, I counted them) that are evenly spaced apart by about a millimeter. The grooves are quite smooth, but you would think they might have some "tooth" considering the pen material. My mind imagines this due to the spiral grip machined into the Fisher Space Pen models which does bite back a bit. The Murex grip is nice and smooth, but the rings provide just enough of a texture to make holding the pen a bit easier.
The pen takes either the standard Pilot/Namiki cartridges or can also take a Pilot converter. I was thinking about this the other day, but kudos to Pilot for keeping the same cartridge design for more than 30 or 40 years (or longer?...). Being proprietary, they easily over time could have found some way to tweak the design if need be for efficiency, cost, or whatever. The fact that I can buy a 30 or 40 year old pen and pop a brand new, off of the shelf cartridge into it is kind of astounding.
Perhaps I think of how technology ebbs and flows so much? If I found an old laser disc player from back in the day, I could not buy a laser disc off the shelf that is still being produced today. Maybe a giant leap...? Just another thing to love about pens, right?
The nib inked right up and is surprisingly smooth. Being stainless steel I wasn't sure how well it would do, but it writes with about the perfect level of wetness and feedback. Being a fine nib and a Pilot fine at that, the lines are quite narrow and don't produce any extreme variation. I read that the Murex was built as more of a workhorse pen which I could absolutely see it being.
The nib, as you can imagine, is very stiff.
Upon receiving my Murex it still had its original ¥5,000 sticker on it from almost 35 years ago. I ended up taking it off, but snagged a shot of it before hand.
Being over 30 years ago I thought, how much did the Murex cost when it was actually being sold and the sticker meant something? I pulled up some archives and found that the Yen to Dollar conversion at the time my pen was produced (date stamped 09/1980) was 214.41 to 1, meaning it took ¥214.41 to make up $1 in the US. This puts the actual price of the pen in September of 1980 at around $23.31. With inflation, that same $23.31 would no be worth $67.40 in 2014.
Now, if you've been eyeing these pens, you know that they don't go for $67 (more like $200), but it's all part of supply and demand. Similar to how expensive rOtring pens go nowadays?...
These pens were only sold in Japan back in the 70's and 80's which also makes their appeal in the West more intense.
Pilot did end up remaking a version of the MYU (predecessor) back in 2008 called the M90 which themselves now fetch a high price of $500+. Their original price tag was $180. Why doesn't Pilot have a full line of these in current production? I'd imagine these pens are not necessarily cheap or easy to make, so the price points on them would have to be fairly high to be worth it.
While a bit impulsive and slightly expensive, I'm so happy to have finally added a Murex to the collection. Its sleek design really is fantastic and gives shout out to how Pilot has done things right for a very long time. Its scarcity and attainability are the only downsides to this pen I'd say (also, if damaged...), but is worth looking into if you feel it is pushing your buttons.
Next up, MYU...
Also, for some amazing MYU and Murex info, visit the site of Russ Stutler as his archive is awesome.