I would probably wager that Visconti is one of the pen brands out there that most people have heard of at some point, but may find they don't ever ending up owning one. Why is this? Why are there some brands that have wide awareness and brand acceptance while others tend to fly under the radar? Very curious. Nonetheless, I know there are a lot of people that love the brand and are very loyal to it.
I'm definitely in this boat as I've never actually owned a Visconti, but they are on my list. They are a bit of a unique brand in their styling and materials. A bit flashy and, at times, maybe even a bit flamboyant, but that is sort of their appeal I think. There is a sense of confidence in their designs and how they carry themselves which can make them attractive.
Anyway, enough about these deep musings...
When I've been thinking of getting a Visconti, my sights have only been set on the Homo Sapiens series, so I extra appreciate the loan to get a feel for the pen size and the fascinating material. The pens in this series are made from a resin infused with lava rock. Yes, LAVA. I mean, that in and of itself is enough to make the pen stand out as something really neat and interesting. (Trying to hold back the "liquid hot magma" meme)
This unique material gives the pen a matte black/grey finish that looks really stunning in contrast to the silver furniture that accompanies the pen barrel and cap. The finish is smooth, but does have some occasional pitting (super small) marks which I'm not sure whether they are intentional for effect or whether they are a result of the lava material. Either way, it adds to the overall presence that the pen is going for.
Also, the claim is that this material is almost unbreakable and flameproof, so add that to the list of cool.
Being a rollerball, there isn't really a lot to say about the writing experience. The pen comes standard with a Visconti branded ceramic roller (likely from Schmidt) which writes pretty good. I will say that I wish the refill wrote a little wetter and broader. Being the standard Schmidt long rollerball style there are likely a variety of refills you could fit in there like a fineliner (which would actually be pretty awesome) or even refills like the Pilot G2 as they are nearly identical in size.
For kicks, I actually swapped in a Pentel Energel needle which fit fine, but did have a little play in the tip. Not enough to be distracting or unusable by any means. So, suffice it to say there are options if the standard refill doesn't float your boat.
The cap of the pen is big, but posts. I was having a hard time deciding if posting made it too long or not as it was fairly comfortable, but I did find myself writing more unposted. Posting makes the pen nearly 6.5" long...
A cool feature of the pen is the threading. The cap is spring load and pressure sealed, so the the threads have this cool twist and lock sort of feel. Upon first seeing them I thought it might be tricky to get them to work, but it is smooth and effortless which seems like a pretty strong feat to conquer.
This particular rollerball is in what is called the Midi size. In the fountain pen version there is also a Maxi size which is a good amount bigger, but personally I feel that the Midi size is great. The Homo Sapiens series isn't really slim or overly ergonomic design, so getting something bigger may only compound the effect for smaller hands. I'm a decent sized guy, and the Midi would likely be what I would choose if given the option of the two.
One of the more recognizable features of Visconti pens is the large arching clip. It is spring loaded which makes it a bit easier to wield when trying to put it in your pocket, but it doesn't seem to be a "press" spring clip like many others are. What I mean by this is that in many spring clips you merely have to push on the top of the clip and it pushes the bottom out. A simple pinch motion on the top of the pen. But not with the Visconti...
Maybe the spring loaded is just to make the clip more functional? Without some additional tension, I'd be curious if the clip would be overly helpful or if it would be too ridged as it is pretty hefty material. It is more of a thin "blade" sort of shape, rather than a wide, flat surface.
Slightly different than the fountain pen versions, this rollerball is adorned with two additional stripes of silver in the barrel. In talking with Ron from Pen Chalet, these stripes are due to the fact that this rollerball is a slightly more expensive, higher end version.
In conclusion, the Homo Sapiens series is pretty sweet. Really cool material, quality made, neat features. The catch? The price.
Standard retail price on these run between $300-700 depending on whether you're buying a ballpoint, roller, fountain, or are deciding between the Maxi, Midi or various other material options. Do I think the pen is worth the money? I would probably say yes. I don't like to inject my own personal value measurements into things because things are subjective from person to person. They Homo Sapiens series pens are extremely unique which makes them stand out in the market of otherwise "boring" acrylics.