I was recently contacted by a gentleman named Clayton who said he was working on finalizing a pen and wondered if I might be ok with taking a look. I'm usually always excited to review upcoming pen projects and prototypes so I agreed.
The brand that Clayton has gone with for his line of pens is called RIIND (like a rind on an orange). A seemingly curious name, so I asked him what prompted the decision? He said:
"Well, we wanted our stuff to be strong, functional, and completely purpose driven, just like the rind of an orange. We look at it in the following way: the rind is the rind so that the orange can be the orange."
I can totally dig that.
While the company itself has a name, the pen at the moment does not. So, we'll refer to it as the RIIND prototype for now.
Clayton sent me some images of the pen prior to mailing them out and I thought it looked super slick. When they arrived I was even more impressed with what they had created which I'm sure sets the tone for how the review will go.
What they created is a sleek, semi-tactical, and modern looking design. If LAMY and the County Comm Embassy Pen made a baby pen (don't ask how this would work...), this could be the offspring. I say that not in a way that denotes any form of copying or overly influenced design, but as more of a compliment. The design is edgy, tough looking, and maybe even a bit on the slightly aggressive side (but not too much), but also has a flair and sophistication that makes it unique and grabs your attention. You see it and want to pick it up.
The overall shape of the pen is an untapered cylinder without any curves or ridges, but is rounded on the knock and and then transitioned into a soft conical tip. The length is great and is an extremely comfortable size. Nearly perfect actually and is well balanced.
The clip of the pen stands out as something different as it is staggered where it attaches to the barrel and asymmetrical. This is in complete contrast to what would seem like a simple design, but adds quite a bit to the visual aesthetic. Initially I wasn't quite sure how I liked it, but the more I've used and observed it I appreciate the choice in doing so.
I can't say for sure, but part of me thinks that how the clip is attached to the barrel actually serves a function when it comes to clip tension. It is pretty heavy duty and provides a solid amount of force when pulled away from the barrel. It isn't bending out of shape like a normal affixed clip would, it is like internally there are prongs that act as a spring. Perhaps staggering them creates the leverage it needs, but perhaps we'll find out eventually. It most definitely serves its purpose well.
When clipped to your shirt, the only thought I had (and maybe one gripe) was how high the pen sticks out of your pocket due to the clip placement. From where the lower part of the staggered clip connects to the barrel to the top of the knock is at least an inch or so. I mean, an inch doesn't seem like a lot where most things are concerned, but on a pen it is a lot. In this case it is about 20% of the length of the pen sticking out when clipped. There are a few pens on the market that have a more protruding cap or knock, but most tend to float around the 1/2" or less in reveal. This wouldn't prevent me from carrying or enjoying the pen, but it will make stick out quite a bit.
The pen has two areas of knurling: on the knock mechanism and the grip section. The knurling patterns on the pen are actually different with the knock being a bit on the smoother side while the grip section is a bit more toothy which could be a bit uncomfortable. I mentioned this to Clayton in an email and he agreed that there are still some adjustments being made, the knurling being one.
The knock mechanism is pretty awesome. The domed top of the pen spins continuously in both directions (called continuous cam), but stops at a distinct spot to extend and retract the refill with a noticeable "thunk" like it is falling into place. Not like a Cross pen or Retro 51 where it is more of a continuous flow back and forth. I could see the mechanism being the fidgeter's dream, but hopefully it will hold up to years of constant twisting!
From an engineering standpoint, the pen works and feels awesome. Functionally everything is pretty flawless and top notch.
As a standard the pen takes most 110mm refills like the Pilot G2, Schmidt Safety Ceramic, Pentel Energel (0.5mm needle? Yes please...) and dozens of others. The tip is solidly affixed and doesn't wiggle while writing.
I received four of the pens to look at in different finishes: black with black clip, raw aluminum with chrome clip, black with chrome clip, and grey with chrome clip. Personally, the black on black was my preference aesthetically, but the raw aluminum is pretty sweet too.
I feel like the chrome clips are a bit on the shiny side and would love to see a duller finish if possible. The wire used for the clip is pretty thick so the chrome stands out as really shiny and a bit distracting. The black clip, even though a unique shape, is a bit more subtle and really fits the overall look of the pen. I could see doing all black clips with different colors (like yellow, red, blue...) of pens and having it work out great.
The tentative Kickstarter date is coming up on the 20th so keep an eye out, but they really are solid pens. I can see myself picking one up for sure when they hit the shelves. Thanks, Clayton, for sending them my way to check out and share with the readers! To keep tabs on release dates they have setup a website you can also visit.