This pen became an instant favourite the first time I laid eyes on it a few months ago, and has remained so since that day. Received from a kind gentleman who was downsizing his collection, I’m still very often reminding myself how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to add a Blue Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (FM nib) to mine.
There is of course a rationale behind the Pilot Custom series numbering, succinctly explained in this Fountain Pen Network review of the Custom 748. Essentially, a model number (XXY) indicates the number of years (XX) since the foundation of Pilot in 1918, and the price in yen (Y) of the pen at release multiplied by 10,000 (i.e. 10,000Y). Not all models carry the three digit nomenclature, as is the case with the Custom Heritage 92 – released in 2010.
Look and Feel
To my eye and taste, this pen has just about the perfect marriage of form and function. I immediately notice the combination of colour, trim, and overall symmetry and proportion. It evokes an association of a deep blue ocean, a black rocky outcrop, and the shimmering line of the sun up the silver clip to the horizon.1
What a fantastic blue, and in combination with the black and silver is just about perfect. The transparent deep blue resin provides enough colour to support the contrasting silver and black at each end of the pen, yet still allows visualisation of the internals. The nib itself however is shrouded in an additional sheath to seal the nib when the cap is in place.
I had not owned any demonstrator pens prior to coming into ownership of this Custom Heritage 92. For those unfamiliar with the term, a demonstrator pen being one which is partially or mostly transparent, allowing the internals and of course the ink to be seen through the barrel. A way of demonstrating the pen and its features to potential buyers. Personally I quite like them, and this particular model, given its blue colour, lies somewhere in the middle of the transparency spectrum — a transition of sorts.
As I have touched on above, the overall symmetry of the pen is very appealing to me, formed by the black at each end along with thin silver bands, and the added effect of the thick central band on the cap — again silver, with the Pilot Japan and Custom Heritage 92 inscription. The silver metal clip also adds to the appearance and overall balance.
When uncapped, the gorgeous 14k gold (no. 5) nib is evident, silver in colour, again perfectly aligning with the colour scheme, as does the section, with the black feed and silver ring showing at the cap threads, which inconspicuously merge into the blue resin of the barrel.
As expected with the construction materials, the pen is quite light (see specifications below), in line with those of similar construction, which incidentally, is perfectly balanced for the size of my hand and grip type with the cap not posted. A larger hand may find the pen a little short, however would likely find using the pen posted more comfortable, which to me feels a little top-heavy.2
Much of the following courtesy of Goulet Pens:
- Body Colour: Blue – demonstrator
- Body & Grip Material: Resin
- Cap Type: Screw-cap
- Filling Mechanism: Piston
- Nib Material: 14k Gold (silver in colour)
- Nib Size: Fine/Medium
- Trim: Silver
- Diameter – Body: 11.7mm
- Diameter – Cap (without clip): 14.1mm
- Diameter – Grip: 9.75mm
- Length – Body: 122mm
- Length – Cap: 64mm
- Length – Nib: 19mm
- Length – Overall (Closed): 136mm
- Length – Overall (Posted): 151mm
- Weight – Overall: 20g (Body = 12g)
As seen from the specifications above, this particular pen is a piston filling pen for bottled ink, and does not accommodate ink cartridges. Incidentally, the filling mechanism performs flawlessly. The 14k gold nib of this particular pen is a fine/medium (FM), and as you will hear further on below, is simply fantastic.
As I mentioned, I was fortunate enough to come into ownership of the pen through the generosity of another fountain pen user, and do not therefore have my specific purchase details, however some prices (current at time of writing):
- Engeika $US122.00 ($AU156.00) + shipping
- Goulet Pens $US220.00 ($AU283.00) + shipping
- Jet Pens $US133.00 ($AU171.00) + shipping
- Cult Pens £124.00 ($AU253.00) + shipping
- Various eBay sellers $AU110 — $AU150.00) + shipping
Performance and use
In a word — superb.
Every expectation I had about the performance of this pen was met the moment the nib hit paper. I’ve always been fond of Pilot nibs, and this one is no different. The 14k nib starts immediately, and glides flawlessly until lifted. I can tolerate a false start or occasional skip in a lot of pens, however these characteristics will tend to limit them to certain situations or specific paper types to be enjoyable.
The Custom Heritage 92, while not suiting every possible paper type (as no fountain pen does), will suit pretty well every situation — that is, from extended longhand writing sessions to short and intermittent note taking (courtesy of no false starts). It’s an absolute gem — no doubt about it. I always find it somewhat exhilarating when a pen I adore the look of, exceeds all expectations upon hitting the page.
The FM nib has a just a little flex to be noticeable, however not to really influence the resulting line width very much without exerting more force than you’d probably prefer. In any event, that isn’t what this pen is for. As far as the line width is concerned, again I’d say this sits squarely in my fountain pen sweet spot. It is a touch finer than both the F nib on my Pelikan M600 and the Lamy EF I currently have inked. It is fine enough to allow my everyday writing to sit in the “somewhat legible” range on a standard Rhodia No. 16 Pad, however also carries enough ink to smoothly handle paper with a little more tooth, for example a Baron Fig Confidant.
The pens I write about on these pages have usually been in use for some time before they appear here. Of course, overall impressions are formed far more quickly, however I prefer to see how my overall use patterns are either sustained or change over time, with different paper, notebooks and use cases. The Custom Heritage 92 is a pen which has been consistently picked up and used since I came into ownership of it. It is a pen I enjoy having in my collection, yes, however it is also a pen which compels me to use it — again and again.
As I write with the Custom Heritage 92, I find my eye drawn from the nib towards the barrel as it sits in my hand, and often admire the way the colour transitions from black and silver into the vibrant blue resin, before disappearing into the darkness as it enters my hand.
Although more striking in appearance than many of my other pens, I wouldn’t describe the Custom Heritage 92 as flashy. The performance however, is unsurpassed, and with the quality of the nib and overall workmanship being what they are, even full retail price I believe is reasonable, let alone the great value for money you might find from shopping around.
If you are after a magnificent looking pen which performs well beyond its price range, the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 would be well worth placing on your list of those to consider. There are pens which draw your eye, and those which draw your hand — the Pilot Custom Heritage 92 to me at least, is highly adept at both.
- There is clearly much I could write about my thoughts on pens and the associations I have very clear in my mind, however perhaps that is for its own post. ↩
- I always find that statement interesting when I write it. If you generally use pens without posting the cap, I cannot see how you would not find posted pens “top heavy” — regardless of the overall pen balance. Anyway, I guess it is worth stating as part of the opinion, though is likely to appear in just about every post I write on full size fountain pens. ↩