Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pilot Vanishing Point Fermo Review

The Pilot Vanishing Point Fermo is the lesser-known sibling pen to the click Vanishing Point, but shares a similar design and the exact same interchangeable nib units. It is a retractable fountain pen, that utilizes a twisting mechanism instead of a click one. I shot a video covering just about everything I could think to cover, including all of the following topics summarized here.

Pilot Vanishing Point Fermo, in Deep Blue, Diamond Silver, and Black

Box and Packaging
The Pilot Vanishing Point Fermo box is the standard Pilot box like you see with the Vanishing Point (except Black Matte), Custom 74 blue, clear, and smoke, and Namikei Falcon and Pilot Metal Falcon, and Pilot Custom Heritage 92. The pen comes with a Pilot Con-50 converter and a single Pilot/Namiki cartridge with a metal cartridge cap.
Pilot Vanishing Point Fermo, with Con-50 converter, Pilot/Namiki cartridge, and metal cartridge cap (all included)

Color and Model Options
The Fermo comes in 3 different colors, Black, Deep Blue, and Diamond Silver. All are rhodium trimmed and come with an 18k gold, rhodium plated nib in extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad nib options. 
Filling Mechanisms
Cartridge/converter, Pilot/Namiki proprietary cartridges, Con-50 converter. Ink capacity isn't huge, that's a bit of a drawback to the Con-50, but it's no different than any of the click Vanishing Points or other Pilot pens. Refilling ink cartridges is a method that some prefer for slightly greater ink capacity.
Comparable Pens
Nib Size Options
Extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad 18k gold nibs with rhodium plating. Some retailers may choose to offer the pens with fine, medium, and broad 18k yellow gold nibs as well. These nib units are exactly the same as the click Vanishing Point nibs, and are interchangeable. 
Typical pen maintenance, the capless design may require more regular use to keep the pen from drying out, but I didn't experience anything unusual with Ku-jaku during my test week. The inside mechanism on this appears to be the same little 'trap door' style as the click Vanishing Point, which actually does a pretty good job of keeping the nib wet when the pen isn't in use. I didn't notice any difference between this and any other pen I have. When cleaning out the pen, it's actually pretty easy because you can remove the converter, and use the good ol' bulb syringe to flush it out. There isn't a real intricate feed system exposed that makes it hard to clean out. 
Notable Features
Retractable, slightly slimmer/sleeker than the click VP, can use any existing VP nib. It might be a little more comfortable to use for those with smaller hands, if the click VP is just a tad too big. 
Size and Dimensions
Weight: Overall: 33g (1.16oz)
Length: Nib retracted: 141mm (5.55in), Nib protracted: 150mm (5.91in) Nib Length Outside of Pen: 9mm (0.35in) Diameter: Body (no clip): 12mm (0.47in) Body (w/ clip): 13.8mm (0.54in)
Writing test
Flow is nice, drier in the EF and F nibs. EF and F write much finer than Western nibs like Lamy, medium and broad write more like other brands' nibs. EF nib is CRAZY thin. Make sure to pull nib unit out of the pen, don't try to ink with the pen body attached! Fully immerse the filler hole when inking up. Grip Section is smooth, part of the body. slimmer than the click VP, which is nice. No problems with gripping, despite it being metal. The metal is lacqeuered, which helps keep a better grip than you might have on a chrome-plated metal grip section. 

Strengths: This is a beautiful pen that I personally find more comfortable to use than the VP. It is very well balanced and the nibs are excellent. You don't need to worry about losing or dropping a cap when you go to use it, and it definitely has a cool factor to it. It looks very classy and professional, without being flashy or gaudy.

Weaknesses: It's a significant jump in price to the VP, no doubt because of the engineering involved in developing a retractable twist pen. The ink capacity isn't outstanding, but that only really matters for the wetter medium and broad nibs as the smaller nibs sip ink.

Price: List $325, GouletPens.com price of $260. Certainly not cheap, but it is an attractive pen that writes really well, very nice for a snazzy work pen that isn't gaudy. I fully realize the price will drive most pen fans to consider the click Vanishing Point first, given that it's nearly half the price, but the Fermo is a respectable pen on its own.

Recommendation: This pen definitely won't be for everyone, but for those that love the click VP and want something different, this will be a pleasure. It'll also be nice for those that want the convenience of a retractable nib like the VP, but haven' been crazy about the thickness of the grip section or the click action. 

 What do you think? Let me know in the comments....

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Awesome video! Have you ever done a post on how you have your camera set up? I always like how you're able to zoom in on things so easily.

    I've got a faceted regular VP from the early 1990s (plastic body, before they switched the the smooth brass/resin one they use now) with an M nib, and I love it dearly. As you say, it's incredibly smooth, to the point I have to think about making my writing just a bit bigger to cope with the wetness and to give myself more control.

    I've also got a VP Fermo with an F nib. It's definitely not as smooth as the M nib, but it's still amazingly smooth for a F, as all the Pilot F nibs I've tried have been. They didn't sell an XF nib unit for the Fermo when I bought mine. Now I'm curious about it. How much rougher/unsmooth is it than the F? Would you say that the Pilot XF is equivalent to an average western XXF?

    The old plastic VP is basically weightless next to my brass/resin Fermo. Some days I really like the wieghtlessness, and some days I need something with a bit more weight in my hand to control my writing. :P

    (I ended up importing my Fermo via eBay, because I wanted the forrest green body. I don't really understand why Pilot only ships 3/4 colors into the US.)

  2. Brian, wondering how smooth and dependable the twisting mechanism is on the Fermo. Some twisting ballpoints will sometimes have a choppy twist; on others, you twist and the point doesn't come out or go back in. The Lamy Dialog 3 sometimes does that. What are your thoughts?

  3. I JUST paused this video. 22 seconds in.

    Is that a Pilot G2 on your desk in the background?!?!

    Why on earth do you need that around with all those lovely nibs you have?

  4. My camera setup is really pretty simple. I basically straddle a tripod between my legs and point a camera down at my hands. It focuses quickly because I have a pretty decent camera.

    The EF (or XF, same thing) nib definitely sacrifices a bit of smoothness over the M and F nibs, that's part of why I don't like them. For the size nib you get though, it's smooth, it's just not as comfortable for someone like me who likes to write large/fast. I would say that the EF nib is equivalent to a Western XXF.

    I don't know why they don't bring in more of the pen colors, there is a decent selection of pens that Pilot doesn't bring in to the US.

  5. This one isn't choppy at all, it's incredibly smooth. I'm not the biggest fan of the mechanism on the Dialog 3 because where it twists is also where it breaks apart to pull out the nib unit, so you can inadvertently open it when you're just trying to operate the mechanism. The Fermo doesn't have this issue.

  6. Yup, that's a G2. I used it in one of my earlier FP101 videos and just never cleaned off my desk! I'm kind of a hot mess like that. The only time I really use a G2 is when I need to write on carbonless paper.


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