1. Appearance and Design. Classic and attractive.
The Classic Maki-e pen is decorated with a lower-cost technique that Platinum calls modern Maki-e, in which the design is first applied to the pen body with silk-screen printing, then is finished with hand-painting. With real Maki-e, the entire design is hand-painted from scratch. But the modern Maki-e technique leads to a much lower price: this pen is less than $150 at Pen Chalet.
The one I’ve been using features a Bush Warbler sitting on the branches of a plum tree. I think the details look very nice. I’d say the bird is adorable, if this weren’t a serious pen blog.
Sorry, that’s adorable.
In closeup you can see the hand-painted parts, as well as the silk-screened parts. But there’s always a three-dimensional effect even with this modern Maki-e technique. The painting looks very well done. You can see the artist’s hand, but there’s no sloppiness.
Keep in mind that closeup photo above makes the design appear huge. In real life this pen is almost exactly the size of a Parker 51 vacumatic.
Because it’s a slimmer pen, the Maki-e isn’t large-scale. I think the modern Maki-e technique works very well here. The finer details of a real hand-painted Maki-e design might be more apparent on a larger pen.
I am modernist and minimalist in my tastes, but the Bush Warbler Maki-e design won me over. I’m a fan. It’s decorative, but light. The pen’s slimmer size helps with that, frankly.
In this line Makie-e is only applied to the pen body, while the cap is left undecorated. I like that, as well. The details are attractive, but restrained.
I love the clip.
2. Construction and Quality. No issues.
The pen body and cap are made of a black plastic resin that is smooth and highly polished. The feed is clear. The cap is push-on, not threaded. Pen body threads are plastic, but the section couples to the body with a metal piece that creates a solid fit with the converter. The metal gives the section a nice heft and a sturdy feel.
Because the body and cap are acrylic (technically, AS resin), I assume those parts may eventually develop micro-scratches from use. But so far both the acrylic and the Maki-e have stood up to my normal use. I don’t post the pen, but I don’t baby it either. The Platinum Classic Maki-e has been kept in a crowded pen cup, carried around and used frequently. I haven’t seen any ill effects.
3. Weight and Dimensions. Slimmer but classic dimensions.
Weight of the pen capped: I get 20 grams (inked using converter); Platinum says 17.2 grams. Weight of pen body only: 15 grams (inked). Length of capped pen: about 13.6 cm or 5 5⁄16 inches. Length of the body only, excluding nib: about 10.4 cm or 4 1⁄8 inches.
The weight of the Platinum Classic Maki-e is right in my favorite range. In fact, its capped weight of 20 grams inked is the same as all these pens inked: a Parker 51 vacumatic, a Pelikan M600 and a Lamy Safari. A Kaweco AL-Sport weighs 20.5 grams inked, and a Montblanc LeGrand (146 size) weighs 25 grams inked.
I also like writing with the Classic Maki-e unposted. The Platinum Classic Maki-e pen body’s length is similar to an unposted Montblanc LeGrand or Aurora Optima.
But the Platinum Classic Maki-e is slimmer than those two modern fountain pens. Platinum measures the maximum diameter of the Classic Maki-e at 13 mm. That width is closer to a classic-sized fountain pen like a Parker 75, Kaweco Sport or Pelikan 400.
Or a Parker 51, Lamy Safari and Pelikan 400nn.
The slimness of the Platinum Classic Maki-e may be a concern for those with very large hands. For myself, while it wasn’t large, it was large enough, just like the Pelikan (M)400, the Parker 51, the Parker 75, the Kaweco Sport and the Lamy Safari.
As you can see in the comparison photos, the Classic Maki-e actually features a longer section than many pens. And there are no intrusive cap threads, with a push-on cap. I find the section very comfortable to hold.
It all adds up to a very comfortable pen for me, even for long writing sessions.
4. Nib and Performance. Excellent broad nib.
This Platinum Classic Maki-e has a broad nib in 18 karat gold. It’s a bit narrower than a typical Western broad nib, and a pleasure to use. Here is a bright and cheery comparison of the Platinum Classic Maki-e broad nib with a Pelikan M600 broad nib and a Lamy Safari broad nib.
This Platinum nib has a slight softness to it. I don’t mean spring or flex. I just mean that it’s not as stiff as, say, an Aurora Optima or Lamy Safari nib. The Platinum broad nib also writes on the wetter side. Out of the box it had a touch of feedback, which I like, but a few swipes on a micromesh stick would smooth it if necessary.
I used the pen with three different inks — Pilot Iroshizuku Momiji, Sailor Sky High and Kaweco Palm Green. It performed well with all three inks, starting up immediately and never showing a hiccup or hesitation in flow.
The nib is relatively small in physical size, closer to a Safari nib, although much more attractive. The Platinum nib is relatively unadorned and does not draw attention away from the Maki-e design of the pen.
You can see a little green in the Platinum’s breather hole there, but fear not. The feed is clear, and the pen was inked with Kaweco Palm Green when I took that photo.
5. Filling System and Maintenance. Proprietary cartridge/converter.
The Platinum Classic Maki-e takes a Platinum converter, which is included, or Platinum brand ink cartridges. It won’t take standard international cartridges.
I prefer a c/c filling system, for the convenience and the ease of cleaning. Proprietary systems aren’t my favorite, but the included converter does mean one can choose any brand of ink.
I’ve used this pen exclusively with the converter, and it has worked flawlessly. I’ve run the ink all the way down without needing to prime the converter once. If every converter worked as well as this Platinum converter, I’d be thrilled.
6. Cost and Value. Standout value.
This is from Platinum’s lowest-price Maki-e line, and Pen Chalet has it listed at $144, which seems like a great deal to me.
Obviously a budget-oriented price requires some compromises — the pen is acrylic, the size is slimmer, and Platinum’s modern Maki-e technique starts with screen printing. But the pen is still attractive, and construction seems excellent. To me, it’s a nice option for those who can’t or won’t spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a true Maki-e fountain pen.
For me, there’s another huge benefit to the reasonable price: lack of fuss or worry. I’m much more inclined to carry around and use a pen like the Classic Maki-e, which I don’t have to keep in a soft pen kimono, or worry about scratching, dropping or lending to others.
The best comparison pens are probably the Pilot Custom 74 or the Sailor Professional Gear Slim/1911 Standard. The Pilot and Sailors are slightly more expensive and don’t have Maki-e, but they are good pens, too, with gold nibs and included converters.
Otherwise, in the US, for about the same price you can buy a Pelikan M200 or M205. The M200 is a piston filler, but has just a steel nib, and it’s lightweight and quite small. At a lower price, I like the Kaweco AL-Sport for around $80 to $85, or the Kaweco Dia2 for $100. Those pens also have steel nibs. Unfortunately, a Kaweco converter costs extra, and has a smaller capacity than the Platinum (or Sailor or Pilot) converter.
7. Conclusion. I really have enjoyed this pen,. The Maki-e design is traditional, and lovely, but it’s low-key enough to appeal to someone like me who doesn’t love a lot of ornamentation. The artwork is very nice and the painting is carefully done. The pen is not huge, but I think it’s large enough for most pen users.
The single best thing about the Classic Maki-e to me is the price. It’s nice to be able to purchase a Japanese pen from a US dealer with solid construction, an 18 karat gold nib and Maki-e for less than $150.
I’ve loved using it. I’ll give it away on the blog next week.