The Pilot Vanishing Point is the most famous of a very rare breed: a retractable fountain pen. The pen has been around since 1963, so it has a long and rich history, as well as a proven track record. The Vanishing Point (VP) uses a push-button design to extend and retract the nib, unlike some other retractable fountain pens that use a twist action.
The pen has amassed a dedicated following because of its convenience and versatility.
The Vanishing point has a wide body which is one of the most loved and disliked features about it. It also has a clip that is right in the grip area, which also is something that people don’t mind or totally and completely hate about the pen.
The Vanishing Point has an 18K gold nib that is most commonly sold in Fine, Medium, and Broad, but it can also be found in Extra Fine, Broad, and Italic. The pen uses Pilot’s Con40 converter or an accept Pilot’s IC50 and IC100 cartridges.
The Vanishing Point is a popular pen sold in many different colorways some include:
- Blue Faux Carbon
- Black Faux Carbon
- Dark Blue
- Yellow (similar to a goldenrod)
- Metallic Blue (pictured)
- Gun Metal
- Raden Water
- Raden Stripe
- White with Black Trim (the “Stormtrooper”)
Some of these might require some explanation. For example, the Raden is a Japanese Maki-e design that is quite stunning, but will move the price of the pen from $250 to $800.
The metal hardware on the pen is normally silver, but is also sold in black, gold, and rhodium which is gold but coated to look silver.
Pilot Capless With Special Alloy Nib
If you shop for a Pilot VP on Amazon or Ebay you might see sellers from Japan selling the Vanishing Point with a “Special Alloy Nib”. Rather than the standard 18K gold nib, the “Special Alloy” is actually steel. These are a more affordable version of the pen that is only sold in Japan. The plus side is that these versions are quite affordable and can usually be had for well under $100.
The Special Alloy steel nib is a smooth writer, but most people think it’s worth it to go with the gold. The steel nib is a bit less smooth and has less character than the 18K nib. That is already a rather stiff and not particularly fun to use nib, so the steel is definitely a step down and will be a disappointment to many dedicated fountain pen users.
Pilot Vanishing Point Review
This pen is beloved by so many people, but strongly disliked by others. The mixed opinions come from a few decisions Pilot made, most importantly the size of the pen (it’s quite large), the placement of the clip (on the grip section), and how the small nib writes (this is personal preference but they are hit and miss).
Where the Vanishing Point does always do what it’s supposed to do is in the convenience and reliability factor. It’s undeniably a retractable fountain pen that you can click out when you need it. The pen has this function nailed and it’ll retract and write as well as travel without exploding ink all over.
The general feeling about the Pilot VP here at Unsharpen is that it’s a great idea, but the convenience factor is not that much better than a pen with a cap, and the trade-off in writing quality you get for the retract-abilty is not worth it. The Vanishing Point has a small nib and an expensive nib unit. The combination of these means that the pen, while undeniably cool, isn’t as good a writer or as user-friendly over the long run as a similarly priced capped pen, like the Platinum 3776.
The fountain pen’s feed tends to run dry and the pen is prone to hard starts because of the dry nib, which is annoying in a pen at this price level. There is a door to keep the nib area seals off from the outside, but these door mechanism is not the best and we’ve seen a few of them not function that well.
All in all, the Pilot Vanishing Point is a good idea with a good execution. It’s not great in our minds, which is what we’re looking for in a $100+ fountain pen. The retractable device might be more important to you, in which case this pen is likely the best game in town (yes, better than the Lamy Dialog 3).
Pilot Vanishing Point Decimo vs. Regular Vanishing Point
The Vanishing Point Decimo is a popular variant of the VP fountain pen, but the differences between the two are not immediately clear. That said, some clear differences do exist. Here are the important ones to know:
- The Decimo pens are generally more expensive and rarer
- The Decimo pens tend to use more ornate designs on the exterior where most Vanishing Points are solid colors (but can also be found in wood, Raden, and limited editions)
- “Decimo” is stamped into the clip of the Decimo fountain pens
- The Vanishing Point body is actually a bit wider than the Decimo. This isn’t apparent in most images of the pens, even side by sides.
- The Vanishing Point is sometimes called the “Capless” where the Decimo never uses this name
- The Vanishing Point is usually sold with a 14K gold nib but sometimes has a steel “special alloy”. The Decimo only sells with the 18K nib
Generally speaking, most people tend to prefer the slimmer, lighter Decimo over the regular Vanishing Point.
- Decimo Grip: 9.9 mm
- Decimo Max Diameter: 12.0 mm
- Decimo Weight: 16.0 grams
- VP Grip: 11.0 mm
- VP Max Diameter: 13.5 mm
- VP Weight: 25.0 grams
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Pen Type||Fountain Pen | Cartridge/Converter|
|Barrel Color||Black, White, Red, Gray, Dark Blue, Black, Dark Blue|
|Body Diameter (mm)||13.5|
|Grip Color||Black, White, Red, Gray, Dark Blue|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||11.0|
|Country of Origin||Japan|
|Capped? Retractable?||Retractable - Top Button|
|Ink Color Shipped||Blue|
|Nib Material||18k Gold (Rhodium-Plated), 18k Gold|
|Nib Color||Silver, Gold, Black|
|Nib Sizes||Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.0 mm Italic|