The Pilot Custom 74 and the Platinum #3776 Century are both excellent fountain pens. They are also shockingly similar — they are clearly direct competitors to one another. But give how similar they are on paper, how do you choose one or the other? And which should you buy, the #3776 Century or the Custom 74?
3776 Century and Custom 74: What’s the Same?
Both of these pens are plastic (“resin”) bodied, mid-sized fountain pens with entry-level 14K gold nibs. They are both available for under $100 if imported from Japan, both are available in a huge array of color and nib combinations, and they both have very nice metal trim. They even look a lot a like.
As you can see, choosing between them is not going to be easy.
Both pens post, they are both cartridge converters, and both have metal components inside, which give them a much needed bit of extra heft. They have equivalent build quality — it’s excellent for both.
And both pens have great resale value. If you keep the box and materials and keep the pen in good condition you’ll barely lose any money if you ever want to sell the pen.
3776 Century and Custom 74: What’s Different?
- Each pen uses its own proprietary ink converter and cartridges, so if you have other pens from one of the brands, there will be a big convenience factor choosing that one.
- The Pilot Custom 74 uses a Con-70 converter, a very popular and respected option largely due to it’s 1.1 ml capacity
- The Pilot has a smaller nib, but it’s more ornate. The Platinum’s is more flaired
- The Platinum pen body is wider and more shapely, where the Pilot’s is nearly straight
- The grip section of the Platinum is slightly wider, making it more comfortable to hold if you have larger hands or generally prefer bigger pens.
The single biggest difference between the two is how they write. The Platinum offers a lot of feedback when you are writing. It’s not scratchy, but you can really feel the texture of the paper. The Pilot is super smooth, much more so than the Platinum. So if you want butter smoothness, the Pilot is the only option.
Both nibs are relatively stiff, though the Pilot is the choice is you want to see a hint of line variation and flex. The Pilot’s nib is the one that truly feels like a gold nib — this is a major selling point since both of these pens are popular “upgrade pens” or the first relatively expensive fountain pen people buy once they get into pens.
The Pilot is the wetter nib, though there is always some variation from pen to pen and depending on the ink you buy. The Pilot medium is roughly equivalent to the Platinum broad.