Platinum is one of Japan’s “Big Three” pen companies, but it doesn’t seem to get the same level of attention as the other two (Pilot and Sailor) here in the United States. Despite that, Platinum makes some of our favorite fountain pens.
If you are considering buying a Platinum fountain pen which should you lean towards? Which are sure-fire hits that no one can deny is a great pen?
Platinum Fountain Pens Explained
- 3776 Century – Platinum’s main line of gold nib fountain pens. One of the great fountain pens sold today
- 3776 Century Nice – Like the 3776 Century, but with a translucent body. Often have rhodium or rose-gold plated nibs and clips, which increase the price
- Balance – The same pen as the Cool but with different trim. This includes the popular Platinum PTL-5000A
- Cool – Similar to the Preppy but with a nicer body and an upgraded steel nib
- Curidas – This is a retractable fountain pen Platinum released in 2019. It had problems and hasn’t been a big hit yet
- Izumo – High-end lacquered fountain pens. We won’t cover them here because they are specialty pieces.
- Maki-e – High-end pens with custom designs on the body. Also specialty pieces not covered here.
- Plaisir – A Preppy with a metal cap and body. Same nib, feed, and section as the Preppy
- Prefounte – An upgraded Preppy with the name nib, feed, and section but a nicer clip and body.
- Preppy – An excellent entry-level fountain pen, selling for around $3
- President – A full-sized fountain pen with that is more expensive then the 3776 but less popular
- Procyon – Basically an upgrade Plaisir, with an aluminum body. Has an upgraded steel nib with more line variation then the one the Preppy/Plaisir
Platinum’s Best Fountain Pens
Out of all Platinum’s fountain pens, the ones above the most popular.
Platinum’s main line for fountain pen fans is the 3776 Century (often spelled #3776 Century). This is a direct competitor to the Sailor 1911 and the Pilot Custom 74. The 3776 Century has an attractive resin body, 14K gold nib with a handsome flared design, and a screw-on cap that keeps the nib writing for up to a year. The 3776 sells for about $100 on Amazon (which means it’s not from an official reseller and has no warranty) or for about $180 from an official distributor (included warranty, support, and additional quality control).
The individual models of the 3776 tend to be differentiated more by the body and trim and less by the nib, where other companies will have more types of nibs. The 3776 almost always uses the company’s 14K or 18K nib.
The Preppy is Platinum’s mainstream, sub-$10 fountain pen. It’s perhaps the best fountain pen under $10 and a direct competitor to classics like the Pilot Varsity. The Preppy has a modular nib that slides right off and can be swapped with pens like the Plaisir and Prefounte. The Preppy sells for about $3 per pen and uses a cartridge where competitors like the Varsity are not designed to be refilled.
These two firmly buttress Platinum’s fountain pen lineup, as least as far as the mainstream buyer in concerned. Both are world-class in their respective categories, so know that you are starting at a good place!
Sub-$20 Fountain Pens
Platinum has other entry-level fountain pens beside the Preppy.
The Plaisir is a Preppy with a metal cap and body. The metal is thin and not very nice feeling in your hand, with a sharp clip that is also not user-friendly. This pen writes the same as the Preppy and is affordable for a metal pen, but it’s disliked by many people (including us here at Unsharpen).
The Prefounte, which was released in late 2019, is fundamentally the same pen as the Preppy but has a better plastic body and a metal clip. It’s a nice pen, but at $10 it has limited appeal over the $3 Preppy.
$20-$50 Fountain Pens
The Procyon and Cool are interesting pens but they are awkwardly priced in the $40-55 price range, which puts them very close to the entry level Century 3776 — if you are going by street prices for Japan imports. Both have steel nibs that write a lot like the Preppy’s nib. These are basically pens for fountain pen enthusiasts and Platinum diehards.
Of the two the standout is the Procyon, which has a high quality metal body and a steel nib that differs from that of the Cool or Balance. This nib is also a big upgrade from that of the Preppy family, which smoother writing, a larger size, and a bit more life to it. The Procyon is an attractive buy for people who prefer metal-bodied fountain pens but don’t want to break the budget. It’s also a very good looking pen and one of Platinum’s few pens with blunt ends similar to Sailor’s Pro Gear line.
Gold Nib Fountain Pens
The 3776 Century is a medium-size pen with a huge variation across the line. There are dozens of designs and prices can range from under $100 (again, on Amazon and imported from Japan with no warranty) to well over $300. This is the mainstay pen and if you want a gold nib Platinum fountain pen this is almost certainly the one to buy.
The President is the full-sized version of the 3776 Century, and Platinum’s flagship fountain pen (putting aside limited edition and bespoke pens).
Keep in mind that all pens mentioned so far are cartridge/converters. Platinum, like Sailor, isn’t much of a believer in internal filling mechanisms and while they have a very nice converter, some people scoff at seeing it on $250+ pens.
Platinum Pen Sizes
- 3776 Century: 140 mm capped, 15.3 mm max diameter
- Preppy: 139 mm capped, 13.2 mm max diameter
- President: 142 mm capped, 16 mm max diameter
- Procyon: 140 mm capped, 14.4 mm max diameter
As you can see, the all the pens are very similar in size. The President is by no means a huge pen and then 3776 Century is not a tiny one.
If you are concerned about the diameter of the writing section (the grip area you hold when writing) here are the details you need:
- 3776 Century: 10.2 mm to 11 mm width, 16.0 mm long
- Preppy: 10.2 mm to 10.8 mm, 23.4 mm long
- President: (coming soon)
- Procyon: 10.2 mm to 10.8 mm, 16.0 mm long
Platinum is known for its wonderful gold nibs, particularly because of the large amounts of feedback their nibs are designed to offer. This is a distinctly different feeling then the incredibly smooth writing of a Pilot. The Platinum nib are not scratchy, they just give you more of a feeling for the paper than some of their competition. This comes at the expense of some added friction.
Platinum’s higher-end fountain pens mostly use 14K gold nibs. Once you get to the President and other more expensive pens there are 18K nibs and 18K bi-color nibs but their difference from the standard 14K is limited.
Platinum’s nibs generally are sold in:
- Ultra Extra Fine
- Extra Fine
- Coarse (Extra Broad)
Recommended Platinum Pens
One of the most interesting pens in Platinum’s line is the unassuming Platinum PTL-5000A. It’s an entry-level gold nib pen that sells for under $60, US street price. This is almost unheard of and about the cheapest gold nib pen sold today. This is a dated pen though, which is getting increasingly hard to find find.
Our favorite pen in the Platinum line is the 3776 Century. This is a beautiful pen with a gold nib that offers lots of control and paper feedback. It’s a cartridge converter with an MSRP that is over $150 but you can regularly import from Japan for around half that. At under $100 this pen is a phenomenal deal.
And, of course the Preppy is a fanastic pen. It is the best sub-$10 fountain pen sold today. Highly recommend, especially in the newer Crystal design which has a fully clear cap and body.
All the pens use Platinum’s proprietary converter. They all also work well with Platinum’s cartridges though so while the converter is nice, it’s not a major upgrade.
Does Platinum make Nakaya fountain pens?
No, Platinum does not produce Nakaya fountain pens, but the two companies are closely related. Nakaya is said to be staffed by artisans who have retired from Platinum, after working at the company for over 40 years. Nakaya makes high-end “grail” pens using exotic materials, primarily urushi lacquer, with custom nibs that are closely related to Platinum’s.
Why does Platinum use so many “P” names?
Some of Platinum’s popular pens are the Preppy, Prefounte, Plaisir, and President. It’s not clear if this was done on purpose, just happened by chance, or is a quirk of translation. Many of the pens do have model numbers that start with “P”, like the vintage P-300 fountain pen, so preceding named with “P” might simply have been a practice that moved from models numbers to names, acting as an homage to the first letter of the brand’s name.