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, at least 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? Read on to find out.
Platinum Fountain Pens Explained
- 3776 Century – Platinum’s main line of enthusiast fountain pens. One of the great fountain pens sold today.
- 3776 Century Nice – Like the standard 3776 Century, but with translucent bodies. These often have rhodium or rose-gold plated components, which boost 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 high-end plastic body and an upgraded steel nib
- Plaisir – A Preppy with a metal cap and pen body. Same nib, feed, and section as the Preppy
- Prefounte – An upgraded Preppy with the name nib 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
- 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.
Platinum’s Top Fountain Pens
Out of all Platinum’s fountain pens, the ones above are those that you would see mentioned the most often. The main enthusiast line is the 3776 Century (often spelled #3776 Century), with the Preppy being the mainstream sub-$10 pen. 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
The Plaisir line is basically the Preppy with a metal cap and body. There is little reason to get it over a Preppy, so we’ll limit our talk of it. The Prefounte, which was released in late 2019, is the same fundamental pen as the Preppy but has a slightly nicer 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.
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).
All of Platinum’s pens mentioned so far are cartridge/converters.
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.
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. None of them work particularly poorly with Platinum’s cartridges though so while the converter is nice, it’s not a major upgrade.