Chinese pens continue to impress. It’s clear manufacturers are investing in improving their products to grab market share.
The Wing Sung 618 is an excellent case in point. Bottom line: this is a terrific pen and, at under $8 on Taobao, a great value. If you’re expanding your collection, no need to hesitate. Get yourself one.
What makes this pen worth your time?
- Quality materials - Reported to be PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), like Japanese Sailor and Platinum pens. Wing Sung continues to move up the materials food chain.
- Wide range of colors - The transparent blue is just right to my eye, but there are lots of choices.
- Comfortably large - Solid in the hand and natural-feeling in all dimensions.
- Modern filing system - Piston fillers are always desirable.
- Attractive styling - If derivative.
- You can get a monster fude nib if you want - 😄
After dipping my toe into fude/art nibs with the Moonman M1 Brass and Wood, I permitted myself the luxury of ordering two 618s:
- Black with gold trim with a standard F nib (0.4-0.5mm)
- Semi-transparent blue with silver trim with a bent fude/art nib (0.6 ~ 1.5mm).
Both nibs are steel. A 12K gold version of the standard nib is also available (for a bit more than 4x the price.)
Unlike the very subtle bend to the Moonman nib, the Wing Sung fude nib goes the full Monty. It’s very pronounced. When I took it out of the box, I wondered if I’d taken a step too far. Gone around the bend, so to speak.
But writing with the big bent nib is easier and more fun than I expected. The sweetspot is generous and fairly flexible about the angle of the pen. The feed keeps up. I've found it as natural as writing with a traditional stub, perhaps even a bit easier. The standard nib is as good as everyone says.
Not being able to leave well enough alone...
One traditional drawback of hooded nib pens is alignment. It’s easy to get the nib, feed and hood out of whack, making the pen look dorky or even rendering the pen non-functional.
But a must for a good pen these days is the ability to take them apart for cleaning, nib-swapping or just general interest.
So the first thing I did with the fude nib edition was unscrew the section to see how the thing comes apart.
Badly, it turns out.
The section started to unscrew just fine. But the nib stayed in place, causing the tip of the hood to come up against the bent nib in an ugly metal on plastic confrontation.
After more than a little worrying, the nib decided it would turn and the section came free. But the nib stuck in the section. I eventually needed a poker to get it out. I was relieved that I had not broken the thing before inking it for the first time.
The collector is interesting for the very fine fins. It presses into the top of the barrel with a hole in middle for the feed, which is basically a thin rod with a tapered end.
Getting the pen back together and aligned was equally frustrating. It took a bunch of tries. In the end looked like the nib was not well seated in the feed. After some cooler reflection, I figured it was OK. It was.
chrisrap52 in his review of the 618 shares his experience getting things lined up just right. Next time I'll use tape!
While I had planned to swap the standard nib into the blue pen, I’ve put that project on hold...
Back to our regularly scheduled program
For fun, I decided to try a shimmer ink so I filled the black standard nib pen with J. Herbin 1670 Gris Orage (Stormy Grey). The experiment did not go well. It seems the particles in the ink clogged up the collector so that flow quickly ground to a halt. Is that typical of collectors on hooded-nib pens?
I refilled the pen with Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi - Bamboo Charcoal and away we went.
For the fude nib pen, I picked Diamine Kensington Blue, an ink that in my experience needs a broad or very wet nib. I’ve tried this ink in several fine-nibbed pens, but with unsatisfactory results. The ink is not saturated enough to make itself felt. The big fude nib and Kensington Blue proved an nice match.
The fude nib is still something of a curiosity and not really something I'd think of using for meetings. I'm not much of an artist so I don't have that angle either. What has crossed my mind is that with a strong black ink, the nib would be very workable as a marker for addressing packages. It's also just fun to write with.
Looking left and right
This pen is In the same league as the excellent PenBBS 308, and that’s saying a lot. That’s the category I put it in.
Weight cap: 8g
Weight body: 13g
Length capped: 139mm
Length uncapped: 128mm
Compared to the Lingmo Lorelei, the Wing Sung 618 is bigger and so feels more substantial in my hand.
The most interesting comparison, however, is with the Wing Sung 698
To my mind, the Wing Sung 618 represents a big step up over the Wing Sung 698, which itself was an important milestone and a pen that has stood the test of time. The 698 is my take-along pen in my notebook of important things. It clips in place securely and writes on a dime. It helps that the 698 is not in the same price range as a TSWBI 580 so if it gets a little beat up, that’s OK.
The Wing Sung 698, however, falls down in the design:
- “Lucky” on the clip? Not as off-tune as “War and Peace” on the Delike Alpha, but fruit from the same tree.
- Radial pattern on cap finial? Not a big win for me.
- Semi-abbreviation of Wing Sung to Wing S on cap band? A confusing and somewhat bizarre expression of the brand.
Design-wise, the 618 addresses all of these issues. The styling may be derivative of Parker (with elements of the Platinum Century thrown in) but it works. Nothing jumps out.
Beyond the styling, the pen offers a bunch of wins:
- Shape - I like the idea of a cigar-shaped piston-filler pen. I find the pen very well balanced.
- Size - Similar to the PebBBS 308 but more streamlined in girth, the pen is larger than the previous generation of Chinese pens.
- Filling mechanism - The piston fill mechanism works smoothly and is well concealed. The filler cap locks down solidly.
- Materials/construction - The plastic is great to the touch. The metal trim parts appear precise and well made. The threads on the barrel are not sharp and I like that the cap comes off in under one turn.
- Price - On Taobao, the standard nib model is just over $7. The fude/art nib version is a little less than $8.
- Writing experience: Both pens are generous writers. The standard nib is not too fine. Both pens wrote perfectly out of the box.
The two downsides are:
- Disassembling the nib side of the pen is daunting. I’m definitely back on my heels on that point. I’d like to be able to swap nibs but am not fully confident I won't mess things up. I probably just need more practice 😜.
- On one of the pens, the screw in finial on the top of the cap comes loose. The screw goes into the plastic liner inside the cap and does not want to stay tight. The glue on the threads didn't hold. I need to track down some glue.
Two thumbs up. I'm glad these pens are in my collection.
How many of your daily writers are hooded-nib pens? Leave a comment!
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.