Wayyy back in the sunny days of July last year, before the Ontario winter and the snow, when I could still see the land around our house, the garden furniture, and even the lake come to think of it, I wrote a review of the TWSBI Diamond 580AL in turquoise, with a steel 1.1mm nib. I liked it, a lot, even though I don’t really like the aesthetics of demonstrator pens. I liked it so much in fact, that I’ve carried it pretty much every day since. I have pens I prefer, but I’m nervous about taking them places where they might get lost or damaged, mainly because of the cost of replacement. The TWSBI Diamond 580AL hits a sweet spot for me. It’s not too expensive (about $87.50 CAD at the time of writing), which means I don’t worry about it being lost; it’s just the right size and weight; carries a great ink capacity; and the nibs are truly excellent; quality is consistent; and they’re easy to clean/maintain. I can overlook the breakfast cereal freebie appearance, when the pen ticks all those other boxes.
And, you know what? Its cheap, tacky, plastic looks are starting to grow on me. At least it looks so much better than the Eco, or that one that comes in all those colors, the one with the giant paperclip stuck on the cap—I’m sure you know the one I mean, bless its heart. So, the other day, I was lamenting how I didn’t have the right pens with my favorite nib size (a 1.1mm stub), to match the inks that I like to take on the road. I had a mixture of fine, medium and broad nibs, in the Lamy Aion, Sailor 1911L, Platinum Century 3776 and the Platinum Balance, but I was nervous about carrying some of those, and none of them had my favorite stub nibs. You can tell where this is going can’t you? A couple of days later, a new TWSBI Diamond 580AL in silver, with a medium nib (I shall explain that in a second), landed on my desk. A few days after that, another TWSBI in rose, with a steel 1.1mm stub nib, and an additional Diamond 580 1.1mm stub nib kit joined the other pens.
I don’t intend to repeat my old Diamond 580AL review here, after all, nothing has changed, these are essentially the same pens, with the same specifications, they’re just in different colors. I will add something to the mix though, but on the whole, this is more of a general interest sort of post.
I already had a TWSBI Eco with a 1.1mm nib, and when I went online to buy the silver Diamond 580AL, I noticed that it seemed very difficult to find anybody that stocked the silver with a 1.1mm stub nib already fitted. So I thought, it’s a TWSBI, you can swap the nibs on those quite easily I hear. I’ll just order the 580AL in silver with a medium nib, and swap the nib from the Eco. What could be easier? Well it did work, kinda sorta. But mostly it didn’t.
I won’t go into it in great detail, but suffice to say, the Eco nib doesn’t quite sit in the section as low as the 580 nib, whether you use the Eco or the 580 feed appears irrelevant. As a result, it can move out of alignment with the feed if knocked (even lightly), and can even make contact with the plastic liner of the pen cap. This latter is what made me get the 580 nib kit instead. You live and learn.
The nib kits arrive in a nice little plastic tube, which is excellent for storage and protection, and are simplicity itself to swap over. I didn’t even bother to drain my pen first, I just flushed the new nib with a little tepid water, and fitted it straight away. The nib above is the medium which I removed from the silver Diamond 580AL.
The Diamond 580AL in rose wasn’t in stock when I ordered the silver model, hence the wait, and luckily it allowed me to add the nib kit to the same order—I hate unnecessary waiting. Or even necessary waiting for that matter. I filled the pen with Sailor’s Jentle Irori (red), and I think it matches wonderfully. That coloring makes me want to find things to write with it!
Previously I had the Irori loaded in a Platinum Balance with a fine nib, and I liked it, but that fine line didn’t show off the ink the way I wanted it to.
Each of these pens is as solid as I have come to expect from TWSBI, and the writing experience from brand new has been excellent… with only one or two minor gripes, that have disappeared with a little use.
The pre-installed 1.1mm stub nib on the rose pen was absolutely faultless from the first moment I used it.
It was only the 1.1mm stub that I bought on its own, and fitted to the silver pen, that showed any issues. For the first page or so of writing, it stuttered and ran a little dry on two or three occasions. You’ll be able to see these on the writing samples below, but after a while the nib settled down to the consistently high quality performance I have come to expect from TWSBI. I know this adds about $30.50 CAD to the overall price of the pen, but I don’t think this is too much if it gives you the writing experience you’re looking for.
Let’s take a closer look at that Irori red and the rose section, I could almost become a fan of demonstrators.
I wonder if, one day, I might ever get to like that giant paperclip?
Nah, probably not.
The more I look at these, the more they appeal. I really like that fire-engine red…
What Do Those Stub Nibs Write Like?
I tested each of the pens with their respective black, blue and red Sailor inks, on a 90gsm Clairefontaine Triomph, white, lined notepad.
No bleed, no show-through, and no feathering is ever really seen on this paper.
Although drying times can be a little longer given the sheen on the Clairefontaine paper. This doesn’t really bother me much, since I always carry a sheet of J. Herbin blotting paper with my pens and everything else.
Each nib was truly excellent, with only the 1.1mm stub using the black ink showing any kind of issue:
And that was, frankly, inconsequential. Alternatively, the blue and red stubs were everything you could want them to be:
Desk Buddy Approved
Once again, we see that nothing of any importance passes over my desk without feline approval.
Young Alfie was of the opinion that the rose matched his collar.
But TWSBI need to work on a more feline-friendly design, so as not to exclude customers that lack opposable thumbs. Also, when he chews it, he has found he gets an abrupt poke in the backside, and is dumped on the floor. He finds this confusing.