The Pilot Custom 74 a clear-barrelled fountain pen with a rhodium-plated 14k gold nib.
Price: $160 (USA) £190 (UK)
Nib options: fine, medium, broad
Barrel options: smoke, clear, blue, orange
Filling system: proprietary cartridge/converter
Size: 14.3cm closed, 15.5cm posted
My version is a currently, it seems, hard to find clear barrelled pen. It has a smokey black end to the cap and barrel and section. The clip and trim are chrome plated. The overall effect is fairly plain and functional (or has an elegant simplicity, if you prefer). I do like my pens this way but, for me, the Custom 74 lacks the extra little sparkle that a pen like the Platinum #3776 Sai has.
Pilot use their own cartridges and converters and my pen came with their high-quality CON-70 converter. This is filled using a push button and it holds a reasonable amount of ink. It’s not quite as easy to clean as the usual piston-screw converter but it’s easy enough.
The broad nib on this pen is gorgeous. It’s smooth and very wet. It gets through ink like nobody’s business. You will be forever refilling it. There’s no doubt this nib will be too wet for many people and for all but the most helpful paper but it’s perfect for me. I love this nib.
The clip is simple but strong and functional. The cap screws on to close and posts securely. The pen’s well balanced and a good length and comfortable to hold posted or not. I managed to get some water between the outer and inner cap and I can’t get it out.
Value is always difficult to assess. In terms of function, the Custom 74 does everything right. It uses a good converter, is well constructed and has a gorgeous nib. For whatever reason, this pen costs almost £200 in the UK. When I compare it to other pens in that price range, it falls short. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with it, there is nothing exceptional about it either. The nib is lovely but that’s not unique to pens at this price and the barrel is just very ordinary. If you are in the USA, or are prepared to risk an eBay or Amazon purchase direct from Japan, it’s a different matter. A solidly made pen with a nib this great for $160? You can’t go wrong.
Far too expensive in the UK
You can find several thousand reviews of the Pilot Custom 74 on Pennaquod.