Tombow Zoom 101 Fountain Pen Review21 December 2015
I was very pleased to have a chance to try the Tombow Zoom 101 fountain pen from The Pen Company. Tombow make some of my favourite art supplies and are famous, in particular, for their pencils, but they are not the first company you tend to think of when considering fountain pens. Having spent some time with this pen, I think this is a shame. This is an excellent pen.
Price: £80 (UK) $160 (USA)
Nib options: Fine, medium, broad (though the broad is harder to find) (all stainless steel)
Barrel options: Carbon fibre
Filling system: Cartridge/converter (not included)
Size: 12cm (uncapped), 16cm (posted)
A version of this review first appeared on The Pen Company’s blog.
The carbon fibre construction makes this a very strong but light pen. It feels absolutely solid when you pick it up whilst being as light as a feather. The section, finial and clip are made from duralumin, which according to my dictionary is “a hard, light alloy of aluminium with copper and other elements”. It looks like aluminium but I assume it’s a lot more scratch-resistant. More importantly, it sounds very cool and adds to the whole modern vibe that oozes from the Zoom 101. Carbon fibre and duralumin, it doesn’t get any more futuristic than that.
The clip is spring loaded and very strong. The cap posts, being kept in place with an o-ring. It needs a bit of a push to get on there but once on it’s not going to go anywhere. It’s all very functional and well engineered.
The broad nib (it’s also available in medium and fine) is exceptionally wet and very smooth. It’s so wet it might put some people off but if I’m using a broad nib it’s precisely because I want a lot of ink on the page and this pen, quite literally, delivers. It’s plainly decorated, just the word Tombow and a B for broad, but that fits in with the overall aesthetic of the pen: straightforward functionality.
There’s no converter included but one is available and the pen takes standard sized cartridges. I would expect a converter to be included with a pen costing this much. I put a Faber-Castell converter there, though, and it worked fine.
I’ve tried a lot of pens, from a lot of manufacturers and yet the Tombow Zoom 101 has been a complete surprise. It looks beautiful: ultra-modern, simple yet sophisticated. In use, the pen is a good length and so light you hardly notice you’re holding it, posted or not. The nib glides across the page. It’s a delight to write with. This is one of the best pens no-one has heard of and has firmly, and unexpectedly, become of my favourites. As Tombow themselves say on the English translation of their corporate site, “Exquisite lightness is born; worn with massive grace.”
Beautiful modern design
Light but strong
Very wet nib (if you like that kind of thing)
Spring loaded clip
No converter included
Very wet nib (if you don’t like that kind of thing)
I love how the pen looks. But is it a gold nib? Would be pretty pricey for steel…
It’s steel. I’ve edited the post to say that now. It’s a good quality pen.
Thank you for an excellent review of a much under-rated fountain pen. I use one of these with a fine nib, and it is a great pen, which also writes very smoothly. Tombow also make the much cheaper, but equally under-rated Object fountain pen and rollerball. Both of these are a good introduction to the brand. I am not sure if you can buy them in the UK, but have a look for the Zoom L102 mechanical pencil, and the Zoom L102 Multi-pen, both of which are well designed, great value EDC writing implements which make use of Tombow’s premium quality pencil leads.
Thanks Chandon. I’ve been able to find somewhere selling the multi-pen but not the pencil. The 707 range looks interesting too. Shall add this lot to my list!
Cult Pens in the UK stocks a good selection of Tombow products, but the mechanical pencils are harder to find locally. Pencils.jp will have them, but they are based in Japan! The 707 range is interesting as well, but I find them too thin to use practically. You might want to try the Irotojen coloured pencils if you get the chance as these are lovely for drawing as well.
Thanks Chandon. I want to dive into coloured pencils sometime next year.
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That is really cool – is the pen body as slender as it looks…?
Yes it’s a very slim pen.