Platinum Plaisir Bali Citrus Fountain Pen – A Quick Look

Bali Citrus is Platinum’s “limited edition” Plaisir for 2018.  This came as news for me as I wasn’t aware that Platinum issued limited edition Plaisirs.  A bit of digging turns up one possible previous limited edition, the Akajiku, but not much else.  Whether this is an indicator of things to come from Platinum, I guess time will tell.

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Double Trouble (and not a Rebel MC in sight)

I’ve previously enthused about the Plaisir in Nova Orange.  A metal-bodied pen for less than £10 that does the basics pretty well is a good thing in my book.  This new incarnation is the same pen, just in a different jacket.  As a fountain pen in general, the Plaisir is not everyone’s cup of tea.  In this colour, I suspect opinions might be even more divided.  Bali Citrus turns out to be an acidic greeny-yellowy sort of colour.  You could happily call it citrus, but what makes is particularly Balinese is anyone’s guess.

To rehearse my previous review, the Plaisir comes with a slim, anodised aluminium body and cap and a simple steel nib and plug-in feed.  Impressively at this price, the cap includes “Slip and Seal” technology, which can be found on Platinum’s more expensive pens.  This means that you can leave the pen capped for extended periods of time and it won’t dry out.  I haven’t tested this scientifically, but I’ve left my orange Plaisir inked and unused for several few weeks and it’s written first time without any skipping or hard starts.

Sticking with the cap, the clip is simple, but robust and functional.  Another subtle feature of the cap is a broad, engraved chromed band.  I’m not a huge fan, but can live with it as a “feature” at this price.  I know plenty of people are offended by it, but I’m sure someone somewhere loves it.  I really like a comment on The Finer Point that likened the cap band to a wrestling champion’s belt, which sums it up nicely.  Very bling.

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That subtle cap band – more lightweight than heavyweight

The nib is a simple steel affair and is common between the Plaisir and the ultra-cheap Preppy, so it’s easy to switch between the available sizes (medium, fine and extra-fine).

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The simple, but functional nib and section

I don’t normally post my fountain pens, but the Plaisir is one that I find I have to post to feel right.  It’s not really a balance issue, more that without the cap there’s not enough mass for my liking.

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With apologies to Yoda…

The Plaisir uses Platinum’s proprietary fittings, so won’t take international cartridges unless you buy an adaptor.  I had the impression that the Plaisir wouldn’t work with Platinum’s converter, but Laura from Fountain Pen Follies pointed out that it does work (with a bit of faffing).  If you try to fill the pen by immersing the nib in ink there’s not enough draw to fill more than the section, but if you use a syringe to fill the converter and then flood the section you can get a decent fill.

You can get the Bali Citrus Plaisir from sources like Cult Pens, Goulet Pens and Rakuten.  For some reason, UK pricing seems a bit more wallet-friendly than elsewhere.

I still like Plaisir.  Sure the Plaisir is not without its limitations, but it does the job well and I can’t get away from the value for money argument.  A well made metal pen at that sort of price?  It seems rude not to.

 

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Platinum Plaisir – fountain pen review

There’s always a risk when a company gives a product a name that implies a certain quality of experience.  So it is with Platinum’s Plaisir.  Is owning one a pleasure or a pain?  Read on to find out…

Platinum Plaisir Nova Orange

I’ve previously reviewed Platinum’s Preppy – an ultra-cheap, highly usable cartridge pen that has a decent nib (particularly when you factor in the price).

At over three times the price of the Preppy, the Plaisir is the Preppy’s more grown-up, sophisticated cousin.  You get the same transparent plastic grip and nib/feed combo that comes with the Preppy.  (The grip is smoked on the Nova Orange, but clear on the other colour options.)  Where your extra money goes is on an aluminium cap and barrel and the introduction of Platinum’s ‘slip and seal’ cap mechanism which prevents ink from clogging even if the pen sits unused for up to a year.  Having only had the pen a month or two, I’ll have to take Platinum’s word for that.  Still, it’s nice to see this feature down at this price level.

Platinum Preppy and Plaisir

Plaisir and Preppy for comparison

The Plaisir comes in a fairly wide range of colours, including ‘Frosty Blue’ and ‘Gunmetal’ alongside the more usual red and black.  Medium and fine are the most commonly available nibs.  I hung on until the Nova Orange version (I like orange) became available from Cult Pens and, having previously tried a medium, opted this time for a fine nib.

Stats for Plaisir are as follows:

Weight = 14.5g

Length = 142.5 mm

Diameter (max) = 15 mm

The Plaisir cost me £9.45 from Cult Pens (UK).  The US retail price is $22, although Goulet Pens seem to be offering it at a discounted price of around $18.

Plaisir, Kaweco Sport and Lamy Safari for comparison

Real world comparison – Lamy Safari, Kaweco Sport, Platinum Plaisir

As with the Preppy, the only option out of the box is to use Platinum’s proprietary cartridges.  For an extra £1.50 ($5 in the US) you can buy a small plastic adaptor which enables you to use the more readily available short international cartridges.  As I showed with the Preppy, you can also add in Kaweco’s mini piston converter on top to enable you to use bottled ink.  I took the opportunity to try Diamine’s ‘Elegance’ collection – a box of 20 cartridges (Claret, Teal, Midnight, Oxblood and Saddle Brown).

Playing it safe, the first colour I tried was Midnight.  This turns out to be a perfectly reasonable dark blue.

Writing sample

In use the Plaisir puts down a fine, but suitably wet line.  Of the fine-nibbed pens I own, this is one of the finest – maybe matched by my TWSBI Diamond 580.  The fine nibs on my Lamy 2000 and Kaweco Sport don’t really come close in comparison.

So what do I make of the Plaisir overall?  Well, I really like it.

The nib is great.  It’s no less plain than the nib on a Lamy Safari and at this price point you wouldn’t expect a lot to have been spent on making it look more glamorous.  Despite its simple design, it puts down a good line and behaves itself well.  It’s not at all scatchy and I appreciate the good ink flow.  Drier pens can make writing with a fine nib a bit of a chore, but not so here.  The nib and feed can be removed simply by pulling, so you could switch to another nib size quite easily (the Preppy would make a cheap donor).  The grip is most definitely utilitarian rather than a design classic, but it gets the job done.

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Nib detail

The aluminium finish makes it feel a lot more up-market than the all-plastic Preppy.  The Plaisir feels quite slender and light weight in the hand, and although I prefer my pens to be a little chunkier and with a bit more heft, it hasn’t stopped me using this pen on a regular basis.  I don’t normally post pens when I write, but found myself doing so with the Plaisir to get the balance right for me.

Detail of cap band

The embossed, engraved chrome band at the base of the cap takes the opposite approach to the nib in terms of finish.  It’s a little too fancy for my taste and it could be argued that it cheapens the look of the pen a little.  In my opinion, something simpler would have added more class.  That said, I’m being a bit harsh here and I have to keep reminding myself that this is a pen costing less than £10!

That’s what it really comes down to.  Platinum have done a fantastic job producing such a well-made, well-performing pen at this price point.  I haven’t had the opportunity to try one of Platinum’s higher end pens yet, but the Plaisir certainly helps underpin the company’s reputation for producing pens with quality nibs that are good value for money.

So far, owning one has been a pleasure.

Frankenpen – A Platinum-Kaweco hybrid

(Disclaimer: The title of this post may be more dramatic than the content, but I couldn’t resist using it.)

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Platinum Preppy – medium nib in blue

Platinum’s Preppy is a very popular pen.  What’s not to like?  For around £3 in the UK ($3-4 in the US) you get a simple, straightforward cartridge pen with a really decent quality steel nib.  Okay, it probably won’t last long enough to become a family heirloom, but it’s robust enough to be a good first fountain pen that writes well and puts more expensive pens to shame.  You get a choice of nibs from medium to extra fine.  Unlike its low-cost rival, the Pilot V series, you also get a pen that you can re-use.  Straight up, you can use Platinum’s own cartridges that come in a range of colours.  Spend a little money on an adaptor and you can use any short international cartridge, opening up the choice of inks to include the likes of Diamine and J Herbin.  (Both provide a good range of colours in cartridges, but their bottled ink ranges are bigger.)

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Nib, section and international adaptor

Cartridges aren’t the most economical way to buy ink and some inks are only available in bottles.  The solution is obvious, buy a converter!  Platinum handily make a couple of converters, but read the small print and you find they work with ‘most’ Platinum pens.  Unfortunately ‘most’ doesn’t include the Preppy, or its more up-market stablemate the Plaisir (which uses the same section and nib assembly).

That’s OK though, because I bought an international adaptor.  I’ll just plug in an international converter and I’ll be good to go, right?  Not really.  The space taken up by the adaptor, plus the relatively short barrel mean that most converters simply won’t fit.

Step forward Kaweco’s Mini Piston Converter.  This pint-sized converter was developed for use in Kaweco Sport pens.  Handily it also fits the remaining space in the barrel of the Preppy.

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Nib, section, adaptor and converter

It’s not the biggest converter in the world, but it does mean you can use bottled inks in the Preppy.  Admittedly, by the time you’ve added in the adaptor and converter you’ve trebled your initial costs.  That brings you up to around £9 (US$12) – which is still cheaper than a Lamy Safari (which needs its own converter if you want to use bottled ink).  If you’re prepared to spend a bit more money  (around £16/$20 all in) you could go through the same exercise with the higher spec and more robust Platinum Plaisir.  I prefer the Platinum nib to the equivalent Lamy, which I find too dry.  When I can get my hands on an orange Plaisir (yum), I plan to repeat the exercise.  The only other thing I would change is to go for fine nib instead of the medium I chose here.

What’s the worst that can happen?