Review: TWSBI Diamond 580 AL Turquoise
It's here! This summer's limited edition pen from TWSBI has arrived -- the Diamond 580 AL in Turquoise. In terms of functionality, there is no difference between the turquoise and the regular Diamond 580 AL. The difference is purely in appearance. This pen sports turquoise-colored aluminum parts in the pen's grip section and parts of its piston mechanism, whereas the regular one has silver-colored parts. TWSBI has previously released the TWSBI 580 AL as limited editions in various colors, such as pink, purple, green, blue, orange, and lava. The pen arrives in a simple carton box. Inside that is a clear plastic box which contains the pen. The box also contains instructions, a wrench, and a tiny bottle of silicone grease. The wrench and the silicone grease are for instances when you want to disassemble the pen for cleaning and re-greasing. Please note, however, that the instructions state that the bearing grease on the piston rod should not be removed. (It's easy to see -- it's a whitish substance that coats the rod.) No extra bearing grease is packed with the pen. In general, the packaging of the TWSBI 580 AL is rather minimalist. It is practical and attractive in its simplicity, which reflects the entire TWSBI aesthetic.
In terms of size, the 580 AL is similar to the Eco when capped and uncapped. The comparison picture below shows (from left to right) the TWSBI 580 AL in Turquoise, the TWSBI Eco, the TWSBI Vac 700 (the old one, not the new Vac 700R), and the Lamy Vista. When capped, the Vac is clearly the biggest pen. When uncapped, it is still the biggest one, but the 580 AL, the Eco, and the Vista are not too far off in size.
The 580 AL comes with a number 5 size nib. The feed and nib come as a single unit that is screwed into the pen's barrel. Replacement nib units in EF, F, M, B, and 1.1 mm stub are available in various online pen stores and directly from the TWSBI website. (Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with TWSBI or any other pen store.)
In terms of appearance, this is a very attractive pen. It's a clear demonstrator which allows one to watch the ink swirling in the barrel (this is why I love demonstrators!). The anodized aluminum parts are well made and feel smooth to the touch. The barrel is faceted, which probably gives the pen the name "Diamond." This is in contrast to the smooth, clear barrels of the Vac and Eco models. It is of note that while the grip section is made of aluminum, it is not the slippery kind, making it comfortable to write with.
The cap of the pen is clear with chrome trimmings. Inside is a grey, inner cap that protects the nib from drying out and prevents ink from leaking into the rest of the cap. The finial is bright red and showcases TWSBI's logo. The clip is tight and strong, but I didn't experience any problems with attaching it to my shirt. Be careful when taking it out, though, as it could snag on thin cloth.
I find that the pen has good weight and good balance in the hand when writing. The cap can't be posted securely, however, so it's better used un-posted. The pen also seems sturdy and well built. Now I have to mention that there have been reports of cracking among TWSBI 580 and 580 AL users. (Please feel free to Google it, I am not comfortable linking to other review sites.) I have never experienced this myself with the other TWSBI pens I own, including another 580 AL model. I am quite careful with my pens though. So how does it write? Beautifully. I am partial to broad nibs, and this one wrote very smoothly out of the box with just a tiny hint of feedback that makes you feel the paper under the nib. I inked it up with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, which is a lovely teal ink with good flow. The lines produced are sufficiently thick and are consistent with other broad nibs. (Check out the writing sample with various broad nibs below.)
The piston mechanism operates very smoothly. Filling a pen is a snap: lower the piston, dunk the nib and feed into an ink bottle, raise the piston to draw the ink, dab the nib and feed with a paper towel or release a few drops of ink back into the bottle, and you're good to go. It is not much different from filling with a converter. The last step is important in equalizing the pressure in the pen and preventing ink burps, so don't forget to do it!
To conclude, this is one solid pen. It is an excellent writer with an easy-to-use piston filling mechanism. It is also an attractive pen and is one of the best demonstrators in its price range. It's a workhorse with its huge ink capacity. Plus, it's fun to use. The bottomline is: this is a pen worth adding to your daily carry.