Backdrop:I have been using Fountain Pens since I was a child. After I got a job, it was possible for me afford some premium pens from Indian Standard. The Fountain pens available in local market were all chinese or cheap so I bought various pens from various online stores. Then I came across an Indian online shop. I purchased a Jinhao X450 , then a Demonstrator combo set at a really competitive price. Impressed by the customer service , I decided to give other pens a try and purchased a Pilot MR, then a Chelpark Sona, then a Pilot Tank and subsequently Oliver F27. I did not have an ebonite pen in my collection. The store owner suggested me to go for a pen launched in its own brand name namely ASA Athlete. I loved the pen, its balance and its looks. I liked the nib and the feel of ebonite. With Lamy Safari the pen became my second choice to write for long duration. I ultimately decided to try for more. When I found a limited edition is coming out of the box with an option of German nib, the temptation was too much to resist. I might have been the first customer to buy the pen, who knows, cause I immediately bought it. And I loved this pen too.
Basic Details: Crystal LE is basically an ebonite eyedropper pen which has been hand crafted. The cap top and the blind cap is made up of transparent acrylic which looks like a crystal. Neither of these parts can come out. They have been securely glued. Its a huge pen with a 15 cm length and average of 13 mm section diameter.
The pen is eye catchy and beautiful. It looks and feel like a costly pen and I should say costlier than what it actually is. The crystal looking top peeking out of the coat pocket catches attention of those around. I had actually a few colleagues asking about the pen. The pen is simply too large and too beautiful to ignore. It is a dominating and bossy looking pen. The crystal blind cap magnifies everything beyond it and under light looks shimmering and beautiful.
The pen is on heavier side compared to Athlete, it may be because of the ‘crystals’ .However ebonites feel sort of weightless and weight was never an issue for me since I have got large hands. The section is thicker than say Athlete and a Lamy. The grip is excellent. Because of large nib size a person can maintain a comfortable stance while writing. The threads never interfered with the grip, rather they aided it. Because the pen is quite thick it comfortably rested in the space between the index finger and the thumb. The balance is good enough, though the pen writes best when not posted. When posted the pen becomes, at least for me, too large to manage.
Nib and the Feed: Pen uses a typical ebonite two channelled Indian feed which we see in almost every hand made indian pen. It can be easily heat set. Though I am sure need to do so would rarely, if ever, arise. I would have loved to see some other finned feed in a pen of such quality and beauty. However, I am not the one who is producing the pen. I am merely a customer who is appreciating it. I am very sure that there must have been compelling reasons for not using such feed.
What I found was that by adjusting the extent of insertion and alignment of the nib and feed it was possible to control and adjust the flow of the ink. I adjusted mine and now my Medium nib pen is writing an Indian Fine and I am pleased. 🙂
However the nib, I am talking of the German nib available as an option, is superb. It is a German Bock, Steel Duo Point nib. I liked the Athlete nib, but I can swear on my love for the fountain pens that this nib is the best nib I have so far used. I have used a lamy nib and an Schmidt M and Schmidt fine nib. I have also used Pilot MR fine, Pilot Tank M, Parker Vector F and M, Parker Frontier F , Waterman M. This is the best among them. It has no feedback. It is super smooth. It is sturdy and strong which would not need an adjustment every now and then. I call it the best because other nibs when wrote smooth had no flex and this nib has both. It has decent flex and it is, as I have said, super smooth. It has an added advantage of being duo point i.e. capable of writing on both sides. What else do I need? I bow before those who created it and I thank them who made it available to me.
Since the nib is so good the pen writes equally well. The writing in all the previous paragraphs has been done with this pen and nib. However following photograph would reveal the flex of the nib. The writing sample also shows how the reverse side of the nib writes.