Thursday, 11 February 2016

ASA Nauka - the Black Beauty

I'm not really a paid up member of the Black Pen Society. Usually I find black a bit boring. But when I saw the design for the ASA Nauka, I was in no doubt; this was one pen I wanted in black.
You can see black isn't my usual colour. Pilot V-pen in purple, Jinhao in blue, Nauka, Airmail in orange, Pelikan m600 pretty in pink.
It's a very simple, streamlined design, influenced by the Mora stylos produced 'Oldwin' pen (but costing significantly less than the EUR 600 or so that the Oldwin costs). The threads are right at the end of the section, forming the 'flare', so that the body of the pen is without any step - a completely smooth curve.  Mine being in black you can see where the section and barrel join - about half way up the barrel - but if I'd chosen the bakul (brushed) finish or a patterned ebonite I bet you wouldn't be able to see the join at all.

 I was excited when it finally arrived, and taking it out of its little black velvet bag (which you can just see on the right of the picture) I immediately fell for its gleaming beauty.

Another very streamlined design I love. Not a fountain pen.

But... why isn't life straightforward? I opened it, filled it, wrote with it. And then I fell out of love.
  • First of all, the threads were just a tad sharp, and my fingers kept sliding down on to them. Bleugh.
  • And secondly, when I tried to recap the pen, I couldn't get the threads to engage. And because they're so deeply hidden inside the cap, I couldn't see what the problem was.
This is where buying from ASA Pens is worthwhile. I contacted Mr Subramaniam via Fountain Pen Network... and after we had exchanged a few messages, I managed to find the 'knack'. It was just a matter of slightly angling the pen when I inserted it. Now, I always give a little twist in the wrong direction to locate the start of the thread, and then screw the cap on. And I have to say that over a couple of weeks of capping and uncapping, the threads seemed to become much smoother. I haven't heard of other Nauka users having this problem so maybe just a bit of ebonite swarf had got trapped in mine (and I'm assured by Subbu that all the pens are tested before going out, so it looks as if I managed to dislodge a bit that was lying flat originally).

Still, the issue with the threads being just a little prominent for comfort remained... and another little niggle, that the curve of the pen just seems to have a bit of a 'flat' on the barrel before tapering more sharply towards the tail. I keep hankering for it to be even smoother...

And of course, I find out too late that black ebonite is an absolute fingerprint magnet. I'm reaching for the microfibre cloth five or six times a day.

So, if this pen is niggling at me in all these ways, and I had such a poor initial experience, why am I planning to order another Nauka?

Because this pen has stayed on my desk for two months. Other pens have come and gone in rotation. The Pelikan m600 vibrant green is back in its box. The Kaigelu 316 is back in the pen box. The Platinum 3776 briar wood and the Edison Collier limited edition have been put away. But the Nauka is still here. Out of all the pens I was using when I got the Nauka, only the Pelikan M600 pink has stayed in rotation - it's in pretty good company!

It's light. It's just got the right size of grip for me. It caps and uncaps quickly (unlike most Indian pens) now that I've got the hang of it. It just seems to want to be in my hands.

And now I want one in that red-and-green ebonite. Unless a really showy acrylic comes along first.

Where to get one

Order online from ASA Pens.  There are a number of options in terms of material (different ebonites), clip or clipless, filling system, and nib. Prices for non-Indian customers from EUR 22 to EUR 39, depending on the filling/nib options chosen.

That's three for the price of an M200, which I think is a steal.

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