review: twsbi eco - ink between the teeth

Oct 9, 2017

review: twsbi eco

I purchased my TWSBI Eco more than a year ago. A review at this point would be useful, don't you think?

When TWSBI announced the Eco quite a while ago, people were, unsurprisingly, excited about the idea. I'm sure you've heard plenty about this pen since its long-awaited release, but allow me to repeat some information you probably already know. The Eco, short for "economical," is one of very few sub-$100 piston fillers on the market. To my admittedly limited knowledge, the only competitors in this category are made by Noodler's. Even then, TWSBI's practically batting against itself: the company has built itself a steady foundation of piston and vacuum fillers, all for less than $75.

I purchased the TWSBI Eco with my own funds, directly from the TWSBI website. This was quite a while ago, so unfortunately I can't tell you how long it took to get to me: I will say that it arrived fairly quickly (I think it shipped from within California).
To build such a pen for a low price, the Eco is missing quite a bit from its older brothers; much of the metal has been taken out, save for the cap band, clip, and nib. The Eco is far lighter because of that. Aesthetically, the Eco is similar to its sibling pens: in the photo above, you'll see my three TWSBIs together (my Frankensteined Diamond "560," which has the metal nib collar of the 580 in a 540,  an amber Diamond 540, and the Eco). Both pens have the TWSBI logo on the cap, and both have the ridges in the piston knob. The Eco has a cylindrical body with a hexagonal piston knob and cap, while the Diamond is faceted with a cylindrical knob and cap. The Eco is a hair shorter, and doesn't hold as much ink, either.
If you dislike the design of the Diamonds, you're probably not going to spring for the Eco. I've heard a lot of people say they find the Eco rather... ugly, especially with the chunky cap. A lot of people really dislike the clip, which I think is a bit strange design-wise when combined with the rest of the pen, but certainly isn't horrible. I, personally, found it much more attractive with the clear cap and knob, but I think it has a very functional design. Which is to say, it's definitely not the prettiest pen I own.

It isn't a flashy pen; it doesn't declare itself to be more than it is, and that's just fine with me. It holds quite a bit of ink, and comes in a variety of nib sizes which you can swap with ease. It fits my hand well, and writes smoothly with a touch of feedback. Broad nibs haven't let me down yet when it comes to TWSBI, so I purchased the Eco with one and it's good: not exceptional—it could write a touch wetter—but it works well enough for my needs.
The Eco arrived in a frosted, plastic box covered by a cardboard sleeve. The box reminds me of the Muji PP Pen Case, which is something I both own and enjoy, and includes a plastic wrench, instructions for (dis)assembly, and a bottle of silicone grease, all nestled in foam. It's certainly not nearly as classy as the Diamond, which came like a mounted wand, but it—like the pen—is very functional. There's not much waste and it doesn't try to be pretty, and I like it that way. I've kept the box with the foam because it organizes all the innards for me, but you can also empty it out and use it as a pencil/pen case.

All in all, I enjoy the TWSBI Eco. Is it the classiest pen in the world? Nope. But it works, and it works well. I think it's more than worthy of the $29 price tag. It has some competition with Noodler's, Kaweco, Lamy, Monteverde, and Platinum (as the biggest names), but I personally think it holds its own. So far the TWSBI comes in several colors: black, white, clear, lime green, and turquoise.

I think the Eco would be a great second/third step into the world of fountain pens for a beginner. Personally, if I wanted to introduce someone to fountain pens, I would start with a cartridge/converter. When you make the jump from ballpoints to fountain pens it can get really confusing, so starting slow and steady makes a world of difference. Once a beginner has learned how to use a converter, a piston filler isn't much different.

Specifications (all measurements are approximate):
Length, capped 5 1/2 in (13.9 cm)
Length, uncapped 5 1/5 in (13.2 cm)
Length, posted 6 5/8 in (16.7 cm)
Weight, full 0.77 oz (22g)
Weight, full & uncapped 0.67 oz (19g)

The Nib Creaper, Ahab, Konrad, and Neponset run for approximately $16, $23, $40, and $75, respectively. They are all marketed as modern flex pens—save for the Neponset, which has a three-tined music nib—and are made from resin (Nib Creaper, Ahab), acrylic (Konrad/Neponset), or ebonite (Neponset). However, you can also fit a #2 nib into the Nib Creaper, or a #6 nib into the Ahab, which gives you more flexibility.

You should know, however, that nibs for the TWSBI Eco only fit the Eco, as the nibs come separate from the feed. It uses the same size nibs as the Mini and Classic (#5), but these come with the nibs and feed in one unit.

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