A unique fountain pen with an adjustable nib that can be changed from hard to soft, altering how much the nib flexes with pressure.
The Justus is made to Pilot’s usual high standards – a beautifully-made pen that should work reliably for many, many years. There’s an old-fashioned simplicity to its design, with a subtle barleycorn pattern engraved into the black barrel, reminiscent of the chasing patterns commonly used on early black hard rubber pens; while the trim is gold-plated to match the 14ct gold nib. It uses Pilot’s IC-50 cartridges, and is supplied with the CON-70 button converter for a good ink capacity. You’ll need that capacity, because despite its understated good looks, this really is a pen to be used, not just left on a shelf and admired.
One of the things people love about fountain pens is the variety of nibs, including nibs of different hardnesses. A hard nib is one that doesn’t flex when you press on a little more firmly, while a soft nib bends as you press harder, opening up the tines, and writing a wider line. Much of the time, for most normal writing, a hard nib is good – they don’t give much variation, but they’re easier to write with, and more forgiving for those less used to fountain pens. When you want a little more flair, you might prefer a softer nib that can actually show the extra force when you press on a bit harder, giving more expression to your writing.
The Justus can be both hard and soft and anywhere in between. Turn the dial behind the nib, and you can adjust its springiness, allowing the nib to respond (or not respond) to your writing style.
As well as making for a more interesting writing experience, artists often use fountain pens with a bit of flex to the nib, as they allow for more expression when drawing. Sometimes, though, they need a more predictable line width, and a soft nib becomes harder to use. The Pilot Justus gets around this problem, as an artist can choose how much flexibility they want the nib to have to suit the moment.
So it’s very useful, but how does it work? The nib itself is somewhat flexible. It isn’t as flexible as many vintage flexible nibs were, or as some dip-pen nibs, but it’s what Pilot class as a ‘soft’ nib, similar to that of the Pilot Falcon. On top of the nib is a metal bar, pressing down on the nib, holding it in place and preventing it from flexing. When set to the ‘hard’ end of its adjustment, this bar is pushed forward, and holds the nib towards the tip, so it really can’t move much at all. At the ‘soft’ end, the bar is pulled back, and allows more of the nib to bend as you put some pressure on it. Because the bar is visible, you can always see how the pen has been set when you pick it up.