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Namiki: a story of innovation

June 10, 2022 3 min read

Namiki: a story of innovation

Namiki’s story began in 1909 when Ryosuke Namiki patented the first pen designed to hold ink in its own body. By 1916 Ryosuke Namiki left his job as a professor and founded a small fountain pen factory that specialized in producing golden nibs, reinforced by osmiridium at the tip. Two years later Masao Wada joined the business, and they used Pilot as their selected trade name.

A new era for Japanese calligraphy

These nibs revolutionized Japanese calligraphy. Up to that time, the traditional writing instrument was the brush, but these new nibs were soft and flexible and could trace the Japanese Kanji ideograms perfectly, they soon replaced the brush.

Pilot Custom 823 Amber Fountain Pen

Pluma estilográfica Pilot Custom 823 Amber

Although Namiki was born as a specialized brand in golden nibs, it quickly began producing fountain pens. Namiki and Wada realized that to make durable pens, their bodies needed to be protected. By 1925 Namiki patented the lacquering process of fountain pens made with urushi and began introducing the famous maki-e technique into their designs.

New Horizons

Namiki contacted Gonroku Matsuda, a maki-e specialist, to apply his art to the fountain pens. Fun fact, Namiki artists continue doing their designs by hand and are all disciples of the Kokkoai school, founded by Matsuda.

As soon as they had several maki-e pens ready, Namiki and Wada began expanding their business. One of their first clients was the Louvre gallery in Paris. Nevertheless, the most important step in their distribution was in 1930 when they signed a contract with Alfred Dunhill giving him the right to market the pens in Europe, in this way Namiki established itself worldwide as a leader in luxury fountain pens.

Namiki Yukari Shooting Star Raden Fountain Pen

Namiki Yukari Shooting Star Raden Fountain Pen

By 1938, Namiki took a turn in their business. The elaboration process of a pen was expensive and long, so they decided to adapt and began adding to their repertoire writing instruments for everyday use, selling them under the name “Pilot”. As a sea enthusiast Ryosuke Namiki decided to honor the ship's captain pilots. The company changed its name from "Namiki Manufacturing Co., Ltd." to "The Pilot Pen Co., Ltd", but kept producing make-e pens under the name Namiki.

A pen without its cap

One of the most important years for Pilot was 1963 when they launched the revolutionary Pilot Capless, the first retractable pen in the world. The complexity of the design won them the "Most Recommended Product Award" at the International Gift Fair held in Paris in 1964.

The capless models have been on a constant update since the launch of the first model. The following changes were mostly done in the system; they nowadays come with a converter and allow for cartridges to be used upon the fountain pen; this is possible thanks to a complex mechanism behind the effortless click-action.

Pilot Capless Stripe Black Matte Fountain Pen

Pluma Estilográfica Pilot Capless Stripe Black Matte

Pilot is constantly introducing new colors and designs for their capless models. They innovate with new finishes and nibs.

The Decimo line was launched as a slimmer version of the classic capless. It contains the same mechanism and nib with a narrower body design. These models were created to provide a new size to these series and also to tap more into the feminine market.

Silence for the great

The most meaningful improvement took place in 2020 when Pilot introduced the upgraded Pilot Vanishing Point LS. The LS stands for Luxury and Silent.

Namiki believed the 'click' sound from the mechanism generated to expose the nib could be distracting and impolite. This model was born out of a desire to eliminate it.

Pilot Capless LS

Pilot Caless LS

The standard Vanishing Point uses a click mechanism to expose and retract the pen, whereas the new model uses a click to expose, and a twist to retract. This system is reflected with a change in the push button, equipped with a discreet flap.

Pilot has become a standard in the industry with their capless designs, and Namiki continues to create breathtaking pens with amazing techniques exploring the capless mechanism.

If you require more information or if you would like to place an order, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our store in Madrid, at Nuñez de Balboa 90.
We will be pleased to help you.

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