Straight outta my “I really gotta consider more European pens, you know?” files, here’s my review of the simple yet sexy…
Delta Unica Fountain Pen
Nib: Fine (F)
Filling System: Screw-Type Piston Converter
About the Pen:
Unlike fellow Italian fountain pen manufacturers Montegrappa, Aurora, and Omas (RIP), which are pushing their century mark, Delta is a relatively new player in the field. Founded back when the Go-Go’s were sealing their lips, The Cars were shaking it up, and Joan Jett was stating the obvious (1982, in case you didn’t know), Delta has yet to hit their 35th birthday. When looking at the big players of Italian fountain pens, only Visconti (1988) has been around for less time.
Despite their relative youth, Delta smashed one out of the park with their luscious and sexy
Dolcevita line of pens (Dolcevita Masterpiece…drool), establishing themselves as a serious contender for your attention. And your money. And my money.
I have to say, though, that based on a less-than-optimal experience with another Italian maker of luscious writing implements, I was really hesitant to try a Delta (Everyone else has! Oh…sorry…old college joke). Without getting into that story, let’s just say that I expected their pens to write too broad for my tastes (you know…that whole “Western vs. Japanese nibs” thing).
Then the Goulet Pen Company announced an exclusive, limited-edition matte black Delta Unica. They were numbered, stealthy as all get-out, and sold for the usual Unica going rate of $76. If you think for one minute I could resist that, you’re a crazy person.
Until this matte black version came out, I never really paid much attention to the Unica. It’s got a pretty nondescript design: no finial, no end cap, no adornments at all. The cap and barrel are single pieces of resin, flattened off at the ends. Overall, it’s just not that exciting a design.
But as I watched Brian Goulet unveil the pen on Periscope, I found myself entranced, thinking only “must. have. pen.” I’m just a sucker for a good stealth pen, so the matte black Unica was a no-brainer. I still think the design is very understated, but the soft, matte surface of the pen is just captivating (it reminds me a little bit of the lava/resin material used in the Visconti Homo Sapiens). The material is smooth, soft to the touch, and remarkably resistant to fingerprints (win!). Even the nib, clip, and cap band have a dark, brushed matte finish, which is very similar to titanium in appearance. It’s just beautiful.
As I’ve said, the Delta Unica has a very simple design. The pen barrel is made from a single piece of material. It is widest at the barrel’s mouth, and gently tapers toward the end. The mouth of the barrel has the cap threads on the outside and the section threads on the inside. There is a very thin band of matte-finished metal for the cap to rest upon, visually separating the cap from the barrel with the pen is capped. the end of the barrel is just flat. You can even stand the pen upright.
Just like the barrel, the cap is also made from a single piece of material, widest at the top, and tapering slightly toward its mouth. But unlike the barrel, the end of the cap is slightly rounded instead of perfectly flat.
Quite springy and adorning a neat little roller ball/wheel for easy shirt pocket insertion, the clip has a dark gray matte finish, which matches the nib and cap band.
There are two engravings on the back side of the cap (opposite the clip). DELTA ITALY is engraved at the top, and the limited edition number is engraved at the bottom.
The section is made from the same resin as the barrel and cap, although the coupler that screws into the barrel is made of metal (no eyedropper for you!).
I love the nib. Mostly. It has a magnificent brushed/matte finish that is the perfect accompaniment to the matte black material of the pen. It just looks so nice. I’m not really a fan of the design that’s stamped into the nib, though. It’s a strange, clover-like pattern, and I think it’s just too busy.
Build Quality (4.5/5):
The Delta Unica is exquisite and rock solid (although, to be fair, there aren’t very many pieces to the pen, so there aren’t as many ways to hose it up). But really, everything is pretty much perfect. All the resin pieces look perfect and the engravings are very well done.
I do have one complaint, and that’s with the cap threads. About 50% of the time I’m screwing the cap back on, it cross-threads, requiring me to back it out once or twice before the threads engage properly. I have no problem at all with removing/replacing the section from the barrel, but the cap is a different story.
The Unica comes with a run-of-the-mill converter. It’s not branded and it’s not fancy, but it fits securely and gets the job done.
I’m VERY happy with the overall performance of the Delta Unica. It’s a fantastic writer. I haven’t had a single hard start or skip, and even if I leave the pen uncapped for a full minute, it writes immediately.
This pen is simply wonderful to write with. Because it’s made of resin, it’s extremely light. Its surfaces are smooth, and the section is pretty much perfect in size and shape (at least for me).
I don’t know if it’s due to the soft and satiny texture, or if it’s due to the shape of the section, but my hand just refuses to grip the pen tightly. With most pens, I find myself squeezing the section after writing for a while, which causes some hand cramps. But with the Unica, I am able to maintain a light grip and I haven’t experienced any discomfort at all.
Writing Experience (5/5):
Honestly, this pen just blew me away. I expected a broader line from its “Fine” nib, but it’s plenty fine enough for me. I was disappointed that it wasn’t available in EF, but I find that I rather enjoy the F. The nib is definitely toothy (lots of feedback when writing), but not scratchy. You definitely know you’re pushing metal across the paper, but it’s pretty smooth.
I like the feedback, though. It lets me know I’m alive.
At $76, the Unica is Delta’s entry-level fountain pen. There are no extras on it, no fancy adornments, and not a whole lot of interesting design choices. But you know what? It works, especially in this matte black version. It’s a very functional, comfortable pen to use, The more I hold it and write with it, the more I appreciate its understated elegance.
The Unica is a pen I could easily and happily use every day. Given that you can get a piston-filling demonstrator TWSBI Diamond 580 for $50, the Unica might be a little on the pricy side. But I think the Unica is a better choice for EDC, and it looks, feels, and performs wonderfully. I think it’s definitely worth the money.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 24/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Writes every time, all the time||Cap threads often cross-thread|
|Stealth!||Nib design is busy|
|The resin material feels great & resists fingerprints|
Outside of Delta’s Dolcevita line, I don’t think their other production pens are very eye-catching (and the ones that are eye-catching don’t really interest me very much). But now that I’ve seen the matte black Unica in person, held it, and wrote with it, I have a whole new appreciation for the brand. The Delta Unica is a phenomenal pen: elegant, dependable, comfortable, and worth adding to your collection.
I typically don’t link to specific vendors, but the matte black version is exclusive to Goulet Pens. So if I’ve completely sold you on this wonderful, stealthy matte black version, there’s currently only one place to get it. The numbered edition is long gone, but they’ll be getting more of the un-numbered matte black ones in soon.