An interesting, little $15 wonder…
Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pen
Nib: 0.6mm Stub
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (Standard International)
About the Pen & the Company:
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this pen. Opinions around the InnerNets are very mixed. Some love their Nemosine Singularity. Others have found them unusable. I’m definitely in the “love” category, but it does have some potentially large flaws that could be considered deal-breakers for those shopping for an inexpensive fountain pen.
Before I get into the pen too much, though, let’s chat for a spell on the company, Nemosine, as they’re sort of a big mystery. As near as I can tell, Nemosine is one of the brands that falls under the umbrella of parent company Paramount Goods, LLC in Pittsburgh, PA. Other brands include Knox and Bulow fountain pens, Chesterfield ink, and the XFountainPens storefront that sells all these brands.
The general modus operandi of this company seems to be to outsource the manufacturing of their pens and have their own branding applied. Nemosine pens are made in Taiwan. Bulow pens are rebranded Jinhaos. I’m not sure where Knox are made. These pens are then paired with German nibs that they also outsource (likely either Jowo or Bock, which is extremely common in the fountain pen world). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this business model (I have Nemosine and Knox pens, and I like them quite a bit); however, it does put Quality Control (QC) in the hands of multiple manufacturers, which could lead to problems.
The Singularity is an interesting pen. I think I figured out the Taiwanese company that makes (or maybe just distributes) the pen bodies, and they basically wholesale lots of products, including fountain pens and fountain pen parts. This company sells these pens and parts dirt-cheap in enormous quantities. Again, I don’t mind this business model, but it does make me suspicious of long-term quality control.
Anyway, I went ahead and took a chance by ordering the pen. For me, the biggest selling point was the availability of 0.6 mm and 0.8 mm stub options. Folks, this is rare…it’s something you just don’t see in the fountain pen world.
There are two attributes that make a pen irresistible to me: line variation and a fine line. Most stub and italic nibs are between 1.0 mm and 1.5 mm, which are difficult to use when you have small handwriting (I HATE it when my e’s and a’s fill in like big ink blobs!). The 0.6 mm option was so alluring to me, I thought the $15 gamble was worth it. Plus, the nib is a “standard” #6 in size, so even if I didn’t like the pen, I knew I could use it in several of my other pens. So gamble I did (actually, I gambled on all three Nemosine models…reviews for the Fission and Neutrino are forthcoming).
I always thought the Singularity was a nice-looking pen (at least from the pictures on the XFountainPens and Nemosine web sites). When the pen arrived, the first thing I noticed was how small and light it actually is. Except for the chrome furniture, the entire pen is made from fairly cheap plastic (it reminds me of the plastic used in my Jinhao 599 and Sheaffer Viewpoint pens). The pen looks okay and it feels nice, but I’m not sure about its long-term durability.
Both the barrel and cap have a similar shape in that they are widest at the center of the pen, and slightly taper toward the end, where both pieces come to a low-profile, conical endpoint. The barrel is a single piece of plastic with a thin chrome band at the open end. The cap sports a wider chrome cap band with the name Nemosine inscribed into it (or it may be laser etching). The clip and clip band are also chrome. The folded-metal clip has a fairly interesting shape and it’s springy enough to hold the pen in place in your pocket nice and securely.
The section is made of black plastic. It’s pretty small (short) as far as sections go, but it has a nice hourglass shape that makes it comfortable to hold. Weirdly, the threads that screw into the cap are part of the section, not the barrel…so given how small the section is, your fingers will likely rest on the threads when you write, unless you hold the pen farther up the barrel. I will say, though, that the threads aren’t sharp. I can write for an hour and not be bothered by them.
The nib is where the Nemosine Singularity gets interesting. Aside from the rare 0.6 mm stub, it has a cool design stamped into it. I can’t tell if it’s just a crazy design or if it’s a stylized plant or animal (Looks like it has eyes. Owl maybe? Butterfly? Lunatic?), but it’s nice and it’s distinctive. It has a capital N stamped just below the breather hole, and then it has the nib grade (0.6 in my case) and MADE IN GERMANY near the base of the nib. The grade appears to be etched into the surface, where everything else seems to be stamped. They likely did it this way so they an use the same die to stamp all their nibs, then they can add the individual grades later.
Build Quality (3/5):
The few gripes that I have with this pen are related to overall quality. As I mentioned earlier, the plastic of the pen is pretty cheap. It shouldn’t be a big deal under normal use, but I’m not sure that the pen could survive a fall onto a hard surface. And I’m fairly certain that stepping on the pen or sitting down on it (like if it’s in your back pocket) could easily spell disaster. The plastic of the barrel seems particularly thin. You can see the metal portions of the converter right through the red plastic.
Speaking of thin plastic, one of the complaints I’ve seen is that small micro-cracks appear around the mouth of the cap. I couldn’t see anything amiss, but I pulled out my loupe and looked at the plastic under magnification. I did find some extremely small cracks around the lip of the cap (so small I couldn’t even photograph them). Not sure yet if it’s something to worry about. The cap is a screw-on type, which was a nice surprise for such an inexpensive pen. I think over-tightening can cause these cracks to form, but perhaps by not tightening the cap beyond “snug,” the cracks won’t get worse. Only time will tell, but I’m not that worried about it right now.
The biggest problem I encountered is that the converter doesn’t seat tightly and remains a little loose. I first noticed it when I had a problem filling it. I dipped the pen nib in ink, turned the piston, and it failed to draw up ink. I tried several times, making sure the feeder opening was submerged in ink. No dice. I had to fill the converter using a syringe. After a couple days of sitting unused, I primed the feed a little to force ink into the feed. A few days after that, there was ink all over the inside of the pen (inside the barrel and all over the converter). It apparently leaked out from between the section and converter. I don’t know if priming the feed forced that ink out the back of the section, but it definitely indicates that there’s no seal to keep the ink inside. I hope the problem is just a bad converter and not the pen itself. I’ll have to test some other ones.
I will say, though, that this pen is not one I’d feel comfortable carrying around with me. If ink leaks inside the pen that easily, I can’t imagine the mess it would make if I threw it in my backpack and brought it to work.
And the last problem to report is that I found the nib a little scratchy on downstrokes. Under the loupe, I found the tines slightly misaligned. Only took a couple seconds to fix and now the pen writes very smoothly. There’s still occasional scratchiness, but those times are very infrequent.
I’m mostly happy with the Nemosine Singularity as a writer. If I leave it uncapped for more than 30 seconds or so, then it takes a little work to get the ink flowing again. But once it’s gets writing, I never see any skips or hard starts at all. If I set it down uncapped for 15 seconds, it will write immediately. The two inks I’ve used in this pen (Chesterfield Antique Orchid and Toucan Siena) are both quick-drying, so that may have something to do with the 30-second stoppage. With wetter inks, this might not be an issue, so I’m not ready to blame the pen just yet.
I will say, though, that if the pen sits unused for a week, it does take some serious effort to get it to write again.
I do enjoy writing with the Singularity. It’s very light and I like the contour of the section. I have not experienced any fatigue or cramping at all, even while writing for long periods of time. So no complaints here.
Writing Experience (4.5/5):
Other than the nib drying out relatively quickly when uncapped, I think the Singularity provides a fantastic writing experience. The nib is pretty smooth (now that I got the tines aligned). It’s a comfortable pen to write with, and I absolutely love the 0.6 mm stub nib. The line variation is easily noticeable while still allowing me to write my tiny “e” without it filling in and looking like a big blob. (Click the image below to enlarge.)
If I had to compare the Singularity to another pen, it has to be the Pilot Plumix. But the Singularity’s 0.6 mm stub is a little finer than the Plumix nib. (Click the image below to enlarge.)
This is a difficult attribute to score. On one hand, comparing the Singularity to another $15 pen, the Pilot Metropolitan, the build quality and dependability are clearly inferior to the tank-like Metro. On the other hand, this 0.6 mm nib is probably worth $15 on its own.
So I guess this debate comes down to whether or not I would consider buying another one at some point? Would I spend $15 on another Singularity? Yes, absolutely. So I guess that means I think it’s a good value (really, it’s just the nib).
Another thing to consider is that because the entire pen is made of plastic, the Singularity can be used as an eyedropper. It would hold a lot of ink. I’m not brave enough to try it yet because of the questionable build quality, but others have made the conversion and it seems to work okay for them.
Honestly, I love the nib too much to not recommend the pen. (Click the image below to enlarge.)
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 21/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Great nib (after alignment)||Questionable build quality|
|Light and comfortable to write with||Converter doesn't fit right (it's loose and leaks ink inside the barrel)|
|#6 nib can be used in other pens||Hairline cracks in cap (jury is still out on whether this matters or not)|
The Nemosine Singularity is a pen that’s worth your time and your $15 (or at least most of it). Only using this pen over time will answer the question of long-term durability, but so far, it seems mostly capable. If you want a pen that’s guaranteed to last you a long time or that you can use as a daily knock-around pen, then get a Pilot Metropolitan. But if you prefer a lighter pen or you like to experiment with different types of pens and nibs, then this would be a great, inexpensive pen to check out.
You really can’t beat a stock, off-the-shelf .06 mm & .08 mm stub nib for $15. To me, the rest of the pen is just gravy. Even if you don’t like the pen, the nib can be swapped into a whole host of other pens that take a #6 nib.
I’m very leery about the loose converter and other quality issues. I can’t recommend the pen as a daily carry because of them. But if you like to experiment and you don’t plan on taking the pen anywhere, it’s definitely worth considering.