GET ORGANISED with a super stylish Delfonics 2013 Diary!
...from your friends at NoteMaker!
Thanks for reading our 10-Point Pen Review of the Lamy Swift Rollerball Pen! For this review, we are using the Lamy Swift Palladium Capless Rollerball Pen. As a point of reference, we have also consulted a Lamy Safari fountain pen (Medium Nib) with J Herbin Rouge Hematite Ink, a Rhodia Lead Pencil and a Delfonics Ballpoint Pen. These instruments were lucky enough to grace a Rhodia Webnotebook with 90gsm Ivory paper. Also, a debt of gratitude is owed to the Lamy Tipo Rollerball & Lamy Safari Rollerball.
Lamy have been making pens in Germany since 1930 and is one of the most respected pen names in the world. The Swift falls into their 'High Quality Writing' category, distinct from the Modern Office and Young Writing categories. This in and of itself betrays the desired positioning of this pen...it's considered too nice for school or study and it's also not just a perfunctorily styled (though well made) pen to use at work. It is for people who love to write, who take an interest in handwriting and get some enjoyment out of marrying ink and paper. For those, in other words, who will notice how nice it is.
2) Intended Use
This is an extremely important point. A pen, or any item, can only really be assessed in relation to what it is trying to be and in this way we try to make our assessment of each pen relevant.
As mentioned above, Lamy wants this pen in the hands of those who love to write. Those who will pay attention and get some gratification out of a noticeable difference in quality between this and other pens. We'll get to that, though for the time being I want to point out that there need not necessarily be any valence attached to that difference...whether you consider the peculiarities of the Swift less or more preferable than alternative pens is up to you, but there are rather big differences, even when compared to other great pens. The swift has an identity all of its own. Forgive the animism, but the Lamy Swift wants to be loved.
The Lamy Swift, being a High Quality Writing instrument is thus packaged in a lovely premium fold out box. Great for presenting as a gift, storing, holding, keeping the pen well looked after. Importantly it also just befits a pen of lovely palladium finished metal construction, shiny sleek and nice to behold.
4) Colour Range
Unlike some of the Lamy Young Writing range, (where colour predominates!) the Swift is presented in a range of four nice, mature colours. This pen was designed by the Industrial designer Wolfgang Fabian and is appropriately presented in a kind of elegant, indeed venerable industrial style. A nice contrast. A really cool looking pen, made of metal, finished in colours which sit just to the left of expectation...it's not silver or chrome, its palladium, so there is a slight deviation from the norm. It's not a gloss or standard black, it's gritty and grainy. It's different and confident that it looks cool. Which it does.
Already we've mentioned how the Swift is its own thing and it is so much so that i think it's worth pointing out explicitly. Firstly, this is a capless rollerball pen whose tip retracts with a push button mechanism. The push button is quite long and is satisfying for two reasons. The metal construction feels really nice and substantial. Secondly, and importantly, as you depress the push button, the clip on the side of the pen is pulled into the body, no longer sticking out to the side.
This is so cool! So, you get two actions with the push button and it feels really nice. But the functional implications are even better. By retracting when the tip is out to write, it becomes impossible for you to clip this pen to your pocket etc when the tip is exposed. This prevents any chance of accidentally inking your clothes or bag by forgetting about the tip. Also, the clip is gone when you're holding the pen to write conferring ergonomic benefits onto your happy hand!
The clip is spring loaded and really strong and, again, substantial. And enduring. I'll confess that i enjoy this clip action so much that i've been using it to jog my memory/kickstart my brain in recent days (which, believe me, leads to A LOT of clicking) and it still feels great! Also, the clip does prevent the pen from rolling away from you, which the cylindrical body would otherwise try to do.
The final point i really like is the tip/grip section. We'll get to the grip below, but the way the tip sits out so far from the wider barrel of the pen is clearly a mark of Lamy Swift-ness and matches the long push button at the other end of the pen.
The numbers are: Length - 148mm at rest, 142mm when writing. Width: 16mm with the clip out. 14mm when writing. Weight: 24gms.
There are two important things here: The weight is substantial and has equally substantial implications for writing which we will get to. But, from the point of view of tactile sensation, if you like a heavy pen, one which proudly struts a confident stride, then you'll enjoy holding the swift.
However, being capless, you can't post the cap (which doesn't exist) onto the barrel and extend the length of the pen. You're stuck with the 142mm length which, for me, is more than sufficient. However, if you have really big hands or just find that you prefer posting a cap, then this may not be perfect for you.
7) Grip & Comfort
I'll confess that I kind of fell for this pen. Just holding it feels so nice. It's so smooth as the cylindrical body presses against the inside of my hand. The barrel's surface lets you get the most out of the pen's weight because there is no friction. The old maxim of using a fountain pen (that you don't need to drive (ie: push down on the pen), only to steer (direct the nib)) almost applies to using the swift. Only the slightest effort is required in getting the ball to roll and the ink to hit your paper and this does come back to a smooth barrel.
What I also love about it is the unobtrusive, indeed respectful way that it conducts itself. Again, I apologise for humanising this pen, but it's so happy to let you do your own thing. The Grip section is a small dotted area. The dots are just reliefs from the metal barrel and they act more as a guide for where to put your fingers rather than influencing them at all. You're free to write however suits you when you've got the swift, so if your fingers sit unconventionally, then definitely pick up a swift. It won't disparage you, it loves you all the same.
8) Ink & Filling
The Swift uses the Lamy M66 Capless Rollerball pen refill. It comes with black supplied but you can pick up blue. I've come to love this refill. The black it produces is so vivid and bold. When placed next to the Delfonics ballpoint pen (also black) the latter looks a tepid blue black. When placed next to a lead pencil, the pencil really looks really grey. The difference is stark. To give you some indication, the Lamy M16 Giant Ballpoint refill can write for about 8000m. The M66 Rollerball Refill writes for 1500-2000m. While the conversion is not exact, it is instructive and you can expect a black which is 3-4 times blacker than a ballpoint black.
And so we come to the main point for me of using a rollerball...smudging. Does the lovely bold vivid black line smudge?
Nope. It dries more or less instantly, and this is on smooth 90gsm Clairefontaine paper. So i coloured in a little box, instantly ran my finger over it and not the teeniest drip of ink ran or wiped off onto my finger. The M66 is a great refill!
9) Barrel & Materials
The Palladium Swift, unsurprisingly, is a metal barrel finished in a palladium coating. This is nice aesthetically, tactilely and indeed helps with scratch resistance. The metal construction is the source of the aforementioned weight and also provides the 'High Quality' personality that a Lamy 'High Quality Writing' instrument can be expected to have. To contrast this also with the Modern Office range of pens, the Swift's construction gives you good reason to love it and care for it. Pay it some attention, in other words.
10) Writing Performance
Undoubtedly the most important point of this review. I really, really enjoy using this pen. I love the way the line looks, i love the way it lets me write how i like to write and I love how little effort I need to apply. It's not perfect for me, I have messy writing and the ease and speed that one finds in using this pen can exacerbate this messiness. But part of me loves it for that reason. In the same way that the Swift is confident in itself, it kind of reassures my messy hand that its okay to be itself. Enjoy it. Go on...
Using the Swift in comparison to the Lamy Safari Rollerball (which uses the Lamy M63 refill...the same ink in a slightly different design of refill as the Safari is not capless) and the Lamy Tipo Rollerball (which also uses the Lamy M66) was really instructive. I had heretofore placed a huge emphasis on the refill/ink in a pen dictating the way it writes but the Swift helped me understand as much as any other pen that the body plays a huge part in writing mechanics, rather than just feel.
Because of the weight and smoothness in the hand, one needn't apply any pressure and still gets a super smooth writing experience. I can feel the ball rolling beneath, gathering momentum, encouraging my hand...
Compared to the slighter, small, plastic Lamy Tipo (which also has a more rigid grip section) there is a marked difference in smoothness...my notes under Tipo read: smaller. lighter. more ballpointish. less flow. less feedback. vivid though.
And this from the same ink!
As i mentioned earlier, its up to you to decide if ballpointish-ness is desirable. It's your choice to like or dislike feedback. But the point is that the Swift, thanks to its own idiosyncratic mix of well, everything, is noticeably different to other well made pens. Personally, I liken it to a guilty pleasure. Call it juvenile, but defiant non-conformity has always been fun.
Overall, as mentioned, I fell for this pen. The way it feels, the way it writes, what it stands for, how it looks and what it teaches us about writing. A really great example of an individual pen which delivers a unique writing experience. A great marriage of design, construction, packaging, and finish which delivers on its target of High Quality Writing. Even the name is apt. Depressing that clip reminds me of a plane's landing gear retracting as it takes off. It feels and writes smooth, fast, swift.