Pen of the Week: Wing Sung 698

Wing Sung 698 + Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-yake

Happy New Year, everyone!



The Wing Sung 618 Is the Good Kind of Chimera

To behold a Wing Sung 618 is to behold a chimera: that Parker-esque clip, that Sailor-esque cap band, that TWSBI-esque piston mechanism. With all these -esques, is it any surprise this pen is made in China?

But the Wing Sung 618 isn’t the typical Chinese clone, and in fact I hesitate to call it a clone at all. It’s more of a mash-up of good ideas from some very good pens, and the big question is: did Wing Sung put them all together to make a coherent whole?

Let’s start with the basics. The 618 is a plastic pen with a piston filling mechanism. Originally available as a clear demonstrator, there are now several different colors to choose from, all demonstrators, ranging from red and blue to sparkly pink and green. The trim is available in silver or gold. There’s even a 12k gold nib option if you’re feeling extra fancy.

My 618 is the clear version with silver trim and a steel nib.

The cap opens just shy of a single turn, revealing something interesting: a hooded nib in demonstrator form.

A clear feed with a hooded nib? INSTANT HEART EYES. 😍

The section is generally narrow, but its conical shape means the diameter varies depending on where you hold it. I’d say that the section width ranges from a Pilot Metropolitan to the Lamy Safari in size.

In terms of dimensions, the 618 is comparable with the Lamy Safari/Vista.

I found the 618 comfortable to use for all kinds of writing, from short notes to multiple pages. It’s not a heavy pen, but it still feels substantial. When writing with it unposted, it’s nicely balanced in my hand. Posting the cap threw the balance off in a way I found unpleasant. I also couldn’t make the cap post securely without it wiggling loose after a while. Lucky for me, I only post pens for science.

The cap is transparent, accented with silver-colored fittings. The clip is a clear knockoff of the venerable Parker arrow. It’s nothing special, just a simple one-piece with a bend into the finial, but it’s secure without being too tight. The cap finial is a simple silver dome. Inside is a cap liner made from a slightly smoky-colored plastic. It’s one of the better cap liners I’ve seen in a demonstrator because the nib is still easy to see when the pen is capped.

The cap band is another design knockoff, this time from Sailor. It’s engraved with “WING SUNG 618 MADE IN CHINA”.

I don’t know what the fittings are made from, but in the two months I’ve had this pen, they’ve kept their silver color.

Demonstrator fans will enjoy looking at the barrel end of the 618, because there’s a lot to see. There’s a piston mechanism that’s similar to the ones in TWSBI pens, and a blind cap that operates the piston when twisted.

It’s here that Wing Sung has added a feature that I’ve never seen on a piston pen: a locking blind cap. Look closely at the next photo, and note the notch in the silver ring where the blind cap meets the barrel.

This notch has a corresponding mate on the blind cap itself. To unlock the blind cap, pull it away from the barrel. To lock it, line up the notches and push the cap in until it clicks. It’s a simple design that keeps the blind cap from rattling and spinning around.

Once you understand how the blind cap locks and unlocks, filling this pen is a breeze. Unlock the blind cap, dunk the nib into the ink far enough to cover the opening in the hood, and twist until the pen loads up about a gallon of ink. Lock the blind cap and you’ll be writing for a long time before you need a refill.

The nib on this pen is steel, though the 618 is also available with a 12k gold nib for five times the price of the steel nib version ($50 vs $10.)

This pen was advertised as having a fine nib and it makes a line somewhere between a Japanese fine and a Japanese medium. Like most steel nibs, it’s a nail, so don’t expect any flex or line variation. The nib wrote smoothly out of the box and didn’t require any tuning. I enjoy writing with it, though I wish it was a smidge wider. Fine and extra fine nibs are available for the 618, but nothing else, alas.

The overall construction is excellent. The plastic appears to be high-quality, and there were no mold lines or sprue left over from the manufacturing process. In my opinion, this pen is better constructed than the pens offered by the major manufacturers in the $20-$40 price range.

As with most Chinese pens, if you want a 618 and you don’t speak Chinese, you’ll have to look on eBay. Buyer beware: it’s like the Wild West out there, and counterfeits of Wing Sung pens do exist. FPN is a good resource for locating reputable eBay sellers. I purchased my 618 for $12.90 from seller art-pen-book-dy. The price has actually dropped to $9.52 since I bought mine in September, making the 618 an even better deal today. I like my 618 so much I’m not even mad I missed the lower price.

The Wing Sung 618 is like a Parker 51 and a TWSBI ECO got together and made a beautiful baby. It’s the best parts of other pens put together and the end result is perfectly executed. And you can buy one for less than $10! Hot damn, I want to see more of this from Chinese manufacturers. More mashups, less clones!

This Wing Sung 618 was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.

The Jinhao 992 Is the Clone Trooper of Pens

Consider the Clone Trooper:

Clone troopers were genetic copies of the renowned warrior Jango Fett that were produced in great numbers to fight the Galactic Republic’s battles. Unfortunately, clone troopers who survived in battle ultimately succumbed to accelerated aging, a side effect of the cloning process.

Now consider the Jinhao 992:

The Jinhao 992, a copy of the renowned Sailor 1911 pen, is produced in great numbers in the People’s Republic of China. Unfortunately, Jinhao 992s that survive daily use ultimately succumb to cracking, a side effect of the production process.

I don’t even like clone pens, but I’m going to talk about the Jinhao 992 because I’ve had a few people ask me about it.

The Jinhao 992 (aka the Jinhao 922) is an inexpensive clone fountain pen currently being made in China. You can find these pens for sale on eBay for $1.79 including shipping to the US, which is ridiculously cheap even by Chinese pen standards.

It’s a rather small pen.

L to R: Pilot Metropolitan, Jinhao 992, Lamy Vista
L to R: Pilot Metropolitan, Jinhao 992, Lamy Vista

The 992’s small size and relative lack of metal results in a lightweight pen that fits nicely in my hand. I find this pen to be comfortable posted or unposted, which is rare for me as I prefer the balance of unposted pens.

The Jinhao 992 is a nice looking pen, but the design credit really ought to go to Sailor. I try to avoid clones as much as possible, but in my ignorance of Sailor pens, I picked up these 992s before I knew they were copies of a Sailor design. Oops.

Anyway, 992s are available in demonstrator or solid color form. They have silver-colored fittings on the cap, and a stainless steel nib that comes in one size: fine.

The section is round and measures 9mm in diameter, which makes it slightly larger than the Pilot Metropolitan’s section. The step up from the section to the barrel is gradual and the cap threads aren’t sharp. I hold my pens with a standard tripod grip and found the 992’s section to be very comfortable.

The screw-on cap takes 1.5 turns to remove, and it features a utilitarian-looking clip that’s surprisingly sturdy. The wide, silver-colored cap band is engraved with Jinhao branding.

The business end of the pen has a stainless steel nib with ball-shaped tipping. The nib is tastefully engraved with a castellated pattern and the Jinhao chariot logo. It’s a fine that writes like a Western fine. The nibs on both of my Jinhaos were excellent out of the box. They’re smooth nails, though a little on the dry side with certain inks.

The 992 comes with an international size converter, but it can easily turn into an eyedropper, as the barrel is completely sealed and the section threads come with an o-ring installed.

However, before you eyedropper a 992, you should be aware of this model’s history of cracking. There are reports that more recent 992s don’t have this cracking problem, but I can’t confirm that as fact. I can only speak to my own personal experience, which is that my blue 992 hasn’t showing any signs of cracking yet, but my clear 992 quickly developed cracks around the plug at the end of the barrel. I removed the plug in an attempt to stabilize the cracks, which seems to be working so far.

In the Star Wars universe, clone troopers were meant to be cannon fodder, and the Jinhao 992 is a cannon fodder pen. I use mine with temperamental inks like J. Herbin’s Rouge Hematite or Platinum’s new line of iron galls.

The Jinhao 992 is cheap and easily replaceable, so does it matter if it doesn’t last very long? That’s for you to decide, but for me, I’ve never liked clones much anyway so I won’t be replacing these after they’re gone. I’ll stick with pens on the light side of the Force.

This Jinhao 992 was paid for with my own funds. My opinions on this blog are always my own. Please see my review ethics statement for more details.