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TWSBI 540 Review

TWSBI is relative newcomer with it’s own brand although it has been making pens for many years.It’s a Taiwanese pen manufacturer with an important emphasis on design, quality and serviceability. Along with the best practices of product design and development they place greatest importance on customer feedback

After being the proud possessor of a TWSBI Diamond 540 for quite a while now, and having used it fairly regularly, I’m ready to write a brief initial review.

In many ways the pen is a surprise to me as it’s not what you would call an expensive pen.

The box that it arrived in is quite neat, I like the brown cardboard with a simple TSWBI label attached, it somehow makes a change from the stereotyped packaging that we normally see with new pens, and it doesn’t look too expensive!








Another surprise inside; a clear lidded plastic case with the pen presented on what is a kind of plinth; again, unusual and neat.

So things are getting off to a promising start.

The smoke tinted pen is semi translucent and quite a good size, 140mm in the closed, capped position, 130mm when opened without the cap and a whopping 175mm when posted…but more about that later. It’s also quite hefty with a diameter of a tad less than 13mm that narrows slightly where it screws to the section.

I prefer tinted pens rather than clear ones, or demonstrators as some people call them.

 The red TWSBI logo on the jewel hits you immediately; it’s pretty striking and attractive. The other immediately noticeable feature is the barrel, or at least the portion between the section and the piston cap, where there are ten diamond shaped facets, a decagon? The light catches these and gives the shiny plastic a bit of a gleam.

 On to practicalities. Only one and a half turns required to unscrew the cap, good marks for that. All the brightwork is on the cap, unusual. It would leave the barrel looking a little plain but for the unusual and attractive shape. The steel clip is sturdy, as is the ring and the cap ring itself is solid and wide, in fact very wide. The words ’TWSBI’ and ‘DIAMOND 540’ are etched rather than imprinted, which looks rather smart, regardless of the width of the ring. In fact the cap is quite heavy, due no doubt to the amount of metal involved, whereas the barrel is nice and light. Unfortunately this has the effect of making the pen feel a bit top heavy when posted. Having said that, even though I usually write with a posted pen, this one feels nicely balanced un-posted.

Filling, emptying and flushing is very simple, quick and effective; the piston feels to be one of the better systems, let’s hope that it turns out to be reliable.

The pen really does feel well made and solid, everything fits well and it definitely gives one the sense that it’s a quality pen. It reminds me a bit of some of the better German Pens. The nibs of my pen is German Bock but now TWSBI have changed over to Jowo nibs.

The steel nib is on the large size to suit the pen, 20mm in length. It was supplied with a medium point but I also bought a 1.5mm Stub which was supplied in a rather neat carry case and is ideal for securely keeping whichever nib isn’t in use. The nibs exemplify that form follows function. No fripperies, just imprinted with a hint of a squiggle, the logo and ‘TSWBI’ but no size markings. Time to change nibs. The section unscrews easily and it couldn’t be easier to change a nib.. The 1.5 Stub nib is  almost as smooth but obviously lays down more ink; nevertheless the line itself isn’t too wet. It’s a good stub, and writes well, not one of my very best, but still good. Broader nibs suit me in that they seem to discipline my hand and keep the angle of my strokes more regular.

Having finally settled on Diamine Majestic Blue, which is one of my favourites, I was ready to start work in earnest.

The business end. The medium point nib is  a clean medium wet line…….hmmm……. maybe a bit on the wet side….. starting immediately the pen touches my usual Rhodia 80gm paper and continues without ever a hint of a skip or miss.

I think that I prefer the stub, although there is more ink, as you would expect, it isn’t such a wet line. I will have to tweak the medium nib

The pen obviously good internals and is is quite close to being ideal to me, smooth, but not excessively so, and has excellent feedback, it has a really solid, well made feel..

The thickness of the line  with the medium nib is what I would say is typical of a Western medium point as opposed to an Asian one.

 I suspect that this will become one of my go to pens. Overall I’m very impressed with it, even though there are one or two minor points that I could quibble about. The group of enthusiasts who have been involved in the design and manufacture of this pen should be proud.  In terms of value for money, I think that this pen is one of the best.

Buy one if you can, you won’t be disappointed

(Written some time in 2011)

September 2013

As it’s about two years since I wrote my first review of the TWSBI Diamond 540, I thought that  I’d update it

Firstly, I adjusted the tines on the nib to bring them slightly closely together and the pen now writes beautifully. There is a YouTube video by TWSBI on this subject and I have a link to it on the TWSBI page, it’s worth watching.

Now that the ink flow is right I have found it to be a superb pen, a very smooth nib with nice feedback and it’s very comfortable in the hand. The Diamond barrel of course gives it a very distinctive and handsome look.

The TWSBI 540 continues to feel very solid and well made and it has proved to be extremely reliable. The filling system is excellent and the pen holds a huge amount of ink.

I have been filling it with Sailor Ink  for some weeks.

Some people may find the pen too long when posted, but I’ve become used to it and it now feels quite normal……but you can use it un-posted if you want!

Super pen, one of my regulars