My experience with the Platinum Balance has been a journey of ups and downs. This pen was sent to me by the nice folks at Pen Chalet for the purpose of this review. I am telling you this up front, rather than at the end of my review, as they make up part of this journey.
Where I started
Pen Chalet sent me the Platinum Balance to review for The Finer Point some time ago. I received a clear demonstrator fountain pen which I immediately inked it up with Diamine Amazing Amethyst. Once I started using the pen I immediately had issues. I pulled out my Rhodia Dot Grid notebook that I use for testing. The nib was scratchy, and residue collected in the nib feed after minimal use. Each time I would remove it and very quickly it would come back. I tried the Balance on lots of paper variations, my Hobonichi Techo, the Leuchtturm1917 and some other less impressive papers, but I had the same experience each time.
I contacted Pen Chalet as I thought I had a faulty nib. They immediately sent over a replacement so I could compare nibs and after some comparison testing it was evident my first Balance was faulty. The nib on the second pen wrote substantially better to the first, there was less scratching and the nib was far smoother to write with in comparison to the first.
So onto the pen itself...
Whilst I received the clear demonstrator there are alternative colour options which Pen Chalet stock in a good range of colours. The Platinum Balance clear demonstrator comes with aluminium accents and a protective white inner section within the pen cap to capture any ink leaks. The pen cap will post securely and similarly when putting the cap back on the pen you get a nice reassuring click. The body of the pen feels sturdy and tough and the smooth finish on the demonstrator is really nice in your hand. One thing I really like with the design of the Balance is the view of the ink going through the pen feed as shown in the photo below. This is not something I have noticed with other fountain pens and each time I have used the Platinum Balance I have enjoyed looking at this particular feature.
The Nitty Gritty (or The Nib)
Despite a replacement pen I still don't like the Platinum Balance nib. It feels too scratchy and does not give an enjoyable writing experience as a result. I have a fine nib, which is usually my preference and as with most Japanese brands the fine is very fine. Perhaps the Balance would perform better with a medium or a broad nib, but my experience with this pen is not great.
Side by side comparison
The Balance nib has really been bugging me and I have been stewing about the nib performance for some time. Partly because this is a mid priced fountain pen and logically it should be good. And secondly this is my first experience with Platinum and I wanted to like it.
Therefore whilst trying to come to terms with this I decided to compare this pen with my regularly used TWSBI 580 RB. Both are a similar price point, both are demonstrators and both conveniently enough have the same ink (not that this part is important). The TWSBI 580 is a much better writer than the Platinum Balance. Its smoother on the page, there is no resistance when writing with the pen and most importantly I enjoy using it. If presented with the option I would pick up my TWSBI over the Platinum Balance every time. Over the course of using the Platinum Balance there hasn’t been a time when I have wanted to use it. Each time its felt more like a chore rather than something enjoyable.
My negative opinion and lack of excitement about the Platinum Balance is solely to do with the nib, it has nothing to do with the pen itself. I cannot work around the scratching of the nib to find a way to enjoy using this pen. Platinum is a well know fountain pen brand and I usually like Japanese pens but for me the fit just isn't right. This won't put me off trying an alternative Platinum fountain pen in the future but I will think a lot more about my nib choice.
I would like to thank Pen Chalet for sending me the Platinum Balance for this review.