Namisu Nova

Namisu, the design collective from the United Kingdom, have recently shipped the Nova, their second fountain pen. Just as their first pen, the Nexus, the Nova was funded via Kickstarter. And just like every Kickstarter project, the Nova shipped with some delay. Not as bad as some other pens though. I’m looking in the general direction of the TactileTurn Gist…

Design

The Nova is a very sleek and understated pen. The aluminium version comes in either grey or black, and there is a version in polished titanium, too. I got the grey version. The color is lovely, and the finish of the aluminium is perfect. The Nova is a very handsome pen.

Many people are comparing the overall shape to Nakaya pens, and if that is true I want a Nakaya even more now. It comes in at 14cm capped and the aluminium material feels light but sturdy.
The barrel is tapered to the end. Both the top of the cap and the end of the barrel end in pointed tableaus. The cap is clipless. I knew that when I ordered the pen, but I can’t get over it. Both the pen and the cap keep rolling around on the desk, and since the cap can’t be posted you need to be careful where you put it. This is my single biggest complaint about the design, but I understand that this is a very conscious decision and that it is a matter of personal preference.

The cap unscrews and the threads are amazing. The threaded area is short, the threads themselves are wide and the peaks are flat and finished in the same way as the rest of the barrel. The flat tops should be very comfortable to people that grab the pen high on the section close to the threads.
The section itself is tapered with a very average diameter, not too thin, not too wide. The grey finish keeps the section from being too slippery. I would have liked a lip around the tip of the section before the nib, but I don’t think this is going to become an issue with me.
The Nova uses size #6 nib units made by Bock. You can get them in steel, titanium or gold and in a variety of grinds. With KarasKustoms switching over to Bock and TactileTurn going for the same models, Bock is gaining popularity with the artisanal pen manufacturers and we’ll be seeing a lot more of them.

Writing performance

I ordered the Nova with a titanium nib in extra fine. When I first got the pen it had massive problems with hard starts. I cleaned the nib unit and adjusted the nib tines. As a result the hard starts have gotten less severe, the pen starts up sooner, but they still occur very frequently. The ink flows very wet, and with titanium nibs being slightly softer than steel, the extra fine writes closer to what I would consider a medium.
The soft titanium makes the nib pleasantly bouncy. Titanium has a very distinctive feedback on the page and you can get a bit of line variation out of the pen, but nobody would mistake this nib for flexy. And, unfortunately, the softish titanium apparently makes the nib a bit prone to losing alignment.
Bock doesn’t mark their nibs with the grade. I hate that. I got a variety of steel nibs by them, and not being able to tell them apart is the reason why they don’t see much use by me.

Final thoughts

Another pen by a small manufacturer that is lovely in principle but held back by it’s nib. I love the design, the finish, and I love that you can get it all for a very reasonable price.
The titanium nib is interesting, but unfortunately I don’t consider it much of an upgrade.
I am very curious for the Gist now.
And I really want a Nakaya Neo-Standard.

14 thoughts on “Namisu Nova”

  1. What is the gist?
    I am having similar issues with my titanium extra fine. This was the cheapest way to try a titanium nib, so I don’t regret it.
    If you have extra steel nibs around that would fit this, and are not using them…. I could maybe you an offer on a fine.

    1. Hey Andrew. The Gist is the fountain pen by Tactile turn that recently had a successful Kickstarter.

      I’m not looking to get rid of any nibs at the moment, sorry.

  2. Hi Tim, enjoyed your review, and agree with you pretty much all the way down the line. I backed the Nexus pen in 2014, and was happy enough with the end result to order again, but the nibs were (and are) a bit of a concern for me, and this is why:

    It doesn’t matter how well Bock manufacture their nibs, there will always be a *few* nibs in any batch that require a bit of ‘tweaking’ to get them working well. Think of them what you will, companies like Kaweco, Lamy and TWSBI claim they test *all* their nibs on all their pens before they leave the production line – with any necessary adjustments (or replacements) made before shipping.

    I think small operators like Namisu rely on Bock’s QA, without doing any of their own – they just whack ’em on and send ’em out, and hope that everything’s going to be OK. for maybe 90-95% of nibs, the gamble will pay off – but for maybe 5-10% of their customers, the initial writing experience will be a serious disappointment.

    My Nova arrived with a fantastic steel EF nib – flows really beautifully (though a little broader than most other EF’s in my collection, I think that’s a Bock thing?). The black M nib I ordered at the same time, however, seems to ‘sing’ (or squeak) when I try to write with it – though it’s only been inked briefly thus far – and the 2 nibs I ordered for the Nexus was were dry writers. No great dramas, I had little trouble adjusting them – but it shouldn’t be an expectation, especially for first-time fountain pen users.

    The Nova is an exceptionally well-made pen, and Bock make fantastic nibs – it’s a great pairing. But if Namisu want to stay in the fountain pen business, I think they’ll do well to pay more attention to double-checking (and if necessary adjusting) the nibs on their pens before they ship them off to their buyers…

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