Thanks to Goulet Pens who sent me these pens for review, I can present you with two Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens, one plain silver with medium nib, the other plain black with fine nib. Disclaimer: I received the pens free of charge but no other payment or incentive for this review, and all the opinions herein are my own.
There are several different patterns available for the trim piece around the mid-section of these pens, as well as gold and purple finishes, but I opted for the plain versions because I wasn't sure I would like the patterns. Looking more carefully at the photos on Goulet Pens I believe that some of them, such as the silver dots, are quite interesting.
The Pilot Metropolitan must be a new model because I can't remember hearing about it a year ago. It certainly wasn't available when I got into fountain pens, around 2010-11, because instead of the much more expensive Pilot Prera, I might have looked into one of these instead. As it stands, the Pilot Metropolitan is a very affordable entry-level fountain pen which the Goulets sell for a modest $15. Let's dig in and find out what you get for 3 Lincolns.
The Pilot Metropolitan comes in a simple but neat exterior cardboard sleeve. Inside is the inner display case which is made of some sort of thin metal or tin, with a plastic window through which the pen and a blue ink cartridge can be seen.
This is quite a lot of decent quality packaging for a $15 pen. I actually prefer it to that of the Pilot Vanishing Point. This case looks sturdier and the metal is superior to the VP's fake-leather-covered-cardboard.
Here's what the case looks with the lid open. Pilot also includes a blue ink cartridge to get you started.
Body, construction, and dimensions
The Pilot Metropolitan is a sleek, metal-bodied fountain pen, with a slim cigar-shaped body. It tapers to a rounded point at both ends and there's no finial to speak of.
The silver version comes with a brushed metal finish, while the wide trim band around the middle is polished aluminum. The middle band can also be one of several patterns, such as dots, python, zig-zag and so on.
Regardless of color and finish, all Metropolitan pens sport a polished chrome clip which seems to be tension-loaded. It's very plain and I can't say I like it but it serves its purpose.
Moving on, uncapping the pen reveals the glossy black plastic section and the nib.
The cap is of the slip-on type and snaps close with a solid click. You can post the cap but it doesn't feel very secure unless you press it down hard. I prefer to use the Metropolitan un-posted because the balance feels better for me. Posted, it's a little top heavy.
Seeing the nib, immediately hinted that this would be a good writer. Why? Because at first sight the nib looked very similar to the Prera's. And the Prera is a very good writer. So are the nibs identical? I will reveal that shortly.
Unscrewing the barrel from the section reveals the filling mechanism. It's a squeeze converter.
Now, I have some reservations regarding squeeze converters. They're rather imprecise when filling, you can't see the contents, ink capacity is low and, well, basically they're not the most elegant filling system out there. But considering the price of this pen, I'm actually glad that they even included a converter. Other manufacturers won't even dream of going beyond the courtesy lone cartridge for price points below $40-50. So I see this as a big plus.
Here are the two pens I reviewed, next to each other. The black has a fine nib, while the silver sports a medium.
The black pen has a similar brushed finish, but the black band is glossier than the silver.
Dimensions for the Pilot Metropolitan are as follows:
Length capped: 13.7 cm / 5.4 in
Length un-capped: 13 cm / 5 in
Length posted: 15.5 cm / 6 in
Weight (capped, with converter): 26.4 g / 0.93 oz
Weight (un-capped, with converter): 17.1 g / 0.6 oz
Here are the two Metropolitans compared to the Prera. They are longer but slimmer. I prefer the Prera's shape though, but that's a more premium pen.
In operation, the Metropolitan is well balanced without posting the cap. While I would prefer a slightly thicker body, it is by no means uncomfortable. The glossy section is a bit slippery but the fingers won't slide too low because they are stopped by the flared end.
As mentioned, as soon as I saw the Metropolitan's nib, I knew it would be good, because it looked very similar to the Prera's. So I took both pens apart (the medium-nibbed Metropolitan and the medium Prera) and here's what I saw.
As I suspected, both nib and feed are identical. The only difference is in the pattern which appears on the nib. The Metropolitan has a small dashed design, while the Prera lacks this, instead featuring the words "Super Quality". Well, I'm happy to report that both nibs are "super quality".
Here's the underside of the two feeds. Again, they are identical, except for the fact that the Metropolitan's is a lighter color.
Next is a series of photos comparing the fine nib from the black Metropolitan with the medium nib from the silver Metropolitan, and the medium nib from the Prera.
You can tell just by looking at these photos how much thinner the fine nib is compared to the medium.
But do they write?
Expectations can be low for inexpensive pens and high for expensive ones. My expectations for the Metropolitan were pretty high to start with but I'm happy to say that they were exceeded. I loaded both pens with Noodler's Heart of Darkness and also used a Jinhao X750 with a broad nib for comparison, filled with the same ink.
The medium nib in particular impressed me in no small measure. It writes better than the Prera. I suspect I was lucky to get a particularly good sample. This is without doubt the smoothest medium nib I have used. It writes like a dream, creamy smooth on any type of paper. It's so smooth, and the flow so satisfying that it resembles a Pilot V5 Rollerball. Scratch that, it's even smoother than the V5.
The medium nib's flow is well on the wet side with Noodler's HOD, but be rest assured that it doesn't gush. Since I like wet-flowing nibs, it is very enjoyable to use.
The fine nib has a different character. It is very smooth and the flow is consistent. It starts right away and never skips. Yet, due to the nature of the nib, it is not quite as smooth or as wet as the medium. Don't get me wrong, if the medium gets a 10/10 for smoothness, I'd give the fine a 8.5-9/10. Same for wetness.
The fine nib's strength lies in its precision. It lays a very thin and sharp line, which I'm sure would be perfect for Japanese or Chinese characters. If you like F/EF nibs, this is the nib for you. Myself, I prefer a thicker nib, that's why I favor the medium, but the fine is just as good, depending how you lean.
Both nibs require very little pressure to write.
Here's the writing sample on Clairefontaine 90g, showing a comparison between the Pilot Metropolitan M and F, as well as the Jinhao X750 B, followed by a couple more glamour shots.
Notice how much tighter the spiral designs are with the F. Both pens pair incredibly well with Noodler's Heart of Darkness.
The Pilot Metropolitan is an inexpensive but definitely not cheap fountain pen. $15 gets you a stylish metal body with good balance and decent ergonomics, and even a squeeze converter which is pretty rare at this price point. But more importantly, this entry-level fountain pen comes with an incredible nib which puts more expensive pens to shame.
I can't recommend the Metropolitan strongly enough but it's up to you to decide which nib size you prefer. While both are amazing, my own bias makes me lean towards the medium. Whichever way you go, there's only a big heap of win, so if my review convinced you, head on to Goulet Pens and take a look.