New Kaweco Premium Steel Nib Comparison & Review
Hi everyone, Ashley here to talk about the new Kaweco Premium Steel Nib line!
One of our favorite fountain pen makers, Kaweco, recently released a Premium line of their steel nibs. The Premium Steel Nib has a 060 thread that easily fits in Kaweco’s metal Sport series, Liliput and longer writing instruments like the Student or Special pens. Each nib is available in sizes from Extra Fine to Double Broad, in plain stainless steel or gold plated stainless steel. Much speculation and many rumors have been floating around the new Premium nibs. Does it write like a gold nib? Is it worth it to swap in this new nib? With all the questions and expectations we have been receiving at Yoseka, I am here to give a full comparison between the Standard Steel Nibs and the Premium Steel Nibs and hopefully answer some questions along the way.
Through tests and side-by-side comparisons, I have found there is a clear difference between the Standard and Premium nibs, with the Premium nibs feeling like a high-quality, smooth nib. I’ve chosen to break my analysis down into 5 parts: Physical Nib Differences, Overall Feel, Line Weight & Consistency, and Ink flow, with my final thoughts at the end.
Physical Nib Differences
When first taking out the nib from the special Kaweco tin, I quickly noticed that the Premium nibs have had multiple changes made to their physical appearance and structure. The easiest change to spot is the change in branding, with “Premium” etched into the nib, featuring lines radiating outwards from the center.
The less conspicuous change is in the nib tipping. According to Kaweco, “The larger iridium grain offers you perfect writing behaviour. Due to the hand-finished inner edge rounding, the nib glides smoothly and butter-softly over the paper.” Comparing the Standard and Premium nib side-by-side at various angles, you can see that the tip is slightly larger, and in an overall symmetrical, less pointed shape.
Medium Standard Nib (left) vs. Premium Nib (right)
These changes significantly contribute to the nicer feel of the Premium nib writing experience, but do introduce other aspects to take into account that I will talk about in-depth throughout my analysis.
To gauge the feel of the new Premium nibs, I tested the nibs against each other in a line comparison, using MD Cotton Paper to demonstrate the qualities of a nib that come out on a rougher, toothier paper. I wrote Print Script, Cursive Script, horizontal line width, two vertical strokes with light pressure, followed by two vertical strokes with heavy pressure, and figure eights. Upside down cursive and figure eights are shown for those who like to have the option of flipping over the nib to write in a finer font. The “calligraphy speed” was a word I chose to specifically showcase how the nibs will perform when writing quickly. (Normally it would take me ~10 seconds to write “calligraphy speed” in cursive. Quickly, it took me under 5 seconds). It has many loops and curves to give the ink an opportunity to skip or stutter on the page when the ink flow is not fast enough to keep up with the speed that the tip is traveling across the paper. The ink used is Kaweco’s Royal Blue - the standard cartridge that comes included with each pen purchase.
To put it plainly, these new Premium nibs feel nice and smooth. The larger iridium grain does give the tip a nice feel and it glides across the paper. Unfortunately, I was only able to observe this larger tipping consistently on Medium (M), Broad (B), and Double Broad Nibs (BB).
Medium Standard Nib (left) vs. Premium Nib (right)
Broad Standard Nib (left) vs. Premium Nib (right)
Double Broad Standard Nib (left) vs. Premium Nib (right)
When comparing the Standard Extra Fine (EF) and Fine (F) nibs to the Premium EF and F nibs, the Standard nibs often either had a much larger or similar sized tip than that of the Premium ones.
I checked this size difference with many more of the Standard Kaweco nibs that we have at Yoseka, unable to find one where the Standard EF and F were actually smaller than the Premium EF and F. Due to the inconsistencies in the finer nib sizes, it is difficult to say if the tip grain is truly “larger”. However, when comparing the nib size accuracy across the EF-BB range, the Premium nibs do have a much more accurate grading. The Premium EF looks like it writes like a true extra fine nib, whereas the Standard EF here writes closer to a medium.
Nib Size Accuracy: Extra Fine Standard Nib (left) vs. Premium Nib (right)
This is not to say that the Premium nibs are without error, as we have already had one customer return a defective nib to us. But, with the Premium EF nibs that we have at Yoseka all having smaller tips than the Standard EF nibs, I have a bit more hope for consistency amongst the Premium nib tip size accuracy.
The increase in smoothness and buttery feel of the nib texture while writing, is also due to the hand-polished tip. The tip is fully polished, giving the nib the ability to be flipped over and written with on its opposite edge. This polishing difference is not visible just by looking at the nib, but as you can see, there is a clear improvement in the upside-down writing ability in the M and B nibs.
Upside-Down Writing Sample: The tip finishing quality is clearly visible though the opposite side writing on Medium and Broad Standard vs. Premium nibs.
Line Weight and Consistency
While first writing with these nibs, even before I started to analyze them, I noticed that the Premium nibs all stay quite consistent in their line weight. This is why I added the two vertical stroke line tests to show a light and heavy pressure on the nib. The consistent line weight is best observed in the Standard M versus Premium M nib, but can clearly be seen in them all.
Pressure Test: Medium Standard Nib vs. Medium Premium Nib
The Premium nib feels more rigid and stiff than the Standard nibs, which helps contribute to the reduction in line weight variation. These Premium nib blanks are made with the same plastic black feed as the Standard version, and Kaweco has stated that these new nibs are made of Stainless Steel, just as the Standard nibs are made from Stainless Steel. There is nothing to suggest that a reinforcement has been made to the nib in any way besides the tipping changes; but the reduction in flexibility is clear in the hand when writing, and apparent on the paper afterwards.
It poses the question: Is this Stainless Steel a higher grade alloy than the Standard nibs’ steel? Are there any other structural changes that have been made that cannot be seen with the naked eye? I would love to hear if any of you fellow curious fountain pen lovers have any discoveries or insight to this as well. Either way, the Premium nibs offer this consistent line weight, in comparison to their Standard nib counterparts, making them a preferable choice for those that may write heavy-handedly or simply prefer the uniform look that a stiffer nib provides.
The final observation I had was the wetter ink flow of these Premium nibs. When comparing the “calligraphy speed” writing sample across the board, the Premium nib does not show any sign of skipping or thinning where the tip moves quickly over the paper.
Ink Flow Test: Extra Fine Standard Nib (Former) vs. Extra Fine Premium Nib (Latter)
Due to the hand-polished tip, the ink is able to quickly and fully coat the tip, making for a wet writing experience. This wetness can easily be seen in comparing the Standard BB and Premium BB.
With the same ink, the Premium BB deposits much more ink onto the page, making the writing a few shades darker than the Standard BB. But, like I said before, due to the tip size variation in Standard nibs, a large-tipped, semi-flexible Standard EF nib, may deposit just as much ink as a Premium M nib. One thing is for certain though, if you love to see the shading and sheening qualities of your ink (like me!), the Premium nibs will give you some of that experience.
The hand-finishing and larger iridium tip of these Premium nibs do create a lovely and smooth writing experience with some improvements to nib size accuracy, consistent line width, and a steady, wet ink flow. As I have never written with a 14k Kaweco nib, I’m afraid that is one rumor I cannot put to rest, but I can say that these nibs are a clear step up from the Standard Kaweco nibs. Given the manufacturing inconsistencies in some of the finer Standard nib sizes, I am looking forward to seeing how the Premium nibs’ tolerances fare as they are produced going into the future. I do believe there is more than meets the eye with these enigmatic nibs, and given some time with a microscope in a laboratory, I would be curious to see what I could find about the structure changes that have been made to these nibs. Are you going to give these new Premium nibs a try? Have you already? I would love to hear your thoughts!