I picked up the this Visconti Opera Blue Typhoon at last years Atlanta Pen Show. It wasn't on the shopping list - the Visconti Wall Street was the pen I was hunting for - but I couldn't pass up a good deal, especially on a pen as pretty as this.
When you see pictures of the Opera Typhoon online, the first thing you are likely to notice is what they call the mosquito filler. This is what blew my mind well before purchasing this pen. It is a long, skinny, syringe-like apparatus that slides over the nib and section of the pen to help you fill the pen with ink easier. I love this idea because it eliminates some of the mess involved with filling fountain pens, similar to a snorkel filler. That is, when it works.
I gave the mosquito filler a few tries, but it does a poor job of filling the pen to capacity. It performs much worse than the built-in power filler (Visconti's piston mechanism in this pen) does. That's why you won't even see the mosquito filler pictured in this review. Don't buy the Opera Typhoon for that feature alone.
That small downer aside, there are several great reasons to check this pen out. Fist of all, the blue swirl resin barrel is spectacular. Pictures barely do this pen justice - see this one in person if you can because the color variation and depth of the swirl is amazing. It feels great too. There is some heft to it, allowing you to feel the density of the barrel when writing, but it is well balanced so you don't tire out quickly when writing.
The tubular Chromium nib is something I had never experienced before, both in material and design. I was expecting a wet writer based on all of my research on this pen, but found it to write on the dry side of the spectrum. Normally, that is my wheelhouse, but with larger pens and wider nibs (this one is a European fine nib) I want more ink flow. I shipped it off to Shawn Newton for a quick adjustment and it came back writing perfectly.
The way the tubular nib is designed allows you to write at a more vertical angle if that is your style. I used to write that way with gel and ballpoint pens so it was nice to try it out, but I still prefer a slanted, more traditional fountain pen writing angle, which the Typhoon handles perfectly as well.
As pretty as it is, and as cool as the nib is, I think my favorite feature is the double reservoir found in the pen. In a nutshell, there are two chambers in the barrel that can be sealed off from each other, if needed. For example, if you are traveling and are worried about the ink leaking, just point the nib in the air and unscrew the piston on the back of the pen to draw the ink into the rear reservoir. Screw the piston back down tight and that locks the ink into the rear, keeping ink from sitting in the writing chamber and helping prevent leaks when you least expect it. Reverse the process to release ink back into the bottom chamber and the Typhoon is ready to write immediately.
The feature list continues with what Visconti calls a "hook safe lock" that keeps the cap securely screwed onto the barrel. Think block threads with a bit more oomph. Visconti's clip design is one of its calling cards with its sleek, curved design and stamped logo. It clamps down firmly but has some travel built into it which allows you to raise it easily if needed.
Only 1000 pieces of this model were made, and with an MSRP of $695 it is a little panic inducing. That said, I see this pen going for much less in various places online. I paid less than $400 for mine, and Chatterly Luxuries currently has it on sale for $350, so that is the ballpark you should be looking to pay.
Would I recommend this pen to anyone looking for an interesting, unique fountain pen to add to their collection? No, I don't think I would, at least not without doing a ton of homework on it first. I enjoy mine, but don't go into this one blindly, and definitely shop around for the right price.