I can honestly say that I've never seen a pen like the Stilform Kosmos, and that's a good thing. The unique design of this pen is something that makes people stop, pick it up, and ask about it. They want to know where it came from, how it works, and (most importantly) "can I have it?"
The idea of using a novel concept to extend and retract a refill inside a barrel is one that many companies have tried and successfully sold. Anything beyond the classic pen cap or click button nock mechanism is fascinating. I'm sure that other companies or individuals have employed a similar method as the Kosmos, but I haven't been lucky or observant enough to see one in action.
The Kosmos relies on strong magnets to keep the pen in either extended or retracted position, and the movement between those two modes is smooth and incredibly satisfying. Given the full-metal construction of the pen body and cap mechanism, there's a hefty "ker-thunk" when opening or closing it. The magnets are the reason that this mechanism works so well, and they're also the reason that it's so darn satisfying to use.
Inside the pen is a standard Parker-style refill. The included refill is a Stilform branded cartridge with black ink and a medium (~1.0mm) tip. It reminds me a lot of the Schmidt P900. It's smooth, but the ink is a bit light and grayish and can be a bit skippy at times. It also has a problem with starting after being unused for a few minutes. The ink dries quickly, and that can be an annoyance. Luckily, if you don't like the refill, you have hundreds of other options that can be swapped in effortlessly.
To replace the refill, simply unscrew the front section from the body to gain access to the inside. There's not much to see inside the pen, which maintains the mystery around the magnetic mechanism.
This pen is a delight to use, but it isn't without flaws. Namely, the price.
The unit featured in this review is the Titanium matte finish, which sells for about $133. That's quite a chunk of change for a ballpoint, and one that I see a lot of people having major heartburn over. Luckily, there are several aluminum versions available as well for the lower price of $68. Still not cheap, but more in line with what most people consider a high-quality novelty pen or the infamous graduation gift. Personally, I have several other pens with unique mechanisms or magnets that cost between $40-$80. I'm not sure this one would make the cut for me. It's simply a bit high, but you cannot ignore the ingenious magnet closure system. It really is brilliant.
While the design of the Kosmos is the selling feature, it also introduces some usability setbacks. For one, it rolls away quite easily since the body is completely round. Also, due to the strong magnets inside the body, it can easily roll away toward a larger metal object (think a metal subframe under a wood top desk) or it can pull small metal objects toward it. This isn't a huge deal, but it has annoyed me.
Another design flaw with the retractable mechanism is that it's incredibly difficult to operate with just one hand. It's possible, but it's awkward. I've dropped it several times trying to open or close it one-handed, and I eventually gave up hope after dropping it a few times.
Aside from the price, the small design gripes, and the "meh" nature of the included refill, the Kosmos really is an astonishing pen. Pair this with a Fisher Space Pen refill, a Schmidt EasyFlow 9000, or Moleskine gel ink refill, and you're off to the races.
In the aluminum category, you have color options of Night Sky, Warp Black, Rose Moon, Comet Grey, and Star Silver. In the titanium category, you can choose between matte (featured here) or mirror-polished.
I always look for the overall value with "all things considered" when reviewing pens, and the Kosmos just doesn't deliver on that front. It's a unique, delightful pen with plenty to love, but it will end up a non-starter for most shoppers due to the price and incredible competition in this category. If the design speaks to you and you can stomach the price, you can't go wrong with the Stilform Kosmos.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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