You will find wildly varying opinions of the TWSBI Vac700 across the internet. For some, it fits their needs perfectly. For others, there are too many design quirks to overlook. Without first hand experience myself, I fell into the second camp. The Vac700 didn't speak to me from the get go, and reading reviews of the pen only solidified those thoughts.
A kind reader named Becky fell into that second camp too, although she only found that out after making the purchase. She didn't care for the Vac700 (for reasons we will get into) so she offered to send it to me. Not loan it to me. Not sell it to me. She knew I'd be interested in checking it out and had no love for it, so she just flat out gave it to me. That says a lot about the pen, but also how awesome Becky is. Thank you!
She sent me the Smoke model with a bold nib and my first impressions on the feel and appearance were positive. It's no secret I am a TWSBI fan, so I knew I would like a lot about what the Vac700 had to offer. But there are several things that keep this from being a pen I can recommend blindly like the TWSBI 580.
First off, the size of the Vac700 is a barrier to entry. That's fine, because that is part of what this pen is. It has a vacuum filling system so the pen requires a larger ink tank to accommodate the plunger and bigger than normal ink capacity. It's a feature, but the size and weight may be uncomfortable for those with smaller hands.
Secondly, there are some interesting design elements in play here. The big one for me is the extra large step down from the barrel to the grip section. Again, it's almost a requirement due to the mechanics of the filling system, but it does get in the way when I am writing. Not horribly, but noticeably.
The brushed clip is another oddity. It doesn't affect the performance of the pen but it is a strange choice when the rest of the chrome is polished and shiny and the clip is dull. Each chrome element on its own is fine, but mixing finish styles on the same pen does not work visually.
It's not all bad though. The filling system is the primary feature of the Vac700 and it works well. A few pumps of the plunger and you have more ink capacity than you know what to do with, keeping even the most prolific writers happy for days. The nib is great too, which I fully expected. I hadn't use a TWSBI bold nib before this pen and it is fantastic. It is really smooth and a joy to write with.
In the end, poor comfort outweighs good performance for me. Your mileage may vary, so make sure to read up on the TWSBI Vac700 if you are interested in making a purchase. It may be the perfect pen for you. If not, it makes for a beautiful paperweight.
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