So for the last year or so, I’ve – plunged – neck deep into the world of Chinese pens. Actually, my first acquisitions of these Asian pens started probably 8 or 9 years ago. But only a pen here or there. And what I’ve seen over the last several years is a marked change in those products.
Used to be (and maybe for some brands, still is…) that the quality of the pen you acquired might vary from good to crappy. While it’s still true that one might still come across a crappy individual pen, for the most part, today the pens I’m seeing are generally of good to great quality. And when you pair the quality with price, you get…… wait for it…….value.
It’s that value proposal that has driven my interest for the last year plus. I think the same can be said for a lot of other people (read “pen” people). But if you you, like me, have had a keen interest in these types of Asian pens, you may have also noted that there’s a LOT of controversy attached to this subset of fountain pens.
Specifically, many in the pen community see these pens as almost abominations. Pens and the companies that produce them, are seen by some (ok, maybe many) as industrial pariahs. That they simply exist in order to profit off of the work of other, “better” companies.
While I can see why some would make that argument, I don’t generally see them that way. I DO have a HUGE problem with fakes. But that’s not what these types of pens are.
— DISCLAIMER —
I don’t claim to be an attorney, and as such don’t claim to have intimate knowledge with patents, patent law, what’s legal and when, etc. So while some or many of these pens may be violating the law, I can’t and don’t assume that they are.
The pens that I’m referring to are pens that I would call knock-offs, or in some cases homage pens. Pens that are produced to closely mimic or at least have lots of similarities with better known “main-line” pens, but aren’t pretending that they are, in fact, made by those other companies. And as of today, there are lots of these pens being produced. That brings us (after an overly exaggerated and un-needed rant) to the topic of this review, the Wing Sung 601
The Wing Sung 601 is a direct knock-off of the venerable Parker 51. And further, a specific 51 timeline. Initially introduced in 1941, the Parker 51 was totally unique. It featured a 14k gold hooded nib, a metal slip cap and a solid colored body. The pen was originally produced with Parker’s venerable “vacumatic” pump filler system. This system allowed the pen to hold an enormous amount of ink, as it’s body cavity contained the ink as opposed to a smaller internal sac. A spring loaded plunger pushed against a rubber diaphragm which, when released, created a vacuum that would suck up the ink into the body cavity. The pen was produced in this basic configuration until about 1948 when Parker introduced the “Aeromatic” filling system, a squeeze-type filling system.
One of the things that makes this Wing Sung 601 so wicked cool (…to me anyway…) is that they’ve made this pen with a vacumatic style filling system. In fact, this is the only modern pen I know of, that offers this type if filling system. And it’s been done well. At least seemingly so on the front end. Time will tell. The only two differences visually between this filler and the one on the original 51’s is that the plunger here is aluminum instead of plastic, and the 601 has a hexagonal nut securing the plunger in place, versus the original which was reverse threaded into the end of the barrel. This requires a special tool to service the original 51’s. this one will require a simple small wrench.
The 601 is made with the same basic dimensions as the original Parker 51, the full size model, not the smaller “debutante” size .The pen is about 140mm capped and 150mm posted. While the original 51 sported a gold nib, this 601 features a stainless steel nib. Both are nail like in their writing attributes – very stiff. But smooth. Very nice writer, actually. I said earlier that the 601 was a knock-off, and it really is.
Visually, the only two things that don’t look pretty much identical to the original 51 is that the jewel at the top of the cap on the 601 is metal instead of plastic, and the 601 sports an (very useful) ink window located just above the clutch ring.
I’ll state up front, I’m a big fan of the original 51. And having a new modern version available, whose quality seems to be approaching what the original offered, is very, very….very cool to me. Wing Sung, I think deserves a lot of credit here. They are not the first Chinese company to offer knock-off versions of the 51. The “Hero” pen company has been doing it for years, and I have some of their pens. None of those even comes close to the quality of this pen. Cheap, brittle plastic and horrible machining and production tolerances have plagued most of the pens I’ve ordered from Hero. Although I’ve only had this 601 for about 3 weeks, the difference in quality is quite apparent. At $16 dollars US, I’m calling it a winner.
Here’s a quick video on the WingSung 601 to go along with the review.
Finally, here’s a great video review on this pen from a guy named chrisrap52 on YouTube. Chris’s channel is largely to blame for my recent
addiction issue collecting Chines pens. He has a great channel, you should check it out.