You know you are a pen nerd when you hear that there’s a new design to a favorite pen and feel inclined to do a side-by-side comparison. If you’re still with me, shall I begin?
One of my favorite gel pen lines is the Uni-Ball Signo DX/RT line. When I first got into the Japanese gel pens, Uni-Ball was the first to include the silicone grip area on otherwise stripped-down and simple writing tools. Combine the soft grip with awesome fine-line gel performance and there wasn’t much I didn’t like about the Signo DX/RT line. So, I did get a little nervous when I heard they were updating the pen design. I didn’t really think there was anything that needed improving upon but I guess I didn’t give the matter as thorough a going-over as the folks at Uni-Ball. The new version is called the Signo RT1.
The previous design of the Signo RT featured a clear, plastic body with the retractable clicker, clip and silicone grip area all in a color to indicate the ink color. The new design features a transparent-colored plastic body to match the ink color. The clicker and clip are now one unit in opaque plastic to match the ink color. The silicone grip area has been lengthened all the way to the tip of the pen which hides the spring mechanism giving the pen a cleaner look.
The black versions of the RT1 are all opaque black — the grip, the body and the clip. There are black versions with a solid contrasting-colored plastic body as well.
When writing, the feel of the pen on paper was an identical experience. I did notice that, with the new RT1, the clicker and clip slide freely when the pen tip is in use. So whenever I set the pen down or twiddled it in my hands, the clip/clicker would slide out making noise and generally changing the weighting of the pen. That is really a bit bothersome.
The one distinctive difference I noticed was that the new RT1 inks seem a little bolder, a little broader. I tested both 0.38s, and the new RT1 seemed a little broader. I also tested the 0.28 RT1 and it seemed more comparable to the previous model 0.38 in terms of line width. Crazy. Has anyone else experienced this?
The bottom line? My opinion at this point is a bit of a draw. The new RT1 is less expensive and more visually unified in appearance. However, the line widths seem wider and the loose clip/clicker is a little annoying. The original RT has a finer point and more solid feel.
The Uni-Ball Signo RT UM-138 pens sell for $1.65 while the new Signo RT1 UM-155 sell for $2.50. If you love the original design, I recommend stocking up now as I suspect they will be discontinued.