I had heard that there were Chinese vendors selling an assortment of knock-off versions of Sailor and TWSBI fountain pens on Ebay. In the name of science, and to quell my curiosity, I decided to buy a couple to see how similar, or different, they really were. I purchased the Delike New Moon fountain pens in pink and blue (one of each from two different sellers for about $15 each) that were knock-off versions of the Sailor ProGear Slim. One featured an EF nib and one had the nib altered slightly to be a F nib by bending the end up in a fude style.
While we as fountain pen consumers immediately recognize these as knock-offs, nowhere in the listings did the sellers say they were Sailor pens or hint to that. However, the similarity in looks is unfortunate in that it could confuse a newer fountain pen shopper into thinking they were getting a deal on a Sailor. So, I wanted to point out very quickly the differences and similarities and why you might want to try these pens or want to avoid them altogether.
I purchased the pastel pink and sky blue colors with silver hardware because I did not have Sailor ProGear Slim pens in these colors. So, yeah for fun colors.
At first glance, the Delike New Moon and Sailor ProGear Slim are very similar. Width and length are just about identical. The New Moon has the metal hardware all the way to the base of the cap but that’s the most distinguishing difference at first glance.
Right out the the gate, I could tell these pens were not as well constructed as Sailor ProGear pens. The material was definitely more plasticky than resin. I could smell the off-gassing for starters. There is no end cap jewel.
On the clip, the end is more squared off. The Sailor clip has a rounded end. The band around the cap on the Sailor pen is engraved “Founded 1911” and the Delike says “Delike”. The Sailor ProGear has an extra band around the cap as well.
The threads on the cap are closer together and there are more threads on the Sailor. There is also another metal band on the Sailor.
Looking at the nibs, the Sailor is stamped with the anchor, “1911” and “14K” or “18K” respectively depending on your model and the decorative filigree. The Delike is considerably simpler with the globe, the Delike name and the size of the nib.
The Writing Experience:
I don’t have the exact same nibs on the ProGear Slims that are on the New Moon pens but I’m also comparing gold nibs to steel nibs so it’s pretty much an unfair comparison all the way around.
I do have to say that an EF/XF gold Sailor nib is WAY smoother than a Chinese steel nib and worth every freakin’ penny. I was asked at the D.C. Pen Show which pen was my favorite and I said the Sailor ProGear Slim Purple Lamé with the XF/EF nib and I stand by my statement here. This pen writes like butter. My Pink Love with the music nib is my second favorite so messing around with these knock-offs is humoring myself really.
They are cute and they sort of look like the real thing but they will never satisfy like the real thing. It’s like offering someone a Pepsi when they really want a Coke or a sugar-free snack when they really want sugar-laden. Close but no quite.
From the perspective of a pen for a new fountain pen user, I’m more comfortable loaning these out at a Fountain Pen Day event or at a Letter Writing Social where people may have little-to-no fountain pen experience where I might be less inclined to let my beloved Sailors loose. I’d also be willing to just give these away if someone fell in love with them as they are inexpensive, take standard European cartridges and came with converters. I also like that I could swap the caps and make my own goofball pens.
These pens also make great opportunities to learn nib adjustment and other tweaking or pen alterations.
Have you purchased any of the knock-off Chinese pens for experimentation? What’s your opinion? I waited a long time to buy any of these because I know a lot of people have very strong opinions about these pens. I just wanted to see if it was worth the wait. I don’t think I’d buy anymore if these but I definitely think it was a good learning opportunity.