A technophile lawyer rediscovers the joys of pen and paper

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Tombow Object Rollerball

Tombow Object RollerballUPDATE: The giveaway is over, and the winner is Zackary Corbett. Thanks to all who participated.

Overall, the Tombow Object is a really cool pen. What I love about it, I really love. What I don't like about it is enough to make me give it up.

The Review

I'll give it to you all up front: I love the shape and style of this pen, it's virtually weightless, and it writes very, very smoothly. But my beefs with it are dealbreakers: (1) the rollerball tip writes wider than other rollerballs of the same width, and (2) the ink tends to bleed and feather much worse than other rollerball pens.

So, let's pick it apart a little more.

Let's start with presentation. For a $24 pen, it's not bad. You get a black, hinged steel box with a foam insert that presents the pen quite nicely.

Like I said, this pen is very, very light. The body is aluminum. (I've seen at least one vendor misidentify it as light stainless steel, but Tombow's site says its aluminum.) If you write unposted, it's crazy light. Even if you're normally an unposted kind of guy, you might find yourself posting the cap just to give the pen more balance.

Tombow Object RollerballPerhaps because the pen is so light, it also seems fairly small. When I got a Lamy Safari to put next to it, I expected it to be dwarfed by the Safari, but it turns out it's not that much smaller. Again, that small feeling may be due to the light weight.

The clip is not sprung, but it doesn't seem prone to wearing out, either. The grip section is a little odd. I wasn't sure I'd find those ridges very comfortable, but they were just fine.

The shape of the pen is pretty symmetric. The cap reminds me a little of a bowling pin, or perhaps a rocket, and the end of the barrel is similarly tapered.

This pen comes in some really cool colors. A colleague at work tried my pen for awhile, really liked it, and decided she wanted it in pink. Apparently, pink is not available from any U.S. vendor, but if you're willing to pay nearly triple the price of a U.S. distributed pen, you can find the pink version at the Swedish site deskstore. (If anyone knows where to find the pink pen in the U.S., please shoot me an email at notebookeresqATgmail.com -- my colleague would really appreciate it.) No matter the color, the section and clip are black, as are the minimal graphics (the Tombow logo and "Japan" 180 degrees oposite each other at the base of the cap).

The pen is a very smooth writer, but it tends to write a bit wide for my tastes. The Tombow P05 Fine refill is, I presume, a 0.5 mm refill, but it writes a wider line than 0.5 mm refills in my Lamy Studio rollerball or Ohto Orca ceramic rollerball. (The P07 Medium refill tends to write about as wide as a Pilot G2 1.0 mm, but perhaps its not a fair comparison since the G2 is a gel pen.)

In any event, here are front and back comparisons against some other pens, writing in a Levenger twin ring notebook, which I chose precisely because it is not impervious to feathering and bleedthrough, and thus gives a better comparison:

Tombow Object Rollerball Writing Sample

Tombow Object Rollerball - bleedthrough
The dashes show the lines  with Tombow bleedthrough. For comparison, each "F" marks fountain pen writing with Aurora Black.

Note that the bleedthrough on the Tombow Rollerball is significantly worse than the other rollerballs and is closer to the fountain pen ink bleedthrough of Aurora Black in a couple of wet-writing nibs. And, while I couldn't get a good close-up picture to show it, feathering is also significantly worse with the Tombow than with the Lamy or Ohto.

If I were a patient man, I would experiment with other rollerball refills to see if any fit this pen and write better. But I am not a patient man. Not only am I too impatient to go chasing after different rollerball refills, I'm also too impatient to go through the trouble of putting this up on eBay. You can get a brand new one for $20. I'm not about to spend all that time putting up an eBay listing (mine tend to take a long time, because I'm too picky about pictures and text) so I can clear $10 after shipping. I'd rather give this away to a reader. Hence . . . 

The Giveway

I'm going to make this one easy on you. You don't need to leave a comment. You just have to shoot me an email at notebookeresqATgmail.com, but your subject line must be exactly:


Emails work better than comments because that way I can get in touch with the winner, and the required subject line allows me to filter for the entries easily. The winner will be chosen by using the random number generator at random.org. If you win, I will contact you and ask for your online profile name and link so I can post the winner's name with a link to the winner's online profile. (If you don't have one, don't worry, you're still eligible.)

Good luck! (And, as usual, you can find more photos in my Flickr photo set.)

UPDATE: Oh yeah, I almost forgot . . . I'll keep the entry period going through midnight Sunday night on March 11. The time stamp on the email will determine whether it is timely, and I have no idea whether the email gets stamped with your local time or with my time, so play it safe. Also, the giveaway is open to anyone, but if you want me to ship it outside the USA, you will have to pay shipping.



  1. I own several Tombow Objects - all fountain pens, however. I think it's a great pen, but I seem to be in a minority.

    The pink version is an older model - that Swedish site shows the old colour range, including the green which I own. The older Objects have a metal nib section (not plastic) which makes them heavier. I prefer that; clearly others didn't.

    I'll try to enter your giveaway - because I don't have a silver Object in my collection!

  2. This is very stylish pen to use. The metal nib of this pen is very nice. People can use this low cost pen in very long time.