Friday, February 10, 2012

Comparison - Montblanc 146 with Sailor Realo 1911

Here I would like to share a comparison of these two fantastic writer, the MB 146 and Sailor Realo 1911. Both has very similar characters, sizes and specifications, as well as colors in production. MB 146 as many of you may know is a reliable and great writer that has proven itself over the years to be many's favourite writing instrument, overshadowed only by its larger sibling, the 149. The Sailor Realo 1911 is a newer production from Sailor and is one of the many few Japanese FPs that has intergrated filling system in the market. The piston filling is a newer addition to the 1911 line of FPs.

Looks and Appearance:

Here are some pictures that can speak for themselves. Both are very similar in shape and can be mistaken from afar. The Sailor however has a larger and clearer ink window while strip windows are used for the 146 allows a better material continuity look throughout the barrel. The MB star is probably the most apparent differentiator here in terms of appearance while the Sailor has larger gold plated rings compared to the MB. The gold plating on the Sailor seems to be more 'yellow' compared to the pale looking yellow gold of the MB. Sailor at the moment do not have rhodium plated rings and clip while MB 146 does that have option. MB however has ceased its production of the Bordeux resin version. Both pens looks very pleasing to the eye, not too loud and understated enough to be used as an everyday pen.

Weight and Construction:

MB 146 and Sailor 1911 are both made from 'Precious Resin' and PMMA Resin respectively. Are they the same thing? I am not qualified to say yes or otherwise but a lot of opinion seems to lean towards yes. The surface is smooth and shiny and both pens are very well put together and made to last. There are no loose joints, rings and clips are well assembled and both are first class quality. The clips on MB is a solid piece of metal while the Sailor is a folded metal to shape. The larger window in the Sailor 1911 seems to indicate that the thickness of the Resin is greater than the 146. Perhaps this could be a reason why the capacity is lower? I can't quite be sure unless I've dissambled it but from the exterior it does look that way. The modern production of the 146 does has the 'loose cap' syndrome when the pen is capped, while the Sailor cap always closes tightly. Both pen are comfortable to write with, be it posted or unposted. Perhaps the Sailor would be better if posted given the slightly shorter dimension that may make a large difference. MB is slightly heavier with the brass components.

Nib and Performance:

Both writes well OOTB, both are smooth and you can't put them down easily. Japanese nibs are significantly finer than the western counterparts. I've chosen F and M for my Sailor 1911s and M and OB for my MB 146s. That way I'll have a good range of nibs for different sizes, and taking the best of both brands; superior finer nibs from the Sailors and smoother bolder nibs from the MBs. Though the Sailor has a 21k nib as compared to the 14k nib on the 146, both these brands writes like a modern rigid nib. The MB 146 nibs are glass smooth effortless writing. The Sailor nibs are also very smooth but has the perfect amount of feedback to give that writing pleasure, even more apparent with the F nib, given the nature of such width.

Refill System:

Both are piston fillers, one of my most important criteria. MB uses brass for its piston components while Sailor's is plastic. Both mechanism works the same way and both are smooth and easy to use. The MB however has a larger capacity (more than 1 cc, i can't remember the exact number) while the Sailor Realo has the capacity of 1 cc. The piston knob for the MB is larger, making it easier to handle while the Sailor's piston knob is smaller and probably will take a bit to get used to. Then again, if one find the Sailor comfortable to use, one shouldn't be able to have problems with the smaller knob size. Both has windows to indicate the ink level. While the MB has a strip windows that are more elegantly design and subtle, the Sailor emphasized its window and made it an apparent design feature to see the colours of the ink.


MB retails at about USD 600-700 while the Sailor Realo is approximately USD350. This may be a major factor especially in deciding the two, as they are both very similar in looks and characteristic and performs equally well. However, given the large second hand supply out there for a 146, there are many opportunity to own it at much less, if one is not keen on free nib exchange programs.


Though both pens looks very similar, but they do have different handling characteristic. Each has its strength and not many weaknesses. Both are good examples of great engineering and manufacturing process to ensure the best in their product. The MB 146 has the flair and a good feel of a well designed pen, with the history behind it that exudes quality. The Sailor 1911 is a well tuned and high performance machine of a pen. I have been continually and pleasantly refreshed in my writing experience, changing from pen to the other, as they give a similar feel and physical experience, yet different characteristic when the nibs touches the paper.

Thanks for reading!

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