Deciding on your first gold-nibbed fountain pen can be an overwhelming task. It will likely be the most you have ever spent on a pen and the hundreds of different pens and opinions can be confusing. When someone asks me which pen they should get as their first ‘good pen’, or which is the best fountain pen under $100, the answer is simple; The Platinum 3776 Century.
The Platinum 3776 Century
The 3776 Century line takes the place of Platinum’s entry-level gold nibbed pen. The 3776 model is one Platinum’s most popular models and the huge selection of finishes and editions reflect this fact. The model was created to commemorate Platinum’s 100-years in business and is inspired by Japan’s tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji has a height of 3776 meters, hence the name of the pen.
As well as these editions, Platinum also has a line of celluloid pens including the; Koi, Midnight Ocean, Sakura, Emerald, Tortoise and Calico.
If that wasn’t enough, there is also a Platinum 3776 in Ebonite, Briarwood and of course a Maki-e line.
Whilst the majority of these finishes are hard to get hold of outside of Japan, it shows the enormity of the 3776 model. Speaking of variety, let’s talk about the available nib options.
The 3776 can be purchased with a wide variety of nibs including the speciality ‘Ultra-Extra-Fine’, or as I like to call it, the samurai sword. Other available nibs include; EF, F, SF, M, B, BB and Music.
All of these models feature Platinum’s ‘slip and seal’ mechanism, which supposedly keeps the ink in your pen from drying out for over two years. I haven’t tested this, however, I have no reason not to believe this claim.
One criticism that I have heard about the 3776 is that the design is quite ‘boring’. Not unattractive, just… dull. I strongly disagree with this. The model that I have is the Chartres Blue with a gold trim. The Chartres Blue is inspired by the stain glass windows of the Chartres church in France. The blue resin finish has a slight translucency to it that really shines in bright light but looks just as interesting in low light as well.
The gold trim is not overly extravagant, and whilst I prefer the silver rhodium trim, I think the gold works well against the blue. On the cap is an extremely stiff, large gold clip. Positioned below is a band engraved with the words ‘Made in Japan #3776 Platinum’. The cap comes off in one and a half turns, making way for the 14K nib.
The length of the cigar-shaped pen is a comfortable 140mm when capped and 120mm when uncapped. It is long enough to use uncapped, however, posting the pen works well too. With the cap on, the pen weighs 26 grams, slightly light but again, not uncomfortable.
The 3776 is a cartridge converter model, and it should be noted that the converter is not included in the box. This is a little bit disappointing on a pen that has a retail price of $200 in the US. The converter works well, especially when compared to offerings from Sailor and Pilot.
The nib design is quite peculiar. It has a very flat top which gives it an aggressive look. The peaks of Mt Fuji are engraved at the top and it has a very cute heart-shaped breather hole. Also engraved on the nib is #3776, the Platinum logo, 14K, the nib size and 585, denoting the gold.
From the day I took this pen out of the box, I have been very impressed with the 14K medium nib. I have had the pen for over six months and in that time it has never skipped, hard started or gone out of alignment.
The 14K medium nib is fairly stiff. You can coax a small amount if line variation out of it, however, it doesn’t flex too much.
Being a Japanse pen, the medium width is far more like a western fine, with this being one of the finest mediums I have ever used.
The nib feels stunning on the paper. It puts down a moderately wet line and has a unique feel. There is a small amount of feedback, however, it is a very pleasant feeling.
The size and weight of the pen feel well balanced in the hand. I would like a touch more length, but it is not unusable without being posted. My one quip with the writing experience stems from the resin section. Depending on where you grip the pen, the threads can get in the way. They aren’t too sharp, but if you hold your pen high up, it is something to note. Additionally, I find if my fingers start to get a little sweaty, the resin material can become rather slippery.
This is a hard point to address. As with the majority of Japanese pens, buying the Platinum 3776 Century from international retailers can be quite a bit more costly than the pen’s price in Japan. In the US, the 3776 has a retail price of $200, but can be sourced for around $150. Even at this price, it is hard to justify the purchase.
What many people do to get this pen for a more reasonable price is to buy directly from Japan. These standard 3776 Century models can be found for as little as $65 from online Japanese sellers. There are still shipping charges to add onto this, but even still I got my pen for $75 (USD), well under the magic $100 mark.
At this price point, I think that this pen is one of the best value gold nib pens that can be purchased today.
As I said at the beginning of the review, I would recommend the Platinum 3776 Century to almost anyone. Whilst the design isn’t flashy, the classic cigar shape never goes out of fashion. The variety in nibs and finishes ensure that there is a 3776 model for everyone. The quality of the nib is equal or better than that of pens I have used that are fives times its price. If that isn’t enough being able to get this pen for as little as $75 means that the Platinum 3776 Century should be at the top of anyone’s list.
- Well made and reliable
- Lots of variety
- Smooth writer
- Excellent value
- Attractive finish
- Converter not included
- Stiff clip
- Slightly slippery section
- Buy the pen
- The Gentleman Stationer review
- Matt from the Pen Habit video review
- The Pencilcase blog review
- The Platinum website
This post contains affiliate produt links.