Part of the pleasure of vintage pens is thinking about what it was like to experience the the golden age of fountain pens.
The drawback is it’s an impossible task.
NOS (new old stock) and vintage pens in near-unused condition is a game for folks with very deep pockets. They are hard to find. You wind up spending tons of clock cycles fretting over the deals.
For the average punter, chasing classic vintage pens come down to tracking down used pens in various states of repair and all the issues that entails.
That’s what makes the Wing Sung 626 interesting. Squint your eyes and you can imagine that you have your hands on a brand new Sheaffer Balance, circa 1929. Or at least a facsimile of the Balance revival series Sheaffer offered 1997- 2003.
That’s what I tell myself.
Not surprisingly, the pen is not without its detractors. Frank Underwater talked about the controversy in the April 2018 edition of Chinese Pen News You Need to Know. Despite the uproar in Chinese pen circles, his bottom line is positive:
“My reckoning on the 626 is that as long as Mr. Zhang can surpass the quality of the Sheaffer’s attempt to revive the original Balance in the end, he’d be fine.”
But the pen has also attracted a fair amount of positive attention. Chrisrap52 has a couple of excellent videos on YouTube. His initial review is thorough and compares it with with both the original Balance and the Balance II. His second video helpfully shows complete disassembly.
My experience with this pen has been overwhelmingly positive.
If you haven't guessed yet, I'm a sucker for the historic connection.
The acrylic is fantastic. Construction, fit and finish on the one I got is top-notch.
It is a wonder to hold and write with. Long writing sessions are a pleasure.
The pen is an intuitive and rewarding writer. The nib is smooth and generously wet. It performed flawlessly out of the box with no tuning required. The sweet spot is large and friendly.
That said, the Wing Sung 626 is a pen that fits a role. It's not perfect.
The Wing Sung 626 fits admirably among my current writers. I'm still in the thrall of my Aurora 88, but the smaller size and lighter weight of the 626 make it a close competitor. Plus I love looking at it in my hand.
At under US$18 from Taobao, the Wing Sung 626 is edging toward the higher end of the new crop of Chinese pens. It's hard to call it a luxury item per se, but that's the frame that comes to mind for me.
From a practical point of view, the Wing Sung 601 with the outstanding auto draw filling mechanism is a superb workhorse and, at about half the price, a fantastic value. The PenBBS 308, at the same price as the 626, is a more modern pen offering arguably even more value. Gotta say, lots on offer with Chinese pens these days.
However, I wouldn't give this pen to a complete newbie. I doubt they'd appreciate what they have in their hands.
They'd probably throw up their hands in frustration the first time it didn't write directly after sitting open for 15 minutes. Then they'd spring the nib.
Who knows, they might even break the clip off playing with it.
But in the hands of someone who's been in the hobby a bit, the Wing Sung 626 can be something of a revelation. It really is possible to close your eyes and imagine you're back in time.
More often that not, my desk is my pocket. But everyday desk items doesn't have the same ring.