After almost a year of use, it’s time to tell my TWSBI tale. Of the two on hand, the 580 beats the Eco easily. However, both are good value for money though with caveats.
Both models are piston-fillers so they start out even on that score. A visual comparison reveals no difference between the two fillers, so ink capacity will be identical. The pistons move smoothly and draw ink from a bottle easily. Filling them reminded me how well a piston in a long barrel can pull ink from a tall bottle like Noodler’s. It won’t get you to the bottom, but it will get you closer than other fillers.
The 580 comes in a variety of colors while the Eco comes in black or white. I will say the white Eco looks very appealing with a fill of aqua or turquoise ink. The black is rather common (Who doesn’t have a black fountain pen?), but looks more exciting with a fill of red or orange ink. Diamine Soft Mint is particularly attractive in it.
The Diamond 580 is a clear demonstrator model with enough metal to be a little heavy though balanced when writing without the cap. Tuck the cap on the end and it becomes overbalanced in a small to average hand. It has a very solid feel to its construction though I haven’t played darts with it to see if it is durable. It has either been in a case, on my desk or in my hand which is an easy life for a fountain pen.
The JoWo 1.1mm steel nib is smooth with decent though not copious flow. The sweet spot is a little undersized for the angle at which I write resulting in an occasional missed start to a stroke. This might be an issue peculiar to me and not a problem with the nibs since other users have not mentioned it. The line is slightly less crisp than a Lamy 1.1, so I would rate it a cursive italic. From a practical perspective, the JoWo is better for general use in part because the line is more narrow. Some italics have sharp corners that catch. Not so with this nib, which adds to its ease of use.
For months the 580 has been filled with Diamine Violet which is a very good match for the nib as well as the clear barrel. I like to twirl it in my fingers just to see the colorful ink slosh around. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?
TWSBI pens can be a bit delicate. Before engaging in any activity other than filling, take a few minutes to read the included instructions or watch a video or two. My 580 arrived with a barrel and nib that would spin with little provocation and would not tighten. It took a day at FPN, several posts and some help from friends to figure out how to stabilize it without risking damage. The pen should have arrived ready to rock and roll. It didn’t. Since another FPNer had the same problem, you might, too.
The Eco does not write quite as smoothly as the 580. In fact the one I have is a dry writer that needs a somewhat upright hold and slight rotation to produce a consistent line. I often rotate a pen so that isn’t a disqualification for me. However, the upright angle is not comfortable so the Eco loses marks for that bit. Unfortunately, it isn’t good enough to get regular use. Perhaps a different ink will make it a better fit for my writing style.
The 580 has no flow or nib issue and has a more substantial build. It is slightly heftier in the hand and I think more attractive. The turning knob on the Eco is functional, but a bit clunky in proportion and design. That could be said of the cap as well. The 580 has a more balanced and sophisticated design. Go for that one if $60 fits your budget. If you want an inexpensive carry pen or one as a first foray into italic nibs, the Eco at under $30 might do.
So that’s my TWSBI tale of two pens.
The company has an excellent reputation for customer service, but hopefully you will never need it.
Amazon offers a variety of TWSBI models and nib sizes.