Why can’t I buy a refillable version of my favorite pen in the US?


Last night I discovered there’s a refillable version of my favorite pen available outside the US and I am heartbroken. Why can’t I have nice things?

I have been writing with the Pilot Precise V5 and the Pilot Precise V7 for at least the last 25 years, possibly longer. They’re great pens! (I have also been assured by Alex Cranz that pens counts as gadgets. They are, at minimum, technology, albeit old technology.) Anyway, the Pilot Precise pens are available at most drugstores, cheap; I usually buy them by the dozen. They are very smooth, even on bad paper — I don’t have to press on them to write.

That last part is crucial. See, there are days when I take extensive handwritten notes — many courtrooms do not allow electronic devices — and so I need to be able to write for several hours without my hand cramping. That rules out all ballpoint pens — absolute trash! If you need quick-drying ink, use a Zebra Sarasa Dry — and an awful lot of other ones besides.

A girl can dream!
Screenshot from Pilot’s EU website

Looking through the pen blogs, it seems like a version of this may have existed in the US at some time in the past? (How did I miss this?) So it seems possible that it flopped and was removed from the market.

Pilot’s website, alas, does not have a press section. So I’ve sent in a note to customer service to ask about my new obsession. I will update if I hear back.

Obviously, I know Amazon exists and I can get someone to buy the pen in Europe and ship it to me here. (I may have done this already.) But I’m not really sure why I need the workaround. I’m happy to switch from disposable pens to refillable ones. Plus, I think it might be fun to experiment with other inks.

Because the one thing that I view as the true downside of the Precise line is that its ink runs if it comes into contact with water. I’m right-handed, so I don’t tend to smear ink when I write — but I have absolutely spilled water on my page before. The refillable version is compatible with Pilot’s various other refill cartridges, which means I could potentially try out other inks and maybe custom-load my own perfect pen.

Now, if I know pen people — and I have spent a significant amount of time reading your blogs, so I do have some guesses — someone is going to read this and go, “Just use a fountain pen, you lunatic.” But here’s the thing: I already know the Precise pens work really well for me. And I already know a refillable version exists. Moving to a fountain pen would require some guesswork about what will make my hand cramp if I’m going to be writing for hours. The Pilot Precise pens are, on the other hand, a sure thing. A thing I know I love.

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a true gadget white whale to chase, but I’m pretty sure this is it: the Pilot Hi-Tecpoint Cartridge system. I could perfect my favorite pen! I just live in the wrong country to do so.



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By asm3a