Like the Custom 74, the Custom Heritage 92 derives its name from the year of initial production, with the founding of Pilot as the starting point. For those of us using the more-or-less Gregorian calendar, this works out to 2010, and this sets up an interesting comparison, because that was also the year the TWSBI Diamond was released.
One may say, “So what? A lot of pens were released in 2010,” and this is true, but if one looks at these particular two pens side-by-side… they’re very similar. They’re not exactly the same size, and most pens don’t vary wildly in shape, but the Diamond and the Custom Heritage 92 are both transparent pens with piston mechanisms and… at least as far as the initial Diamond went, exactly the same ink capacity.
It is tempting to say that one is copying the other. It is also usual to say that if there’s copying being done, it’s the Chinese company that’s at it.
I am not saying either of these things. The TWSBI had a very long period of pre-production, which happened in a fairly open manner on a pen forum; unless they had both a mole at Pilot and an unusual certainty that Pilot wouldn’t flip out about this sort of (nearly) preemptive knock-offery, Occam’s razor cuts in the direction of co-incidental similarity. In 2010, people were more apt to notice the TWSBI’s similarity to Pelikans in any event. One might urge the contrary theory, that Pilot copied TWSBI, but given the higher cost of the Custom Heritage and the fact that it would be copying an entirely unproven pen from a brand-new company… well, Occam’s razor is apt play the role of Freddy Krueger on that idea.
Leaving aside twins from another parent now– the Custom Heritage is indeed a transparent-only model; you can get it in a few colours, but you will always see the inner workings. The fact that there are inner workings is unusual for a Pilot, as most of their pens feed from cartridges. It may be that Pilot wanted to offer something to segment of the pen-using world that won’t consider a pen without an internal filler, and for whom vacuum-filling Custom 823 was just too expensive; the 92 is about half the price of the vacuum model.
Transparency and filler aside, there is little to differentiate this pen from other mid- to slightly-higher range Pilots. The points and feeds are all familiar in shape and performance, although oddly Pilot doesn’t offer the 92 with the usual swarm of point options; there are only four sizes of tipping and a single firmness.
When I examined this pen, I was struck by how thin in cross-section the piston-seal is; in preparing this profile, I find many others have also commented upon this. As I could not give the example I was examining a prolonged field-test, I will rely on those others who generally report that despite fears it does not let ink up on the wrong side of the seal, and that’s good news indeed. The prospective buyer should be aware that it is a transparent pen, which brings the constant threat of fluids getting into places they should not and making it look funny. The one I had in hand did not have ink in behind the piston, but there was some dampness trapped between the inner and outer caps. This is a purely cosmetic problem, but for some cosmetics are a serious consideration.
Production Run: 2010 to present.
Cost When New: ¥15,000. If you’re not in Japan, don’t rely on this as a guide; in 2016, it went for about $220.00 in the US.
Size: 13.7 cm long capped, 15.3 cm posted, 12.2 cm uncapped.
Point: 14K gold.
Filler: Piston, capacity approx. 1.2 ml.
If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.