Here is another pen that I bought while on holiday in Italy. Except that this one was bought on ebay and has just arrived in the post, four weeks later.
“What were you thinking, ordering pens online while away on holiday?” you might ask. I had taken a new Wing Sung 601 demonstrator with me on the trip, and was delighted with it but still had the urge to have one in a colour seen on a friend’s Instagram post (@jonr1971). I think it is called Lake Blue although the names of the colour descriptions can be a bit puzzling.
Appearance and Design.
This is the Wing Sung model that looks very much like the well loved, vintage Parker 51, with a slip-on metal cap with arrow pocket clip and the distinctive hooded nib, but in stainless steel rather than gold. I will not argue the rights or wrongs of this being a Chinese version of a classic Parker pen. It does not claim to be a Parker and is named Wing Sung (written in Chinese characters) 601 on the front of the cap band, with “Made in China” at the back. Unlike the Parker, it has six ink windows in the barrel, which are hidden when the pen is capped.
Construction and Quality.
I was very impressed with my first, demonstrator version. The materials and finish all seemed commendable. I recall that the nib needed just a slight tweak to align the tines for smooth writing. On my new one, again the materials and finish all seemed to be to a good standard. There was no issue with the tines being uneven, but the nib was not quite symmetrical with the black plastic feed. As the nib is hooded, this is barely noticeable unless you look closely (which I did). It does not seem to impair the ink flow, but it would be nice to remove the nib and line it up centered around the feed.
Under the blind cap, you have a metal plunger rod, to operate the vacumatic filling system. At the foot of this rod you have a black, hexagonal nut, which you may unscrew to remove the whole filler unit. The nut looks like black metal but I have heard that it is plastic and therefore gets chewed up and deformed if you use a metal wrench on it. Best to use plastic on plastic. I have not tried removing it yet.
Weight and Dimensions.
I would call this a medium-sized pen and fairly light. Closed, it measures about 138mm. Uncapped, it is about 127mm long, which many would find long enough to use unposted. However, I prefer the look, feel and weight of the pen with the metal cap posted, which increases the length to 147mm. I do not find it to be unbalanced as the cap posts deeply and securely and I then grip the pen a little higher up.
Uncapped the pen weighs around about 12.5 grams (including some ink in mine). The cap alone weighs 7.5 grams and so capped, or posted the total is 20 grams, which is still on the light side.
Nib and Performance.
The nib is a Fine, or possibly Extra Fine. I could not see any marking on the visible part of the nib. Being so small, and with only about 2mm of nib protruding under the shell, it is firm and does not provide any significant line variation. Like a rollerball, it does not give much character to your writing. But on both of mine, the ink flow has been good, giving sufficient lubrication to the nib to allow for effortless writing. Being a Fine nib, it does not have the smoothness of a generously tipped broad nib but it is smooth and also has sufficient “tooth” to enable the pen to cope with ease on smooth papers without any skipping. You might find that you need to rotate the pen a little to find the “sweet spot” and with a hooded nib, it is not so easy to see how your pen is rotated, when you are writing. It helps to post the cap with the arrow clip in line with the nib to see the alignment of nib to paper in the writing position and make adjustments as necessary.
I did test my first nib with Conway Stewart Tavy, blue-black ink by Diamine and was pleased to find that it wrote well in all directions, never skipping and needing no pressure. I had the same success with Waterman Mysterious Blue in my latest pen.
Filling System and Maintenance.
This is a vacumatic filler; you immerse the nib in ink, press and release the spring-loaded button a few times, expelling air and allowing ink to be drawn into the reservoir. In the demonstrator version you can observe this fascinating process, with the ink level rising a little higher in the reservoir with each press of the button. “I pressed down down down and the ink went higher” as Johnny Cash might have sung. In the non-demonstrators, it is not so spectacular but you can easily check that you have a good fill using the ink windows.
As for maintenance, the pen is not easy to flush. I experimented first with water and found that pressing the button repeatedly does not expel all the water from the pen. If this were ink, and you were changing colours, you could contaminate a bottle of ink with the ink residue from the pen. So, to clean the pen you therefore need to unscrew the shell, pull out the nib and ink collector unit (which is friction fit) from the barrel and then rinse out any residue.
I have not yet found a way to separate the metal nib from the collector unit. I tried pulling it out but it would not budge and I was wary of distorting either the nib or the fins on the collector and so suspended my efforts. The little nib is just too tiny to get a hold of, even with “grippy material”.
When pushing the collector back into the barrel, it is necessary to line it up so that, when the shell is screwed back on fully, the protruding lip of the shell will end up precisely in line with the nib. This can be done by marking on the barrel, the position where the nib needs to be, or just by holding the barrel horizontal in one hand imagining that the top is the 12 o’clock position. You soon find out if you have got it wrong; if the nib is not in the right place, look at which direction it needs to be moved and by roughly what distance. Repeat as necessary.
A little silicone grease on the plastic threads is a good idea. One of my 601’s actually came with a little container of grease and so you are encouraged to disassemble and maintain your pen.
Cost and Value.
These can be found new on ebay for prices of around £10, and so come in well under the price of a Lamy Safari, currently about £17.00 here in the UK. That is excellent value for a vacumatic filler fountain pen.
I enjoyed my first 601 sufficiently to want to buy another. The familiar design is obviously well-known and loved. It is great that these are now available with a Vacumatic filling system. The fine nib combined with the large ink capacity, mean that you can write for ages on one fill. Whether you chose the demonstrator or ink windows version you can see when you are getting low on ink and top up accordingly.
It is probably best not to change ink colours too frequently unless you are prepared to disassemble the pen for cleaning first. Another option is to decant some ink into a receptacle with a pipette or syringe and to fill from there, rather than from a bottle to avoid the risk of contaminating the rest of the bottle.
As a smart, classic and reliable pen, light enough to carry in a shirt pocket, I can see how it can become the daily writer of choice. This is a pen that you will want to show people.
13 thoughts on “Another look at the Wing Sung 601 fountain pen.”
Really nice – I did not know that there were modern vacuumatic (plunger) filling Parker “51” clones. I have a “51” that I love but don’t like to carry it around too much – afraid I’ll break or lose it.
I’ll have to look for one of these – thanks for sharing.
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Thanks for reading. Yes, it is great that there is an inexpensive modern equivalent available now that you can carry and use without the worry of it being vintage.
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Excellent review as always. I’ve never been a fan of the Vac: as you said, too hard to clean and I change inks often. But I must say, the addition of ink windows is a definite improvement on the original!
Thank you! I have not owned a Parker Vacumatic but can imagine that you need to choose your ink colour with care and stick to it! The Wing Sung 601’s are great fun though and I now have a clear demonstrator version and the “Lake Blue”. The nibs are very fine though, but smooth and with a pleasingly good flow and feedback.
Excellent review. Received mine from Ebay yesterday, inked up and wrote a few pages. Good writer, well balanced and a looker. I have the demonstrator filled with Diamine Violet, looks lovely.
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Thank you for reading. I expect the violet ink sloshing around is a pleasure to see. I am still delighted with mine.
I have had a WING SUNG 601 since Tuesday, November 13th ( I am not superstitious ). I got it from China, after an expectation of about two months.
But, this let’s say, this Parker 51 replica, IS WORTH both the money and the waiting time !
Its body ( burgund / dark red ) made of ABS (?) is very well polished, having an elegant / vintage / classy look. The burgund / dark red colour increases the old fashionable look of this brilliant pen.
The body and the removable cap are perfect aligned, you hardly realize there are two separate pieces…
The metallic cap / lid is also very well polished, being really shiny. The manufacturer’s markings are fully visible.
The six ink windows ( an innovation to the genuine P 51 ) are really useful to the owner because the pen has not any other clear / transparent components.
By the way of ink…the capacity of the reservoir of Wing Sung 601 vacumatic pen is absolutely fantastic ! ! !
I know very well what I am writing: I have another Wing Sung 601 vacumatic pen, but not workable ( its filling mechanism is out of order, straight from its manufacturing process )….
I have dismantled the pen into two halves thinking I could use it pumping the ink inside with a…syringe. The pen started working, I extracted the ink out of the reservoir using the syringe again. Well…the ink capacity of the reservoir is stunning ! ! It takes much more than any other Chinese aerometric fountain pen, much more than a bigger size aerometric Hero 616, for instance. In order to compare, a bigger sized Hero 616 takes 10 drops of ink. This Wing Sung 601…takes no less than 20 drops.
I filled in the pen with Diamine ‘ Eau de Nil ‘ ink right when I received it, in the evening on the day of November 13 th and it started writing immediately. Having in sight its F writing thickness, I expect myself to refill it TWO weeks later.
I mention I use the pen 6 days a week.
As a conclusion, Wing Sung 601 vacumatic, burgund in colour is a brilliant pen in every respect.
I strongly recommend it. In case it works it is definitely a pride for the owner to have it and a delight in usage !
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Thank you for your comment Adrian. Yes, the 601 is a great pen and fantastic value, if it works as it should and the nib is set up nicely. I have two, one clear and one Lake Blue which looks very retro and writes smoothly, currently filled with Waterman Mysterious Blue. They make great gifts, but the waiting tests your patience.
Thanks for the honest review, Rupert.
I have four Wing Sung 601(A) pens. The first two had exposed, traditional #5 nibs. They weren’t an instant success, to be honest. Massive baby bottom on the first nib, which I figured to be a dud, since all the reviews I read sang its praise. So I ordered another 601A, from another seller. Imagine my dismay when that one had a horrible nib too. It too was overly smooth and skipped on all but the roughest of paper. Luckily changing the nib was child’s play and both have been behaving admirably well ever since. I liked the build of the pen so much that I bought a hooded nib and a tubular nib version next and those two wrote beautifully right out of the box, thankfully.
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Thanks for your comments and for sharing your experiences with Wing Sung. Certainly, the writing experience will depend upon whether you get a nib which is well set up and if not, whether you are able to do some basic adjustments and smoothing to put it right. For the price, they are unbeatable value and a lot of fun too.
It’s the luck of the draw, for sure, more so with some brands than with others. I have over 50 Jinhaos and have yet to come across the first one that didn’t write properly out of the box. With Wing Sung and Hero, quality control can be more of an issue, in my experience. Then again, my Pelikan M600 wrote like a rusty nail at first and required a lot of TLC before it wrote like it should.
(After writing my previous comment, I decided to try and adjust the original 601A nibs. I couldn’t be bothered to do so before, going for the easy way out, a nib swap. This time, I ran them across a variety of different micro-mesh and I managed to turn both of them into decent albeit it not stellar nibs. I’ll probably use them as backups.)
I own a real “51”, a Hero 616 and now a Wing Sung 601. The 51 is too valuable to use it as an everyday officce writter. The 616 was very good after leveling the protruding metal rings (they hurt) but after 8 years it started to leak. The WS 601 writting is wetter, wider and a bit more scratchy, but comparasion with a long time worn and comfortable pen is unfair.
The windows are barely noticeable, since I chose the black model wich blends with the ink.
The 601 cap seems to be too tigth.
I agree on the superior ink capacity of the WS 601, and you can load it very fast.
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