The Jinhao 9019, Dadao. Some are astounded by the remarkable resemblance to the Namiki Emperor, which has a grail pen status while others are more direct, calling it a replica. But let us not get drawn into that debate and look at this latest offering from Jinhao for what it is, a well-crafted, functioning writing instrument, capable of standing head and shoulders above the competition in its class.
Another point that should be alluded to right up front, is that over the last couple of years, Jinhao has been making remarkable progress in terms of its offerings. The nibs have become wetter and softer with more varieties, the overall built quality leading to the writing dynamics has improved, and conscious efforts on the part of the brand to address the various issues raised by the users are palpably evident. All this, keeping the very attractive price points in which Jinhao pens are offered to the public, and, mark my words, there is a blast that is waiting to happen. Connoisseurs must have also noticed the fact that Jinhao is making some serious efforts to brand itself – a sure sign of the things to come!
But more about the pen now – for one, it has come with fitted a “Medium” nib which addresses a long-standing demand of the users. That it is being welcomed is natural. That the nib itself is a pleasure to write with, especially with the huge feed that supports it, makes the Dadao a wet and juicy contraption that users simply love, is what adds to the experience. The Dadao is also fitted with a converter that is huge by ordinary standards, which is also a point that is not lost to fountain pen enthusiasts and ordinary writers alike.
The quality of the material used, the soft threads, the size of the section, the step-up that stops the fingers from slipping, the stiff clip, and the inner cap that is there to stop the nib from drying out easily are all huge plusses that are making the pen a chosen one. Least of all, the colours that are being offered, especially the semi-transparent ones, are steps in the right direction, opine people in the trade.
It was not that long ago that Jinhao offered to the market the X159. I can distinctly recall the hoo-ha that was created by it. Fountain pen lovers here were naturally excited and the pen had done better than expected in terms of acceptance by the public. Compare that to the Dadao and the fine nuances where Jinhao has tinkered with the production process to scale up their offering and take it to the next level is obvious. The point is, they are now in a stage of evolution as a brand where they are confident of their abilities and are no longer apologetic about their prowess as a major manufacturer. Henceforth, mark my words, their ascendence will only be a matter of time. And I must qualify this by stating that India does not constitute the major market for Jinhao –the world is their stage.
But what lessons does this Jinhao 9019, the Dadao, hold for the Indian fountain pen fraternity? The users are happy as they should be, xenophobia notwithstanding. But I personally feel that the industry should have reasons to sit up and take note, for the portends are ominous to put things mildly. This is an injection moulded pen, which means that the numbers that can be (will be) churned out by the Jinhao factory will be innumerable. This, because of the economies of scale, will naturally have a huge impact on the pricing, something that will be hard to match with the typically limited numbers by the Indian manufacturers. Qualitatively too this pen, the Dadao, can well be the beginning of a new phase for Jinhao in particular, and pens emanating from China in general, a leap forward, which will certainly pose challenges before Indian manufacturers that will be hard to beat. Yes, those running boutique-sized operations will continue to thrive, but as an industry, mass-producing to attain numbers big enough to compete in global markets – well, don’t tell me that I hadn’t warned you guys. The days of fitting Jowo nibs and cheap imported converters into shoddily machined acrylic rods and demanding abnormally high prices from an unsuspecting population of fountain pen addicts may well and truly be over. The time for retrospection is upon us, friends.
Forget about competing globally, in the Indian market too, Jinhao is capable of springing surprises that will be too difficult to counter. If my friends who understand the Chinese management psyche and their business strategies are to be believed, it will not be long before the deluge comes. And when it comes, I do not think that they will be taking prisoners.
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