In early 2018, the OmniFlex nib was first introduced on brands like Conklin and Monteverde. This is a stainless steel #6 size nib with a distinct shape and design to allow for increased softness, flexibility in the tines, and variation in line width based on your writing pressure. After going through iterative changes for the first several years and looking to increase their supply and quality of these nibs, the parent company Yafa embarked on a lengthy process involving significant investment of time and resources to get their nibs manufactured by the German nib company JoWo. JoWo (pronounced Yo-Vo) makes nibs for many of the brands you likely enjoy, including our very own Goulet nibs, so this was very welcome news to us when we heard about it.
But of course, with the announcement of any nib change come a lot of questions about how they perform and what to expect, especially when these nibs are coming on pens as attainable/affordable as the Monteverde and Conklins, many of which are sub-$50-100. So we wanted to give you a little bit of a preview of that here with these videos and this blog post. While we haven't had the nibs long enough to do extensive tests over time, we feel confident enough to be able to give you a pretty good impression of what to expect so you can feel good about whether or not a pen with the JoWo-made OmniFlex is right for you.
Overall, the shape of the nibs are similar to the previous version. They're made of stainless steel and have the same general shape and appearance that they used to with the cut out wings to increase the softness of the steel as the tines flex. The breather hole is now round instead of heart-shaped, and it has JoWo's signature ornamentation (aka squiggles) like you see on other JoWo-made nibs. The stamped branding "OMNIFLEX" now goes vertically down the nib, though the fit and finish on the JoWo nibs is better. Here's the original and new version for comparison:
Original non-JoWo OmniFlex nib
JoWo OmniFlex Nib
They have a distinctly different appearance than the non-flex nibs offered by Monteverde and Conklin, pictured before. The non-flex versions of both brands of nibs changed over to JoWo manufacturing in late-2019, and have enjoyed a more consistent reputation for writing performance as a result. We anticipate a similar response to the JoWo OmniFlex.
Old OmniFlex Nib In Action
Doing this produces a variation in your line width that gives a dynamic, calligraphic look to your writing that is hard to achieve in any other way. Traditional calligraphy achieves intense line variation in a similar way, though with slightly different tools. Calligraphers are often using oblique nib holders with disposable nibs made of spring steel (a softer, cheaper steel that does not last a fraction as long as stainless steel), and thicker calligraphy ink. It's not uncommon for traditional calligraphers to stress flexible nibs to the point of springing them apart past the point of return, or even snapping the tines off from the weakening of the steel due to the intense pressure put on them. However, fountain pens aren't designed with such an intense line variation in mind, and trying to produce this same dramatic writing is pretty much asking for trouble.
What you can realistically hope to achieve with a stainless steel flexible nib, and indeed from the JoWo OmniFlex nib specifically, is a line variation safely about double the width of the nib when unflexed. The OmniFlex is only available in one nib size and doesn't specifically state the size, but we find it to write a line with (unflexed) comparable somewhere between a fine and medium in the JoWo-made Monteverde or Conklin nibs. We find it to be slightly broader than the previous version of the OmniFlex, which some of you may like, others, maybe not. It'll be a matter of personal preference.
For more information about OmniFlex and the pen offered with these nibs on it, be sure to visit GouletPens.com.