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- Price $88 for the soft flame version and $118 for the dual torch version
- Weight 2.84oz / 80.7g for the soft flame version and 3.43oz / 97.3g for the dual torch version
As a non-smoker, I rarely need to pull out a lighter. So, each time my SO asks me to light incense, I excitedly pull out my favorite zippo lighter to do so. City-living knife collectors might know how this feels.
Since I bought my first Zippo, I've amassed quite the collection of Supreme Zippo and Tsubota Pearl lighters. While these lighters do their jobs and do them well, even the most buy-it-for-life Zippos have never solved the age-old problem of getting burnt with an inverted flame.
There are several situations where you need to use an inverted flame. Lighting candles in jars are perhaps the most common. For campers, lighting a fire starter in a pile of firewood might be another.
Butane inserts exist for Zippo lighters. While the jet of blue flame does not go upwards to burn your fingers, the lighter cannot sustain the flame upside down—it lasts for a split second before extinguishing.
As an urban lighter user, when I saw these Dissim lighters, I knew I
wanted needed one. I have both the soft flame version and dual torch version for this review.
Inverted feature aside, the aesthetics of Dissim lighters immediately caught my attention. Designing as a profession, I can't help but draw similarities to the work of Dieter Rams, often regarded as the Godfather of design. Dieter Rams pioneered a list of ten principles of Good Design, which can be considered equivalent to Moses's ten commandments in the design world.
I see the principles (innovation, usefulness, understandability, unobtrusiveness, to name a few) followed religiously in the Dissim lighters. The lighters are beautiful and minimal. Looking at them next to even my most beautiful Zippos, these are very aesthetical pieces, fit for display in a glass case. I am the kind that likes to empty my pockets before I sit down at a restaurant table. If you take these bad boys out, your companions will surely ask you about them.
The design of the lighters is minimalistic, opting to use materials and textures instead of prints to craft its appeal. There is an indented DISSIM logo on both sides, one that is the right side up and one that is inverted, a small detail that hints at its unique feature.
There are three subtle screws on the bottom. They are small enough that you barely feel them if you grace your fingers over them. While having them hidden makes it more minimalist, I suspect they are there for ease of repair. This is, after all, a pricey lighter meant to last forever.
The lighters come in various colors; I got the gray (for the soft flame) and gunmetal (for the dual torch) version. While these aren't black, they are black enough as far as metals go. The gray tone on both versions is very consistent, but the gunmetal, while slightly brushed, is much more reflective, giving the “executive” look as per the name.
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I personally prefer the matte soft flame version as the gunmetal one stands out a little more than I like. I wished they made the dual torch version in the same matte finish.
There are minute differences between the soft flame and dual torch version. The soft flame version has a slit near the hole where the flame comes out, while the dual torch one has two slits on the left side.
The dual torch one also has a cover for the flame that opens when you light it up while the soft flame one doesn't.
The curves and corners of the lighters are soothing, with a balance that you can feel in your hands. Add the premium material and weight; the lighter looks feel much more premium than the $100-ish price tag.
While the lighter is larger than a standard Zippo, it doesn't feel too large to have in your pockets all the time. The reason for the size is so that the finger hole can fit most fingers. It fits the middle finger on my relatively-large hands perfectly.
The entire lighter looks to be in a cast high-grade Zinc, with the bottom part in a silicone covering. As such, the construction feels excellent, and I have no doubt when Dissim claims these are for life. They even have a lifetime warranty to back it up.
Pushing the button is all it takes to light it up. There is quite a bit of tension on the button to prevent accidentally lighting it up. The tension is sufficient to prevent it from activating in your pocket or a dedicated slot in your backpack. However, it is always possible to be activated at the bottom of the backpack full of heavy contents.
Lighting up is a one-handed operation, inverted or right side up. The only thing you can't do (easily) is tune the dial with one hand.
I designed a thing.
I found a 100 year old company that would create these heirloom quality canisters for me. They are handmade and will keep your tea leaves, coffee beans or anything that you need dry for years to come.
or read review
Inverted, I usually have my index finger or middle finger in the handle hole and push the button with my thumb. In most cases, you should push the button on the right side up and then invert it to light your candle. While you can light it in the inverted position, there looks to be a 30-50% fail rate.
According to Dissim, the reliability goes down with repeated attempts in that position as it becomes harder for the butane nozzle to pull the fuel. Bringing it back upright briefly will mitigate this.
Adjusting the Flame
There is a dial to adjust how small or large you want the flame to be. The soft flame version goes from a barely visible quarter of an inch at the lowest setting up to a flamethrower-like four inches at the highest setting.
The dual torch version goes all the way to three inches, while it doesn't even light up at the lowest setting. According to Dissim, these high-powered torch requires a certain amount of fuel to have the two flames converge to an apex point for precision. The lowest setting doesn't allow for this since it defeats the point of the design. However, this makes it a little user-unfriendly and not immediately intuitive since the setting is there but unusable.
Right around the middle is the optimum flame for me, giving about an inch of the blue flame. The flame usually starts a little larger and simmers down quickly to the final size.
The dial also seems to be looser on the soft flame version. I can wiggle the dial without changing its setting, while the dual torch version doesn't let you do so. The real issue with this is the sound it produces if you shake the lighter.
The lighter mechanism is on the top while the fuel is stored on the bottom while the handle is. This results in a slight difference of weight between the top and bottom, which is more apparent in the dual torch version where there are more parts. While this can be felt when holding the lighter in hand, the heavier top feels right when you invert it.
The rounded handle and smooth corners make it a pleasure to have in your hand. It's also sized well for my relatively-large hands, although I would find it too big if any larger.
There is a small valve on the opposite end of the dial. To refill, you should
- Hold the lighter with the valve facing upwards
- Press down on it with a small screwdriver to release pressure
- Push a butane refill canister down directly on the valve for five seconds
- Wait five minutes for gas to evaporate before use
Next to the valve, a fuel window indicates the amount of fuel you have left. There is a faint red indicator that tells you how much butane is left.
While the lighters are beautiful, I did notice a small quality issue on both lighters. The dials on them didn't seem to be machined cleanly, with some of the grooves looking not uniformed. Perhaps this is within quality assurance tolerance, but for lighters near the $100 price point, perfection is to be expected.
These are some of the most beautifully-designed lighters I've seen. There are some small reliability and machining issues, but seeing as there aren't any other lighters that can do what they do, most might overlook them. I find these an absolute pleasure to have as part of my collection and in my EDC despite the flaws.
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