A few early thoughts on the Lamy aion fountain pen.

I had intended, before the month is out, to write a post or two about the pens that attached themselves to me at the London Pen Show on 1 October 2017. However, normal business has been interrupted by the arrival of the Lamy aion and so today I am instead writing about what is currently on my mind, which is this new beast.

Having come away from the pen show very happily, with five extra fountain pens, the last thing I needed was another pen. Furthermore, I have been using a Kaweco Dia2 a lot lately (which was not one of my pen show pens) and have found myself thinking how super-comfortable and enjoyable it is, such that further pen acquisitions are not necessary.

When the new Lamy aion first came to my attention, I took little interest. But after hearing more about it, I sought out some reviews and spent an entertaining evening in watching several YouTube reviews which sparked further interest.

The anticipation.

I had still not seen one in the flesh. My only concern was that it was an aluminium pen and that in general I am not a fan of metal grip sections. For that reason I had stayed away from the Lamy Studio. After assimilating multiple reviews, I found myself assured that the grip problem had been addressed and decided that the aion was a must have item.

I will not recite what has been said, on Lamy’s official web site and in several online reviews. Suffice it to say that this is a new design, by Jasper Morrison, a modern and un-flashy cartridge-converter pen with strong leanings towards minimalism. Promotional videos showed immaculate, sparsely furnished offices with architects’ drawing boards and angle-poise lighting, into which the modern, minimalist aion blends effortlessly.

Whilst this is good aspirational stuff, I could not help thinking that if my aion is to find itself in a crowded pen cup (or silo of pen cups) with currently well over twenty other inked fountain pens then this is not proper minimalism. But never mind that.

After a few days mulling it all over, I went ahead and ordered one, in black, with a fine nib. I chose to order through The Writing Desk, as their price included the Z27 converter and they test the nibs before despatch.

Waiting for the pen was exciting. I enjoyed thinking what ink to put in and settled on a safe Waterman Serenity blue to start with.

First impressions.

First impressions when it arrived were good. It is a stealthy matte black finish, and feels very robust and a nice weight (32g capped or 22g uncapped). The finish of the cap and barrel is slightly textured, like a very fine grade of micro-mesh. Lamy’s description is “Brushed and blasted surfaces are refined with a brilliant silk-matt anodic coating finish.” (Anodised, means coated electrolytically with a protective or decorative, oxide surface). I particularly like the length, a generous 137mm opened and unposted. It is a comfortable length to use unposted, even for my fairly large hands. I also very much liked the sprung pocket clip; just press the top of the clip and it opens to allow you to slip the pen in or out of a jacket pocket one handed. My Lamy logo clip does this too.

The nib is a slightly different shape from the usual Safari Z50 nibs. The outside edges have a different contour, the shoulders being more rounded, yet the the new nibs are still interchangeable with them.

Lamy aion with new shaped nib

There are similarities with the Lamy Studio, in the shape of the section. Also, the plainness of the design, an air of undertstatedness, reflects the much admired Lamy 2000 of 1966.

The cap snaps on and off firmly. I think it is secured by the flange at the nib-end of the section, clipping into slots in the inner cap. When capped, the pen can rotate in the cap and there is just a little movement of the pen which can be wobbled from side to side in the cap, but not such as to be a problem. With cap removed, the section blends almost seamlessly into the barrel, with no threads, no step, no slightly tickly cap-fitting lugs. You can hardly see the join, except for the difference in texture.

So, what of the section? Again, it is aluminium. It looks stunning. But what is it like to hold? It has some texture to it but different from the cap and barrel and less grippable. Personally I would have preferred it to have at least the same amount of roughness as the barrel. But I am not a designer, just a user.

The writing experience.

Here, I have had differing experiences. As we know, a pen is held between finger and thumb and rests on your second finger under the section. The nib must be held to the paper at the optimum angle (finding the sweet spot for your nib) and then held consistently as you write. We rely upon being able to anchor the pen with finger and thumb to stop it from slipping and rotating left or right away from the sweet spot.

So, if your thumb cannot get a grip on the barrel or section where it is placed, the pen will slither around. Writing becomes frustrating. You will need frequently to release your grip (such as it is), rotate the pen back to where you want it, and then grip again.

In my case, (remembering that I have had the pen for only a few days) I have found marked differences in how I get on with the pen. This is all down to the moistness of the skin, which seems to vary at different times of the day. If your skin is dry then this pen is hard to hold steady. It feels a bit like the inside of a Teflon saucepan.

But when your skin has a slight amount of moisture, (and it only needs a very little to make all the difference) then the pen can be held steady and writes like a dream. It is nicely weighted towards the front end. The nib needs no pressure at all. The pen writes effortlessly under its own weight and you just guide it along.

I should mention that I tried Serenity blue ink at first but later flushed this out, gave the pen a good rinse and then refilled with Conway Stewart Tavy, by Diamine which is a nice blue black, that I like. I have noticed that sometimes ink starvation occurs a couple of paragraphs in which is just due to the ink staying at the far end of the converter and this is easily remedied by a light shake and then all is well.

Note the slight difference in finish between the barrel and the secion

I think the pen likes to be held with a light touch. I keep having to stop myself from gripping it too tightly. Once you learn to let go a little and let the pen do its thing, then it is a joy to use. But it all depends on the degree of moisture in the finger and thumb!

If all this sounds too much trouble then it is wise to get some hands-on experience of the pen before buying. Or some moisturiser.

As a final thought, after just a couple of days use, when picking up my super-comfy, perfectly sized Kaweco Dia2, I felt that the latter was a little narrow in the grip. So how the aion feels will also depend on what you are used to. Here they are together.

Lamy aion (right) next to the Kaweco Dia2

My haul from the London Pen Show 2017.

This was my fourth time, attending the annual London Writing Equipment Show (LWES).  It was held on 1 October 2017, at the Holiday Inn, Coram Street, near Russell Square. Knowing broadly what to expect, I had been much looking forward to it.

Oh my, what a treat for the fountain pen obsessed  enthusiast! The venue comprises one large main function room at the hotel, plus the adjacent corridors, all filled with lines of tables, covered with enticing displays of fountain pens old and new, inks, spare parts, accessories and other paraphernalia. There is something for everyone, whatever your level of interest in this addictive hobby.

This year, for me there was an added bonus, of finding several familiar new friends from the recent Pelikan Hub, just over a week earlier. It was good to see them again and to have a chat and share the excitement.

It was very warm inside and rather too crowded, until it thinned out in the afternoon. It is a good idea to find a coat rack and leave your jacket somewhere. I had brought along some cash but not quite a big enough bag, as it turned out, for the purchases I made. I had not come with any firm ideas of what to look at. Last year I bought a vintage Parker 51 from Graham Jasper’s table. I had a vague plan to pick up another, but did not in the end. I had also planned to have another look at the Conid Bulkfillers, the Belgian made, precision-engineered masterpieces that I eye up every year, although I still came short of buying one.

Thus browsing, with an eager eye and an open mind, I managed to limit myself to just five new pens, (all new, but all stainless steel nibbed, modestly priced pieces), three bottles of ink and a craft box of assorted grades of micro-mesh for those occasional attempts at nib adjustments.

My day’s shopping: Kaweco Allrounder, Conklin Mark Twain crescent fillers in red and coral, TWSBI Classic and a mystery pen. Plus three bottles of ink and a micro-mesh kit.

My first catch was the Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. I had been attracted to these from seeing them online, but thought them to be rather over-priced for a stainless steel nib pen. However, at a very attractive price at the Show, I picked up both a Red Chase and a Coral Chase model, with fine and medium nibs, respectively.


Next, and still before reaching the main hall, I lingered at the Kawecos. I have been using a Kaweco Dia 2 in recent months, which I have been delighted with and find super comfortable. At the Show, I saw the Kaweco Student and the Kaweco Allrounder, for the first time in the flesh. I was drawn to the Allrounder in a vibrant red aluminium (I think) body. It takes the same nib and feed unit as the Dia 2 or Al-Sport. I bought the pen with an Extra Fine nib, plus a Fine as a spare. These nib units are only about £8.00 and can often be fantastic, if well made.

Kaweco Allrounder, with Extra Fine nib.

Next I bought a spare bottle of ink, the Conway Stewart Tavy, by Diamine. I bought a bottle of this two shows ago and have used it a lot, as an attractive blue black. It is sometimes out of stock on web-sites and so I was pleased to get a spare.

A few tables on, I met the gentleman selling Aurora pens and inks, who remembered me from previous years. It was wonderful to see these stunning beauties on display, including the Optima in what I presume was the burgundy auroloide resin, a grail pen for the wish list although surprisingly light to pick up. However I did buy a bottle of Aurora Blue Black ink, only available since April which I had been keen to try.

I had a look at the Onoto pens. Again, very desirable, but quite an expensive outlay for an unplanned purchase.

Now – the main hall! It can be a bit overwhelming, the sight of so many pens and people all in one place. A prominent display of Pelikans with a giant plastic Souveran model, indicates Niche Pens’ table, with a good range of Pelikan pens to handle, including the M120 and the entry level Pelikano.  Next there were Noodlers and TWSBIs. At the vast vintage Parker table, (Graham Jasper) I was impressed to see an open, 80-pen case display of Parker Duofolds, grouped with about six of each colour. Another grail pen.

Several tables had nostalgic fountain pen branded signage of a bygone era and I regret not taking some photos of these lovely displays.

Another pen purchase, was an unbranded, large clear demonstrator pen with a black cap, displayed in gift box with a syringe included for eye-dropper filling, as an alternative option to the included converter. There were several colours and I chose one with nice blue end-cap, section and strikingly bullet-shaped barrel end. The nib looked to be a very smart, stainless steel Medium with some scroll work but with an empty space where you might normally expect to see the words Iridium Point, Germany. This I call my mystery pen. I also found a stack of Micro-mesh craft kits and added that to my stash, thinking it would be useful to have the means to do some very rudimentary nib-smoothing if the need arose.

A mystery pen. No noticeable branding on nib, pen or packaging. But it is a beauty!

Several fascinating laps later, I was nearly ready to go but paused again at the TWSBI’s. It was at this same show in 2014 that I bought my first TWSBI, a clear Vac 700 that I love and use regularly at work.  I have since added a Diamond 580 and an Eco. Now, someone next to me was trying the TWSBI Classic in a cute Robin egg blue. I had not handled one before and rather liked the faceted cap and barrel, the shiny metal piston knob and the small clear ink window (picture your favourite ink here!). I bought one, in white. Not exactly an Aurora but it has an ink window. They also had a few KWZ inks for sale (of which I have read great reviews) and I bought a 60ml bottle of Azure #4.

Oh, go on then. A TWSBI Classic, new model with postable cap. Now inked with Sailor kiwa-guro.

Having a New Pen Day x 5 was rather indulgent, admittedly. I therefore decided to ink only one more pen a day, throughout the week, to prolong the enjoyment. And it has been enjoyable. Each one has been a success and I am thrilled with my purchases.

Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler. Currently inked with Diamine Oxblood and going nicely.