Some thoughts on the Lamy Nexx fountain pen.

About a year ago, a pen friend overseas asked if I could help him to find a replacement Lamy Nexx, with a yellow cap. I knew very little about the Nexx but read that the yellow (“Citron”) was an edition from 2015.

Our local WH Smiths at London’s Brent Cross shopping centre sells the Lamy Nexx but I have seen only the lime green cap version there, in contrast to their wide selection of Safari and Al-Stars. However, as luck would have it, finding a yellow one online was a piece of cake as they were available from the Hamilton Pen Company. I took the opportunity of ordering two, to try one for myself.

Lamy Nexx, Citron (2015 edition).

I had seen the Nexx for sale many times, hanging on blister packs beside the Lamy Safari and Al-Star range, but had never bought one, dismissing them as a bit childish. Also, although I have bought plenty of Safaris and Al-Stars over the years, I did so despite the faceted grip, not because of it. As a lefty over-writer, who rotates his fountain pen nibs inwards a few degrees, the facets do not align with my fingers and consequently I am left with thumb and forefinger resting on uncomfortable ridges rather than the intended facets. I can hold them if using my under-writer style but this is not so natural for me and therefore limits my use of the pens.

There is a big difference with the Nexx: the grip area is of a black rubber and the edges of the facets are not so pronounced and the edges are not at all sharp.

Design and construction.

The Nexx is a robust, workhorse of a pen, if ever there was one. The barrel is made of a aluminium with a silvery, satin finish and blends from being round, next to the grip, to being triangular (but rounded off) at the back end. The grip section is of black rubber and of generous girth. The cap is of a tough plastic with an integral plastic pocket clip (on my version) with a hole should you wish to attach a lanyard to carry it around your neck.

The Nexx uncapped with a girthy rubber grip. Facet edges softer than on the Safari or Al-Star.

The nib is the same as found on the Lamy Safari and Al-star and various other Lamys, available in a range of widths and easy to swap out.

Filling system.

The Nexx takes the Lamy proprietary cartridges or else a Lamy converter.

The Nexx with an almost spent cartridge.

Writing performance.

The familiar nib is reliable, firm but very smooth as I have come to expect from having used many such Lamy nibs. Ink flow on my particular model is not overly wet but about right. For those needing a wetter flow, it is possible, with care, to open up the tine gap very slightly.

Writing sample, Lamy Nexx, medium nib with Lamy Petrol cartridge. Paper is a “5staroffice” 192 page A4 ruled notebook.

Size and weight.

The Nexx at 133mm is very slightly shorter than a Safari when capped. It measures about 128mm when uncapped, long enough to use unposted, but the cap can be posted quite well, even though the round cap sits on a triangular barrel. Posting brings the length up to about 153mm and is very comfortable. Any worries that you might have about having a flattened edge of the barrel resting in the web of your hand and upsetting your preferred rotation of the nib, are resolved by posting. You can also align the pocket clip with the nib for a visual aid to keeping the nib at your desired angle to the paper.

The pen weighs about 16.5g in all, capped or posted, 10.5g uncapped and 6g for the cap alone.

Likes and dislikes.

Perhaps the most distinctive design elements of the Nexx are its big clunky coloured cap, its rubber grip section and the contrasting aluminium tapering barrel. It seems inappropriate to cite any of those as dislikes. Some might prefer the pen without any facets on the grip and a barrel that did not taper and merge from cylindrical to triangular but these features are the heart of the pen. However, as it is, the pen is very usable even for my left handed writing style.

Conclusion.

A big plus point for the Lamy Nexx, like the Safari, is that it is modestly priced and one of the least expensive “proper” pens available. The price means that you could collect a few different colours if you wish without spending a fortune. It feels strong and almost indestructible and is well suited to being carried around. Above all, it is surprisingly comfortable for long writing sessions. Once you have the pen in your hand, it will not slip. On the contrary, in order to adjust your grip, you have to first separate it from you fingers and then re-position it. It is not a pen that can be rolled around in the fingers.

A display of Lamy Nexx fountain pens in Daniels, department store, Windsor.

Whether you find a pen comfortable may depend upon what you have just been using. If that happens to be a pen which has a grip which is too narrow or too slippery, or both, then the Lamy Nexx will feel like a breath of fresh air. It is robust, light weight, and good for long writing sessions. It was a mistake to think of it as childish. Anyone who has avoided the pen for that reason would be well advised to give it a try.

My Lamy 2000, a brief update.

After writing up my history with the Lamy 2000 recently, (My Lamy 2000 fountain pen and I), I made a fairly simple do-it-yourself adjustment to the nib to increase the flow. Mine has a broad nib. Being left-handed and writing in an “overwriter” style, I need a slightly wetter flow.

This involved carefully bending the small nib upwards very slightly to widen the gap between the tines. The result was a wetter flow, better lubrication and a generally far happier and less frustrating writing experience. No longer was it necessary to maintain pressure on the nib to write. The gap between the tines is now clearly visible when viewed under a loupe, although in profile, any upward bend of the nib is barely evident.

Lamy 2000 Broad nib, 14k gold and platinum plated. Now with tines a little wider than before.

I happily wrote more than 12 pages of A4 paper before getting through one fill of Waterman Serenity Blue ink, which gives you an idea of the wetness of the nib. If anything it was perhaps a little too much on the wet side.

I found that trying to close the gap is more difficult than opening it. Instead, it occurred to me to try a drier ink and I recalled that Pelikan 4001 Royal Blue (“Konigsblau”) is such an ink.

Showing front section, nib and feed, disassembled for cleaning.

Once again, the Lamy 2000 went upstairs for a bath. It is an easy and enjoyable pen to clean. For the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with this, my routine is as follows:-

  • Unscrew the section from the barrel. Lift off the metal horse-shoe shaped ring which sits in a recess at this join, which is the clip to hold the cap on. Do not lose it or let it go down the plug hole.
  • Then, holding the nib between finger and thumb (above and below the nib, not at the sides), gently push the nib inwards, so that the entire nib and feed unit comes out through the back of the section; note that there is a thick rubber washer towards the back of the feed, which you must also be careful not to lose.
  • The nib and feed unit can then be rinsed in water to remove all traces of the last used ink. If desired the nib can be slid off the feed, as this simply clips over the sides, just like a Lamy Safari nib. Be extra careful not to lose this either, as it is quite small and fiddly on its own.
  • Wash the ink reservoir by drawing water up and down a few times until this runs clear. If desired, to lubricate the piston, (although I do not do this every time), introduce a tiny amount of silicone grease to the inside walls of the reservoir, with a toothpick or similar implement and wind the piston up and down a few times to spread the grease. Thank you, to an old Goulet Pens video for this advice.
The small bits – cap locking ring, the nib and feed washer. The washer makes a handy support for nib photos.

I filled the pen with Pelikan 4001 Konigsblau and, low and behold, the flow now seems to be spot on for me. It is still sufficiently wet to give great flow and lubrication, for effortless writing with minimal pressure, but the flow is not excessive.

Writing sample, Lamy 2000 with Pelikan 4001 Konigsblau on Basildon Bond letter writing paper.

The Konigsblau is an ink that I have not used very much before. I have had two bottles of it hanging around for a long time. I had never really liked the shade of blue all that much as it seemed to me rather pale and lacking the vibrance of say Waterman Serenity Blue or Montblanc Royal Blue. And yet now, in a wetter pen with a broad nib, this Pelikan ink comes into its own. It does seem paler than Serenity Blue but gives an elegant look, with some subtle shading. With the stubby broad nibbed Lamy, you benefit from this shading and also a degree of line width variation.

I could easily have given up on the Lamy or left it dormant as I had not got on with it for so long. Similarly, the Pelikan ink had been little used and was always passed over when I wanted a royal blue, as I would pick another from Waterman, Montblanc, Aurora, or Caran d’Ache from my ink drawer.

I am now using and enjoying my Lamy 2000 more than at any time since I bought it almost six years ago. The conclusion is that not only pens, but inks too, can enjoy a renaissance if we give them (or ourselves) another chance.

Writing sample on John Lewis Script, Post quarto laid writing pad, Ivory, 100gsm.

Some early thoughts on the Lamy accent fountain pen.

Working within walking distance of a stationery shop is a bit of a hazard for the pen-prone. As a recent lunch hour indulgence, I treated myself to a new Lamy accent fountain pen from Rymans, one of the few bricks and mortar pen shops I know of which sells them.

I had seen the pen there before, but had never really given it a second glance. Uncapped, in the display cabinet, it was a bit odd-looking. However, I was intrigued by the wooden grip section and asked to see it. I was quite surprised at what I found.

Design and construction

This is a metal, cartridge/converter pen, with a short, screw cap. I think the barrel and cap material is aluminium, (possibly Palladium coated?). The pocket clip is sprung (and even has GERMANY engraved on a recess on the underside). The only visible branding is the name LAMY in small letters on the cap, alongside the top end of the clip. The cap sits flush with the barrel when the pen is closed but is also designed to be posted, on a little prominence to stay flush with the barrel. The cap posts securely, held on by two little black plastic lugs.

But the distinguishing feature of the pen, is the grip section, made of a grey coloured wood with a black irregular natural grain. It is also slightly curved and is wider in the middle than the two ends. Also, it can easily be removed and then swapped for a different material, such as a black rubber version although finding one might be a challenge.

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Lamy accent fountain pen with Karelia wood grip.

According to Lamy’s web site, this is Karelia wood. However, this is not a tree I have heard of and so far I have been unable to find any reference online to a tree of this species although there are many references to a brand named Karelia Wood which specialises in engineered wood flooring.

The nib and filling system

The pen has the standard Lamy Safari stainless steel nib, and so is easy to replace or swap for other widths. But unlike the Safari this one has a black plastic mount, about 10mm long, between the nib and the wooden grip section.

You might be worrying that the lovely wood finish might get stained, the first time you dip it in an ink bottle. But no, to fill the pen, you remove the cap, hold the wooden grip section with one hand and then rotate the barrel with the other: this unscrews and releases the nib and feed unit which slowly starts to emerge out of the section, rather like a Graf von Faber Castell Intuition. Once removed, you only need to dip the nib unit in the ink, up to the black plastic mount and fill your converter in the usual way, and there is no risk to the woodwork if using bottled ink.

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Lamy accent with nib section removed for filling. You do not have to take the wooden grip collar off the barrel but this is just to show that you can.

The pen was supplied with a Lamy converter and one blue Lamy cartridge. However I wanted to use a blue black Lamy cartridge which I had at home.

Weights and measurements

The pen is about 144 mm closed, 125mm open or a generous 163mm posted. Capped or posted it weighs about 26g, being 16g for the uncapped pen and 10g for the cap. This is quite a pleasant weight, having a bit of substance but not being overly weighty. I did not find it back heavy when posted, but then I generally hold my pens quite high up from the nib.

Writing performance

The nib will be familiar to anyone who has used a Lamy Safari (which is anyone), namely smooth but firm. Mine was a little on the stingy side in terms of ink flow, but acceptable. I found it to be wetter when writing “underarm” than when writing “overarm” (my left-handed slanting style with the back of the pen pointing away from me). I am used to finding that nibs are not so well lubricated this way.

I tried writing for an hour in a Paperchase notebook. I found the pen comfortable to hold when posted, being just slightly short for me if not. It was nice to have a wooden section to hold as this is rare in fountain pens.

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Writing sample

But my blue black cartridge was producing a very pale line, given the rather dry nib and my light touch and very smooth paper. I later switched out the cartridge and put a black one in and this made a big improvement in readability.

Likes and dislikes

This is an unusual pen. If you enjoy the plain form and function of the Safari, then this makes a nice change and feels like an upgrade. Lamy does also make a version called the accent Brilliant with 14k nib, a glossy black lacquer barrel and polished briarwood collar, which looks like the dashboard material of an expensive car. I have not seen anyone with one of these pens, or even this Karelia wood version, come to think of it.

For those who bemoan the faceted grip section of the Lamy Safari and AL Star, here is a chance to use the same nib in a facet-free section. The wood is pleasant to hold.

However, I found that the black plastic rim of the cap is sharp and I could feel it rubbing on my hand as I wrote. I might try to smooth it down or round it off a little, if I can do so without ruining it.

Also, whilst I like screw caps, this one has one of the shortest travels that I have used, needing not quite half a turn to come off. However, once on, it does bite quite firmly and I have not had it come loose unintentionally as yet. Also I mostly carry pens in a leather pen case. The issue is remembering that it is a screw cap at one end and push on at the other.

Conclusion and Value

The shop price was £54.99, including the supplied converter and so similar in price to a Lamy Studio or Aion. I later found that it is currently £49.50 on Cult Pens, and they are also offering a further 10% off this and many other enthusiasts’ pens at the moment. But that is the difference that we pay to support our bricks and mortar stores and keep our High Streets alive!

It is a quite a special pen, well made and durable with unusual materials and for those who like the Lamy design ethos, it is an interesting addition to the collection.

Update: I have since smoothed the sharp edges of the black plastic cap rim. I pared them down to rounded edges with a knife and then smoothed and polished the rim by rubbing it on an envelope. This has resolved the issue.

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Lamy accent