Aldo Domani Sorrento
I picked this pen up at Office Depot about 2 months ago. It was $14.99 on sale, 19.99 normally. There are two versions of this set listed at OfficeDepot.com. One has silver accents and nib (the one I purchased), the other gold accents and gold colored nib. It is listed for $34.99. The limited description on the website gives little indication what the difference is, other than the color of the accents. The nibs are both steel, one with a gold overlay. The pictures on Aldo Domani’s website would indicate the packaging is different. Actually, they say of the more expensive version that it “is presented in a beautiful luxury box”. I haven’t seen that particular box, but you would have to improve on the cheaper one quite a bit to achieve “beautiful luxury”. So $15 gets you gold accents and a nice box.
This is one of the first fountain pens I ever purchased and used. Along with this, I purchased a Zebra V-301, Pilot Varsity, and Bauer 388 at about the same time. Since I have added a Sheaffer Sovereign Tuckaway and a Rotring Skynn to my collection. I am mostly playing around with a few cheap pens to get an idea of what I like. Except the Sheaffer, that one wasn’t so cheap, nor, it turns out, what I like.
Given my limited experience with fountain pens, you might want to take my impressions of the nib and such with a grain of salt. The pens I listed will naturally be the ones I compare this one with. As no one else has posted a review of this pen, so I thought I would share my adventures. If someone with a clue wants to put up a better review, by all means. It won’t hurt my feelings.
Quick note on the ballpoint that accompanied the FP. Identical overall design and build quality. Twist type action to extend the point. Accepts Schmidt P900 refills according to the manufactorers website. Nice looking pen that I found to be functionally useless because of the extremely short length. I didn’t measure it, but seem to remember it being slightly shorter than the fountain pen is capped. Pitched it.
Oh, and if you got this far, you might have figured out I am given to loquaciousness. The whole review is quite wordy. Feel free to skip to the conclusion. Or don’t read it at all. I don’t mind.
So on to the pen of the moment.
Appearance and Design 8/10
Initial impression is of good quality. I would have no problem carrying it in my pocket, it looks conservatively professional. As you can see in the picture, glossy black with silver (chrome?) accents. The cap band has ‘Aldo Domani’ engraved (or stamped more likely) on one side, and ‘SORRENTO’ on the other. I didn’t particularly care for the little wheel on the clip.
In the weight and dimensions section, you will notice the pen is quite small. That said, the overall appearance of the pen is normal, because of the proportions. The only way I can write with it is posted. It is much too small otherwise. I do have large hands, but you would need the hands of an 8 y/o to make it work without the cap. It does post well, and the plastic inner cap is what actually contacts the pen body, so it shouldn’t get too scratched.
Construction and Quality 7/10
The pen is lacquer over brass. They did a very good job with applying the lacquer. For example. the seam between the lacquer and the end cap on the barrel can barely be felt. I do have some concerns with the longevity of the lacquer. I have noticed a ding or two already despite not using it much. I am hard on things, so you might be fine.
The cap is a snap fit, and seems secure. When you cap the pen, there is resistence for about ¼ of an inch before the cap seats. Spinning the cap does not unscrew the section. I have no fear of removing it from my pocket and ending up with just the cap in my hand, even with the stiffness of the clip.
The clip is moderately stiff. I mean it is moderately difficult to put into and remove from a shirt pocket. Not impossible, but using two hands helps a lot. The wheel doesn’t seem to make much difference. The texture of the finish on the wheel around the axle (or whatever you want to call spot where it is mounted on the clip) isn’t very good. It isn’t noticable at a glance, but when examining the pen it is an issue.
The body and section screw together with the outer threads on the section. There is an o-ring at the base of the threads on the section that the body seats against, sealing the inky area of the pen. This is good (see Filling System). In addition, the nib and feed will unscrew from the section. But it doesn’t actually reveal the feed, just a plastic sheathe around the feed. I don’t know what is going on there. You can take a look at the picture in the nib and feed section and maybe figure it out.
Weight and Dimensions 9/10
Weight – 3/4 ounce
Capped – 4 1/4 inches
Uncapped – 3 3/4 inches
Posted – 5 1/8 inches
Body Width – 3/8 inch, cap is about 1/16 larger
I gave it a nine because some will find the diameter to be difficult to use. Especially with the slick black lacquer on the section. The weight fits the size, and the proportions are nice.
Nib and Performance 4/10
This is a fine nib. Labeled Iridium Point, Germany, along with an F, and some scroll work. No idea as to the brand. It came with the tines well aligned and with a reasonably smooth tip out of the box. I did have to flush it with soapy water to start it the first time. Using the cartridge that came with it, it wrote dry, and skipped frequently. If you remember from the beginning of this extremely long review, I don’t have much experience with fountain pens, so the only other standard cartridge I have came with the Bauer from Pokydady on Ebay. I tried that one out. With a bit of messing about, I got it writing without skipping. It is still extremely dry, and a bit of a hard starter. Which is frustrating because it is a little pen that fits nicely in a shirt pocket and gets pulled out to write a quick note. So if I am going to use, it needs to start well.
I haven't tried removing the nib from the feed to work on it. Not feeling real comfortable with that yet. Not that I have much to lose if I do something wrong. I don't use the pen anyway.
Filling System 2/10
Yeah, a two for the filling system is harsh. But I think it is deserved. For starters, it is just a cartridge pen. It came with two standard international cartridges. They fit, sort of. Actually, the cartridges it came with fit poorly. Why would you ship a pen with cartridges that don’t really fit???
Here is the issue. There is a sleeve at the top of the section that the cartridge has to fit into. It is a Very tight fit for the cartridge that came with pen. The first time I used the pen the cart came loose inside the body. So I was very glad for the o-ring sealing the body and section. If you force the cartridge in really hard, it will stay. Most of the time.
As the Pokydady cartridges I got with my Bauer are ever so slightly narrower, they do fit. And they don’t skip. So that’s what I have in there right now, and the only ink I know of that works. Unlike the Model T car, the color options aren’t restricted to black. Blue is also available. That’s why I gave it two points. Because you can put two colors of cheap Chinese ink in it. Awesome.
After digging around on this forum and FPGeeks, there is a possibility a short Waterman cartridge would fit. The local office supply stores only had long. They are too long. In fact, anything that isn’t short is too long for this pen. Converters are too long. At least the one I have is. Possibly there is a brand out there that fits. Other threads on this site indicate no. I didn't expect a converter to fit though, most short pens are limited to short international or some proprietary cartridge, like the Parker Esprit.
A person could look into getting a syringe, and refilling the cartridges, and having more options that way. The metal construction rules out an eyedropper option. And you folks might have some other cartridge brand in your collections of FP paraphernalia. But for a new user, this thing is the pits.
Cost and Value 5/10
I gave it a five of ten because I have several pens that cost half as much and have equal build quality while writing better. The Bauer for example. Yeah, beat out in value by a six dollar Chinese pen. If it wrote nicely, with a decently wet line that didn’t skip, this would be totally different. But it doesn’t.
This pen was only 15 dollars, and that was for a set. The build quality is probably better than I expected for a pen of that price range. Some of the design elements are nice, the proportions, the way the cap fits and posts.
The dryness of the nib, and the skipping issues I had initially (probably related?) were a disappointment. The issues with the cartridges not fitting is baffling. I do not see how that could just be a quality control issue. And I do not see how the designers could approve a pen where you have to use 30 pounds of force to ensure a standard cartridge fits. Especially when that is the only filling option you have.
For a certain individual this pen could work. First, you have to be looking for a really small pen. Then, you need to have the experience to fix the nib and the equipment to refill cartridges. If you fit that criteria, than go for it.
For everyone else, go fish.
Edited for spelling
Edited by johnsi02, 13 May 2013 - 23:49.