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First Aurora Optima: Honest First Impression


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#1 Sallent

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 02:05

I finally received my first Aurora, a blue Optima, about 3 weeks ago. I have delayed posting anything so I could test it extensively and provide an honest assessment of the pen's good and bad qualities.

Having never owned an Italian pen before, and being a fan of vintage American fps and German fps, I have no bias in favor of Italians and can provide an unbiased assessment.

First Impression
Out of the box, I was shocked at how beautiful the Optima is. This is truly a "pictures do it no justice" pen. The blue is so rich that it looks nicer than the finest sapphire stones on earth. The depth of contrast between the different shades of color is so rich that I find it hard to believe that the body is cellulose, and not natural stone. The gold plated fixtures and the solid gold nib are of such a deep yellow, that I have no doubt that Aurora uses nothing but the finest Gold on Earth.

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Balance/Weight and Size

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this Italian beauty is the same size as your standard vintage vacumatic, and when posted, it grows to a very nice and comfortable size. This pen was meant to write, it is perfectly balanced and light weight. I have written several long letters with it and have never experienced any hand fatigue. Due to it's thickness, it is an easy pen to hold for long writing periods.

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Quality

Top notch! Butter smooth piston that will put most Pelikans to shame (and Pelikan pistons are a delight). The ink window is the best one I've ever seen on a piston filler. The ink flow is adequate, and the nib writes pleasantly. It is not "butter smooth," but it is not scratchy at all. The way to describe it is, a nice consistent grip of the paper which adds character to any writing and is a welcome change from the typical boring "butter smooth" piston with no feedback or character.

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Bling Factor

I have never seen so many people ask me about any of my fountain pens before. People who have never noticed me using a fountain pen, noticed this pen and asked me tons of questions about the Optima. This Italian beauty will attract a lot of attention wherever you go.

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Cost

A bit pricey at $450 USD or so, but the quality and beauty are unbeatable. Well worth it if you can spare that kind of money.

Packaging/Presentation

Very nice packaging, and the leather box is a nice touch! A lot nicer packaging than I've seen with Pelikans and most modern pen makers in general.
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Conclusion

If you think you've tried every worthwhile fountain pen in the market and that you know what a good fountain pen is like, if you have never tried an Aurora Optima, you may want to rethink your perceptions. This pen will re-define your perception of quality, classiness, and writing with fountain pens. They are a little pricey (at around $450 USD) but well worth every single penny.

Edited by Dr Ozzie, 26 November 2009 - 02:24.

Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

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#2 BerneseMtDogEatsArco

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 02:11

Great review - thanks for posting! I agree with your points about the appearance and the piston. It's very smooth, and the viewing window is great. Be forewarned, though, the window does get scratched somehow (and I'm not sure how) by the cap getting screwed on/off. Mom's now has "whirlmarks" on the outside of the window that are pretty visible.
I also love how easy the nib and feed are to retrieve for cleaning. Thanks again!
I'll take an Aurora, please. Aurora black.

#3 Doug Add

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 15:50

I agree with the points of your excellent review. In fact, I have three (blue, green, red auroloide) because they are such fine pens, and the Optima is easily my favorite modern pen. I have owned the green one since 1998, and have loved writing with it nearly every day since my wife and son gave it to me for Father's Day.

#4 ampatb

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 13:11

Great review. I totally agree with your love of Aurora Optima pens. I think I have at least 10 Aurora pens and love them all. Also, they are probably the only pens I have had absolutely no trouble with. Maybe I should be careful saying that - now watch one start giving me trouble!

#5 diplomat

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 13:35

It was nice to read your first impression and to find out that we do agree on this topic!

Ciao,

#6 rollerboy

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 13:42

... a welcome change from the typical boring "butter smooth" piston with no feedback or character.


I think you meant to say "nib" not "piston".

#7 Sallent

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 19:21

... a welcome change from the typical boring "butter smooth" piston with no feedback or character.


I think you meant to say "nib" not "piston".



oops, an honest typo. Thanks for pointing it out.

As for the ink window scratching that some have pointed out, yes, I have noticed it, but the ink window's thickness is such that this should not ever be more than a very tinny cosmetic issue. All pens are bound to get a scratch here or there if you use them. I am a user,so I expect a little honest wear after some period of use. It adds to the charm of my pens, badges of love that show that I like them so much that I use them, instead of keeping them un-inked in a corner somewhere.
Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

#8 Thornton

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 01:15

I've been wanting a green Optima for about forever. One of these days I'll do it. Thanks for sharing with us, Dr. Ozzie.
"Instant gratification takes too long."-Carrie Fisher

#9 dannyboy

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:03

Very fine review! I love Pelikans also and have used them extensively over several years, but I agree there's a special quality to the Aurora: its nib feedback and toothiness, the beauty of the Aurorolide, the ease of removing or changing the nib section. Fantastic pens overall!! Many thanks for your enthusiastic review.

#10 gteague

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:25

i'd like to say the optima was my first serious pen when i dipped (so to speak) into the deep waters of buying my first new fountain pen in decades about two weeks ago. but it wasn't. a clear blue pelikan 205 was the gateway drug which showed me how much i liked pens you could see through. and then, the perfect storm, worldlux seemed to be closing out their remaining inventory of the aurora demonstrators at prices below the regular optima models. i couldn't resist and the credit card took a massive hit. well, it is nearly christmas anyway, i tell myself. [g]

and now i'm trying to decide if i'm going to put ink in my expensive new pen and actually write with it. after all, i have some lamys i'm using to experiment with ink right now and they write very well. and there are no flies on the pelikan either despite me having to learn how to use its italic nib. but the reviewer is right that the optima has a certain feel to it--hefty and solid, but not heavy. i would not want to compare it with the pelikan which feels just nearly perfect in my hand although--by contrast--it is light as air and german-straight with no italian curves--it just happens to be a completely different design that feels nearly perfect also.

/guy

Edited by gteague, 28 November 2009 - 02:26.

Magic is an individual action, undertaken because the cosmos is not believed to be benevolent by nature. ~Maya Deren (The Living Gods of Haiti, London, 1953)
Magic is a craft. when we do magic, we do not wish and we do not pray. We rely upon our will and our knowledge and our skill.~Lev Grossman (The Magicians)

#11 Doug C

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:29

Nice review.


There are many classic pen companies (including Omas) that seem to think they need to jump on the bandwagon and change their styles to match the current design philosophy.

I only have two Auroras, and neither of them are fountain pens, but one is a an Aurora Sole rollerball (a limited edition Optima) so there is a little doubt that when I finally get the real deal, it will be a delight.

Thanks.
the Danitrio Fellowship

#12 MJ Vesuvius

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 04:31

Great review! Reminds me of my own excitement when I got my first Optima.I have three now, plus a rollerball and a BP. One has been back to Italy for repair (stripped threads in the cap) and two more are headed back soon. One also has the stripped cap threads; the other, the exact blue model you have, has a shattered cap.I had it in a case, in a backpack, and it must have taken a hit somewhere. Be forewarned that Aurolide is beautiful but delicate.The stripped cap issue is weird, since I don't manhandle my pens. But, as others have noted, these pens are beautiful and you tend to use them a LOT. So there's a lot of wear and tear. Congrats! Enjoy your new Italian beauty! – MJ Edited for typos - actually for some reason, in Safari my manual line breaks are not working... sorry if post looks all clumped together...

Edited by MJ Vesuvius, 28 November 2009 - 04:38.


#13 Prise

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 16:29

Great review, Dr. Ozzie!

Of all the pens I've gotten the past couple of years, the one I find myself writing with most often is the Optima. The feel of the nib (toothiness) has enough feedback which allows a certain control to my writing that otherwise buttery smooth nibs do not. I find myself during my pen rotations to empty the current pen I'm using, just to fill up my Optima.

Also, having predominantly used converters, I've started to appreciate very much the added ink capacity a piston filler holds.

Enjoy your new pen!






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