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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.