The Dialog 2 Rollerball Pen was released by Lamy in 2006, three years after the Dialog 1 Ballpoint Pen. Writing instruments that are part of Lamy's Dialog line are designed in cooperation with famed industrial designers. This rollerball in particular was designed by Knud Holscher, an internationally-renowned Danish industrial designer and architect, known for designing the stainless steel flask from Georg Jensen, the Quinta spotlight range from Erco, and for the architecture of the Copenhagen Airport Domestic Terminal.
Appearance, Design, and Presentation (10/10)
The Lamy Dialog 2 is a weighty, metallic, capless rollerball pen with a palladium finish. It comprises a mostly cylindrical shape with a gradient ring grip that can be unscrewed to replace rollerball refills.
The rollerball is extracted by turning a twist mechanism 90 degrees clockwise. A tiny rivet with a spherical head on the barrel lines up with an identical rivet on the clip to aesthetically confirm the extraction of the rollerball.
When the rollerball is retracted, the upper body's very shallow striating depressions line up with those of the barrel that quickly coalesce into one uniform surface.
The pen's salient feature is the clip mechanism borrowed from the Lamy Swift (released in 1990), where the clip retracts to lie nearly flush with the pen upon extraction of the rollerball.
Twisting the pen back to retract the rollerball in turn raises the clip to make use of its spring-loaded mechanism. Lamy's reasoning behind the clip mechanism is one of safety, ensuring that the user retracts the rollerball to allow clipping to a pocket and prevent ink leakage, essentially sparing the unaware workaholic the humiliation of perambulating in public with a huge ink stain on his starched white shirt. How nice of Lamy.
The Lamy logo is engraved on the clip. Pushing the clip and inspecting it underneath, one will notice the word "GERMANY" discreetly engraved.
Below the clip is a keyhole shaped aperture exposing black plastic to absorb the metal tip of the clip.
The Dialog 2 rollerball comes housed in a laminated beechwood case with micro-magnet fastening designed by Richard Sapper (identical to the case of the Dialog 1 ballpoint he also designed) and features a black, rubbery insert to protect the pen. The case comes packaged in a black carton box with a warranty slip and descriptive instruction leaflet. A fresh, foil-wrapped M66 capless rollerball black-ink refill is included as well.
The Dialog 2 features an overall modern, utilitarian design that is clear and minimalist at heart. Deceptively plain-looking, Knud Holscher's unique design is more apparent and appreciated with close scrutiny. The pen won the Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award in 2006, and the iF Hanover Product Design Award in 2007.
Construction and Quality (8/10)
The German-made Lamy Dialog 2 is a quality writing tool. Solid metal construction with a great heft. The turning mechanism is responsive, turning with smooth ease and unnecessary to use tremendous force. The pen easily qualifies to be an everyday-carry item, and it has many features found in those writing instruments marketed as 'tactical pens'. The spring inside the grip holding the rollerball refill is sturdy and fixed to the grip securely.
The palladium finish is quite durable. It seems somewhat resistant to scratching, provided you don't subject it to rough contact with surfaces unfriendly to metal. It is not recommended to toss the pen in the pencil cup with 'the others'. The only concern about the finish is that it can attract fingerprints, but not in the same, more noticeable manner as shiny chromed surfaces.
Focusing on the pen's clip mechanism, it is very reliable, and always retracts when the rollerball is extracted. The clip's spring-loading mechanism is robust, allowing the user to clip the pen to a pocket without worrying of premature wear.
However, it is important to note that the clip is not strong enough to fully support the hefty mass of the pen against the force of gravity. If you clip the pen to your shirt pocket, and you bend over or crouch down to tie your shoe, the clipped pen will likely swing sideways or fall out. This can lead many users to perceive the clip mechanism to be more gimmicky than practical, but even if the clip were strong, the pen is rather too heavy and large to comfortably place in a shirt pocket. I personally find clipping pens to shirt pockets uncomfortable and a little old-fashioned, preferring to clip pens to a pant or inner jacket pocket when needed. In that case, the clip will hold very well.
The design of the clip mechanism makes it vulnerable to construction flaws during production that can be easily repaired by Lamy. Upon receipt of the pen, I noticed a flaw where the clip would return to a crooked position after pressing it.
There was no choice but to promptly send it in for repair with an explanation letter to Lamy's headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Four weeks later, I received a Dialog 2 without the problem, but could not tell whether it was repaired or replaced. It came packaged in a plastic tube with a fresh rollerball refill included. This is the type of admirable customer service that made me already forget about the problem.
If purchasing the pen at a shop, it would be wise to inspect the clip mechanism to ensure this problem does not exist and that the turn mechanism works reliably as well. If you experience any pen defects, have no fear and don't fret, Lamy will take good care of you.
Weight and Dimensions (10/10)
The weight of the Dialog 2 makes it one of the heaviest pens in Lamy's product line, heavier than the Lamy 2000, Studio, and Safari fountain pens, as well as the Dialog 1 ballpoint. The weight is evenly distributed throughout the body except for the gradient-ring grip. It approaches the weight of the massive Rotring 600 fountain pen capped.
Lamy claims the clip retraction contributes to writing comfort, but the clip never comes into contact with your hand during use, unless you have very large hands or you hold the pen far away from the grip. The pen measures roughly 145 mm (5-3/4") long with a maximum diameter of 12 mm (7/16"). Extracting the rollerball extends the length by 4 mm.
The weight and size of the Dialog 2 is optimized for its primary purpose: to be a writing tool. Despite the sheer weight and size, the pen writes comfortably and no writing fatigue was felt after long periods of use. If you find heavy pens uncomfortable though, this one may not be for you. The photo below shows a comparison of the Dialog 2 to other Lamy pens.
Writing Performance and Maintenance (8/10)
Knud Holscher designed this pen meticulously, and Lamy produced it built-to-last. However, the most critical aspect of the Dialog 2 is the writing experience vis-à-vis the rollerball refill, primarily because the refill used is proprietary. Refilling is simple: unscrew the grip, swap the rollers, screw the grip back in. Done.
The Dialog 2 uses Lamy's large-capacity M66 capless rollerball refills. They are available in black, blue, red, and green colors, but only in medium point. Lamy specifically remarks the blue refill to contain washable ink. The photo below compares the black medium-point M66 Lamy rollerball to a blue, fine-tipped Rotring counterpart.
I was initially uneasy about purchasing a rollerball pen as left-handed writer, since very few rollerballs have been left-hand friendly to me. However, the Lamy M66 is indeed a left-hand friendly, very smooth writer that starts as soon as the point makes contact with paper, with zero skipping, and easily outperformed the Rotring and Montblanc rollerballs. A brand new refill will start writing with a copious amount of ink; the line will become thin when the refill approaches the end of its life.
Regarding the ink quality, rollerballs that are of documentary quality have ISO 14145-2 certification. Unfortunately, tests performed showed the ink used in the M66 rollerballs would definitely not meet the necessary criteria. The black ink is quite water resistant in absorbent paper (e.g., plain copy paper), but will smear all over smooth paper (e.g., Rhodia, Clairefontaine) once water is applied via a cotton swab. It can withstand a 99% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol swab test on both types of paper, but will disappear when swabbed with undiluted chlorine bleach. Thus, from a security standpoint, using this ink to sign cheques, legal, or engineering documents is not recommended.
Despite the proprietary refills used, I've read of users getting creative with Lamy rollerball pens, finding ways to fit the popular Pilot G-2 or Uniball Signo 207 refills. This is not possible with the Dialog 2, unfortunately. There is an inner grey plastic cap with a ridge that fits into a groove in the turning mechanism, shaped to seat the cap of the M66 rollerball. Fitting the M66 cap into, say, a Pilot G-2 refill and inserting this refill into the barrel will not work; the G-2 refill is narrower in diameter, and the turning mechanism will malfunction, unable to retract or extract the point. Attempting to use the G-2 refill without the grey inner cap will also lead to an inoperable turning mechanism. Simply inserting the G-2 refill without inserting the M66 cap will make it impossible to screw in the grip due to added length. The same applies to the Uniball Signo 207 refills. In other words, you MUST use the M66 refill with this pen.
If users desire to use archival ink, the only option is to fill an empty M66 rollerball refill with an appropriate fountain pen ink, such as Noodler's Bulletproof Black. You would have to remove the cap, and insert ink with an eyedropper to carefully fill it up. I have not tried to do this, so positive results cannot be guaranteed.
There is practically no maintenance required for this pen. Just clean off fingerprints from time to time, if that concerns you, and change the refill when needed. The Dialog 2 is not user-serviceable. Issues with its components, such as the turning or clip mechanism should be handled by Lamy directly. There is no readily identifiable way to disassemble the clip, or pull apart the turn mechanism without risking damage to the pen. This should not be necessary anyway to enjoy using the pen, and if there are any issues, Lamy will have no problem resolving them.
Cost and Value (8/10)
The Dialog series of pens are relatively more expensive than most of Lamy's other offerings. In Europe, the Dialog 2 retails for €125 while in the USA for $125, just like the Dialog 1. In most cases it can be found for $99 in American online shops, and sometimes lower with more scrutiny. I managed to secure mine for $87.50 brand new from The Ink Flow. The only Canadian online retailer to readily carry this pen sells it for a cool $230 CAD at regular price. The Lamy M66 refills go for $5.50 retail in the USA, and $9.00 in Canada.
The price may be a little steep for a rollerball pen that uses a proprietary refill, but in the end, I believe it is worth it. As previously mentioned, the pen is built to last, and will last a very long time if well taken care of. The price is also understandable given the Dialog 2 is effectively a 'designer pen'. Compared to the retail prices of rollerball pens produced by other well-reputed makers of fine writing tools, such as Pelikan or Montblanc, you will see that Lamy pens are priced fairly for the quality of their products.
Conclusion (Final Score: 8/10)
Quoting straight from Lamy, the Dialog 2 rollerball pen has a cool aesthetic appeal, targeting lovers of design, and people who like to write a lot with a taste for the unusual. Holding it and writing with it, one can feel that this instrument is of high quality, despite the pen's fondness for fingerprints. The proprietary refill is a smooth writer, but constrains the owner to its use rather than making it possible to use non-Lamy rollerballs. The size and weight of the pen play an important positive role in the overall writing experience, but it may fall out of favor with users who dislike large and heavy pens.
I don't use rollerballs often, but it's in my rotation of work pens. The price is high for a rollerball pen, but you are paying for quality made in Germany, not a generic product with a brand name stamped on it. The pen's simplistic design manifests its beauty with a high degree of humility. Already impressed by Lamy's excellent customer service and quality of its writing instruments, I would definitely purchase this pen again and recommend it to others. Your tastes may vary.
Edited by watch_art, 25 March 2011 - 05:23.