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Lamy Dialog 3 Ef (Expanding Long Term Review)

lamy dailog3 retractable nib ef architect

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#1 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 09:21

I was on the hunt for a nice Pilot Vanishing Point but my local brick & mortar (Appelboom) doesn't carry Pilot. I mentioned this while picking up some ink for a colleague and was asked if I'd considered the Dialog 3. Well, no, I hadn't. It's considerably more expensive, it's massive, it lacks fancy colour schemes and most of all... it's a Lamy... Sure, I admire the ABC but otherwise no thanks, I'll pass. Lamy and I, we're just not meant to be. Or so I thought... because I fell like a brick for the design, the materials, the amazing engineering, the retractable nib mechanism and the EF nib. When Joost offered me a really good price, that clinched it.

 

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"Perfection is not attained when there is nothing more to add. It is attained when there is nothing more to remove."

--Antione de Saint Exupéry

 

Design, materials, size, fit and finish

 

This old quote sums up the design of the Dialog 3 quite nicely. Some might see a black cylinder. I see a very attractive, minimalistic design that's modern yet refined at the same time. My matte black version looks like it was chiseled out of rock, then smoothed. The feel of the material reminds me of my Visconti Homo Sapiens Lava Steel (not a bad reference). It's very, very pleasant to the touch and never gives me the feeling of handling plastic. As a result, I love to fondle and twiddle it when not writing. It's a substantial pen to write with because there's no cap that comes off. And it's heavy, by far the heaviest pen in my little collection. Size and weight combined mean that this pen is not for everyone - so try before you buy!

 

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I can be brief about quality of engineering, fit and finish: I don't think I've ever held a pen that inspired more confidence than this one. It's like a Mercedes. A fantastic example of Deutsche Gründlichkeit. Rotating the barrel clockwise makes the nib come out and sinks the clip lower onto the barrel (how do they do it...?).  It's very addictive to do - it feels so confident somehow. Watching the nib disappear behind its concave hood and seeing the clip rise is truly a thing to behold. Rotating the barrel counterclockwise unscrews the pen and reveals über-engineerd innards with a nice, big converter and the screwed-in, removable nib/feed unit.

 

The nib: architect!

 

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The sleek, two-tone design of the nib is a good match to the overall vibe of the pen. The F wrote too wide for me so I requested the EF and was delighted to discover that Lamy chose to grind it as an architect nib!

 

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I compared this architect to my old MB 146 EF with 14C nib, which is also a factory-made architect. Both pens write in a very similar way when using straight-up print script (I do not know the proper names of writing styles, sorry) but very different when using cursive: the MB then writes a _much_ wider line. I find the MB EF nib to be slightly more forgiving and pleasant, but the Lamy EF to be more versatile and offering very good control. It's a rigid nib and I cannot detect even a tiny bit of bounce or sag but then again I've never seen a soft architect. As with all architects, it requires attention to keep the writing angle consistent. Tactile response from the writing surface is pronounced but not in the least unpleasant. 90 g/m^2 Oxford paper is a fantastic match; Tomoe is less forgiving, Rhodia is somewhere in the middle. Personally, I love this nib!

 

(For those not acquainted with architect nibs: try before you buy! An architect requires you to maintain a constant writing angle. You might say that you don't move your hand down the page as you write, but you move the page upwards beneath your hand. I adore a good architect, but they're certainly not for everyone.)

 

Ink and wetness

 

Essentially the Dialog 3 is a C/C pen that accommodates either proprietary Lamy cartridges or the included converter. Filling the converter requires unscrewing the barrel, then screwing out the converter/nib/feed unit and dipping that into an ink bottle. When using cartridges, the unit can stay in the pen and you can just remove the cartridge. Ink capacity seems generous, though I did not measure it. Several hours of writing emptied the converter halfway.

 

I inked the pen with Kaweco Midnight Blue, a relatively dry, high-quality ink which can appear black-ish in wet pens but transforms into a transparent, complex, night-sky kind of blue-black in dryer pens. Lamy warns not to flush the Dialog 3 with any kind of detergent, only with water, so I was curious to see how well the pen would perform out of the box. During the first hours, ink flow appeared to be almost perfect. Almost, because it is a trifle inconsistent, gradually varying from slightly dryer to slightly wetter. The complex nature of the ink is pleasantly revealed by this pen. The nib never skips, never hard starts.

 

Endurance, ergonomy and such

 

Despite its weight and size, this pen feels great in my hand and I can write longer sessions with it without fatigue, cramp or any other kind of discomfort. Having said that... if I then switch to a similarly sized pen from another brand, it feels like stepping over from a big, fat Merc S-Class into a Ferrari. My Pilot Justus 95 feels amazingly comfortable after a session with the Dialog 3. It's like being liberated from restraints, it's not subtle... To a lesser extent, the same is true of my Visconti Homo Sapiens Midi. Switching to another pen makes the hand fly over the page.

 

The inevitable comparison to its Japanese counterpart

 

Compared to the Pilot VP, the Dialog 3 is much heavier, girthier, holds much more ink, has a different nib release mechanism, offers less colour schemes, has a retractable clip and is of a more minimalistic, modern design that looks less like a ballpoint and more like a monolith. For the VP, one can buy additional nib/feed units in varying nib sizes. For the Dialog 3, and at a similar price, one can buy additional 14k nibs in varying sizes that easily slip on/off the pen. This basically means that you can buy a VP or a Dialog 3 and use various nib sizes with the same pen, at will. The Lamy is considerably more expensive compared to non-LE VP models, but both the Lamy and the Pilot can be found at (much) reduced prices if one is prepared to make the search effort. Both the Pilot and the Lamy are top-quality pens but personally I'd say that the build quality of the Lamy is even higher than that of the Pilot. In the end, as always, the choice is personal.

 

Conclusion

 

The combination of design, degree of engineering, quality and the architect nib make this pen irresistible to me. It's not just another pen; it really is a instrument of fine writing as well as a fashion statement and a showcase of amazing engineering. I don't think it will make me forget my other pens like the Justus, the HS or some of my vintage pens, but we'll see. Opinions can change over time, which is why this will be an expanding long-term review.

 



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#2 Appelboompen

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 10:25

Thank you for the review! I hope you will enjoy this new pen (nib)!


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#3 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 10:52

Thank you, Joost and the team at Appelboom, for offering a great B&M pen experience! As always it was a pleasure to be in your shop and I am grateful for being pointed in a direction (Lamy) where I normally never would have looked myself.

(No affiliation, just a happy customer).

#4 countrydirt

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 13:17

Excellent review!  Thank you



#5 nickycat

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 14:24

great review, thank you for posting!



#6 Honeybadgers

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 00:37

I just got one of these through the hopdrop at endless pens for $170 (thanks Gil) and I can confirm that my EF is also very architect like. 

 

I can also confirm that holy (bleep) is it a well made thing. Every part of it is tight as a drum. It is quite heavy but not obscenely so, and the smooth, textured and straight body makes it quite comfortable. I don't think I'd use it if I was writing a novel, If I needed more of a "writer" I'd recommend the 2000, which is about as close to perfect as balance gets for me, but for a high quality note taker and all around modest usage writer, it's impressive.


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#7 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 05:47

^Well said!

Writing a novel with this EF nib would be a challenge, but I do use it for journaling and find that it seriously improves my handwriting (not that youd be able to tell from the above writing sample). It makes me slow down and write better. Interestingly, this EF is great for signatures! Fast writing is also definitely possible, provided you keep the angle constant and write with a very light touch. This EF is very smooth and pleasant when used properly. When you get sloppy, it will tell you.

I also tried the F, which was hypersmooth and sailed across the page, but wrote too wide a line for me, lacked character and for some reason it railroaded on every downstroke (even when dipped in a bottle). I already have plenty of amazing F nibs and wanted something a bit more special. Hence the EF. Kudos to Lamy for doing something special with their EFs!

The blade of the nib on my old 146 EF is considerably longer than that of the Lamy EF. The longer blade makes it easier to maintain the proper writing angle, but when writing in cursive the lines become as wide as a B or even a BB. I think Lamy got it just right.

I've noticed the EF is a bit of an architect, with a borderline japanese EF downstroke and more western F cross stroke. If I press down, it's almost a western M cross stroke. But when I write cursive, it kinda blends together into a western EF with some character, and I only see the architect-ness if I'm printing.


^Honeybadgers wrote this in another discussion about the Dialog 3 which I just discovered, and it hits the nail on the head. This is pretty much exactly what my EF does.

Edited by TheDutchGuy, 22 September 2019 - 06:02.


#8 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 15:01

I don't think I'd use it if I was writing a novel

 

 

I’m one week in, and, well..... you’re right. The EF is a marvelous nib, but I write a lot and it gets tiring during long sessions. The architect character of the EF nib makes it sensitive to rotation and writing angle and it also has a bit of tooth. The nib wears me out during a long haul, because I need to concentrate how to hold the pen instead of focusing on what it is I want to write.  I don’t want to use this distinctive pen merely for grocery lists and such. After several days of pondering this dilemma, I decided to switch to F. Appelboom graciously changed the nib for me. Last week I only tried the F by dipping into an ink bottle, today I tried it with the pen inked up. Big difference. Ultra-smooth (definitely one of the smoothest nibs I’ve ever used), acceptable line width (thankfully narrower than my Italian F’s) and nice shading. I just wrote with it for a solid hour and this nib turns the pen into the true workhorse that I feel it was meant to be. I do miss the uniqueness of that EF and one day I might order a spare nib/feed assembly with the EF so that I can mix it up.



#9 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 16:13

Afterthought: this is one of the few fountain pens that draws people to it like a magnet. People notice it, ask questions about it and are totally intrigued by the mechanism and the materials.



#10 5Cavaliers

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Posted 28 September 2019 - 20:14

Wonderful review!  Thank you for taking the time.  

 

I have thought about the Dialog many times.  I am drawn to the very clean lines of the pen, and I love Lamy pens.  But, as everyone says, it is quite heavy and I am concerned that it might be too heavy for me.  I think I will have to wait until I travel somewhere where there is a B&M store in order to try it.  

 

And thank you for your opinion on the EF nib.  I have a F nib on my 2000 as well as a 14K F nib on my studio and I love them both.  I was considering an EF, but I think I will stick to either an F nib or perhaps I can find it in a stub.   


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#11 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 05 October 2019 - 12:48

Two weeks in, one week since the change from EF to F. I’m starting to become really attached to this thing. It’s not just about design, build quality and materials anymore. The pen is getting under my skin, in a good way. The F is a really, really good nib. As far as Western F’s go, this one writes quite a thin line. Switching from print to cursive shaves off another 30% of thickness and I’ve got some Western EF’s that write wider than this Lamy F. The nib is supersmooth yet tactile and the flow is exactly right. The pen itself... I pick it up and start to write and it seems to fight me somehow. It’s so big and massive... it’s like writing with a cylinder of solid marble. Persist for a minute or two, my hand adapts, it becomes totally addictive and I can write long sessions with it. The pen is plain fun to write with. Only after switching back to a lighter pen do I become aware of the Lamy’s weight and girth.

 

Apart from Sailor, this is one of relatively few new pens that performs 100,0% right straight out of the box. Nib, feed, flow, converter, smoothness, tactile response, it’s all spot-on. During the first week, I was enthralled by its clever design and build quality. During the second week, I was (and still am) enthralled by how great a writer this is.



#12 Timotheus

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Posted 06 October 2019 - 20:54

An often heard comment about the Dialog is that aesthetics wins it from practicality.  May I infer from what you're writing that this it not your experience?


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#13 TheDutchGuy

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Posted 08 October 2019 - 16:43



An often heard comment about the Dialog is that aesthetics wins it from practicality.  May I infer from what you're writing that this it not your experience?

 

 

Whether or not a design is practical is quite personal. I consider this to be a very practical pen for me. Others may find it too heavy, too wide or whatever. It’s an unusual design, so try before you buy.



#14 Honeybadgers

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Posted 09 October 2019 - 00:37

I find it weirdly not as heavy as it seems. its balance point is very carefully meant to be right behind your fingers, and the very nice tactile feel of the matte metal (I think I'd have absolutely hated the piano finishes) makes it very stable. And the clip, while still present, is nowhere near as obtrusive as it is on the pilot VP. 

 

While the section would be considered thick, the whole pen being the same thickness doesn't make the pen feel fat. 

 

Mine's had no dryout issues.

 

I emailed endlesspens about maybe swapping it for a "proper" EF that doesn't have the architect grind, and she said she looked at several of their stock and they all had the same nib effect, so it seems the subtle architect line variation in the EF is a desired feature.

 

The only thing I think I don't love is that it doesn't clip over jeans pockets far enough, and I'd be worried about hooking the clip since it has to hinge so far away to fit even halfway down a pair of pants. But for sliding over the seam of my shirt behind a tie, it's perfect.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: lamy, dailog3, retractable nib, ef, architect



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