Jump to content

The Fountain Pen Network uses (functional) cookies. Read the FPN Privacy Policy for more info.  To remove this message, please click here to accept the use of cookies






Photo

Aurora Optima- Review


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 TheNobleSavage

TheNobleSavage

    Antique

  • FPN Supporter - Platinum

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,622 posts
  • Location:Guadeloupe, CA
  • Flag:

Posted 07 February 2006 - 22:30

Aurora Optima- Review

First Impressions

I heard a lot about the Aurora Optima but I could never get around paying the big bucks for it. Well, an opportunity arose and it was a deal that I couldn’t refuse. So I bought it and now the wait began for the box to arrive in the mail!! Well, since this pen was used and I got such a good deal on it, there was no box or papers to go along with it. No big deal, the boxes and paperwork just sit in my closet and collect dust. If I can save money on the pen by not having a box, then I will go for it!!! As I tore open the USPS Priority Mail box with great anticipation. I really didn’t have a clue on how big this pen was so I really didn’t know what to expect. The only things that I knew what that this pen is an Aurora Optima, 14kt gold nib, maroon color and a piston filler.


Appearance/ Finish 5 out of 5

This pen has a matte to semi gloss shine on it with a gold band and clip. The appearance of this pen is a very conservative Italian style that is for all occasions. The Color of this pen is a maroon color or a dark dried blood color with black on the tassie and on the piston knob. There isn’t much to this pen that would bring undue attention; it is a simple yet elegant design that has worked for quite a few years for Aurora. There are also the words “AURORA” around the band of the cap with a “Greek Key” design etched in gold with 2 smaller black bands in-between. It has a rather conservative look to it which is what I usually look for in a pen (but not all of the time). There is a solid imprint on the barrel of the pen that reads:
“AURORA ITALIA”
“FABRICA ITALIANA”
“DI PENNE A SERBATOIO”

Posted Image

We will get into more detail with this pen in the next section.


Design/Size/Weight 5 out of 5

Let’s get to steppin’ with this pen. This pen weighs in at an impressive 1 OZ while the length is 5 inches capped. With the cap posted the length is a comfortable 6 inches with a girth of about 1 ¾ inches. This pen is a bit smaller than I am used to but I find that I have to post the cap on this pen for it to be comfortable for me to write. As for the material of this pen, I assume that this is made out of some acrylic resin. This is a slightly older model than the newer Optima and I know that the new Optima FP are made out of a material similar to celluloid called Auroloide. So as for the exact material that is used, I am really unsure but I would guess it is acrylic resin.

Posted Image

As I stated earlier, there is a gold cap band with the words “AURORA” engraved along with the “Greek Key” design. This seems to be a typical feature on Italian pens such as Ancora, OMAS, Aurora, and Filcao to name a few. Even though it is prevalent to Italian pens, it is not exclusive. The Clip has a slight curvature to it with a large gold ball at the end of the clip. This is not a spring loaded clip and it is more of tension fit when you clip it on to a shirt pocket or something. The clip is attached underneath the cap tassie, while the cap tassie screws into the cap on top of the clip ring. This secures the clip in place and as long as the cap tassie doesn’t come off, the clip will stay put. This is not my ideal design for a clip but some times the design warrants this type of clip.

Posted Image

The construction of this pen seems to be extremely solid and durable. I am sure it can withstand the daily use and abuse put on by the average fountain pen user. The grip section is made out of a black resin and it conforms to the fingers for a comfortable writing experience. The threads are far enough away from where the fingers would be placed. This is another important factor when it comes to comfort or at least for me!! The balance of this pen is quite nice even though I have to post the cap for added length. Regardless, the pen remains balanced with or without the cap posted. This pen would definitely be comfortable in most any hands. The width is what really makes the lack of length worth while. This is a stout little pen that has enough girth to make even the larger hands happy.

Posted Image


Nib Design and Performance 3 out of 5

The broad nib on this pen is a monotone 14kt gold with a good sized feed. One thing I noticed right off the bat was a huge chunk of tipping material hanging on the end. This gives you plenty of material to play with if you choose; especially if you plan to grind it down to a stub, italic, oblique or whatever as you see fit to. This nib screws out like a Pelikan, Stipula or Ancora would. So swapping nibs is a breeze especially if you want to use a specialty nib like the classic Aurora Medium Italic. The engravings on this nib are rather classy looking and definitely unique to Aurora. The nib is a pretty good size and it rivals the size of the Stipula nibs on the Etruria line. I find that the nib is rather stiff even on both the medium and broad. That is fine for me because this would be a pretty good pen to take notes with.

Posted Image

Now this is where the review takes a strange turn for me. As most everybody knows, I love my nibs smooth and juicy. I am not a fan of toothy nibs and in fact, I find them extremely annoying. What I didn’t know when I bought this pen is that “toothy” is a signature trait for Aurora nibs and especially with the Optima. So when I filled the pen with DC Super Show Blue and I started writing, I was horrified with the lack of smoothness on this nib. I checked and double checked the tines for alignment and they were as straight as an arrow. The writing experience was just less than par in my case and I really was in a dilemma. I didn’t want to get rid of the pen but I couldn’t go on using it with this toothy characteristic.

Posted Image

I found someone who was willing to swap my medium nib for his broad nib. I gladly accepted because I could at least get it grinded if the pen didn’t write the way I wanted it to. The person I traded it to; he also said that all the nibs write this way and he just loves the way it writes. I must be in the minority or something!!! Well I screwed in the new nib and the flow was substantially heavier but toothy as ever!!! I had a few choices as to what I wanted to do with it. First, I can send it to get stubbed. Second, I can go ahead and grind the nib a bit to remove the toothy feel to it.

I chose to grind it a bit my self, so I broke out my Arkansas stone and gently worked out the ridges in the nib. I also rounded off the tipping on the bottom of the nib so it would be a smoother nib rather than toothy. After I slightly reshaped the nib, I used 2000 grit paper to smooth out the rough edges and sharp areas of the nib. Then I broke out my 1.5 Micron Mylar smoothing discs and really smoothed out the rest of the nib. After that, I put my finishing touches with the ultra fine .1 micron Mylar disk and I also flossed between the tines to ensure smoothness all around.

When I washed off the nib in cool water and flushed the pen thoroughly to remove all debris, I filled her up with Private Reserve DC Super Show Blue ink and then I wrote away. This nib has taken on a whole to meaning to smooth!! The writing experience is completely phenomenal and I couldn’t be happier with this pen after its makeover. The pen writes with a solid heavy medium to standard broad flow of ink. No skipping anywhere on this pen and it definitely can keep up with quick note taking without hesitation. I know some people are cringing at the notion that I removed the signature feature of Aurora pens. All I can say is TOO BAD, ITS MY PEN!!!!

Posted Image

Ok so what do I really think? I am not for toothy nibs and that will probably never change. Well a little customization can really change the identity of this nib into a buttery smooth firm nib that is a pleasure to use on any occasion!!! As for the nib, I will give it a neutral rating because this is how Aurora makes their nibs. Aurora has quite a following in the fountain pen community and it would be wrong for me to say that the nib really sucks!! So after some modifications on the nib, this has turned into a surprisingly wonderful writer that tries to jump the line into my rotation. Plus I usually make nib modifications to a majority of my fountain pen nibs to suit my style of writing. Why should this nib be any different than the rest of the nibs I slightly modify?



The Filling System 5 out of 5

One of the things that really drew me towards buying this pen was that it is a piston filler pen. This pen certainly does hold a good share of ink especially for its size. There is another cool feature that is exclusive to Aurora Piston filling pens is the “HIDDEN RESIVOIR”. I found this to be totally cool and extremely useful especially when it would be inconvenient to fill your pen or swap pens. When the pen runs out of ink, turn the piston all the way until it stops: as you would to drain out the ink out of the chamber. In doing so, it releases a small amount of reserve ink to get you by. This is not a whole lot of ink but it is enough for about a half to one side of a sheet of paper. This is dependent on the width of the nib and the flow of the pen.

Posted Image

With this “HIDDEN RESIVOIR”, I find it a little bit more time consuming to flush and clean the fountain pen. It is by no means difficult; it just takes a few more steps. As far as I am concerned, this is one of the best features I have seen on a modern fountain pen. It would be neat to see some other pen companies adopt this feature on its piston filling pens. I am sure that it is patent design that Aurora is not willing to give up easily but who knows???


Cost 5 out of 5

MSRP for this pen is normally around $245.00 for the Acrylic resin model and around $337.00 for the Auroloide. As for mine, I bought my Optima for $125.00 through www.midwestpens.com Shipping was rather quick and a smooth transaction too. There is no way I could complain about this deal whatsoever. The price was the best I have seen around on the net. I don’t know too much about the fella who runs the site, he pretty much came out of nowhere and he primarily sells Signum pens. He also buys and sells new and used fountain pens and he is a pleasure to do business with.

Posted Image

Would I say new or used Optima? Definitely used for me!! I saved a ton of money on a pen I have no experience with. I guess you would say it is a diamond in the rough and it was well worth the $125.00 I spent for this pen!!!


Conclusion

Ok, in conclusion what do I think of the Aurora Optima? I think is a wonderfully constructed fountain pen that is conservative in appearance. I guess Aurora has been making the Optima for a while now and there seems to be little if any change from the general design. Aurora has a certain characteristic with the nibs that I really do not care for. This is my personal opinion and I won’t take that away from Aurora but I do not like the feel of their nibs, toothy is not my style when it comes to nibs. Thank goodness that I was able to smooth it to my own liking. Later on down the road I can always have this pen stubbed but for now I am going to keep it this way.

I have been using this pen in my meetings where I need to make quick notes. This pen can keep up with my writing without any hesitation. Most of all the ink capacity is really to my liking along with the “HIDDEN RESIVOIR”. The “HIDDEN RESIVOIR” can really save you especially when you run into the last few minutes of a meeting and then you run out of ink. You have enough ink in the Reserve to get you through the meeting or at least until a point where you can call for a recess. This is a reliable pen that writes like a dream (modified for me) and is really a classy pen. The best of all is that you get all of the nice benefits of an oversized pen in a Medium sized pen. Such as: high ink capacity, piston filler, hidden ink reservoir, large nib, balanced weight and a pen that has a rather thick width. This pen has just about all you can think of with the exception of the length of an oversized pen. There are plenty of nib sizes to choose from and there is at least one that fits each person. Oversized pens are not always practical and when you are in the market for a pen that isn’t as long as Moses’ Staff, then this is a pen to consider. I give this one 2 thumbs up!!!

Check Out my Fountain Pen and Ink Review Sites
Fountain Pen Reviews
Ink Reviews

Sponsored Content

#2 Roger

Roger

    FILCAO's Columbia. Photo:www.tryphon.it

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,388 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 00:27

Good one, Aaron. Your impressions concur with mine.

I have the resin Black w/GT in a fine nib and OOTB it, too, was the usual toothy Aurora stereotype. I, too, performed a little mylar work on mine and it is an order of magnitude smoother, though I didn't take it as far as you did. I purposely left the slightest tooth. I find that as my accumulation grows, I kinda like having different writing experiences, and if I make 'em all buttery smooth, every write is just another same old, same old! :P

The resin models are still made, though I'm not sure of the maroon that you have. They are, as you've pointed out, the less expensive of the line and the Auroloides bring the higher prices.

But as you say, they're well crafted pens and I know that they can stand the "daily grind" as Viseguy uses his every day, IIRC. I'm keeping my eyes out for a deal on an Auroloid. I like the Optimas! :)
Roger
Southern Arizona, USA

Fountain Pen Talk Mailing List

#3 saintsimon

saintsimon

    Si tacuisses ...

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,507 posts
  • Location:EU
  • Flag:

Posted 08 February 2006 - 00:44

This not an older model, as the regular Optima range is wide and yours is the current model 997/X. The plain black and bordeaux are the starter level Optimas, going up to solid 18K gold pens.

http://www.aurorapen...ng/frameng.html

The tooth is really something to get used to, my 18K Fine nib on the 'Sole' made in 1996 is also toothy. I got it inked once for € 166 :D from an Italian guy.

The Optimas are relly great, ergonomic pens with a wide selection of colours for the collector.

#4 Louis R

Louis R

    Near Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPip
  • 42 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 16:40

Great review! You are getting me back to day-dreaming. :)9

How does the Optima compare to the 88?

Edited by Louis R, 08 February 2006 - 16:43.

Louis

#5 theshainun

theshainun

    Mint

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPip
  • 96 posts

Posted 08 February 2006 - 16:46

Thanks for the review! I'm quite tempted now... :drool:

Shaun
Shaun

#6 TheNobleSavage

TheNobleSavage

    Antique

  • FPN Supporter - Platinum

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,622 posts
  • Location:Guadeloupe, CA
  • Flag:

Posted 08 February 2006 - 16:52

Great review! You are getting me back to day-dreaming. :)9

How does the Optima compare to the 88?

I have no Idea how it compares to the 88. I think the 88 is 1/4 of an inh longer than the Optima. Both are piston filler and I believe both have the same width
Check Out my Fountain Pen and Ink Review Sites
Fountain Pen Reviews
Ink Reviews

#7 southpaw

southpaw

    Museum Piece

  • Premium - Emerald

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,232 posts

Posted 09 February 2006 - 13:34

Great review as usual.

I really like my Blue Marble Optima, and it's the Auroloide (sp?) material. I also got mine for a great deal - just a tad bit more than you. Mine has a medium italic nib (medium stub, medium cursive italic, whatever you want to call it) and writes with just a touch of tooth, which I have left just to have a difference - trying a bit of variety (besides, I can always smooth it later).

I do disagree with you (and quite a few others) on one point - I despise the hidden reservoir. There is a great feature on the pen called the ink view window. You can see when you're running out of ink. Why do you need a hidden reservoir? I find the extra aggravation when flushing an unnecessary nuisance, and it does take quite a few flushes more. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong in terms of flushing out the reservoir.

Anyhow, it is a wonderful pen with great capacity. I'm enjoying mine and am sure you'll enjoy yours.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8, NKJV)

#8 saintsimon

saintsimon

    Si tacuisses ...

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,507 posts
  • Location:EU
  • Flag:

Posted 09 February 2006 - 13:46

... I find the extra aggravation when flushing an unnecessary nuisance, and it does take quite a few flushes more. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong in terms of flushing out the reservoir.
...

Do you unscrew the nib before flushing? That may ease flushing (as on any piston filler, where unscrewing is possible).

#9 emrecan

emrecan

    Pleasure in writing.

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 330 posts
  • Location:Istanbul - Turkiye (Turkey)

Posted 09 February 2006 - 14:20

Hi TNS,
Thanks a lot for your delightful review man!!!Its always pleasure to read it.Great pics as usual.Nice looking pen too.Enjoy with your pen!

Take Care,
Emrecan
Greetings from İstanbul
the pen is in my avatar is LAMY Studio Palladium 14K

#10 Sharkle

Sharkle

    BPillar

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 661 posts

Posted 11 February 2006 - 06:48

Well if that doesn't beat all, and I must say it figures. I bought an Aurora Ipsilon Deluxe about three months ago--I felt that it wrote so nicely in the store, just right, which just showed my memory lapse about what I preferred in the past in a fountain pen. I have since grown not to like its complete LACK of tooth and its hard-as-a-brick nib. I am, in fact, wondering if I'm confused about tooth; my pen is not a wet writer but feels very smooth to me. A minute after I start writing with it my ailing wrist goes numb. This pretty and sturdy pen has not given me an ounce of trouble, but I would like it 100% more if it had that stereotypical toothy nib and weren't so heavy-feeling in the barrel. On the other hand (literally), it's a fantastic pen that is wonderful for fast writing/notetaking. It takes any ink I want, and I appreciate that. :)

#11 Justindo

Justindo

    NOS (New Old Stock)

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPip
  • 23 posts

Posted 26 March 2006 - 21:18

The red Optima in your review, albeit with a fine nib, is my daily grading pen and it gets lots of compliments from my students, although not usually for the grades it gives out! The Optima has served me well for almost three years now. The nib is a bit toothier than other manufacturers’, but not in the extreme. Originally it was a dry writer with Slovakian Scheaffer Red, but it works fine with Parker Quink Red and Private Reserve Fiesta Red. Mine was purchased new, but I still consider it a steal for what I paid.

#12 TheNobleSavage

TheNobleSavage

    Antique

  • FPN Supporter - Platinum

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,622 posts
  • Location:Guadeloupe, CA
  • Flag:

Posted 28 March 2006 - 02:56

Yeah I am not big at all on Aurora Toothy nibs. Thats why I neutered the nib and stripped it of its toothy character buy grinding it down a bit and then smoothing it to a nice super smooth nib. now it really has nothing on the nib that would make it standout as an aurora other than the name on the nib. I am thinking of an 88 that I saw with a wonderful silver cap but I am also thinking of the amount of work I had to put into smoothing the nib out. I am having second thoughts!!! <_<

Who knows, I love the pens but the toothyness of the nibs really chaps my pants. But maybe sometime down the road I will consider it, but not anytime soon!! Until then, I will be enjoying my "Savaged" Optima, I love this broad nib, it is super wet and super smooth!!!

TNS
Check Out my Fountain Pen and Ink Review Sites
Fountain Pen Reviews
Ink Reviews

#13 chad234

chad234

    Pen Obsessed

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 122 posts

Posted 28 March 2006 - 14:08

TNS,
As usual a great review!!! Thank you for taking the time to write it up!

#14 TheNobleSavage

TheNobleSavage

    Antique

  • FPN Supporter - Platinum

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,622 posts
  • Location:Guadeloupe, CA
  • Flag:

Posted 28 March 2006 - 20:43

No problem, I enjoy doing them!!!

TNS
Check Out my Fountain Pen and Ink Review Sites
Fountain Pen Reviews
Ink Reviews

#15 drsluggo

drsluggo

    Dipped Only

  • Member - Gold

  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 08 July 2007 - 18:53

I have the same pen, about 6 years old with a medium nib, slight tooth. It was a favorite until it spontaneously developed a longitudinal crack from the piston screw almost to the section, that seeps ink. It is obviously not warranteed any longer and I expect replacement of the barrel would be quite costly. Anyone else have "crack problems" with the resin Optimas. My 3 Auroraloid Optimas do not have this problem.
Steve
drsluggo@sc.rr.com

#16 chestertonaccountant

chestertonaccountant

    NOS (New Old Stock)

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPip
  • 14 posts

Posted 08 July 2007 - 19:04

I love everything about the Optima but the nib. I have an extra-fine but it writes like a broad, very wet, thick line. Does anyone have any thoughts on why?? I even sent it back to the company when I first got the pen but the nib seems the same.


Erin Marie

#17 georges zaslavsky

georges zaslavsky

    vintageandmodernpenslover

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 12,033 posts
  • Location:France
  • Flag:

Posted 14 July 2007 - 15:37

First thanks for the review. Very nice pen with nice ergonomics and finish however aurora nibs are too toothy compared to their omas or montegrappa nibs counterparts who are dreams to write with. I have thought to buy an Aurora but the repetitively toothy nibs I have tried pushed me to stay away from this brand.
Pens are like watches , once you start a collection, you can hardly go back. And pens like all fine luxury items do improve with time

#18 Mannenhitsu

Mannenhitsu

    Collectors Item

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,178 posts

Posted 30 May 2008 - 02:52

This is great information to know. The Aurora Mare that I have writes very smoothly, but it has a medium nib. How does a given nib size on an Aurora, compare the same size nibs on a Pelikan? Since I like a Pelikan with a medium nib, would I be better of going with a broad on an Aurora Optima?

Sincerely yours,

Ronnie Banks
"Like a prized watch, a good fountain pen is a trusted companion for life."

#19 MJ Vesuvius

MJ Vesuvius

    Dreamer

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 302 posts

Posted 23 October 2009 - 18:49

I have had three Aurora Optimas develop materials issues... two have stripped threads and one cap shattered when being transported (not sure what did it).
The marble Auroloide is more delicate than a solid resin or acrylic. So never pack it in luggage like I did...

The stripped threads is a known issue, and happens to people like me who love the pen and use it daily. One of mine was sent back to Italy for a
black plastic insert inside the cap to replace the threads, but now the threads on the body seem to be going and I'm not sure what the fix for that will be...

I love this pen but have found it to be delicate.

MJ

#20 lowks

lowks

    Vintage

  • Member - Gold

  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 695 posts
  • Flag:

Posted 25 October 2009 - 03:47

I have had three Aurora Optimas develop materials issues... two have stripped threads and one cap shattered when being transported (not sure what did it).
The marble Auroloide is more delicate than a solid resin or acrylic. So never pack it in luggage like I did...

The stripped threads is a known issue, and happens to people like me who love the pen and use it daily. One of mine was sent back to Italy for a
black plastic insert inside the cap to replace the threads, but now the threads on the body seem to be going and I'm not sure what the fix for that will be...

I love this pen but have found it to be delicate.

MJ


Thanks for the heads up and there I was putting it inside my laptop bag with 1000 and 1 nasties that could crack it. From now on it will be my shirt pocket rider.






Sponsored Content




|