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Is Aurora to Blame? Optima Nebulosa vs Viola



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Omaslover

In the summer of 2018, Aurora released an US exclusive limited to 88 pens, the Aurora Optima Nebulosa available in both rhodium and gold trims and fitted with an 18K nib.

The pen was gorgeous and produced in such limited edition, that following the extreme success of the Aurora 88 Nebulosa, these pens sold fast and at a premium.

About two years later, Aurora has now released the Aurora Optima Viola which uses the exact same material, has dropped the 18K to a 14K, and has offered this pen worldwide at a much more affordable price.

 

This topic came up with a couple pen aficionados as we were trying to decide if this move from Aurora was intentional or not, whether it violates consumer laws (on limited edition claims) or not, and how this will sit with people who paid dearly to own the Nebulosa . Aurora released recently another "US exclusive" , the Giada, but one has to wonder whether it will remain a true limited edition pen, or be part of the standard offering down the road.

 

Is Aurora to blame?

 

 

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Paul-in-SF

I wanted to check out the appearance of the Nebulosa, and I discovered that Dromgoole's is selling this model, with 18K nib and either rose gold or chrome plated trim, new, and with no mention of being a limited edition, and at a $160 premium over the Viola. If I had bought one of the original 88 pens, I would be more irritated at that fact than that they also sell them under another name with a 14K nib. 

 

I'm not sure that blame is particularly applicable or useful. They are certainly responsible for spoiling the premium market for any limited editions they might try to sell in the future. The number of collectors of Aurora limited editions is probably not huge, and the word will definitely get around if they keep doing this sort of thing. 

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The nebulosa appears to possess darker hues of purple than the viola to my eye.  As such, I would not call it the same exact material.  Whether that warrants the price tag or limited edition status is another matter.

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A Smug Dill

Is Aurora to blame for what specifically?

 

2 hours ago, Omaslover said:

This topic came up with a couple pen aficionados as we were trying to decide if this move from Aurora was intentional or not,

 

The move to use the Nebulosa's purple aurolide in arguably different model of pen — which, as you've noted, has a 14K gold nib instead of an 18K gold nib, and that is traditionally one of the differences between Optima models in Aurora's regular product line-up and limited editions — that looks and/or functions almost identical (but are, in fact, materially different) to a subset “pen aficionados”? I'm sure the decision to release the Viola is intentional on Aurora's part, but that doesn't mean it was always planning on doing so, even before the end of the Nebulosa's production run and seeing the market response to that colourway.

 

Even if Aurora came to that decision, upon seeing the popularity of the Nebulosa once it was released but before the limited edition has run out for retail sales, it still would not be something that Aurora is (legally, commercially or morally) obliged to announce, especially not for the benefit of prospective buyers of the Nebulosa who would like to be offered an additional (upcoming) option, to cool their fear of missing out, and perhaps one that they may think will be better value for money if they care about that.

 

2 hours ago, Omaslover said:

whether it violates consumer laws (on limited edition claims) or not,

 

“Pen aficionados” who are offended by Aurora can test that issue in court, if they feel strongly about it. As far as I can see, the Nebulosa and Viola are not the same model, and the latter is not an unnumbered re-release of what was a limited edition model. Aurora has often used a particular colour and pattern of aurolide in multiple models; and it did not claim that particular purple aurolide is a limited edition barrel material in its own right.

 

2 hours ago, Omaslover said:

and how this will sit with people who paid dearly to own the Nebulosa .

 

I don't think any of them will be delighted by Aurora's decision, and while most don't care — since they already got what they wanted at the retail price(s) they agreed to pay — I'm sure some will be cheesed off. Not that anyone else other than Aurora itself, whose future sales may be impacted by the negative sentiment, should or would care.

 

2 hours ago, Omaslover said:

Aurora released recently another "US exclusive" , the Giada, but one has to wonder whether it will remain a true limited edition pen, or be part of the standard offering down the road.

 

It doesn't matter. Consumers — irrespective of whether they also don the caps of fountain pen hobbyists, private collectors and/or after-market traders — are not entitled to perfect and complete market information inclusive of what may be coming in two weeks', two months' or two years' time into the future, when contemplating and making purchase decisions.

 

If owning the true limited edition model, complete with 18K gold nib, is not that important to an individual, then he/she can always choose to take a punt and wait. If the colourway is not subsequently released with a different or materially lesser nib, after stock of the limited edition model has run out, he/she can still decide then whether to source one in the after-market (possibly at a premium) if the FOMO gets too much then; there are always traders who wager on such and snap up units of limited editions for resale as new. If the colourway is subsequently released with a materially lesser nib, but the difference in its MSRP from that of the limited edition model isn't great enough, and the individual would prefer to have bought the limited edition at the initial release price, that's another consumer decision to make; and so on.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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It slightly annoyed quite a lot of people that Platinum touted the 3776 Chartres Blue and Bourgogne as limited editions and then introduced them into the regular lineup, although I seem to remember it was at the same price.

 

AFAIK they haven't done that again. Special editions are not reintroduced. I wonder if that was because of feedback from the market?

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Omaslover
19 hours ago, Paul-in-SF said:

They are certainly responsible for spoiling the premium market for any limited editions they might try to sell in the future. 

I couldn't agree more.

17 hours ago, Mezu said:

The nebulosa appears to possess darker hues of purple than the viola to my eye.  

The material used is identical. It was an expensive experience for some customers who purchased both models, only to find out that Aurora's had produced the same pen with different names, charging extra for first time around by stamping it with a short lived limited edition.

 

I am a huge Aurora fan, but as you can see from the posts of the Viola models on their instagram account, people have repeatedly asked whether the auroloid used was different than the one used on the Nebulosa, to which Aurora's spokesperson would not give a straight answer.

Finally, when people started purchasing the Viola to compare for themselves, they backtracked to say that the Nebulosa was never a limited edition, but a pen commissioned by Kenro. We all know that the pen was listed everywhere as a limited edition US exclusive.

Maybe Kenro does bear part of the responsibility here.

 

At the end, the purple auroloid is one of the most spectacular one they have produced.  Nothing wrong with adding this color to their regular offerings, but releasing it in small batch 2 years earlier and claiming that it is a limited edition caused dismay and pushed many people away from the brand.

 

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MoriartyR

Aurora seems often to re-use the same plastic designs on multiple pens. I can think of many other examples, and I think there were also other recent Aurora models using this purple material - not only the two mentioned. It doesn’t bother me and in fact I think it is good that buyers who miss out on a particular pen are likely to get the chance to buy something else with a similar appearance in future.

 

That’s just how it is with Aurora. You can see it as either a good thing or a bad thing, but it is their normal way.

 

I confess it did surprise me how many times they released different pens with this purple material in such a short time, but if it is such a popular colour then great. The 8’88” planets series pen is still a limited edition and I don’t think it is devalued by the release of a similar coloured 88 or Optima model.

 

Frankly, there are so many limited edition Aurora models that a buyer cannot reasonably expect any of them to have very much incremental resale value over an unlimited pen. The limited editions have quite large production numbers. I suspect the only difference between an Aurora limited edition and a regular model (which are mostly produced only for a period of time) is that the limited edition has a number engraved on it. I doubt the production volumes are very different between limited editions and many of the unlimited models.

 

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Paul-in-SF
4 hours ago, Omaslover said:

... the Nebulosa was never a limited edition, but a pen commissioned by Kenro. We all know that the pen was listed everywhere as a limited edition US exclusive.

Maybe Kenro does bear part of the responsibility here.

That certainly adds a layer. If Kenro commissioned a pen for only themselves to market, and as US distributor chose to call it a US exclusive and a LE, who then "owns" that configuration? I think that's kind of an out for Aurora, if Kenro didn't pay them to reserve that auroloide color just for them. And all the other pens have different configurations. 

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