6 Best Mechanical Pencils that Rock

A solid mechanical pencil is an essential part of any productive person's arsenal of tools. They aren't just for artists, illustrators and architects. Any profession that involves intense brainwork and creativity needs a reliable pencil to draft ideas.

Why a mechanical pencil?

  • Pencil lead isn't permanent. While you're spitballing ideas and brainstorming, it helps to have a medium that is instantly erasable when you need to change direction or tighten up your sketches. 
  • Most common, an HB or F lead are great for general purpose and are easy to erase without leaving a shadow on the paper. With a light hand, you can layout designs to be inked later. 
  • Lead writes on almost any surface. Unlike fountain pens or gel pens, pencil lead makes a mark on pretty much anything, which is convenient in case you need to write a million dollar business plan on the back of a napkin.

Drafting Pencils

These pencils are designed with precise control and durability in mind for those who use pencils as their primary tool for hours each day. With a knurled grip and a brass, hexagonal body, the rOtring mechanical pencil is top-of-the-class.

The rOtring 600's knurled grip and extended lead sleeve gives the user exceptional control over laying down lines using rulers and guides. The section under the push button rotates to display the lead size that is installed in the pencil. This is particularly useful if you have multiple pencils, or varying leads and need to know which softness/hardness of lead you have installed in the pencil. An eraser is hidden under the push button.

The rOtring 800 has all the aforementioned features of the 600, except for the rotating sleeve that indicates the lead hardness. The 800's highlight is the retractable brass sleeve that conveniently hides away with a twist of the push-button. This helps save your shirt pockets from being stabbed by the point. The eraser that is included under the button's cap has an attached clean-out rod that helps remove any lead jams in the mechanism.

Uni Ball Kuru Toga courtesy of Office Supply Geek

The revolutionary, Japanese-made Uniball Kuru Toga may seem like a light-weight when compared to the high-grade rOtring drafting pencils, but the Kuru Toga can hold its own with a unique turning mechanism that rotates the lead while your write, keeping the point sharp and preventing breakage. While the quality of the plastic barrel construction is more "office supply" grade, this is one of the "sharpest" tools you can use.

Everyday Carry Pencils

These general purpose writing instruments are for the causal creator. Flesh out a business plan for a online mystery box company, menu for a dinner party, picks for fantasy football, or layout your backyard garden with these handy tools. Their affordability is a nice perk, as it allows you for room in your pen budget for expensive fountain pens. :-)

Caran d'Ache is known around the world as a premium brand for artists. Used by the likes of Andy Warhol, CdA has a long history of inspiring creatives to harness their materials to bring their visions to reality. The Swiss-made Metal Collection mechanical pencil has a brass body with lacquer coating. The hexagonal sides and tapered tip will feel right at home with anyone transitioning from a wood pencil. An eraser can be found under the push button. 0.7mm lead thickness only.

The Kaweco Sport is the most portable of our selection of best mechanical pencils. This octagonal-sided pencil does not come with a clip, but one can be purchased separately. The faceted sides prevent it from rolling off your desk or drafting table. The lightweight, plastic body is rugged and easy to hold with a thick girth. 0.7mm lead only, no eraser.

Luxury Class Pencils

For more discerning tastes, this class of mechanical pencils are furthest removed from the no. 2 Ticonderoga and represent a status item as well as a utility. The focus in the design of the luxury pencil is less on the function and more on the form.

Faber-Castell is the German analogue of Caran d'Ache in the respect that they are highly regarded within the artistic community for their specialized creative tools. Faber offers an exceptional line of professional grade colored pencils in the Polychromos collection. The FC Ambition represents one of their high-end collections that has a heft, size and attention to fine detail that is superior to most other mechanical pencils in this price range. The simple, yet elegant statement of the chrome top is matched with a precious black resin barrel engraved with a guilloche design. The 0.7mm pencil lead mechanism is completely removable for easy replacement, in the event of defect. The advancing mechanism operates with a 1-directional twist of the chrome top. The big "con" of a pencil of this price range is that it doesn't have a built-in eraser.

We'd love to hear from artists, draftsmen, architects and others who use a pencil on a daily basis. What are your favorite characteristics you look for in a pencil? Do you have a favorite brand? Agree with our selections? Disagree? Leave a comment below and discuss.


Diamine Shimmering Fountain Pen Inks Coming Soon

] If you thought the shimmer hype train ended with the first wave of J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink, you're in for a sparkly surprise!

Diamine, one of the UK's most prominent ink manufacturers, have been working fastidiously for two years on a shimmering ink formula of their own, and has finally developed  product that is ready for fountain pen consumption. Dubbed the Diamine Shimmering Fountain Pen Inks, this set of 10 colors is due to hit American shores in early October.

These are the scans that were sent to dealers without any photo retouching. Yes, we notice that Brandy Dazzle does show up twice, but that is how the information was sent to us. If you want to see the other color, "Red Lustre," check out Goulet's post with the retouched versions of these swabs.

Instantly, one has to compare these inks with the current line of J. Herbin 1670 inks. "Sparkling Shadows" must be an analog of "Stormy Grey."  "Brandy Dazzle" is comparable to "Rouge Hematite." The nautical-themed "Shimmering Seas" is dangerously close in name and color to the "Bleu Ocean." (J. Herbin may want to have the lawyers on retainer for that one.)

What will be exciting to see will be the other variant colors, like the purple with gold sparkle, the turquoise with silver flecks and the "golden sands" color. Since all the J. Herbin inks have gold flecks, it will be interesting to see how silver flecks will look on these Diamine colors.

Diamine is still working on finalizing a price for each bottle. I won't pin down a price, because I know someone out there will try to hold me to it, but it will probably be as expensive, if not more expensive, than a bottle of the 1670 ink.

Have a shimmery weekend!


Noodler's Ink Bottle Changing from Glass to Plastic

Today, Nathan Tardiff, the Willy Wonka of our niche fountain pen ink market, has announced a drastic change within the Noodler's Ink lineup of bottled inks. The iconic 3oz glass bottle may be no more.

As Nathan talks about in his You Tube video, changes within the glass bottle vendors he used to source the Noodler's bottles have forced his hand to make a decision : either switch to a smaller glass bottle that would up the cost of Noodler's Ink across the board, or make a change to plastic bottles.

Declining to take the approach that so many pen manufacturers have done over the years, the President of Noodler's Ink opted to keep prices the same, while offering better value with the new 3oz plastic bottles.

As he demonstrates in the video, the additional head space toward the top of the bottle actually allows for more ink to be included in the new plastic bottle than in the original glass container. The new plastic Noodler's ink bottles are also lighter and will have less issues with breakage when being shipped. The opaque bottle also blocks UV light from damaging the color of the ink in the bottle.

We had just received our first shipment of Noodler's Bulletproof Black in the new plastic ink bottles and were quite surprised as to how much more can fit in a typical case package. In the past, when we order a case of Noodler's 3oz ink, we would get 144 glass bottles per case. Now, one case constituted 320 ink bottles, over double the amount of ink for the same package.

Considering how much Noodler's we ship on a daily basis, the savings in shipping costs will be a welcome change in the overall scheme of things.

Although Nathan states that the change is temporary and glass bottles may make a comeback by the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016, the tone of his message made it seem like this can be a permanent solution and that the glass bottles of old will be considered "vintage" Noodler's Ink.

What do you think about the change to the plastic bottles? Drop us a line and comment below to tell us whether you think it's a good change or otherwise.


Pilot Vanishing Point 2015 Twilight Limited Edition Fountain Pen - Sneak Peek

You can imagine how our faces lit up when we received a special package from Pilot with the new 2015 limited edition Twilight Vanishing Point inside. We shared some images from Pilot a couple weeks back when news first broke about this ombre color fountain pen. We think its a real stunner and, as far as we've seen from the reaction online, a lot of you think so as well.

Most of you who are lusting after this pen may already have a Vanishing Point, so I won't go into talking about how the pen fills up, writes or feels in-hand. You already know that. What makes the Twilight special is the finish. Besides being a limited production with the edition number engraved on the center band, the metallic barrel is distinctively designed with a gradient that runs from an icy blue to a royal purple toward the nib end. The metallic quality of the color is similar to that of the Vanishing Point Metallics that were released in 2014.

The Pilot VP Twilight's color feels like you're standing at the edge of a glacier with your breath steaming in front of your face. Nightfall is coming and the only thing on your mind is getting a shelter up before the brutal cold sets in.

It will still be a while until we expect the limited edition to be released in the United States. Some retailers are listing this pen on their websites, but we are not going to be listing it until we know the pens are due to arrive on a specific date. If you would like to place a pre-order, we are guaranteed a very limited amount of these pens, so please give us a call during business hours and we'll take care of you if we still can. Reference part number P60403. Price : $240 USD.

The packaging is gleaming white, with an accent panel at the front that is colored with the same gradient that matches the pen. The Pilot Logo is stamped on the top lid in an icy blue color.

The Vanishing Point Twilight comes with a medium point, 18kt gold nib with rhodium plating (to match the silver trims and clip) as a standard configuration. It can accept any of the replacement Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen nibs. If you have a specific request for a particular nib size, we can accommodate you with an extra-fine, fine, broad or 1.0mm stub nib.

Also available soon will be the small, sample bottle sizes of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks. Each of these inks will be included in a three pack of 15mL bottles, which is a great gift for the writing aficionado.


Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Fountain Pen Review

Prior to 2012, the market for beginner fountain pens was dominated by Lamy's Safari, AL-Star and Vista pens. Then, the Pilot Metropolitan (MR), a.k.a. the Cocoon, landed onto the scene and easily became a favorite among fountain pen beginners and established writing enthusiasts alike.

Originally, the styles of the Metropolitan were limited to only a black, gold and silver-color metallic finishes. The Metropolitan Animal expansion gave us the most exciting color to date in the "Violet Leopard" style, until now.

The New Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop is a fresh take on this best-selling starter pen. Bright, funky and bold, these colors are aimed toward a younger audience. Nothing boring or ordinary here.

The body style and materials are the same as with the original Metropolitan. You can expect the same weight of a brass-lined barrel and cap, along with the feel of the satin metallic finish on the outside. Pilot jazzed up the center bands below the cap to introduce these mod-like, retro designs that were popular in the 60s and 70s.

Pilot Metropolitan Specifications

Length capped: 5.4 inches (13.7 cm)
Length un-capped: 5 inches (13 cm)
Length posted: 6 inches (15.5 cm)
Weight (capped, with converter): 0.93 oz (26.4 g)
Weight (un-capped, with converter): 0.6 oz (17.1 g)

For purposes of this review, I went with the turquoise color Metro Retro Pop. Being a lover of turquoise, and a dude, I found this color to be right in line with my personal taste. The accent band is a bit much, but that is purely a personal aesthetic choice and I wouldn't weigh that against the pen's design.

Filling the Metropolitan Squeeze Converter

One of the reasons the Pilot Metropolitan is such an amazing value for a starter fountain pen is that, for only $18, you get the option of a converter to experiment with bottled ink filling. The squeeze converter sucks in about 1mL worth of ink and can be operated with one hand by pinching the metal pressure bars to force air out of the sac. Letting go of the converter allows the sac to expand, creating a vacuum that sucks ink (or water) up through the nib and feed. Watch our video review for a demonstration of how to use the Metro converter.

Writing with the Pilot Metropolitan

As you would expect from a Japanese brand, the Pilot Metropolitan nib writes on the thinner side. The medium sized, stainless steel nib I tried wrote more like a European fine point. The nib isn't the smoothest, but it writes well for an $18 pen, so I gauged my expectations accordingly. Comparing it to another sub-$20 pen in the Nemosine Singularity, I would say the Metropolitan wins making a higher quality nib, hands down. The only problem with the Metro is that you are limited to only a fine or medium. The Nemosine, on the other hand, allows for EF, F, M, B and two types of stub nibs.

The Metro is exceptionally well balanced. The weight is spot on for long writing sessions, while maintaining a proper feel in hand that gives the impression of a valuable writing instrument. The cap posts on the backend securely and snaps on to close the pen with a satisfying "click." My only gripe about the design is the dramatic step from the barrel to the section. I realize the step is there so that the cap snaps on flush with the rest of the barrel of the pen. For writing comfort, it is a bit bothersome to those who prefer to hold the pen further up the section as opposed to closer to the nib.

The nib responds well to starting up after being left unused for a day or so. No hard-starts, skipping or hesitation with the ink flow on this pen. I had a hard time putting this pen down in favor of other pens I have inked at the moment. The simplicity of its design and the bold color of the metallic body beckon to be written with.

A Few Choice Words

Summary :
  • Writing Quality : Sturdy and reliable Japanese stainless steel nib works well straight out of the box. May not be the smoothest steel nib, but for $18, a pretty darn good value. The weight and balance of the sleek profile make it easy to write comfortably with the Metro. Now if they can only fix the step from the barrel to the section... (grade A)
  • Aesthetic Quality : Eye-catching and bold, the Metro Retro colors are going to be a tremendous hit with youthful writers. The metallic finish gives the impression of a pen much more valuable. (grade A+)
  • Utility : Option of a cartridge or converter is essential to get a beginner's feet wet into fountain pens. The cap easily posts and securely snaps back on to the writing end. The clip is sturdy. (grade A)
  • Price : $18.75 Retail. For far less than a tank of gas these days, you can score yourself a fountain pen of solid quality for an everyday writer, AND it looks good! (grade A+)

Final Grade : A+
The Pilot Metropolitan is arguably the best beginner fountain pen. By adopting this fresh and youthful style in the Retro Pop, Pilot aims to get these pens in the hands of younger audiences that will begin their interest in fountain pens with a trustworthy brand like Pilot. You really can't go wrong with making the Metro your first pen. Even if you have a collection started, the Metro is a great option to have as a travel writer or knock-around, everyday pen.


How to Manage Your Fountain Pen Collection #PenGeekProblems


Well, that escalated quickly.

First, it all started with a Platinum Preppy, an innocent Pilot Metropolitan and Varsity. You wanted to give fountain pens a shot because typing out e-mails and putting ideas into a Google Doc lacked any sense of organic feeling. Next, a TWSBI, Lamy Safari and Kaweco Sport piques your interest in more quality pens that everyone always talks about. Then, the slippery slope happens. You've plunked down good money, investing in a Lamy 2000, Pilot Vanishing Point and a Sailor 1911. And the "point" to it all is this - you've started a pen collection that needs tending like a flock of sheep.

Benefits of Managing your Fountain Pen Collection

Keeping a proper rotation of your fountain pens ensures that all of your pens are being worn equally, maintained properly and are enjoyed to their fullest. It's truly heartbreaking (to a pen geek), to find that one neglected pen that was left in a desk drawer some months ago, only to find that it was filled with ink that has since dried up and in need of some serious cleaning (or worse).

Step 1 : Create a "Home Base" for your Pens, Inks & Papers

To keep accurate tabs on all your writing essentials, it is necessary to have a central location where you store all of your extra pens, bottles of ink, refills, ink samples, notebooks and pen maintenance supplies. This could be located in your bedroom, study, office or kitchen drawer. Being organized means, at least, having one place where you can find all your writing stuff.

Since bottles of ink and extra refills are not always needed, it's best to have them stored in a cool environment that is not exposed to extreme temperature changes or direct sunlight. A drawer or cabinet is ideal to store inks. For those with a collection that has become an investment and want to proudly display their pens at their "home base," a clear-top pen case is great way to show off your valuable writing instruments.

Step 2 : Create an Everyday Carry (EDC)

"EDC" has become a popular term in the luxury item market because it describes utility items that accompany our person on a daily basis. There's a high degree of usefulness to accomplish work and be productive, all the while doing so in style. Your everyday carry (or pen lineup) should meet the needs of your common work tasks you encounter during the average day. If you're an illustrator, for example, you may have more varieties of pencils, fineliners or colorful Copic markers at your disposal to sketch when inspiration strikes. If you're a blogging entrepreneur, you may have a set of pens that will comfortable to write out posts in long-hand or to jot quick ideas for future content. Regardless of your occupation, it may take some time to determine which writing instruments will work best in your rotation.

Here are some items that are common to most pen lovers' EDC:

  • A multi-pen case - A slotted or looped pen case that can hold a number (3 & up) of writing or drawing utensils, and possibly a pocket-sized notebook.
  • A pocket-sized memo notebook - A small notebook, like a Field Notes, that allows you to quickly capture notes and ideas on-the-go.
  • A knock-around workhorse pen - A Kaweco, Nemosine or Lamy is excellent for this important role of being a reliable, stand-by pen that you can toss into a bag or take with you in a pinch.
  • A spare ink cartridge (or sample vial) - In the event that all of your pens run out of juice, having a little bit of ink on-hand is like the second parachute.
  • An impressive, fancy pen - It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, but this pen should be your "flavor of the month," the current apple of your eye. In short, this pen catches your fancy every time you open your case.
  • A decoy - Typically, this role could be filled by a ballpoint pen. In the event that people look to you to supply them with a much-needed writing implement to use for an indiscernible amount of time, you can give them a cheap ballpen instead of your prized Mont Blanc. Having a ballpoint with you can also help when you have to sign carbon-copy documents.

Step 3 : Inking and Cleaning Rotation

Being that fountain pens require regular maintenance to ensure long-term optimal performance, you should consider how many pens you are inking up at once. Consider how much time you spend writing on a daily basis. Is it only 10 minutes total or are you going through a whole converter of ink in one sitting on any given day?

If your everyday routine only consists of a few minutes of jotting notes, then it would not be advisable to have 10 pens inked at the same time. Chances are, some of these pens will dry out and have flow issues before you would get the opportunity to use them.

Just a few minutes of writing a day will keep most pens fresh and prevent the ink from settling in the feed and becoming "gunked up" in the nib. Make sure to keep your fountain pens capped while not in use for more than a minute to prevent flow issues when you come back to using it next. So, before you go and ink up your entire collection for the week, consider your writing habits. In general, here's some "rule of thumb" guidelines to determine how many pens you should have inked at one time. These figures are approximate, and have been determined by years of personal experience.

Writing Activity Time Spent Writing / Drawing Daily # of Pens that Can be Inked
Signatures, some notes < 5mins / day 2 Pens
Lists, light note-taking 5-10mins / day 3 Pens
Lists, brainstorming, doodling 10-20mins / day 5 Pens
Journal, blog writing 20mins - 1hr / day 7 Pens
Short Stories, Essays, Letters 1hr - 2hrs / day 10 Pens
Novel, Thesis, Dissertation > 2hrs / day 12+ Pens

Keeping an appropriate number of pens in rotation guarantees that all pens will be used evenly and that none will be neglected for very long. As they run out of ink, it is recommended that you clean them out and have them ready for the next inking while using the other pens that have not run out yet. Pen ink capacities differ, so you may have a pen in the rotation for longer than others, especially if it's a piston filler or eyedropper fill pen.

Some collectors have a designated day of the week for cleaning their pens. Sunday seems to be a good day for most people, as they can start the week fresh with their pens fully loaded.

Step 4 : Curating the Collection

All pen collectors and enthusiasts have had that feeling at one time or another - a pen falls out of favor. Maybe it wasn't a favorite to begin with, but it was on-sale or had great reviews, so you had to give it a shot. However, it's been months and the pen hasn't made its way into your EDC pen case. Unless it has some sentimental value, it may be time to offer the pen up for trade or sell it to liquidate the funds for a future pen purchase. Although eBay is the defacto place on the internet to sell collectibles, you may be able to get more value out of offering it for sale or trade on a fountain pen community discussion board like FPN or Reddit /r/PenSwap.

After taking an honest inventory of your pen collection, you may feel that certain pens would be used more if they had a nib that wrote better. Some nibs might have been a little dry or scratchy right out of the box, some may just not give you the desired amount of line variation you crave. Give your nibs a make-over by treating it to a tune and smoothing. This is a skill that you can easily develop on some cheaper steel nib pens until you are comfortable on fixing up your more valuable pens. There is plenty of information, tools and instructional videos online to help guide you in performing simple adjustments that can refresh your entire collection of pens.

If you are uncomfortable or unwilling to work on your own pen nibs, you could opt to reach out to a fountain pen repair specialist or nib meister. There are a number of nib specialists in the USA that are reliable and highly frequented by collectors. Some may even have a wait list that is months long. Nib miesters can add a whole new dimension to your experience with your beloved pens by offering a specialty grind like cursive italic, oblique or architect (to name a few nib styles).

If your collection has grown to over 20 pens, you may need to upgrade your "home base" storage to ensure the pens are adequately protected over the long term. This means storing them in something other than a mug. A pen case with non-marking, acid-free lining that separates each pen from touching each other is ideal. Pen trunks can sometimes go up to 50 - 100 pens, but are quite costly. Many collectors have opted to go for a DIY, homegrown approach that usually involves a trip to IKEA. If your collection has grown to an epic size, some folks resort to cataloging all of their pen purchases in a spreadsheet, for which some members of the pen community have devised a format to use for convenience.

Have a tip for other pen collectors? Share our post with the tag #pengeekproblems and add your pro tips (with photos) to show how you can handle your growing pen obsession. Feel free to comment below to


New 2015 Pilot Metropolitan Retro, VP Limited Edition Twilight, Iroshizuku Mini Bottles

I have my credit card out and ready for Pilot to take more of my fountain pen monies.

This Fall, we're anticipating this year's 2015 Vanishing Point limited edition, along with all-new colors for the Metropolitan (MR) line and super adorbs Iroshizuku ink bottles.

The 2015 limited edition Vanishing Point is called "Twilight" and has a ombre style gradient that blends from a chilly ice blue to a royal purple down at the nib end. 850 pieces are expected to be distributed within the United States. We are expected to have a few when they are released in October. If you are interested in placing a pre-order, please contact our customer service department directly and we will secure one for you.

The Pilot VP Twilight is expected to list for $240 and is available with the factory-installed medium point 18kt gold nib with rhodium plating. Upon request, we can exchange that nib for any available rhodium-plated nib size, including extra-fine, fine, medium, broad or the new 1.0mm stub. Each pen is presented in an exclusive edition gift box seen in the image above.

The Pilot Metropolitan (MR) has quickly become a staple item for every beginner fountain pen user. The low price point, smooth writing experience, elegant style and reliable construction make this pen a great everyday writing pen. The new Retro Pop line extension adds more colorful fun to the line.

Pilot Metropolitan MR Retro Pop - Which is your favorite?

The new Metroplitan Retro Pop colors are due to arrive in the USA by November. The six finishes will be available in ballpoint, rollerball and steel nib fountain pen. They will be available on Goldspot Pens for pre-order a little closer to the date of their arrival.

Although the Pilot mini Iroshizuku ink bottles have already made their way into the US with some customers ordering direct from Japan, Pilot USA intends to start carrying the 3-pack of inky cuteness in the late fall. Initially, there will be a release of 850 bottles and they will retail for $40 for a 3-pack.

Last, but not least, Pilot has started to ship their replacement nibs for the Vanishing Point fountain pen in the 1.0mm stub nib. This will be offered on select Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pens and sold separately so you may swap out your current VP nib.

As always, be the first to know when these new pens are in-stock by signing up on our e-mail newsletter. Besides a weekly newsletter of goings on, we also e-mail new stock alerts and sale opportunities.


Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black Fountain Pen Review

Lamy's Dialog is the top-end of the German-made writing instrument brand that represents the forefront of design and writing technology. The Dialog 3, released back in 2012, is Lamy's first-and-only retractable fountain pen. Originally produced in a matte palladium finish, Lamy expanded the line to include a matte black, and, most recently, the 2015 Piano Black and Piano White finishes.

We're going to review the Dialog 3 model as a whole, but we also wanted to briefly touch on the minor differences between the Palladium & Matte Black releases and the new Piano Black & White Finishes.

Left : Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black, Right: Lamy Dialog 3 Matte Black

Besides the obvious difference in the pen's finish, the presentation box was changed from a slim, wooden box to a bulkier case. As you can see in our video review, the newer box for the Piano Black/White is much more impressive and grand. The slim, wooden box with the original Dialog 3 also has its place, in my opinion, as a nice desk holder for your fountain pen.

Original Lamy Dialog 3 Matte Black with Solid Nib Unit
The newer Dialog 3's also differ with their nib unit. An oblong cut-out is on the side of the unit to view the ink level in your cartridge or converter. The original Dialog 3 nib unit on the Palladium and Matte Black pens is solid all around. The newer Dialog 3's also come with a cleaning ring that is used to help flush out and maintain the inner shell of the fountain pen when the nib unit is removed.

An interesting fact for those who already own the Dialog 3 and would consider picking up the new 2015 version - the nib units are not interchangeable, as they don't line up if you try switching between the older & newer models. It may not bother some people, but I need to have the nib lined up with the clip. Otherwise, bad things may happen to fragile, inanimate objects.

The In-Hand Writing Experience

This pen is fun to pick up and fidget with. It feels like a cross between a fountain pen and a lightsaber. It's super-sleek and streamlined, just like a stealth bomber. If apple made a fountain pen, it would probably look similar to the Dialog 3.

The significant weight in-hand (1.6oz) gives an impression of a solid, well manufactured instrument. Yet, it's not heavy enough to use as a bludgeoning weapon. This is important, because many folks may take issue with a heavy weight pen, not only because it causes hand fatigue over long writing sessions, but it would also be less conspicuous as an actual weapon when trying to pass through the TSA.

Since this is a capless pen, there's no need to decide whether to write cap-in-hand or with the cap posted. The length of the fountain pen is perfectly sized to fit in most average-or-larger hands. The uniform girth allows you to choose where you grip the pen. Those familiar with the Vanishing Point may have the same gripe about the Dialog 3 in that the clip may get in the way of your fingers' writing position. The Dialog 3 clip does retract closer to the body of the pen once the nib is protracted completely, making it slightly less obtrusive than the VP clip.

The twist-action mechanism of the Dialog 3 feels solid. As you twist the pen, you can feel a firm "click" of the ball valve and nib moving into position.

Macro Shot of Lamy Dialog 3 M Nib with Sailor Jentle Blue-Black on Rhodia 80gsm paper.

The 14kt Lamy solid gold nib is an absolute pleasure to write with. The medium nib I picked for the writing samples wrote with a nice, wet flow and glided across the page with every word. Although the Piano Black is a glossy, lacquered finish, I found no trouble in being able to grip and hold on to this fountain pen's wider grip area. Since most fountain pens usually have a narrower section to grip, the grip on the Lamy Dialog 3 takes a little getting used to, especially if you write with mostly thin pens (like a Cross Century).

Overall, I was extremely impressed by how this pen handles around the curves and responds when you accelerate (handwriting speed, that is). It can keep up with fast writers and those who like to go big and bold.

Lamy Dialog 3 Specifications

Length (Closed) : 5.5"
Length (Nib Out) : 6.125"
Width w/o Clip : 0.537"
Width w/ Clip : 0.631"
Weight 1.6oz

A Few Choice Words

Summary :
  • Writing Quality : The Lamy 14kt gold nib is super-smooth and flows nice and wet. It effortlessly glides across paper. The weight and size of the pen, although ample, doesn't get in the way of the writing experience, rather enhances it. (grade A)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The modern design of the Dialog is the epitome of "Apple-esque." The clean lines of the profile and rounded ends exude simplicity and elegance. (grade A+)
  • Utility : Retractable fountain pen means no need for a cap! You cannot accidentally clip your shirt to the pen while open, as the clip retracts when the pen is in use. One negative is that the pen uses Lamy proprietary fountain pen cartridges and converter. (grade A+)
  • Price : $308 (sale price) is quite a hefty price tag, considering that a 14kt gold nib Lamy Studio fountain pen can sell for half the cost. Compared to other retractable nib fountain pens, a Pilot Vanishing Point is also half the price. The Pilot Fermo, which is a twist-action, retractable fountain pen ($260 sale price / $325 retail) would be more comparable. (grade B)

Final Grade : A
Looking at Lamy's fountain pen collections as a whole, it is easy to see why the Dialog 3 stands alone at the top. Although it contains the same components as the more economical Lamy Studio model, the Dialog's superior design and retractable nib mechanism puts this pen at the top of the list for Lamy collectors. Plus, it looks like a lightsaber, and that's major geek points for a Star Wars fan like me!