Lamy is another one of those brands that is guaranteed to come up in any conversation about starter fountain pens. The Safari and AL-Star are great pens that offer a very strong writing experience for a fairly low cost of entry. Lamy also tends to come up in discussions about the best all-time fountain pens in the Lamy 2000. But there are some real gems between those extremes that don’t tend to get very much recognition. So let’s take a look at the Studio and Aion, the middle siblings in Lamy’s family tree.
The Studio is a moderate step-up from the Safari and Al-Star. The barrel, cap, and grip are all solid metal, giving the pen a very substantial weight. The body of the pen is a nice contoured shape, which is accentuated by the flush-seated cap. The pen uses the same steel nibs as the Safari and AL-Star, which write smooth and are incredibly easy to remove and deep clean. The cap has a nice secure ‘click’ when capping or posting thanks to the small matching accent ridges on either end. Weighing in at 31 grams (about two Safaris) the Studio is far more balanced and comfortable when posted.
I was hesitant about the Studio’s design at first. The flat vertical clip and smooth polished grip are fairly drastic changes from the established style and feel of the Safari or Al-Star, and certainly take some getting used to. The nib itself is identical to the nibs used on the less-expensive models, so the effect on the page is the same; Moderate ink flow and smooth fine lines. I have experienced some inconsistencies with Lamy’s extra-fine steel nibs, but more on that later. Overall the Studio is a very well balanced and comfortable writer.
Stylistic design choices aside, I only have one real issue with the Studio; the polished grip. The round grip as a whole is, for all intents and purposes, fine. It is neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. It’s just the grip. My issue with it is the polished finish that is just an absolute magnet for finger prints and smudges. Not a deal-breaker, but not ideal.
There’s really no way getting around it, the Aion takes a lot of getting used to. The Aion is a solid aluminum pen with finely-textured barrel, spring-hinged clip, and a new contoured triangular nib. The grip section is also rounded, and has a matte satin finish that provides a pretty comfortable grip surface. The steel nib appears to use the exact same mounting structure as the Safari, Al-Star, and Studio. As I mentioned just one short paragraph ago, I’ve had some inconsistencies with Lamy’s extra-fine nibs. Two of the traditional flat-sided Lamy nibs I’ve acquired previously in the EF size are mostly great writers. However, particularly in comparison to this new nib, those older units can be a little scratchy on the cross stroke. The Aion’s nib, on the other hand, is probably the smoothest writing, cleanest flowing extra fine steel nib I’ve ever used. Full stop.
While the pen does write shockingly well, there some concerns worth noting. First, the grip is thick. As is the barrel, and the cap. Fourteen millimeters at it’s widest doesn’t sound like much, but it is a stretch for most standard elastic pen loops (pun intended). This leads us into issue two; the barrel and cap have a very fine texture. I hesitate to call this an issue really. The texture gives the pen a very satisfying tactile feel, but it can also easily scuff or scratch some pen sleeves or leather accessories. It’s minor, but worth noting here.
I think a lot of people only hear about Lamy in the context of the entry-level Safari or the high-end 2000, and with good reason. Those pens are fantastic examples of value and craftsmanship in the fountain pen world. This is what makes the Studio and Aion a little difficult to reccomend. At around $80 each, these aren’t exactly budget-friendly pens. For the same price, you can get a pen with an identical nib AND a nice ink and notebook. Or you can save up a bit more and eventually get one of the most widely-loved pens on the market today. But, if you’re willing to pay a little more for the unique look and style of these Lamys, you’re getting a quality pen.
Check out these next level Lamy pens at your pen-vendor of choice!
Disclaimer: The pens in this review were purchased by the author at retail price.