I've been spending some quality time with a couple of Aurora fountain pens lately, and I've been really happy with them for the most part. A few weeks ago, I was focused on the Nikargenta 88, but I've recently been spending a lot more attention with the Optima Auroloide. The Optima has roots in the 1930s, which is where the external aesthetic shines so well. Compared to the slim Nikargenta, it's thicker and more stout, but still offers a fantastic writing experience. No matter where the inspiration for this design came from, the combination of the shape, feel, and beautiful Auroloide material make this a real winner.
Now, like I just mentioned, Aurora calls this material "Auroloide," which is their own name for the antique celluloid material they use. You've likely seen similar materials used in many, many other pens and manufacturers, and it never fails to stun when seen in person. Sure, photos look nice, but they don't fully capture the depth and charm that the material offers. The model I have is the blue Auroloide, and it has a combination of medium to dark blue hues that glisten under light. I'm extremely partial to blue, so I was in love from first sight, but the other colors look equally stunning based on the photos online.
The shape of the pen is classic. The top and bottom are both flat, while the body widens to the middle section and tapers off to form a comfortable grip. The cap is large and ornate, featuring gold trim and prominent Aurora branding. The clip is strong, but features are very smooth, rounded tip that makes it easy to mount and dismount every kind of material.
Apart from the branding on the cap band, there's also a stamped brand on the body of the pen. I'm sure many manufacturers do this, but the first example that comes to mind is Edison Pen Company. They use the same stamp method that evokes an antique feeling and nods to the fountain pen champions of the 20th century.
Now, the nib on the Nikargenta was pretty, but it's a slim pen overall. Of course it has a petite nib to match the overall design. But, that's where the Optima has room to shine. With a stout body, this pen flaunts a bodacious 14k nib that never fails to catch my eye. It's tastefully adorned and fits the rest of the pen perfectly.
Apart from that, this pen is a piston filler, and has a spacious ink window between the body and section. It's never difficult to see how much ink is sloshing around inside the reservoir. And, surprisingly, this pen holds a lot of ink. I did not measure the exact amount of ink used, but it's very similar to a TWSBI 580. Very ample.
The nib looks outstanding, but it also writes like a champ. The point on mine is a medium, and it performs very closely to the Nikargenta. It's not quite as smooth, but it falls well within satisfactory tolerances for a stock nib. It's an absolute pleasure to write with — never any skipping or hard starts. Ink flow is exceptional without being too wet. And, given the size of the nib, it showcases inks very well.
The grip section is smooth, polished plastic that ends with a small lip at the end to provide additional stability for your fingers. It's done in a way that is comfortable. Some pens that utilize this grip design can feel uncomfortable after a few minutes of writing because the lip edge is too dramatic or sharp. The Optima grip is smooth enough to maintain comfort for longer sessions. And, the overall diameter of the pen adds to that comfort as well.
I'm impressed again by the quality and craftsmanship found in the Aurora fountain pen line. The Optima is a pen designed with a nod to the pens of yesteryear, and it pulls this off with exceptional style and poise. Not only that, but it's a fantastic writer. The Optima is not a cheap pen, but the price is fair and justifiable in my opinion. It's a luxury writing instrument, and it feels like one when you use it. MSRP is between $500 and $550 for the fountain pen, depending on the color and trim. Anderson Pens sell the entire line of Aurora (fountain pens, rollerballs, ballpoints, and pencil), and the version pictured here runs for just under $495. In most of the fountain pen versions, you have a choice of EF, F, M, and B nibs.
(Kenro Industries provided this product on loan to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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