I’ll come straight out and say it: the Lamy Aion is a great pen and I like it much, much more than I thought I would.
In fact, when it was first announced I didn’t pay it much attention at all. Oh great, a mid-range Lamy, metal, same nib (ish) as the Safari. Yawn.
Then the reviews started trickling in, and they were generally pretty positive. My interest was piqued and I ordered one. Hey, it was only about £45 — what did I have to lose?
It arrived. No box to speak of. No converter. Not a great first impression for someone most recently used to unboxing Montblancs, Grafs and Pelikans. But once the pen was in my hand it all made sense. And that love at first sight has only blossomed in the weeks since.
Here’s what I love about the Aion.
This is an unabashedly big pen. It’s not incredibly heavy, but it has substance and presence, and that’s without tons of lumps or rings or shiny things to catch the eye. It’s just a big tube. In the hand you’ll notice that it’s not only long, but has a really wide section, which is unusual.
The comfort and practicality
Let me count the ways. Snap cap — nice and quick to take off. No threads to worry about hurting your fingers, either. Nice grippy satin texture on the section. Sprung clip, like on premium Lamys like the 2000. Robust bead-blasted finish on the barrel and cap that doesn’t show scratches. Unique nib design that is nonetheless interchangeable with all other “normal” Lamy nibs. This is a pen that’s easy to own.
When I first read about Jasper Morrison’s “supernormal” design ethos I rolled my eyes — more designer guff. But then I recognised that I admired it already, in things like the unbranded wares from Muji, or Lot2046.
Super Normal began with an understanding or rather a gradual noticing that certain objects, usually the more discrete type, and mostly, though not inevitably, anonymously designed, outperform their counterparts with ease when it comes to long-term everyday use.
I can absolutely get behind anonymous design that has its sights set on long-term, everyday use.
Many of the features I have already mentioned above — the use of texture instead of colour, the lack of branding and adornment, the lack of a fancy box — speak to supernormal’s “anonymity” as much as comfort.
But other features of the Aion speak to the “long-term everyday use” aspect, even when they’re invisible, placed where the average user would never notice them. For example, the solid square-cut threads that hold the barrel to the section, or the subtle grip-ridges under the clip to hold your clothing steady. This is a thoughtful pen, and I like that a lot.
This is also a really well-made pen. All of the surface finishes are perfect, the nib QC is good (more on that later), there’s no unwanted wiggling or rattling. The only thing that’s not quite perfect is that the seam between barrel and section is not quite flush all the way around.
At first I did not like the “swoopy” new design compared to Lamy’s normal nibs, but in situ on the pen — despite being a tiny nib on a huge pen — it looks right at home.
Most importantly, it writes really, really well. I ordered an EF and it’s just perfect. It’s a true EF, for a start, and it’s not at all scratchy or dry. Just a perfect line, smooth and easy. Going back to the idea of “supernormal”, it gets out of the way completely.
Muji already makes a fountain pen (for about a tenth of the price of this one). But the Aion is better. For someone like me, who has fantasies about wearing only monochrome unbranded clothing and living out of a single bag in a Japanese cyberpunk capsule hotel, this pen is a perfect expression of the ethos.
It feels miles better in the hand than a Safari or Al-Star. Not only due to the size and materials, but details like the sprung clip, seamless design and subtle mix of different textures elevate it and make for a much more satisfying experience. Considering how little there is to the Aion’s design, it doesn’t feel lacking. And of course, due to the size, weight and materials, the overwhelming sensation is that the Aion is substantial, and tough. Much like a Kaweco Al Sport, I wouldn’t worry about putting the Aion in a pocket or bag — in fact, marks on the finish would enhance the feeling that this is an everyday tool, not a piece of art.
You could of course buy a TWSBI Eco for about £20 less than the Aion, which comes in a much better box, with a wrench and silicon oil, and gives you a demonstrator piston filler, o-rings aplenty, and half a dozen fonts on the cap band. It’s a great pen. But the Aion for some reason feels like much more than the sum of its few parts. It’s got dignity.
In fact, it sparks much the same feelings as the Lamy 2000 — it has such its own identity, a quiet presence in the overlap between design and practicality.
I bought my Aion in the (admittedly pretentiously named) Olivesilver colour, which is just raw aluminium. Your other choice is black, which looks great too.
I can recommend you try the Aion. I think you’ll like it more than you’d expect from looking at pictures. I bought mine, with my own money, from Write Here.