Lamy Scala: a forgotten gem?

Of all Lamy’s fountain pens, the Scala seems to get the least love and attention from the community.

It’s been knocking around since 2012, earned an honourable mention in the 2013 red dot design awards, and despite its minimal design Lamy has been treating the Scala to an increasingly daring range of special editions, including this year’s bright orange, equipped with a gold nib to boot.

2019’s Dark Violet version looked gorgeous, too, but it sat discounted for ages (you can still find them in stock).

Regardless, I don’t know anyone who has a Scala of any colour in their collection. Why is it overlooked? Let’s think it through.

I see the Lamy Scala as the more sensible bigger brother of the Studio (of which I have owned several). They definitely have the same genes: smooth, long metal section, solidly clicky cap, matte metal body and cap, standard Lamy steel nib, cartridge filler with Lamy’s proprietary format.

Maybe the Scala is too close to the Studio in style?

But look a second longer and the similarities fade away. While the Studio has its quirky propeller cap and gently curving section, and flush-close cap, the Scala is all straight lines. It has a big square clip, and the cap end has a shiny chrome band.

It’s all a bit more brutal. In a sense, it’s a surprise the two designs share as much as they do. While both pens have the same mother in Lamy, they have different designers: Hannes Wettstein in the case of the Studio, sieger design in the case of the Scala. Sieger has also designed bathroom fittings. You can see the similarities.

Maybe it’s that this square design looks uncomfortable?

In the flesh, perhaps the biggest comfort issue is from the right angle where the hinged clip protrudes dramatically from the cap, flush with the end of the pen. It definitely has potential to poke.

When writing, you can certainly feel the section step if you hold the pen far enough back, but it’s not uncomfortable by any means, and the section is long enough that only the strangest grips will put flesh in harm’s way.

The chrome section of course is polarising, but that’s the case for lots of pens.

These few features aside, the Scala is comfortable.

Indeed, as a functional object overall, just like most of Lamy’s portfolio, there are no surprises here: this is a good, solid workhorse pen, a decent size and well built.

The nib works well (it’s Lamy’s usual steel one): mine came with an F nib that wrote a great true F line right out of the box.

It doesn’t dry out when you leave it for a few days.

Uncapped, the Scala is well balanced. Posting the lined cap is by way of a secure friction fit, without the click of the Studio’s design, but it makes the pen very long.

All the surface finishes are well executed, although the LAMY engraved on the side of the clip is not as clean as I was expecting.

If it’s not function, then maybe it’s the price that’s holding the Scala back?

Certainly the orange special edition stretches expectations at £295, but that does include a bottle of ink, gold nib and gift box. The brushed stainless steel version I am reviewing here is £76 at Cult Pens right now. That’s £20 higher than the Studio, an increase I can’t really explain, and inexcusably the price doesn’t include a converter. There’s certainly a lot of competition at this level of the market, from TWSBI or Faber-Castell, for example. Would you choose a Scala over a 580 or an e-motion? But if you like Lamy’s severe design approach, there’s no substitute (apart from the Aion or Studio, of course!).

The Scala is, like most Lamys, a good pen that screams ‘Lamy’. It’s solid, comfortable and an efficient if uncharismatic writer. I like it.

I thought it would feel very like the Studio; actually it has a different personality.

I thought it might be uncomfortable; top corner aside, it’s not.

I thought it might be a bit overpriced versus the Studio — well, that does seem to be the case.

So maybe there’s not much justification to choose the Scala unless you prefer the angular design and bigger size. But if you fall in love with one of the special editions… well, that’s another matter. Does that orange call your name?

Cult Pens sent me this pen to review. You can check out all the Lamy Scala range here.

11 thoughts on “Lamy Scala: a forgotten gem?

  1. I’ve a couple, both with gold nibs and I love them. The near straight section means it never becomes slippery to hold and thus you can use it for long sessions, something I can’t with a studio. The price of the present limited edition orange one is silly. You can buy a regular one and add a gold nib (as I did with the Dark Violet) for ~£170-180, and even the limited edition Piano Black, which is still available as it should be £210 still does not account for the £85 got a bottle of ink and notebook.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Sieger has also designed bathroom fittings. You can see the similarities.”

    Anthony, any more hand grenades like this and vendors will stop offering you pens to review 🙂
    Armitage Shanks are missing a trick, I feel.

    Like

  3. I recently wrote a post in praise of the Scala on Larry’s Fountain Pen Review. I have the Glacier Special Edition with a gold EF nib, and it’s a wonderful pen. I much prefer it to the Studio.

    Like

  4. I have three of these – matt black, dark violet, and the glacier blue with gold nib. I would love the orange model but the price is steep. I prefer the Scala to the studio, both because it is better made and I prefer the more ‘industrial’ design. Definitely an overlooked gem.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 2, 2022 | Fountain Pen Quest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s