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.