Omas isn't a newcomer in the pen industry, however they seem to be getting more and more attention lately. Knowing myself, it wouldn't take more than reading a couple positive reviews about their pens before I'd give in to the urge of getting one. Having La Couronne Du Comte nearby doesn't help either, so it was bound to happen sooner or later...
And here we are... A few months, and a hole in my wallet later, I'm now owner of an Omas Paragon in the new London Smoke color. Right off the bat, I'll have to say once you own one, it's not that hard to see why people seem to like these pens so much right now.
The experience of getting an Omas is nothing less than spectacular! It starts as soon as you open the cardboard outer box and reveal a beautiful -and huge- box. This meticulously crafted (wooden) grey and black box, lined with soft grey fabric on the inside, houses the pen in a matching grey pen sleeve. Even the box has a great amount of detail, it's far the nicest box I've ever had a pen come in. A bottle of Omas black ink is also included. As far as packaging and presentation goes, Omas does a fantastic job! I always found it weird when people said Pelikan's presentation is underwhelming for a pen in that price category, but now that I've seen this, I kinda get what they meant...
Presentation aside, let's get onto the star of the show, the Omas Arte Italiana Paragon London Smoke! The Arte Italiana collection is a cornerstone in the history of the brand Omas. The general design has remained the same for many years, in fact, this was one of the first designs Omas ever made. Nowadays, there's two versions: the smaller Milord, and the oversized Paragon. Really smaller is quite a bad way to describe the Milord, as it's still larger than a Pelikan M8XX. Designwise, the two are almost identical, apart from the lack of metal grip section on the Milord. The Arte Italiana design is on the art-déco style. The pen has twelve facets, on itself a rather unusual design element, that accentuate the design when the light catches it. The London Smoke only comes with rhodium plated trims, bad news for anyone that likes gold trims, but a solid choice if you ask me. The rhodium-plated trims accentuate the soft grey material in a subdued and classy way. It's a great looking pen, but it doesn't brag about it, unlike some of the other colors available in the Arte Italiana line-up...
The details on this pen are worthy of the pricetag. Every aspect works together, even though they don't seem to match in the first place. The arched clip has a rolling wheel at the end, sort of a trademark in the Italian pen industry, and useful for those who like clipping their pens onto something. The center band has a greek key design all around, the brand and model name are engraved in a subtle font. On the top of the cap we find an inlaid ring, a subtle reference to the brand that looks really neat if you ask me. In case you haven't noticed yet: I'm a fan of the design. It's detailed, but simple at the same time. It looks clean and elegant, which I think is partially due to the grey material it's made out of.
The material, a pearlescent grey cotton resin, is nothing less than spectacular. I didn't think it would look this good, based on the pictures I found online. I guess the pictures I made won't really do it any justice either, but you'll have to take my word for it when I say that it's quite neat. The grey material has pearlescent streaks all over it that provide depth to an otherwise completely opaque pen, again, simple yet elegant, and quite striking.
The Paragon is the largest of the two models within the Arte Italiana range. It's a true oversized pen, seriously, it's no joke! At about 149mm long, it stands tall above every other pen I own. Even my Visconti Homo Sapiens OS and Pelikan M1000 look tiny compared to the Paragon. Apart from the length, it's also quite a chunky pen. At about 14mm at the widest part of the barrel, it's also quite a bit wider than I'm used to. However, despite me rambling about how massive it is, I can't say it's actually anywhere near unwieldy. In fact, it's quite a comfortable pen to use. It's more than long enough to be used unposted, and the body of the pen has a solid weight (approx. 35 grams) on itself. Post the cap, and it becomes massive, both in weight and size. I wouldn't recommend using it posted, neither would I recommend this pen if you hate oversized pens, so far for being obvious.
When it comes to comfort, smooth metal grip sections usually aren't considered the way to go. It's a fairly wide section (approx. 11mm), and it's long enough to hold it comfortably. The threads are extremely shallow, and almost impossible to notice. There is a small step from section to barrel, but it's so far towards the back that I never actually had it interfere with my grip. The section tapers slightly towards the front, there's a small edge to prevent your fingers from slipping off (nice detail, the ridge has the same twelve-faceted shape as the rest of the pen). I never had the grip section become slippery during use, not even during longer writing sessions.
While the Milord is a cartridge/ converter filling system, the Paragon makes use of a piston mechanism. similar to the larger Pelikan Souveräns, it uses a brass piston mechanism (which undirectly serves as acounterbalance to the metal grip section). The one thing that bothers me ever so slightly about this pen, is the operating of the piston. There have been a couple of reports about Omas pens having a 'sticky' piston, however those seemed to be resolved lately. Nevertheless I found the experience of filling the pen below par, especially considering the rest of the pen is so great. Sticky is a good description of how operating the piston feels. The first fill was troublesome, it did get better after a few passes, but still not quite the way I would have wanted it to be. Other than that, build quality couoldn't be better. I've had some issues with Italian pens in the past, but this one doesn't add to that list, not at all.
On the writing end, we can find an 18k monotone rhodium-plated nib. It's about a #6 size nib, which seems small for a pen this size. However when you look at the complete picture, the size of the nib does fit in quite nicely, a larger nib would have seemed out of proportion. The monotone nib looks quite bland at first, but on closer inspection you can find meticulously crafted engraving on the nib face. The arrow-like engraving is subtle, but much more intricate than any other design I've ever laid my eyes on. The nib design fits in with the overall art-déco style of the pen.
The broad nib I chose is quite a pleasant writer, but it has a 'but'. How I see it, there are two types of fountain pen nibs: The 'characterless' ones, and the 'expressive' ones. Characterless nibs are rigid nibs, not the smoothest, but they are the most reliable. When I think of characterless nibs, I think of Montblanc, S.T. Dupont, japanese brands like Sailor or Pilot. These kind of nibs always do what you want them to do, write when you want them to write. On the opposite side, there's expressive nibs, soft nibs, nibs that allow for expressive writing, the ones that provide some line variation and cushioning when writing. Expressive nibs are the kind of nibs you want to use because they are fun and unpredictive, not because they always do what you expect them to do.
The Paragon has an expressive nib, it's pleasant to use, smooth, has a bit of spring (not to the extent where it actually provides line variation, but it dus feel noticeably soft), and the grind on it is slightly stub-like. Flow is good, slightly on the wet side, and mostly responsive. Ink flow keeps up about 90-95 percent of the time, as should be the case with a custom ebonite feed like this. The times where the flow doesn't keep up, are the times it struggles with oils on the paper. As it's a perfectly polished nib, imperfections like oil on the paper can cause flow to be interrupted (there's a reason why the most reliable nibs aren't the smoothest...). Apart from that, it also has quite a noticeable sweet spot, but that's just a matter of getting used to. I found mine to write best at a fairly upright angle, which is actually ideal for me, as I hold my pen almost vertical when writing in print (Since I write this blog, I write mostly in print).
Admitted, it's not a perfect nib, but I enjoy writing with it, and I would choose it over a reliable writer anyday. I guess if you're not happy with the occasional stutter, you could get the nib adjusted by a nibmeister, but I personally won't do that with mine.
The Omas Arte Italiana Paragon is a majestic pen. Not only because of its dimensions, but because of the complete package. From packaging to looks, to writing performance. Everything about this pen is special and done with great attention to detail. It's not a pen for everyone, partially due to its sheer size, partially because its Italian temper can get the upper hand every now and then. I like it though, I like it especially because of those two things. Omas created a beautiful pen, masterfully designed and executed, and a joy to use once you learn how it performs best. It's difficult to say wether or not the 600 EUR/ 640 USD (retail price) pricetag is justified. If you're interested in the design of fountain pens, and you want a special writing experience, then this is definitely a valid choice. If you're just looking for a high-end consistent writer, I'd recommend looking somewhere else.
Note: La Couronne Du Comte Supports this blog. I received a discount on this purchase, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared here are completely my own! This review does not contain any affilate links.