The biggest surprise from my 2016 D.C. Pen Show Haul was one of the lesser-known pens that I picked up: the Diplomat Aero. Diplomat is not as well-known in the States as other major German brands like Pelikan, Montblanc, Lamy, and Faber-Castell but they are building a small and loyal following, moreso than other smaller German manufacturers such as Otto Hutt and Cleo-Skribent. Let's just say there's a reason that they've been around since 1922. I've had the opportunity to write with multiple pens in Diplomat's lineup, and have been uniformly impressed, especially with the quality of the nibs. Along with the Otto Hutt Design 06, the Diplomat Aero has recently been one of my daily workhorses.
Unique Design and Quality Build
The Aero sports one of the most unique fountain pen designs out there right now. (Well, there might be designs that are more "unique," but I'm referring to designs that are both unique and don't destroy the functionality of the pen.) It's inspired by the "Zeppelin" airships of the 1920s-1930s. The Company's "propeller" logo is painted on the top of the cap - more on that below. Overall, I enjoy the design. At first glance, some might consider this pen a little weird looking and even ostentatious, but in real life the design ends up being fairly understated, especially in the matte-black/gunmetal color scheme.
The Aero's aluminum construction gives it some heft, but this is a well-designed and well-balanced pen. Personally, I think this pen has better balance posted rather than unposted, but that's my preference with most pens as long as they aren't too long. The slip cap fits tightly, with no wiggle or play. It also posts firmly on the tapered end. The anodized section is grippy, slightly tapered, and makes the Aero a comfortable pen to use for long periods of time.
The clip has what I consider to be the optimal level of tension. It's not so loose that it feels flimsy, but it's not so tight that it won't easily clip to a shirt pocket. The matte black anodization on the clip makes it slide even easier.
The one issue I have with this pen has to do with the finish. Not necessarily the anodized coating that's applied to the metal body, clip, and section - which has held up very well - but with the painted Diplomat logo on the top of the cap. Mine started to flake off almost immediately, and I finally got so fed up with it that I took my fingernail to it and was able to completely remove it in less than 10 seconds. Honestly, this isn't a big deal for me because I like the plain black cap better than adorned version, but at this price point Diplomat needs to either fix this issue by actually etching the logo into the anodized coating or remove it from the top of the cap entirely. Flaking paint makes an otherwise excellent pen look cheap.
An Extremely Smooth JoWo Nib
As fun as the design is, the nib is what makes this pen a joy to use. My Aero sports a very smooth and very wet JoWo medium. This nib might be slightly wider than optimal for my style of writing, but for a stainless steel nib, it's been tuned perfectly. I met the Diplomat distributor at the D.C. Pen show, who told me that Diplomat has employees in the JoWo factory who personally test and tune all Diplomat nibs before they leave. I tend to believe this, because of the two Diplomat pens I own - the Aero and the lower-priced Diplomat Esteem - both write much better than stock JoWo nibs that I've purchased from other sources. These nibs clearly have been tuned.
Diplomat uses a standard cartridge/converter filling system. Nothing too exciting here.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
I like this pen and don't regret adding it to my rotation. While the flaking paint issue is annoying, the nib is outstanding and I love the design and the matte black color scheme. (If it's all-black or red, I'll typically buy it.)
Diplomat is popping up in multiple online retailers as the brand gains popularity. MSRP on the Diplomat Aero is $195, with some dealers selling for around $160, which is what I paid purchasing from the distributor directly at the D.C. Pen Show. While I really enjoy the pen, $160 is high, and $195 prohibitively expensive, especially compared to a similarly priced pen like the Otto Hutt 06 that didn't have the annoying flaking paint issue.
Fortunately, you can usually find the Aero on Amazon at a more reasonable price (though the actual price changes regularly). Massdrop deals on this pen also pop up from time to time. In addition to the matte black model featured in this review, the Aero comes in a silver version and a very attractive brown. (Honestly, I eventually may pick up a brown version for myself. The color looks that good.)
The Aero's newfound popularity has resulted in a lot of reviews out there, mostly positive. Check out Brad's review over at the Pen Addict, Matt's review at The Pen Habit, Mike's at Inkdependence, and Ian's review over at Pens! Paper! Pencils!.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own personal collection.