While many pen companies have attempted to replicate vintage-style flexible nibs, from the inexpensive steel-nib pens sold by Noodler's to the more expensive offerings from the new Wahl-Eversharp, no one has been able to get it exactly right. Until (maybe) now. Aurora's new 70th Anniversary 88 sports a specially developed 14k flexible nib which comes as close to reproducing true "vintage-style flex" as I've experienced in a modern pen. While flex nibs aren't exactly my thing, I can still recognize a good one when I see one.
"Flexit" Events Sponsored by Kenro
Aurora's US distributor Kenro Industries has been actively promoting the new 70th Anniversary pen by hosting "Flexit" events in cities around the country, including at the recent Baltimore Washington International Pen Show that I attended. (Just search the Instagram hashtag #flexitbwi.) Kenro had several of the new flex pens on display at their table for attendees to test, and they graciously allowed me to take one of them home to review (along with a bottle of their long-awaited Aurora blue-black ink). So what's the verdict?
I like this pen and this nib. And this is coming from someone who can't write with a flex nib to save his life. No, I'm serious, just watch the video of my comically bad writing sample. But, if you regularly write in cursive, or enjoy calligraphy, you'll want to check out Aurora's latest creation. The 14k nib is soft in the sense that it gives you easier and greater line variation than the various steel nibbed "flex" pens out there - not to mention a smoother writing experience - but it's not so soft that you feel like you're going to spring the nib. It's somewhat similar to the Omas "Extra-Flessible" nibs released a few years ago, but those were way too wet, felt extremely delicate to me when I tested them out, and I heard reports of them springing easily and not holding up well to everyday use. The Aurora nib feels sturdier, and it actually works fairly well as a regular writer, laying down a fine/medium-fine line when writing with light pressure and minimal flexing of the tines. It's a bit wet to use on office paper, but the Rhodia dot-grid paper handled it quite nicely.
I'm not familiar enough with vintage flex pens to provide any intelligent commentary on how it compares to very soft "wet noodle" flex pens like those manufactured by Waterman in the 1920s and the 1930s. If that's your expectation with the Aurora Flex nib, you may be disappointed, but I will note that Dan Smith of The Nibsmith has indicated that he'll be able to grind the nib to maximize line variation, and I'd recommend that you contact him for additional information.
A Note on the Aurora 88
The "88" is Aurora's longtime flagship pen, and one of those pieces that has sat on my list for years but for whatever reason never made it into my pen case. Even though I probably won't go in on the flex nib, there are some strikingly gorgeous models of the 88 out there, whether it be the Satin Black with Rose Gold Trim, last year's "Sole" limited edition, to this year's upcoming "Nebulosa" limited edition. I enjoy the size of the 88, it has a high-capacity piston filling system, and it's extremely comfortable to write with. You'll probably be seeing one on the blog soon!
Takeaways / Where to Buy
I probably won't be picking up a 70th Anniversary Aurora 88 with the new flex nib, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't! Supply is extremely limited, with only 188 pieces distributed worldwide in each color. The pen will cost $650, and will be available in limited quantities from Aurora dealers such as Anderson Pens, Vanness Pens, Pen Chalet, and the Nibsmith. If this is a pen that interests you, I'd act quick as soon as the color you want becomes available.
Disclaimer: As I mentioned, Kenro Industries loaned me this pen for review purposes. Other than a bottle of Aurora Blue-Black ink, I was not compensated for this review. This post does contain affiliate links.