Diplomat is one of those pen companies that traditionally has flown under the radar. They make high quality pens that are true workhorses, yet for whatever reason never garner the same amount of attention as the other major German brands. With a new distributor in place for the U.S. (Yafa, who also distributes Monteverde, Pineider, and Stipula, among other brands), I would expect that to change. Diplomat pens certainly had a wider presence at this year’s D.C. Pen Show, and more retailers are starting to carry their full lineup.
So What’s New with Diplomat Pens?
I’ve previously reviewed a couple of Diplomat’s offerings, including the iconic, Zeppelin-inspired Aero. During a bout of downsizing a year ago, I sold off my two Aeros, but missed having the pen so I picked up a new one in matte black. I immediately noticed a few differences.
While Diplomat has not made any major design changes to the Aero, the finish seems less “matte” than in previous versions. This change may have been intended to increase durability - while the previous version looked great, the coating had a tendency to chip and flake, and as reflected in my prior review, the logo on the top of the cap actually scratched off. The snap cap also feels tighter, which is a welcome adjustment and makes the pen feel higher-quality. Previously, I had heard reports of Aero caps loosening over time and developing a tendency to spin and rattle, much like I experienced with the Lamy Aion.
Recently, I’ve also had the opportunity to test the Excellence A2, Diplomat’s follow-up to the Excellence A. While the Aero receives most of the attention due to its distinctive design, the “Excellence” series is Diplomat’s conservative “flagship” pen - plainly directed at a business crowd - and it may remind you of a rounded version of Waterman’s “Exception” series (only much less expensive). According to the Diplomat website, the updated “A2” features a new and improved spring-loaded clip, as well as a “soft sliding click” cap that Diplomat claims is more durable. (From the product descriptions on the Diplomat website, it appears they made the same adjustments to the cap closure on both the Excellence line and the Aero.) I wrote with the Excellence A2 at work fairly extensively for two weeks, and enjoyed the pen. The section offers plenty of grip space, and the pen itself seems indestructible.
The one potential drawback to the Excellence A2 is the weight, especially if you post. The pen is very well-balanced either way, but it’s still substantial. This didn’t end up as an issue for me - my hands are just large enough to handle a heavier pen - but if weight tends to bother you I’d test this one in person before committing to a purchase.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Both the Excellence A2 and the Aero are nice pens that deserve your consideration if you’re in the market for a reliable workhorse that’s compatible with all of the JoWo nib units you may own. As I’ve mentioned before, as far as JoWo nibs go, Diplomat’s are some of the best out there. I’ve heard the company works closely with JoWo to ensure the nibs used on Diplomat pens are properly tuned, and I’ve not experienced any issues with them being misaligned or scratchy.
I acquired both of the Diplomat pens featured in this post from site sponsor Pen Chalet. Pricing on both the Excellence A2 and the Aero ends up at a street price of around $150, sometimes a bit less if there’s an applicable coupon code. This places Diplomat around the same price point as brands such as the new Esterbrook, production-line Edison pens, and Franklin-Christoph (and maybe even a bit lower). Given the quality, the price is reasonable, and I have no difficulty recommending Diplomat as a brand to someone who likes their style.
In addition to the traditional matte brown, black, silver, and orange, Diplomat recently released the Aero in two new colors: blue and “factory” (raw aluminum). Also, our sponsor Anderson Pens currently stocks a special edition version of the Aero in a gorgeous bright red. Be sure not to miss the latter if you’re considering an Aero. That one’s a stunner.
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