Lamy's recently released "Aion" fountain pen is the first pen I've reviewed in a long time that I consider a major disappointment for me. Not because it's necessarily a "bad pen" - it's more that it doesn't live up to the premium price tag and the extreme amount of hype surrounding it.
Let's start with the hype. When Lamy first announced this pen and the initial pictures hit the pen blogs, people disliked the design and were very skeptical that this large, chunky metal pen could (1) be light enough to comfortably use as the sort of daily workhorse for which Lamy is known; and (2) be competitive at the $90 price point. Once the pen arrived in stores, however, some changed their tune. The Aion has received glowing reviews, and I read that someone referred to this pen as a "Lamy 2000 killer." My reaction: "Are you kidding me?"
The Aion's design, in my opinion, falls more in the "big and clumsy" bucket alongside the Lamy Dialog 3. Unlike the Dialog 3, however, the Aion isn't heavy. It's more that the pen is just unwieldy, posted or unposted. If it were just a hair shorter and a touch slimmer, it might be perfect, but I can't get this pen to feel comfortable in my hand.
On a pen, size and weight are purely matters of personal preference. People also have their own design preferences. The major annoyance I have with this pen, however, relates to build quality: the cap spins freely and rattles when the pen is closed. To me, this is a design flaw that makes the Aion feel like a much cheaper, lower-quality pen. The Studio shows that Lamy knows how to make a metal pen with tight tolerances, where the cap snaps closed securely, so I'm not quite sure what's going on here. But I do know that if I'm going to be asked to pay $70-plus for a pen, any sort of rattling or loose fit is unacceptable, especially coming from an established company like Lamy with a long history in manufacturing that presumably knows how to do it right. Three different Aions that I've handled have had the cap-rattle issue. If this is a design choice by Lamy, I consider it a bad one that prevents me from enjoying the Aion as a premium pen.
I agree that the slightly tweaked stainless steel nib looks great and writes well. The clip on the Aion also looks very nice (strange upside-down typography notwithstanding). Overall, however, the fit and finish on this pen are underwhelming, and leaves me with the impression that Lamy went looking for a pen that would be extremely inexpensive to manufacture, but could be sold as an intentionally "minimalist" product at a premium price. I'm all for clean lines, form-follows-function, Bauhaus-style design, but the whole package on the Aion is lackluster.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Lamy set the MSRP on the Aion at $90. Most retailers have it listed at $71, which is the same as the same as the steel-nibbed Studio. In my opinion, the Lamy Studio is a much better pen - it's not even a close call. The Studio is better balanced for comfort, the fit and finish are higher-quality, and you have the option to upgrade to a gold nib. The Aion does sport a matte grip section, which some may prefer over the Studio's polished chrome.
To summarize: I'm not a huge fan of the Aion, but its brutally minimal aesthetic appeals to a lot of people out there. Personally, I think the pen looks unfinished and doesn't feel as high quality as other Lamy pens, especially at this price point. The nib on the Aion, however, is an excellent writer, so there shouldn't be any concerns that you won't get a functioning pen out of the purchase. If you like the Aion, it's widely available from Lamy retailers, including our sponsor Pen Chalet, priced at $71 (and less with applicable discount codes).
Other people have a different opinion on the Aion, and I acknowledge that I'm being a bit contrarian here. To read some other takes, check out this review over at the Pen Addict, Ed's thoughts at EdJelley.com, and Pete's review over at PeteDenison.net.
Disclaimer: I received this pen from Pen Chalet free of charge for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links.