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Fountain Pen Review: Aurora Optima


Introduction

Surprisingly for a relatively unknown brand, Aurora have produced one of the best fountain pens on the market with their premium Optima. One of the few brands that make their own nibs, Aurora have succeeded in producing a stunning, robust and graceful fountain pen with their latest addition the "Aurora Optima".

Specs

 

  • Body Material: Aurolide
  • Nib Material: 14 karat gold
  • Weight: 20 grams
  • Cap Weight: 6 grams
  • Filling System: Piston
  • Trim: Chrome
  • Length (Capped): 12.5 cm
  • Length (Posted): 15.5cm
  • Length (Uncapped): 12.3cm

Aesthetics

The Aurora Optima comes in various colours such as burgundy red, coral and deep blue; furthermore, Aurora release limited edition versions of these pens featuring unusual textures and colours. The Aurora Optima is largely made out of "Auroloide", a material which enriches and deepens the colours. The Auroloide material is also slightly transparent, therefore you're able to see exactly how much ink is in the pen. Overall, the Auroloide material gives the pen an unusual yet beautiful aesthetic, the pen even manages to look premium despite the sparkly nature of Auroloide. 

The Aurora Optima features a lot of chrome trim around various points of the pen such as the piston and cap; the bold chrome trim compliments the subdued Aurolide material well. The Optima features glossy black finials to add to the premium aesthetic. The arch-shaped clip is smooth, sleek and ends in an elegant teardrop shape. The cap features a bold gold band, an Aurora engraving and an embossed key logo. The Aurora possesses an unusally long section; especially considering it's such a small sized pen. However, aesthetically the section does not look out of place. Another nice addition is once you uncap the Optima, you're able to view an unobtrusive ink window. This allows you to gain an insight into how much ink is left in the chamber.

Many premium fountain pens let themselves down with cheap, tacky packaging which can create the impression that the pen is a lot less luxurious than it really is. Fortunately, this is not the case for the Aurora Optima. The Optima is delivered in a large, leather-made, Aurora branded box. The Optima sits on a small bed, surrounded by ribbon and surrounded by creamy, faux leather. The inclusion of such premium packaging makes for an unrivalled unboxing experience. 

In conclusion, the Optima manages to walk the fine line of being flashy and being dull, the fine line of being eye-catching and subdued. The result is a pen that attracts attention due to it's refined beauty.

Construction Quality 

Weighing in at 20 grams, the Optima is one of the lightest, high-end fountain pens on the market. As previously mentioned, the Optima's body is primarily made out of Aurolide. Aurolide is known for discolouration and unstable; having said that the Optima's body feels sturdy and robust. Furthemore, the body seems scratch-resistant. The body picks up barely any scratches and when it does, the scratches are far from prominent. Not only is the body scratch resistant, it also does not pick up any fingerprints. This means it stays looking classy at all times. 

The strong clip is securely attached, it's as functional as it's beautiful; the clip remains attached to all materials and rarely feels like it's going to detach. Similarly, the cap is secure and near airtight and makes a satisfying pop when you put it on. The Aurora Optima features no sharp ridges and the threads are buttery-smooth, further adding to the sleek design of the pen. Overall, the pen is well constructed and if you have longevity in mind when looking for a pen, the Optima may be for you. 

Ergonomics

Despite being extremely short and light, the section on the Optima is on the longer side for most fountain pens. This is great because it means you can grip the pen comfortably in more ways, it's especially ideal for those who like to grip their pen higher up. Surprisingly, the grip section is made out of black acrylic. The black acrylic manages to walk the fine line of perfect smoothness and texture to produce one of the most comfortable sections on the market.

Furthermore, the Aurora Optima's weight is well distributed along the pen. The pen feels neither top or bottom heavy and even when the cap is posted, it still feels well balanced and comfortable. The balance distribution combined with the light nature of the Optima makes it one of the most comfortable pens at this price range; even after longer sessions of writing, the Optima feels far from heavy and awkward.

Writing Performance

One of the few fountain pen brands that manufacture their own nibs, Aurora have done an exceptional job at creating an amazing writing experience for their users. Many Aurora nibs suffer from being stiff and giving too much feedback, fortunately this is not the case with the Optima. The Aurora Optima's 14 karat gold nib produces clean, smooth lines whilst offering no hard starting or skipping. Furthermore, the medium sized nib is buttery smooth, offering a graceful bounce when writing.

The nib is definitely on the wetter side, therefore with the longer drying period you may have to be abit cautious about not smearing your work. Furthermore, due to the flexibility of the nib, by applying different amounts of pressure you can produce different line variations. Another point worth noting is regardless of the paper quality you're using the Optima on, it performs equally as well on all different types of surfaces even with it's wet nature.

Aurora also release variations of the Optima with an italic nib. The italic nib produces wider yet sharper strokes, therefore for those who like to switch up their writing experience you may want to look into this. 

Maintenance

The Aurora Optima uses a piston filling system to refill the ink. The process is as simple as it gets; you twist the piston, dip the nib into your choice of ink and turn the piston back to its previous position. This draws the ink up to the ink chamber. Piston processes are usually messy and fiddly, however Aurora have made the process clean and sleek. Furthermore, the piston feels sturdy and robust and functions better than 99% of its competition; it draws in over a full bottle of ink and uses every drop of ink before needing to be refilled. The ability to draw in so much ink means even the heaviest users can go a while without having to refill it.

To add to the low maintenance nature of the Aurora Optima, the pen is easy to dissemble and reassemble resulting in a simplistic cleaning process. The nib screws on and off easily, you can get in and under the clip with a small brush and the barrel can also be unscrewed with a light twist. Similarly, cleaning out the ink chamber is straightforward, all you need to do is drop a few droplets of water into the barrel and give it a swish to remove the majority of the ink stains.

Value for Money & Conclusion

The Aurora Optima is priced between £400 and £500 depending on where you look. It's extremely hard to justify spending that much on any fountain pen. Having said that, the Aurora Optima makes a great case for it with it's stunning aesthetics, premium feel, robustness and graceful writing experience. This certainly is one of the best, if not the best fountain pen on the market today. It doesn't get any better than this!

 

 

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