This has been a week to write fountain pens dry. The latest pen to go dry is the Omas 360 Vintage LE filled with Montblanc Golden Yellow. I feel compelled to mention that this pen is vintage in name only.
I filled the Omas back on March 13th, wrote it dry once, and then refilled it. Now that it’s dry again I decided to put the pen back into storage.
As I mentioned in my review, I really shouldn’t like this pen. But I do. It’s ended up being a specialty pen for that I pull out occasionally, not one I use as a daily writer. Despite being such a large piston filler the Omas doesn’t hold very much ink and it doesn’t take long to write dry. It’s also prone to evaporation.
My first outing with the Montblanc Golden Yellow was in the Visconti Bronze Age, and it was not great experience so it was flushed early. The Omas is a much wetter nib and the ink liked it much better. It’s a nice yellow color that’s surprisingly easy to read and has some nice line variation.
I used the pen primarily to write headings for my notes or to make some notes stand out. That’s not a lot of words, so I did use the pen for some longer sessions of a page or two. During these extended sessions the nib began to dry up and it wasn’t as wet and I noticed some dry ink higher up on the nib. Washing this off improved the flow, either because of the added water or because the dry ink was a problem.
The Omas 360 Vintage LE is extremely comfortable in my hand, even with the triangle shape. The Montblanc Golden Yellow was easy to flush from the pen. I’ll limit it’s use to wetter nibs and use it when I’m looking for something different.
You may notice the nib is labeled as a medium. It started that way but was ground to a fine.
The Omas 360 Vintage has a name I hate. It’s vintage in name only and there are in fact vintage (meaning old) Omas 360s. I feel like I have to mention this every time I say this pen’s name. This a modern pen I picked up at the 2013 DC Pen show. I review it here. The nib started as a factory medium but I had Mike Masuyama turn it into a fine. It’s easily the wettest fine nib that I have and also the one with the most spring. While it may not meet vintage nib flexibility standards it’s the most flexible nib I have. It doesn’t really suit my writing style, the line is too wide, but I still have fun using it. Montblanc Bordeaux is my favorite ink, plain and simple. It’s topped my Top 5 Inks list since, well, since I made the list. I reviewed the ink here. Together, they were fun to use. Although I couldn’t really use them as my daily writer which is all due to the pen. But it was fun to play with the flexible nib on weekends (a weekend pen?). Thanks to the very wet nib the ink doesn’t last too long in this pen. I inked the pen December 28th and it went dry today.
It has taken me a long time to write this review and it’s been a frustrating process. But eight different inks later and I think I’m ready to review the Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise.
If I was to list the thing’s I don’t want in a fountain pen they would include: 1. Blue 2. A colored demonstrator (I do like clear) 3. A flex nib (I don’t actually dislike flex, but its benefits are lost on me.) 4. A Wet Writer
So how would I describe the Omas 360 Vintage LE? It’s a blue demonstrator with a semi-flex nib that’s a wet writer. Four for four, yet it came home with me from the 2013 Washington D.C. Pen Show.
While there should be a rule against including the word “Vintage” in a pen name, in this case it makes some sense. The Omas 360 Vintage LE is based upon an older (although not really vintage) Omas pen design.
Why I Got It
Every time I walked past the Fountain Pen Hospital table at the show this pen yelled out my name and called me over. Each time I stopped to look at it, it won me over a little more. Finally, after not seeing the red version of the pen and getting a price nearly 50% off list I made it my last pen purchase of the show.
It was a medium nib and I was 99.9% sure I’d have to grind the nib down to at least a fine. A medium nib was the only choice so I considered getting it ground to a fine on Sunday. I decided against that because this pen has personality and I wanted to get to know it before I made changes.
The pen is gorgeous, even if it is blue. The piston is clearly visible but with a pattern that makes it look very cool. The piston travels smoothly and the piston knob’s triangular shape makes it easy to turn. The silver trim complements the color nicely and the silver 18K nib is huge.
I never would have bought this pen without seeing it. No picture I’ve seen does it justice.
What I Got
The pen came in a beautiful presentation box. The box is lined with a microfiber material and includes a bottle of Omas Turquoise ink. The pen is in a pen sleeve that’s the same material as the box lining. It gives the impression of elegance and quality. This is a limited edition and my pen is number 190 out of 360.
The pen itself is a large triangular shaped piston filler with a 18K gold nib. The material is blue cotton resin. Usually I consider these “… resin” names as fancy name intended to make plastic sound classy. This is not plastic (well, maybe technically on the chemical level it is, I’m no chemist). The material has beautiful depth and translucence. The pen feels rock solid and the material does not feel like plastic. The build quality is top notch.
The piston is smooth but the travel distance seems to be longer than it needs to be, reducing the ink capacity. I read elsewhere that it holds 1.2 ml. of ink. I didn’t measure, but it seems about right. The piston filling system makes it easy to get a full load of ink.
The pen has a solid black inner cap with prongs that extend down to grip the pen when it’s capped. This is downright annoying and borderline ugly. It hides that beautiful nib when it’s capped which is a crime. This is the biggest negative for the pen.
The triangular section could be a problem for some, but it fits my grip perfectly. My fingers all rest against the flat sides. It’s also a big pen, which I find more comfortable.
The medium nib was far to wet for me, and being a medium it put down far too much ink for my tastes. I decided to have Mike Masuyama grind it to a fine but left it as a wet writer with flex. This review is based upon the fine nib.
This section is based entirely on using the Omas 360 Vintage LE after Mike Masuyama ground the nib to a fine. The medium was just to much ink for my tastes.
This is a very frustrating pen to use unless it has the right ink and paper combination. I’ve used eight different inks in the pen. A couple were great on all the paper I use while a few preferred fountain pen friendly paper such as Rhodia. A couple inks were flushed since they were universally annoying. (See the section about ink used.)
The pen is light, even when posted. It’s a large pen so I don’t even consider posting. But the cap does post securely. The clip slides easily over shirt pockets or other materials. The pen is a little big for me to carry in a shirt pocket. Even if it is secure I find it annoyingly big for my shirt pocket.
As I said, ink varies greatly in this pen. The best inks are quickly emptied when writing with this pen. A full load of Pelikan Blue-Black was used up with less than two days of writing which is unheard of for me.
Because the nib is so wet I’ve found that ink splatters in cap are inevitable, especially when I carry the pen in my bag. They’re small, but they are there. Also, because of the inner cap I have to be a little careful capping the pen, if I try to cap it at an angle the nib may catch on the inner cap or the prongs that extend down to grip the pen.
One way to avoid splatters was to store the pen nib up overnight. Almost every nib would be dry the next morning, the other inks wouldn’t last another night. So there was no ink to splatter when the pen bounced around. The ink quickly reaches the nib when the pen is put nib down for writing, but it is bone dry at first and the delay is noticeable. If I store it flat on my desk the nib stays ready for 5 days, longer with some inks. (Then there are some inks which were so bad I flushed them, but the previous applies to most inks.)
Flex nibs are lost on me so I can’t compare it to other flex nibs. I had a Namiki Falcon at one time but eventually sold it because I didn’t like the flex nib. Other reviewers call it semi-flex but say it doesn’t compare to vintage flex. For me, its a very nice springy 18K nib that’s a joy to use as long as the ink and paper are chosen well.
Because the pen is both wet and finicky I can’t use it as my daily driver even though it’s a fine nib. I do a lot of notes and document markups which just doesn’t suit this pen. The nib also dries out quickly during uncapped pauses in writing.
The big triangle section is very comfortable for me and I can write all day without any fatigue.
I found smooth paper, such as Rhodia, to be best suited for the widest variety of inks with this pen. Most (but not all) inks had minor skipping issues on Doane Paper writing pads and Doane Jotters, both of which I frequently use. These same inks also provided too much feedback for my tastes on these papers. Some inks wrote just fine on the Doane Paper and any other paper I used.
Of all the inks I used, Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black was the only one that was perfect for this fountain pen. I used it on a wide variety of paper without a problem. Even though Pelikan inks are considered dry inks I found the ink to have a wet flow from the pen and put down a consistent line. I typically prefer a dry writing ink but I put that bias aside for this pen because it writes so much better with a wettish ink. So it’s not that Pelikan Blue-Black is a dry writer that makes be like it. It’s that it puts down a wet line but keeps the ink under control.
De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes (Night Blue) and Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue were both as good as the Pelikan Blue-Black. I just didn’t use them on enough paper to call them perfect, but I expect them to both perform well. They were the second and third inks that wrote smoothly on Doane Paper and any other paper I tried. The list stopped at three.)
The above three inks also had the best (longest) evaporation times, both when the pen was stored and when there was an uncapped pause in writing.
The remaining inks were all less than perfect with the pen. Some further from perfect than others.
Omas Turquoise, which came with the pen, and Sheaffer Peacock Blue wrote fine on smooth papers such as Rhodia but had minor skipping and some heavy feedback on Doane Paper (heavy = more than I would like). As I felt the feedback increasing I knew a skip was in the near future. It was surprising how closely these inks performed to each other. It must be a turquoise thing. Neither was bad or annoying enough to be flushed before I wrote the pen dry.
My favorite ink, R & K Blau-Schwarz LE didn’t fair so well with this pen. It frequently had trouble keeping the ink wet, even when stored for only a couple hours. Plus it was harder to get going once the nib became dry. This was so annoying that I flushed the ink before it was used up.
R & K Scabiosa, an iron gall ink, performed the same as R & K Blau-Schwarz and it was also flushed.
I loaded up Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite but never got to use it. When I pulled the pen out a couple days later all the ink had evaporated. Since I had a run of temperamental inks I only gave the pen half a fill. I was so shocked by this that when I notice the empty pen I jumped up to look for where the ink had leaked. Still, this does seem bizarre to me and I’ll try the ink again when I get a chance.
Cleaning the Pen
It’s a piston filler so cleaning can be a bit tedious but so far all the inks were quickly flushed from the pen. I haven’t tried, but it doesn’t appear that either the nib or piston can be easily removed for cleaning.
Despite the four reasons I should hate the Omas 360 Vintage LE, and despite its finicky taste in ink, this pen is a keeper. Not only does it look stunning, but it’s also damn comfortable to write with. It’s not a pen I can use in every situation, but even after this review I’m keeping it inked up and I’ll be writing with it frequently.
Some people may not find the triangle section comfortable. That, and the price, are the only reasons not to get this pen. The black inner cap is a negative, but not a reason to skip this pen. I was lucky and saw the Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise in person and discounted enough to be within my pen show budget.