A pen is a pen, right? Wrong. Although, if you are reading this blog, you already knew that…
Even within the realm of “nicer pens”, there is a spectrum of quality, design, and overall appeal that can vary to create different overall experiences for the end user.
Around 4 years ago (really that long?!), a small design company out of the UK launched their Kickstarter campaign for what they simply referred to as The Pen.
Even though I recall hearing about Ajoto at the time, I unfortunately did not get in on backing that initial run and The Pen drifted a bit into the back of my mind as others came across my desk and attention.
I’m not sure what sparked my recollection, but it prompted me to reach out to Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict to see if he had one, him loaning me his for a few weeks, and then ultimately me buying my own… here we are.
Brad had initially loaned me his all brass version which was great (it converted me!), but I opted to purchase the stainless steel as the weight, color, and “smell-less” factor all appealed to me.
By description, The Pen is a sleek and minimal teardrop style pen with a flowing uniform shape and slight, bulbous contour as you approach the “grip” section.
The Pen is clipless, so it is designed for a pants pocket, bag, or folio type carry. Some folks are very picky about their pens having a clip, but I am not one of those people. Honestly, even when pens have a clip I tend to stow them in a leather sleeve and carry them in my pants pocket anyway.
I ordered my pen directly from Ajoto, and when sending me my pen they kindly included one of their red leather pen pouches (sold separately) to review with it.
The first experience with Ajoto is their very elaborate (and beautiful) packaging. Each product is encased in it’s own sealed, custom box or envelope that is covered in foil stamped letters and the Ajoto emblem pattern. To open each sealed box there is a perforated pull tab that allows access to the contents inside.
The Pen comes in a molded cork container that is encased in an aluminum (aluminium…) scabbard that slides off. Very fancy indeed.
Now, this level of presentation will seem excessive/unnecessary to the conservative packaging crowd for sure, so be warned. This, no doubt, adds to the overall cost of the Ajoto products (which we’ll discuss shortly), but it is so well executed. It felt like I was opening a custom gift someone had made for me and I could easily see their products being perfect as a present for a special person/occasion.
Speaking of “luxury”, I would put Ajoto into this category based on the overall brand and pricing model. Even though they don’t have the mass brand recognition of companies like Montblanc, the quality they strive for (and deliver) is what I feel makes them stand out.
As far as branding, the only evidence of the company is their Maker’s Mark logo that is engraved tastefully (almost enigmatically) near the top of the pen.
The Ajoto pen takes the extremely popular Schmidt P8126 cap-less refill (one included) that is extended with their own proprietary twist mechanism. In design, I really like the contrast between the smooth barrel and the fluted twist.
Extending the refill takes a good strong twist of the mechanism which moves slow in about one full resolution. The twist definitely has some tension which is created by a leather (yes, leather) o-ring, but also prevents the refill from inadvertently extending.
I don’t have a lot of fears around the o-ring ultimately breaking down and needing replacement, but time will tell. This pen is definitely built to last, but this is the only piece I could see being potentially problematic, but Ajoto says they are happy to send new ones out if this ever occurs.
One thing I love about this pen is the simplicity of all the parts and pieces which are all metal. The barrel is one solid piece of steel with no breaks, and the twist mechanism are a combination of brass and steel pieces connected together with a hex set screw.
In the world of machined pens, pricing usually range from $50 and up, and Ajoto is on the upper end of the spectrum. But, their quality is impeccable, particularly on The Pen.
The stainless steel version which I bought retails at £180.00 (£150.00 when removing VAT for US buyers), roughly $240.00 US, which comparative to others in the machined pen market is high.
That being said, I find this pen to be an exquisite product that I know I will use and enjoy in my regular rotation AND was willing to spend my own money on to review. Although, I did get the opportunity to “try before you buy” with Brad’s pen which did help me pull the trigger, but I am extremely pleased with it.
I know for a lot of people in the community that this pen may be out of reach or there are people that can’t see themselves spending this kind of money on a non-fountain pen. Are there products that may seem comparable to the Ajoto pen? Certainly, but I personally consider The Pen to be of extremely high quality and the price is justifiable to me.
The last 18 months or so has shown me that my daily use pens are usually rollerball or fineliners, so my enjoyment comes from finding high-quality or unique barrels to hold these refills. The Ajoto certainly fits.
Overall, the Ajoto pen is a pleasure to use and I find myself reaching for it almost daily. If these are of interest, definitely take a look at Ajoto's online store.