Over the last few years Lamy hasn't really produced a whole lot of "new" models. They of course come out with their annual editions in various colors of the current lineup, but an entirely new pen hasn't happened much.
That changed a few months ago with the introduction of the Aion, a new very Lamy design that certainly fits in well with the more conservative members of their catalog.
There have been a few reviews on the fountain pen version (somewhat mixed), but I wanted to take a closer look at the ballpoint version and Pen Chalet was kind enough to send one my way.
One quick note: ballpoint pens seem to get a bit of a bad rap I think. Are they the best writers? Do they have the interesting experience of a fountain pen? No, but what I like about them is that they are accessible to people and allow them to have a nice pen, but without a whole lot of maintenance. Over the last couple of years I've found myself buying more ballpoints and will definitely give them some more airtime on the blog.
An aspect of Lamy's business that I do enjoy is that they pair with recognized designers around the world to create their pens, and, give those designers credit for their work.
The designer of the Aion is Jasper Morrison who has done work from chairs, electronics, to kitchen items.
Their philosophy really is around design and it certainly shows in how their brand presents itself. Lots of companies make beautiful "products", but very few mesh art and product as nicely as Lamy does in my opinion.
That being said, there are definitely some of Lamy's products that are a bit outside my appreciation scope, but most of them I really enjoy.
The Aion is on the more modern and minimal spectrum of the Lamy designs, and at first glance might even seem a bit boring. The barrel has a very torpedo type shape with some slight curves at each end, but overall it is a bit of a bulky cylinder. I wouldn't consider it a sexy pen, but it is sleek and attractive.
Being made of an aluminum barrel it is somewhat weighty, but not hefty coming in at 1 oz. The pen has a cool, metallic feel and is often somewhat cold to the touch when initially picking it up.
The finish over most of the barrel is a brushed feel, but the grip section has a contrasting smooth texture. This version being all black has a more subtle two-tone effect.
To extend the pen's refill there is a twist mechanism between the top seam of the grip section and the upper part of the barrel. The action is pretty smooth taking about a half turn before the mechanism "pops" into place. It has some squeakiness to it.
While writing the tip of the pen is sturdy and has very little play. It comes with the Lamy M16 ballpoint refill which is a proprietary size that limits the type of refills that can be put in. Although, for a ballpoint it is a good writer.
To change the refill you continue to twist the grip section counter clockwise several turns until the tip and barrel separate. The inner workings appear to be made of metal for the most part which is good.
One thing I found is that the pen can be pulled apart (not really supposed to do this a lot I don't think), but I did it inadvertently when figuring out how the refill is removed. (Instructions?...nah) Inside the parts that aren't really supposed to come apart often there is a good amount of grease to keep things moving, so just be careful if you start pulling things apart.
The Aion is somewhat larger than your standard pen, but is comparable in diameter to the Lamy 2000 for reference.
The clip of the pen has a spring mechanism which allows you to push it away from the barrel slightly for easier stowing in a pocket.
I have a ton of Lamy pens and one thing I'm not as impressed with on the Aion is the clip.
Actually, I've probably owned one of almost every modern Lamy pen model of the past 20 years or so and this clip is probably the cheapest feeling of them all in this price range. It is made from pressed steel which makes it somewhat thin in construction and has a sort of "hollow" cavity underneath. A step up in quality I'd say from your over the counter disposable pens, but not by much.
When compared to the 2000, Studio, Dialog 2, or even the Safari, the Aion clip just feels off. I'd have loved to see it out of a cast or machined metal similar to the 2000 or cp1, or of a more sturdy construction. For a $70 pen it feels like they skimped a bit in that area.
I appreciate the Aion and am glad that Lamy is branching out into new models again, but I don't really love it I'd say. It is a nice, modern looking pen and feels pretty good while writing (maybe a little bulky), but not my favorite of the Lamy lineup. That being said, I don't think someone would be disappointed in it if the design really pushed their buttons.
Special thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending it for review!