I was still a relative fountain pen newbie when the Goulet's brought OMAS to the Goulet Pen Company in the fall of 2014. I loved hearing Brian share the story of OMAS' history and the fine people who hand-made the pens in Italy.
I was also ready for something other than a cartridge converter pen. So when I saw the video of the Ogiva Alba, I was smitten and wanted to get it even though the pen was on the pricey side and I was worried about crazy import duties and taxes. Fortunately, I had the option to have the pen shipped to my sister-in-law in San Francisco who was planning a trip to the Big Smoke later that year over Christmas.
My pen actually arrive in 'Frisco for a long time without being opened. When my sister-in-law unboxed the shipping box she saw the invoice and nearly fainted. I never told her what kind of pen I had shipped to her. She thought it was something for my little guy.
I held the pen finally when sister-in-law came. We actually met in a restaurant where we were having a family dinner. I didn't even get to inspect it right away but I did take quick peek. When my son saw it and he instantly recognized it as the OMAS Ogiva Alba. At that time he watched many episodes of Goulet videos with me so he knew.
When I got home I flushed it to get rid of the machining oils, then I inked it up with Pelican Mandarin. You can see my first impressions here.
The OMAS Ogiva Alba series came in violet, green and orange. I chose the orange pen. The pen colours are inspired from the lights of the Aurora Borealis (Alba in Italian).
The pen came a beautiful heavy shimmery silver box.
The lid is removed by pulling off.
The underside of the lid is a grey padded felt rest with the words:
The Pleasure of
The pen itself sits in a grey sleeve on a felt lined platform. The platform can be removed to uncover the warranty and some colour glossy literature.
I love the orange body. It makes me feel happy to look at this pen. It is especially beautiful when held up to the light. It is also just as mesmerizing to look at the pen while watching the light play off the flutes in the barrel.
The pen has a classic cigar shape.
The pen cap has a stiff clip and the end of the clip has a rolling wheel mechanism to help it slip into pockets. It's a nice touch but, to be honest, I never carry pens in my shirt pockets...come to think of it, I might not have any shirts with pockets. But I digress.
At the base of the cap is a slim silver band. There is a wider band with a Greek key relief and the word OMAS.
The pen is not too large, not too small. The girth is around the size of a Lamy 2000, Vanishing Point, TWSBI 580 or Lamy Al-Star.
It sits comfortably in my hand. The cap pushes to post but I find it too back-heavy when posted so I always use it unposted.
The pen body is flute gently all around. The piston knob is unadorned. A sliver band separates the piston knob form the pen body.
At the other end, there is a slim silver band and a wider decorated band with the word Italy. It mirrors the bands on the pen cap.
There are threads in the middle of the pen grip, I don't think it's physically possible to avoid the threads unless I grip the pen high above the threads. However, the threads are not a bother because they are shallow and smooth. In fact, I don’t feel them at all when writing which is quite impressive. There is a slight step from the grip to the body. Again, very shallow and smooth so I never notice it. Etched on the section between the threads and the step to the body are the numbers 045/327. My pen is number 45 in the production run of 327 pens.
The pen is a piston filler. With a translucent body one can see the ink sloshing around inside. Sometimes I like to fill it match-y match-y with orange ink.
Other times, I like to fill it with a complementary coloured inks just so I can see the ink in the body real well.
The nib. Well the nib makes the pen. Right? The 14K gold rhodium-plated nib is minimalist designed with no embellishments and only the words Extra Flessibile, OMAS, 14K. There is a single slit and a simple oval breather hole.
The nib wrote beautifully and smoothly right out the gate. I never had issues with it running dry, railroading or hard-starting unless I’m flexing. Yes, flex sometimes causes railroading. About flexing - this pen has the Extra Fine Extra Flessibile nib (I like to contract this to EF/EF). I chose this nib because I love flexing. It flexes but I think I over did it in the beginning. Yes, I did that even though I saw Brian Goulet, SBRE Brown and Azizah warning viewers to take heed in various videos. I simply could not resist the temptation to push it had to see how far it would flex.
I think I misaligned the tines and perhaps even sprang them slightly. It did not write the same since then. A slight drag or scratchiness in certain directions. I tried to smooth the nib a bit and push the tines back into alignment. My meagre nib adjustments helped slightly. I don’t think it writes as fine as it did out of the box. I still feel some toothiness. But I’m afraid to push it any further. Hopefully I can get a nibmeister to look at it one of these days. In the meantime, I think it still writes well and beautifully.
This pen is a joy to write with. Beautiful to look at and a pleasure to hold.
One thing that is a “con” is that it is a pain to clean. It’s a piston filler so the only way to clean it is by filling and unfilling repeatedly with water. There is no way to take it apart for cleaning(at least, none that I’ve discovered). It takes days for me to soak and clean it. Also, the area where the nib enters the section is an ink trap. Even long soaking and flushing with a bulb syringe does not seem to ever 100% clean it out. I console myself that the repeated twisting is good for meditation.
Is this pen worth what I paid for it? Its certainly the most refined pen I own to date. It’s made by those long time artisans in Italy. The cotton resin material is light and comfortable, warm to the touch. I love the nib despite almost wreaking it. It glides over paper with slight toothiness and it has beautiful line variation even unflexed. And when flexing, it adds lots of character to my writing. I just need to accept it can’t flex too much and I should not push hard.
I’m really happy with this pen and really thankful the Goulet’s brought OMAS into their line-up and did such a bang-up job of sharing the story on this pen. With all the news of OMAS’s demise I’m not sure if I can get another. I really would like to get one with a regular fine nib. I’ve had a severe case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and have been stalking OMAS retailers for a Vintage Paragon Burlwood Celluloid, Vintage 360 or Paragon Ludovico Einaudi Signature Edition. Alas, I’ll have to settle on being happy with the one orange OMAS Ogiva Alba that I had to good fortune to obtain when it was first launched.
If you don’t own an OMAS, I would say to go for it. Once they are gone for good they will become sought after vintage pens. I’m not even fussed about warranty concerns because they are so well made. Get an OMAS while you can still new one at decent prices.
This is a pen I will treasure forever because of the pleasure it brings. But also because it was the pen that took me beyond my comfort zone in terms of price point. After I got the Vanishing Point Raden Galaxy, I never imagined I would get anything more expensive. But I really think it’s worth the extra dollars for this sweet nib and care and attention that went into the pen production. So what are you waiting for? If you were even curious about OMAS, this may be your last chance. At my last lurking, I still spotted some OMAS pens available at Goldspot Pens and Classic Fountain Pens. These are not affiliate links and I’m not being compensated for linking. I’ve just provided them for convenience of the readers of this post.