Review: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red

The Numbers:
Weight: 23.8g
Length (capped): 127mm
Length (uncapped):
Body Material: Acrylic with rhodium plated accents
Nib Material: 18k Rhodium gold nib
Filling Mechanism: Piston
Colours: Clear with red tips

Intro:
I was very intrigued by Aurora fountain pens when I learnt that they are one of the few companies that makes their nibs in house. This was further compounded when I tried a friend’s Aurora fountain pen. An order was placed at local pen store. I went with the Demonstrator Red edition instead of the regular ones.

Yes the price is almost prohibitively more but I can’t say no to a demonstrator pen, can I? It took a while for the pen to arrive in Singapore because I had requested for a right foot oblique fine nib grind. What better way to explore the nib work of Aurora than with a factory oblique nib?

Packaging:
Aurora seem to excel in making the biggest, heaviest box that comes with a fountain pen I’ve ever seen. First there is the thick cardboard exterior that is printed with an Aurora pen and logo. The top sleeve slides off to reveal a much heavier box that can easily be mistaken for a jewellery box. The Aurora logo is nice and prominent on the lid. The lid opens smoothly on visible metal hinges. There the pen is resting on a bed of what I suspect is faux leather, or perhaps real because of the price. The top can be removed with a small tug on the tabs. Underneath there is a tiny bottle of Aurora Black and papers, not to forget a whole bunch of wasted space. Frankly, I’d wish for a much smaller box all things considered.

Performance:
The Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red is a limited edition pen with only 1936 pieces world wide. I got #1888 not out of any particular preference to the number. The Aurora Optima is the flat ends model of the Aurora fountain pen. The 88 line will have the rounded tips. Personally I have always prefer the flat ends over the rounded ones. The Aurora Optima Demonstrator isn’t a long pen, it is comparable in length with my Sailor Imperial Black, though it has more girth.

The clear acrylic of the pen body is accented with a rhodium plated pen clip and centre ring. The ends are tipped with a red marbled acrylic. The clip is a simple teardrop shaped one. It slides easily over my Nock Co cases and I don’t have to worry the pen coming loose. At the top of the red finial is the Aurora logo that is strangely just ever so slightly off centre. For a pen of its price, that is not something I had expected. No matter, I am not staring at the cap all day. The back of the red finial has “N. 1888” engraved. The centre band has knurling all around the centre of it. Right on the knurling has the words “Aurora” and “Italy” emblazon on.

The cap twists off in just slightly over a single revolution. I really like how the cap is aligned to the nib. No matter how I screw the cap in, the clip is either going to be just over the nib or directly behind the nib. That’s a very nice touch that not every pen maker will ensure. This is particularly important for a demonstrator pen, since the nib is visble. This isn’t something that my Sailor Pro Gear Realo can boast.

The Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red is a piston filler. The piston knob twists easily and the piston shaft moves smoothly within the barrel. The piston is sealed with a clear double seal, similar to what TWSBI and my Sailor Pro Gear Realo has. The pen can hold 1.1ml, that’s more than sufficient for my writing needs. The threads unlike the ones on my Sailor Pro Gear Realo is not junked up with sealant at least not obviously so.

Now it’s down to the nib. I got the pen with a factory right foot oblique fine. If you are keen to read more about right foot oblique nibs, check out my review of TWSBI Eco Neon Green, I’ve covered the basics there. I am quite sure this isn’t a very regularly requested nib and they probably had to grind this one just for me. The nib has a very narrow sweet spot and I have a chronic wrist roll when I write. You see where I am going with this?

The Aurora’s nib grind is similar to the one I got on the TWSBI Eco Neon Green. As a lefty you are meant to hold the pen with the nib facing you straight on. I have been told this nib grind enhance my shitty handwriting and I could really use that.

The nib is butter smooth, it glides over the paper easily, only when it is held just right. If it is just a little out of sync, you will be informed immediately and clearly. No ink will touch the paper. This is particularly frustrating for me especially at the start of my relationship with the Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red. Eventually I found my groove with the pen but I have trouble getting the sweet spot consistently on the first try so it makes for a very frustrating pen to use especially for note taking. Then I had the idea that it might be my journalling pen but the added height of the book especially when you are using the back of the book instead of the frontis not something the Aurora tolerates well too. It was a little disappointing when I realised that this is a pen with a very specific use for me. The Aurora will have to be a long form writing pen, for me that’s letter writing and only letter writing.

Conclusion:
For the price the pen cost, I was disappointed that the nib wasn’t more versatile but that’s through no fault of the pen or the nib grind. I can only blame it on the bad combination of nib grind choice and chronic wrist roll. Still, the pen on its own is a worthy purchase and I do not regret buying it.

Pros:

  • In house nibs!
  • Piston filler, tons of ink capacity
  • Buttery smooth nib

Cons:

  • Narrow sweet spot
  • Pricy

Additional Reading:
The Pen Addict’s Review of Aurora Optima
Gourmet Pens’ Review of Aurora Optima
The Pen Habit’s Review of Aurora Optima Auroloide

Posted on August 1, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.