It has been a while since my last blog post. The reason lies in the transforming of my life stages—I was graduating and trying my best to land a good job. Now I am formally graduated and get a full-time job to do. This weekend I am here to write about a pen that got unique meaning for me, and this month’s news post is also on its way.
More than a year ago, I was invited to an Aurora event in NYC in which the flexible nib was debuted, and by the end of that night, I was impressed by the subtlety those Aurora pens conveyed to my hands with standard cigar chassis. My initial intention was to have a fine flex anniversary Aurora 88, but around that time the estimated price for that model was still unclear, and I can’t wait for my first taste of modern Aurora. So I opted for a regular 88 as quick as I could, wishing one day I can spot a spare flex nib and swap it.
I picked up a Satin Black. What drives me to this very model is a well-written review at the PenAddict, posted by Susan M. Pigott. In the section dedicated to reviewing the nib in the Satin Black, Susan and Dan Smith revealed that Aurora uses a solid rose gold nib there. I had never used a fountain pen with rose gold trim before, let alone one with a solid rose gold nib!
Soon the pen arrived, and I found myself in a dilemma: It was so matured and luxurious in looks, I just couldn’t come up with an occasion where I can use it comfortably. Yes, I could have just inked this $400+ pen up and write on, but I didn’t have the right setting for this expensive pen to fit in. If not inked up, it also lacks some flashiness to keep me up in the night. For the colorfulness, I soon captured a Tiffany Blue Sailor 1911, for the exotic body design, the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 was still the best desk companion, even for the flexibility that I was envisioning myself adding to this pen, I soon found a Stenographer by Ever sharp with a wet noodle nib… The plan of haunting a fine flex Aurora spare nib was thus suspended.
At the end of last spring, I came up with a solution: rather than regretting about having a holy grail pen that couldn’t be well used, I would put this pen back in the shelf, forget it, and come back one year later when I graduate and land a job.
I did manage to be not aware of the existence of this pen for the most part during the past year. Many new pens came into my world, and some of them really strike a high experience score. Meanwhile, the explosion of new Chinese pens also directs me sideways from the all-time classic brands like Aurora and Pelikan. As a result, sometimes even when I saw the big black Aurora package in the deep corner of my cabinet, for the most part, I would let it go.
The time for resurrection happened in this March when I was participating more and more career sessions and interviews. One night I inked it up with Aurora Blue Black and clip it on my suit jacket. At the end of March, I was choosing between three companies as my future employers: a healthcare company, a trade startup, and a real estate agency. For the final rounds of the interviews, I hold the Satin Black for the most of the time, and it proved to be an excellent conversation starter. The marketing manager of the healthcare company checked out my blog before our meet, and the Aurora turned out to be the first thing he wants me to explain to him… Now in the mid of May, I think I picked up the right pen for the job setting, and I have been using the Aurora Satin Black for weeks in a corporate environment, and I think it is the time for me to lay out my thoughts for it.
Black is a common theme for stationeries used in a corporate setting, but the Satin Black is a unique one among all the shades of black. The matte finish is well done, similar to a black silk tie. It is a finish well-suited for my current stage.
I don’t want to bring a big boss executive pen in the meeting room. Something like the Meisterstück Mont-Blanc or the Pelikan M1000 could easily be a point of distraction. By this criteria, the pen I use should be underwhelmed. Thus I am happy to find that the Aurora Satin finish handles the test of the first impression rather well: if a non-penaddict come by my desk, chances are high that he or she would ignore this fountain pen and merely regard it as another graduation-gift rollerball.
The other part of the story has something to do with the different parts of my work. Part of my daily job in the past weeks has been data related, for that part, any precise and reliable gel-ink pens like the Uni-balls and M&Gs can fulfill my need. Recently I even began to bring up my Sailor Fresca Blue for note-taking on a printed data sheet. But the precision of a clear-cut line is not all that I need to carry out all my daily workload.
I still have team meetings every day, and fierce corporate meeting happens, and sometimes I have to make presentations in front of the management and the sales managers. In those occasions, I want something that can speak for me while I am making a vital arrangement or brainstorming with my colleagues, and that needs something that can rock the beholders’ mind when given a second look. For this part of the task, I find the rosy furniture of the Satin Black really helps.
The rose or pink gold is a civilized format of gold. For me, when I find it on personal accessories, I usually feel one step closer to its user. I am delighted that Aurora match a rose gold trim and nib to the matte finish of this pen. This combination of two well-reserved textures transformed this pen into a humble guy at first glance but still allows it to shine especially when you stay long enough around it. The rose gold is not flashy, nor does the overall finish of the pen, but it just can let the people around you become More and more curious to the tool you were using during the meeting. Our company’ designer was curious about this pen, and my boss was impressed with it even in the first interview with me. Why? I think this must have something to do with the nib.
Actually, the most worth-mentioning part of the Aurora 88 Satin Black is the way it writes and sounds.
I owned two vintage Aurora 88 and 98, and both of them are the kind of semi-flexible writer that gives out constant springy feeling during cursive writing without costing too much muscle power. Which is excellent in most of the scenarios, and before buying the modern 88, I heard a lot about the substantial amount of feedback the modern counterparts can cause. Since I was planning to buy a flexible nib in the future, I didn’t care about that too much. But weirdly, I have to say I fall in love this feedback-heavy B-size 14k Aurora nib without too much hesitant.
As many reviewers have pointed out, the feedback new Aurora nibs bring out is not something that would damage the whole writing experience, more in a way similar to what you would expect to get from a Sailor nib—a unique reactionary feeling from the tipping material. And when the company invested a large ebonite feed to support that nib, what you have is a generous nib and writes loud and wet. You can open these two excellent video reviews of Aurora pens from Matt Armstrong and Dan Smith to feel the character of the modern Aurora nibs. (Tips: make sure you have turned the volume up or use the headphone while watching these videos).
The sound from this nib (which you may have probably listened from the video above) really inspires me not only as a pen lover but also an easterner. The scratchiness and friction of the nib make it easier for me to write eastern characters since the extra amount of sound and resistance here in this nib turned out to be the ideal input signals for me to have the crispy handling of what I am writing. And guess what, the company I am currently working for has lots of Chinese and Korean people! I couldn’t envision a better workplace for a nib like this to fit in.
Another feature of the modern Aurora is the hidden backup ink reservoir in the filling system. It took me a while to understand what it is, and it turned out to be a trick in the design of the piston—the ink-faced part of the piston ring has a deep cup-like structure built in, thus making it capable of holding extra two or three drops of ink. My best guess is that this design makes it easier to squeeze the remaining ink to the feed when the ink is running out. Each time I tried to simulate the situation where the ink is low, this trick plays out well.
But ironically, on my first week into my job, I totally forgot this emergency function of the pen and put it back to my bag when I found I ran out of ink. Maybe Aurora should put more effort in marketing this function or put a tag on the piston knob that reminds its users this useful function. Besides this, this Satin Black also has two extra issues that I want them to be solved:
1, the clip looks fantastic, but it falls short to be a masterpiece of design due to only one strange stamp on the back of it—“METAL.” The fact of this clip is a high-rise one makes this stamp somewhat easy to see;
2, the top finial seems to have a slightly different textural level as the rest of the pen body, which results in an inconsistent visual from a particular angle.
But don’t get me wrong, these are really minor flaws that wouldn’t usually bother me if I am not concerned about it. And as a note for the modern Aurora, I do think that the build quality the company achieved on this 88 worth every coin I spent. My suggestion is that if you got the budget, go for the modern Aurora first before the Meisterstück Mont-Blanc.
Looking back on my story with the Aurora 88 Satin Black, I am happy with myself of not selling this pen during the past 14 months and sticking to my promise of returning to it in my later life stages.
I filled the 88 Satin Black just tonight, and I am fully prepared for another week of works.
- Azizah’s review unit has got an amazing stub nib!
- Susan’s review of the flexible 88
- A Gentleman’s review of the Minerali 88 in Azurite
- The Best History Piece about the Legendary 88: The Aurora 88 Dynasty