Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black Fountain Pen Review



Lamy's Dialog is the top-end of the German-made writing instrument brand that represents the forefront of design and writing technology. The Dialog 3, released back in 2012, is Lamy's first-and-only retractable fountain pen. Originally produced in a matte palladium finish, Lamy expanded the line to include a matte black, and, most recently, the 2015 Piano Black and Piano White finishes.

We're going to review the Dialog 3 model as a whole, but we also wanted to briefly touch on the minor differences between the Palladium & Matte Black releases and the new Piano Black & White Finishes.

Left : Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black, Right: Lamy Dialog 3 Matte Black

Besides the obvious difference in the pen's finish, the presentation box was changed from a slim, wooden box to a bulkier case. As you can see in our video review, the newer box for the Piano Black/White is much more impressive and grand. The slim, wooden box with the original Dialog 3 also has its place, in my opinion, as a nice desk holder for your fountain pen.

Original Lamy Dialog 3 Matte Black with Solid Nib Unit
The newer Dialog 3's also differ with their nib unit. An oblong cut-out is on the side of the unit to view the ink level in your cartridge or converter. The original Dialog 3 nib unit on the Palladium and Matte Black pens is solid all around. The newer Dialog 3's also come with a cleaning ring that is used to help flush out and maintain the inner shell of the fountain pen when the nib unit is removed.

An interesting fact for those who already own the Dialog 3 and would consider picking up the new 2015 version - the nib units are not interchangeable, as they don't line up if you try switching between the older & newer models. It may not bother some people, but I need to have the nib lined up with the clip. Otherwise, bad things may happen to fragile, inanimate objects.


The In-Hand Writing Experience

This pen is fun to pick up and fidget with. It feels like a cross between a fountain pen and a lightsaber. It's super-sleek and streamlined, just like a stealth bomber. If apple made a fountain pen, it would probably look similar to the Dialog 3.

The significant weight in-hand (1.6oz) gives an impression of a solid, well manufactured instrument. Yet, it's not heavy enough to use as a bludgeoning weapon. This is important, because many folks may take issue with a heavy weight pen, not only because it causes hand fatigue over long writing sessions, but it would also be less conspicuous as an actual weapon when trying to pass through the TSA.

Since this is a capless pen, there's no need to decide whether to write cap-in-hand or with the cap posted. The length of the fountain pen is perfectly sized to fit in most average-or-larger hands. The uniform girth allows you to choose where you grip the pen. Those familiar with the Vanishing Point may have the same gripe about the Dialog 3 in that the clip may get in the way of your fingers' writing position. The Dialog 3 clip does retract closer to the body of the pen once the nib is protracted completely, making it slightly less obtrusive than the VP clip.

The twist-action mechanism of the Dialog 3 feels solid. As you twist the pen, you can feel a firm "click" of the ball valve and nib moving into position.

Macro Shot of Lamy Dialog 3 M Nib with Sailor Jentle Blue-Black on Rhodia 80gsm paper.

The 14kt Lamy solid gold nib is an absolute pleasure to write with. The medium nib I picked for the writing samples wrote with a nice, wet flow and glided across the page with every word. Although the Piano Black is a glossy, lacquered finish, I found no trouble in being able to grip and hold on to this fountain pen's wider grip area. Since most fountain pens usually have a narrower section to grip, the grip on the Lamy Dialog 3 takes a little getting used to, especially if you write with mostly thin pens (like a Cross Century).

Overall, I was extremely impressed by how this pen handles around the curves and responds when you accelerate (handwriting speed, that is). It can keep up with fast writers and those who like to go big and bold.

Lamy Dialog 3 Specifications

Length (Closed) : 5.5"
Length (Nib Out) : 6.125"
Width w/o Clip : 0.537"
Width w/ Clip : 0.631"
Weight 1.6oz

A Few Choice Words

Summary :
  • Writing Quality : The Lamy 14kt gold nib is super-smooth and flows nice and wet. It effortlessly glides across paper. The weight and size of the pen, although ample, doesn't get in the way of the writing experience, rather enhances it. (grade A)
  • Aesthetic Quality : The modern design of the Dialog is the epitome of "Apple-esque." The clean lines of the profile and rounded ends exude simplicity and elegance. (grade A+)
  • Utility : Retractable fountain pen means no need for a cap! You cannot accidentally clip your shirt to the pen while open, as the clip retracts when the pen is in use. One negative is that the pen uses Lamy proprietary fountain pen cartridges and converter. (grade A+)
  • Price : $308 (sale price) is quite a hefty price tag, considering that a 14kt gold nib Lamy Studio fountain pen can sell for half the cost. Compared to other retractable nib fountain pens, a Pilot Vanishing Point is also half the price. The Pilot Fermo, which is a twist-action, retractable fountain pen ($260 sale price / $325 retail) would be more comparable. (grade B)

Final Grade : A
Looking at Lamy's fountain pen collections as a whole, it is easy to see why the Dialog 3 stands alone at the top. Although it contains the same components as the more economical Lamy Studio model, the Dialog's superior design and retractable nib mechanism puts this pen at the top of the list for Lamy collectors. Plus, it looks like a lightsaber, and that's major geek points for a Star Wars fan like me!


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