Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black Fountain Pen Review

Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Fountain Pen Review

The Dialog is the top-tier of the Lamy brand, alongside products like the lamy studio rollerball pens. Adhering to the tenets of the Bauhaus movement, the Lamy Dialog 3 has a minimalist profile and a function-first design ethic. Originally released in 2012 and designed by Franco Clivio, the Dialog is Lamy's only retractable fountain pen with one of the most intricate mechanisms and smoothest writing nibs.

In this review, we take an overview of all the Dialog 3 designs thus far, including the lacquered Piano Black and Piano white finishes that were the subject of the video.

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

The Palladium and Matte Black finishes were part of the initial production of Dialog 3 pens introduced in 2021. In 2015, the Piano Black and Piano White lacquer designs brought a polished feel to the cylindrical profile.

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 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.

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Original Lamy Dialog 3 Matte Black with Solid Nib Unit

Unique Features of the Lamy Dialog 3 Piano Black

The Piano Black/White 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 more recent 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.
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Macro Shot of Lamy Dialog 3 M Nib with Sailor Jentle Blue-Black on Rhodia 80gsm paper.

Detailed Review of the Lamy Dialog 3's Performance

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.

Functionally, the ball valve mechanism does a great job at keeping the nib fresh with ink. There were some issues of dry-out with the first iterations of the Dialog 3. Lamy has since addressed those imperfections in the newest models. In my time spent writing with this pen, I experienced no issues of hard starting or skipping due to ink drying in the nib. If you're looking for a quick draw fountain pen to take on-the-go, the Dialog 3 is a superb solution.

Lamy Dialog 3 Specifications

Length (Closed) : 5.5"Length (Nib Extended) : 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 ($319.20 sale price / $399 retail) would be more comparable. (grade B)
Final Grade : ALooking at Lamy's fountain pen collections as a whole, it is easy to see why the Dialog 3 stands alone at the top. The Dialog's superior design and retractable nib mechanism puts this pen at the top of the list for Lamy collectors. The 14kt gold nib is super smooth and has a responsive feel on the page. Although this is one of the most costly Lamy pens on the market, you still get a lot of utility and quality for your money, which is a hallmark of Lamy's German Bauhaus design philosophy. While the Dialog 3 is a luxury object, it hasn't lost its sense of purpose as a writing instrument. The unique cylindrical shape might take some getting used to for some writers, but where it lacks in conventional design it makes up for in utility 100%. This is a futuristic pen that keeps Lamy ahead of the curve in pen design.
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