The Lamy Dialogs are elusive pens. Though you may know the Lamy brand, it seems the 2000 and Safari get all of the attention, however I think the Dialog series is a real achievement by Lamy, and whilst they are expensive, they each bring something entirely unique to the table, something not found in other pen brands. Something German.
I’m lucky enough to own all three of the Lamy Dialog pens, and they are absolutely unique from each other and will suit only a small percentage of pen users due to their unique designs and functions. In this post I’ll be reviewing all three, contrasting each as well, whilst comparing them to more contemporary pens available today.
Of course it’s most fitting to go in order, starting with the Lamy Dialog 1.
The Lamy Dialog 1
The 1 was the first pen to be introduced, and a drastic step away from standard pen design. I imagine they went for a ballpoint as a safe introduction to the series, but then they went all whacky to balance things out on the crazy scale.
The shape is… interesting. It’s almost like a piece of Toblerone that’s been out in the sun for too long and melted a little; a fat, short triangle when viewed straight down. It’s cut at an angle at either end, partly because it means that the clicker button can be implemented as a stealthy addition to the back without adding length, but also because why the hell not.
It’s almost like Lamy went and thought up the most convoluted design possible such that it looks like the most horrifically uncomfortable pen to hold on the planet, but feels great when you actually get close enough to pick it up.
It’s also the weirdest pen to fill too. Just when you thought that nub on the back of Lamy’s ballpoint refills was just a mindless addition, it turns out it has a use. Use the nub to depress a small button on the underside and the front pops off, revealing a hollow inside for your refill to go.
It’s weird, but it works. Adds a little flair to refilling a ballpoint pen, if you like that sort of thing. In fact the entire pen adds flair to… well, doing anything. The body is titanium, so it both looks good and is freezing to the touch. This would be the perfect pen to kick your pen biting habit, as it would be like inserting an icy cold thermometer into your mouth every time you try. You also wouldn’t put something that cost you over $100 in your mouth either, unless it was something consumable and ridiculous, like Beluga caviar, so you’d think twice.
So you’ve probably gathered that it’s a weird looking habit kicker, no doubt, but it’s also a joy to use. Every inch of it has been meticulously designed to be different, but also familiar. You still have a clip to hang onto your pocket, and a clicky button to expose the writing tip for… writing things. However, the clip pops up slightly and has an empty area underneath to make clipping stuff easier. Yeah, they considered the function of a lowly clip, of course!
Writing is smooth thanks to Lamy’s well made ballpoint refills, despite me not being a ballpoint kind of guy. Regardless, fans of cool design will love this sitting on their desk, as it looks as good displayed on rich mahogany as it does in your hands or pocket, and thanks to its triangular design, it stays there without rolling off. All in all it’s a fabulous piece of German design, something crazy enough only the Germans would bring it beyond concept and into a product available to the public. Or perhaps the Japanese. Those guys are crazier still.
The Lamy Dialog 2
Rollerball lovers rejoice, you have a place in the Dialog lineup too.
The 2 is doesn’t quite follow the crazy departure from conventional design as its predecessor did, but it’s weird enough. The thing looks like it could be one of the Thunderbirds, but it’s definitely a pen. Designed by a man named Knud, who with a name like that no doubt lives in a wooden shack devoid of plumbing, nestled in the outskirts of Berlin. But hey, he has a degree in design hammered into on of his four wooden walls and enough know-how to form a hunk of palladium into something humans (or perhaps a highly trained fish) can use to write.
Yeah, palladium. Exotic metals ahoy people, the cousin of platinum adorns the entirety of the pen’s body, including the grip, clip, and anything else ending in “ip” found on a pen – except the writing tip. It’s flat on the end, so it is gifted with the ability to stand erect (yes I found a use for the word “erect” in a review, finally) when stood on its bottom. From there we have the spring-loaded clip that is semi-seamlessly integrated into the pen’s body, exposing itself with a push on its end. The clip also retracts into the body when the writing tip is exposed, to prevent clipping an exposed pen to your white shirt pocket. Brilliant.
Further down there’s a seam where the pen twists to extend the writing tip out the end. There’s a couple of nubs that line up when the pen is in write-mode too, in case you needed help figuring it out. The grip is pretty weird, a bunch of steps, thinning towards the writing end of the pen body. It’s relatively comfortable to hold, albeit my least favourite of the Dialog series due to the horrid performance of the refills. Never have I ever come across a rollerball refill as bad as Lamy’s. The tip of every one I’ve tried (like, 15 of them) almost seems to perpetually have a tiny hair, or grain of sand, stuck inside so it screeches when you write with it. They tend to skip too and the line width varies at random. If you can find a good refill to use then I’d recommend that, otherwise skip out on this rocket ship altogether.
Lamy Dialog 3
Yeah, the weird-ass trio is rounded off by a cigar shaped, retractable fountain pen that’s odd to hold and to use. Well, I say that, but it’s actually one of my most favourite pens and one of only three pens I can recall that have retractable nibs. Retracting nibs are so rarely found because they are so complex to design properly. There’s a constant battle with air that goes on in the fountain pen industry. Air dries stuff out, and fountain pens hate that. Ergo, when it comes to making a fountain pen, it’s so much easier to just make a cap and call it a day.
So how does Lamy keep the 3 air tight? They don’t actually. It seems either they’re designed to leak slightly or mine tip-toed past the quality control police and did a runner out the back door before landing on my doorstep, because there’s a fairly sizeable leak where the clip joins onto the body. Nonetheless, everyday use can prevent the nib from drying too quickly, but it does put a spotlight on the fact that retractable nib pens don’t really make a lot of sense. I have a bunch of old Pilot VPs that have contracted leaks in the nib end of the pen that make them rather useless for seldom writes, so they sit uninked in my pen chest until I decide to sell them or use them every day. You can test this by dunking the front end of the pen in water and blowing through the other side, checking for bubbles.
Anyways, despite the 3’s inherent flaw, it’s a marvel of a pen. It gives the term “cigar-shape” a literal kick in the pants because it does look like you could remove the writing innards and store a Cuban in there. It’s the same thickness all the way down its Champagne-coloured, Palladium body (there’s a black version too), and despite looking like it would be a nightmare to use it’s actually really comfy if you have larger hands. It’s all rounded perfectly smooth and people will think you’re toting one of those neuralisers from the Men in Black movies.
The nib is extended with a twist of the front half of the body, and the mechanism is marvellous. The end is actually a swinging trapdoor that flips away with just enough clearance for the nib to poke its pointy head through, and I’ll bet the first ten minutes after receiving this beauty will be spent slowly twisting the pen to see exactly where the door goes. It’s really, really cool. Twisting the pen enough will click the nib into the extended position, locking it there until you want to retract it. At the closed position the pair of lines etched into the body meet, so if it’s not quite closed you’ll get a visual indicator.
The clip is positioned just like the Pilot Vanishing point’s, right where you hold the pen. This may seem awkward, but it’s not and stays out of the way, unless of course you hold your pen with your pointer finger on top (a fairly common grip style). The clip is a technical feat too, as it retracts slightly into the body making it impossible to clip the pen whilst the nib is exposed, preventing you from clipping it onto your pocket and getting ink everywhere, turning you from “that guy with the cool pen” to “that idiot with the cool pen”. It’s got the same spring-loaded system as the Dialog 2, so pressing on one end will pop it up slightly so you can clip it to a pocket with ease. You beauty!
The pen comes apart by twisting the body beyond the point where the nib is fully exposed, and it takes a lot of turns to separate the two halves, so it’s not something done accidentally, though if you did only the back half comes off so there’s little danger there. The nib unit then screws out to be filled with the ink of your choosing. The unit is fairly simplistic, housing the converter, feed, and nib inside a metal bullet-shaped thing with threads on the side to screw into the pen casing. Writing is melted butter supreme smooth, an absolute pleasure. The nib used here isn’t your usual Lamy fare, being 14k gold and very nice and springy in contrast to the nail-hard steel nibs used on the cheaper fountain pen models like the Safari. The shape is identical, however, so you can swap them around as you please. Do note that despite the steel nibs being readily available, these gold ones are not and fetch a pretty penny if you want to purchase them by themselves (100 bucks and up).
The 3 is what I like to call Lamy’s flagship pen, the super premium fountain pen in Lamy’s lineup. It’s not perfect but it separates itself well from the rest of the crowd with its design, which is just as unique as the rest of the Dialog series. Just note that the tip may not be airtight on your copy and that this pen is hella expensive ($300+), but if you can get past all that you’ll have a pen that’s gonna turn everyone’s head when you bring it out at the next board meeting (especially if you’re the guy in the jumpsuit toting a vacuum cleaner). I can imagine a fat cat signing a record breaking business deal with this cigar-shaped beauty, then actually having a cigar.
So the Dialog series is unique, quirky, and expensive. Of course, you would only buy one of these if you’re a crazy person with more money than wallets to keep that money in. Me? I’m both crazy and an avid user of eBay. I bought each of these for less than half the price of retail by trawling the used pens section of the site and strategically bidding on hardly used pens. It’s possible to buy these for much less than you think if you’re clever!
So despite the price, why would you purchase one of these beauties? Personally, I got them because I’m a Lamy enthusiast, but they’re fantastic pens on their own anyway. The 1, which is more of a showpiece than anything with its “place on your desk for everyone in the office to see” design. The 2, with a weird rocket shape, heavy body, and integrated clip. And the 3, which is just, interesting; it’s a great blend of design and functionality, and the nib is one of the smoothest I’ve used.
So the Dialogs are probably more technical exercises than anything, like a concept car or a toaster with 30 slots. You don’t need them, of course, there are better pens on the market, but more unique pens? I don’t think so.