Omas 360 Burkina

Founded in 1925 in Bologna OMAS was an Italian manufacturer of luxury goods. Their fountain pens weren’t cheap but they had strong following in the community. Sadly it wasn’t enough. In january 2015 company was put in liquidation.

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OMAS stands for Officina Meccanica Armando Simoni. The company was founded by Armando Simoni, who also designed the tools and equipment needed to manufacture the OMAS line of pens.

Throughout the years OMAS manufactured a variety of pens, the top line being the faceted Arte Italiana range, as well as a variety of limited edition pens. In their history, they introduced a number of interesting designs such as the “Doctor’s pen” which had a tiny built-in clinical thermometer or the double-nibbed Itala in the 1920s and the 361 model in the late 1940s whose nib could be used as a hard writer if handled in one position and as a flexible writer in another.

In 2000, the French company LVMH acquired OMAS from the heirs of Armando Simoni. In October 2007 the Xinyu Hengdeli Group of Hong Kong purchased 90% equity stake in OMAS. Xinyu had a strategic partnership with LVMH and planned to use OMAS for its expansion of luxury goods in the Asian market. The company continued to be unprofitable and in 2011 it was sold to another Chinese company, O-Luxe. O-Luxe decided to close Omas in November 2015 and the company entered voluntary liquidation in January 2016 ceasing all trading.

My experience with Omas is limited. Two years ago I went bonkers and bought orange Omas Ogiva Alba – the most expensive pen in my collection. While the pen disappointed me a little – I expected it would emanate high quality but it doesn’t – the smoothness of its medium nib still amazes me. It glides across the paper. Pure poetry. And the reason I still have the pen. During last two years  I bought two other Omas pens – vintage Extra and Emotica. While none of them is perfectly engineered, they all write like a dream.
I always wanted to try one of Omas celluloid pens but as they were in the upper price range I hesitated. Celuloid looks stunning, but it’s not most durable material. And even though I try to take care for my pens and not abuse them too much, I tend to forget I have them with me. Accidents happen. One example is my first Eversharp Skyline – I’ve broken it on the first day. I simply forgot I had it in my backpack, and while coming back from work I leaned against the doors in a train and heard CRACK. It’s as simple as that. Therefore reason dictates that I choose either durable or cheap pens.Unhappily I enjoy iralian style too much to resist the urge.
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When vodnikvolsovecek proposed to borrow me some of his more interesting (and expensive pens) and I discovered that Omas 360 in burkina celuloid would be one of them I was impatient to try it.First because I find Burkina celuloid striking, second because I was always interested in trying Omas 360.
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Launched in 1996 Omas 360 was the company’s last major design innovation – it’s a fountain pen with a triangular body to maximize grip and writing comfort. Some people may find the shape odd – actually I was one of them. While looking at the pictures I couldn’t help but to ask myself how one is supposed to hold this pen to make writing comfortable. Is it possible at all to find a comfortable grip on such a bizarre section?

It turns out the answer is YES. Actually it’s one of most comfortable sections I’ve ever tried. And the pen fits in my hand very well.

Omas 360 is huge but very light. It feels well balanced when capped and when uncapped. The cap on this pen is snap-on.  While I prefer screw caps, this one holds enough tension to post the pen securly. Also, given the shape of the pen, I don’t think Omas had a lot of choice. If you tend to post the cap, maybe you would do well to abandon this strange habit while using Omas 360. Posting is possible and balance will be there. On the other hand the pen will become huge, also I’m afraid that with time too much pressure could cause some unpleasant surprise like cracking celuloid. Maybe I’m just overly dramatical but why take a risk?

Triangular section is metal. I enjoy most metal sections and I believe that even those who find them too slippery would enjoy Omas 3600 section. Due to it’s shape it remains comfortable in the hand, even when the hand tends to sweat a little. The pen sits well in the hand but if you hold it in a way that causes the triangular section to dig into you fingers, this shape won’t work for you.

Burkina celuloid looks  sensational. Olive and gold tones swirl together and are separated by solid and dotted streaks of black.  In person and on a sunny day the effect is AMAZING.

Construction

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Omas 360 is a solid, well made pen. As it’s made of celuloid, it’s rather light. Sure metal elemets add some weight to it.

I can imagine that engineering triangular pen was undoubtedly challenging. I think Omas managed to do it in a satisfying way. On the other hand this pen, like most Omas pens, won’t give you highest quality feel you get from playing with Montblanc or Conid. When the cap is posted it feels a little loose and can be moved to some extent in all directions. Also the fit of the elements isn’t really perfect. Sure, everything works fine but if you’ve ever used Lamy 2000 or Pilot CH 92 in which the fit of the elements is simply perfect, Omas 360 may feel awkward in the hand. It just doesn’t feel so well built.

There’s also the clip – it’s functional and eye catching. As it curves upwards it’s easy to slip the pen into any pocket.

Nib

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Writing sample (L’Artisan Pastellier Olivastre on Fantastic Paper)

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The guy who invented a process of creating and tuning nibs for Omas was genius. This nib is simply stellar. In terms of pen-to-paper performacce it offers everything I look for – great looks paired with smoothness and wetness.

I believe thar rich flow is possible because Omas used ebonite feeds instead of typical injection mold plastic feeds. Ebonite feeds aren’t mass produced like the plastic feeds because ebonite requires different technique to machine them into feeds.

The nib and feed combo gives juicy feel that I enjoy and look for in fountain pens.

Filling System 

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Piston-filler. The piston operates smoothly and it holds enough ink for a typical day in the office. Or maybe even two.

Dimensions

Capped – 150 mm

Weight – 32 g

Summary

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I don’t want to give back this pen. It’s stunning. The nib is perfect. Metal section sits well in the hand and is very comfortable. Burkina celuloid looks amazing. Now I wish I had a chance to try one of Omas 360 when they were still produced and easily (but expensively) available. Sure – the pen can still be bought but the price range (500 – 1000 $) is crazy high. While this pen is marvelous it’s definitely not worth this amount of money. For this price you’ll easily get few very good pens. I know this, I’ve analyzed everything. Sadly it changes nothing. I already know that I’ll keep on looking for good deals on this one. That’s how infatuation works. You just can’t help it.

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