Some people don’t like Italian design. It’s hard to understand but it seems Italians aren’t trusted when it comes to engineering functional products. Many successful managers in corporate world usually have at least a few Italian shoes and suits but they travel in german or japanese cars. Also among fountain pen aficionados there’s not a lot of trust toward Italian brands. I don’t get it.
I love Italian design and style. My experience with Italian fountain pens was good so far and if you’ll ask me about my favorite fountain pens three of them would be Italian.
Visconti Opera is among them. I can state it with certitude as I’ve been using this pen for approximately three years.
Opera line was introduced in 2003 and managed to get acclaim due to unique design and shape being part of Visconti’s “Squaring the Circle” inspiration. A profile of the pen looks like an octagon with every other side of the shape being rounded. It provides subtle faceting. Throughout the years there have been a number of variations on the line, featuring a wide variety of different materials and slight design differences. Until 2015 Opera pens were made mainly of plastic. At the moment they can be also purchased in so called avional (aluminum alloy) version. The newest ones feature tubular nib and are, in my opinion, much uglier than the first version.
I’ve managed to find a bargain-priced Black Guilloche model. Like most Visconti pens, the manufacturing of the pen body is flawless. The materials are smooth and clean, parts are connected very well and the cap and barrel line up nicely. The body of the pen is high gloss resin with Rhodium plated trims and is finely etched with a pinstripe guilloche pattern.
The cap starts with a chromed Visconti medallion which can be replaced with other options from the “My Visconti” system. I use Dragon medallion that’s rather cool. There’s, of course, infamous bridge clip (some people really hate it, I love it). It isn’t very tight thanks to the spring hinge and it can be pulled up easily. It has a high arch which can accommodate thicker notebooks or jeans pocket.
The pen is a little top-heavy because of metal section. Personally I enjoy metal section and I consider this one to be very comfortable. Those who dislike metal sections in general won’t probably fall in love with this one. The pen can be posted if that’s your preference.
(Ink used in writing sample below – Olivastre by L’Artisan Pastellier)
This nib is stunning. It’s made of 14 ct gold and is chromium plated. It’s one of most aesthetically pleasing nibs I had in my hands. I enjoy metal sections and chromium plated elements. Big nib and metal section joined together look simply spectacular. The nib performs very well, but isn’t as smooth as my Omas Ogiva medium nib. Still, it’s a pleasure to use.
The section unscrews on metal threads to reveal threaded, Visconti-branded, standard international converter. Visconti upgraded its look by attaching an engraved metal cap over the piston knob. It gives the converter a more robust appearance. The converter screws in securely but it has an issue – few of the inks that I tried in this converter tended to get “stuck” toward the back of the converter and make the pen occasionally feel like it was running out of ink.
It’s one of the pens that I’m planning to keep and use frequently. I like almost everything about it. Sure, I would prefer to get my hands on some colorful version but with time I got used to black body. Also it’s not as monotonous as many black pens are due to guilloche pattern. This particular pen is no longer produced and is hard to find – and when you find one the prices are high. I’ve paid 300 $ (50 % of MSRP) for mine. I would say that Visconti Opera pens are definitely overpriced. On the other hand if you like this design you won’t find anything like that on the market. If this is the case you can cry, you can swear, but sooner or later, you’ll just reach for the wallet.