Pen Class: Luxury ($1000 to $1999)
Street Price:: $1200
Body Material: Auroloid
Nib Material: 18k Gold
Nib Size: Fine, Medium, Broad
Cap Type: Screw On/Off
Filling Mechanism: Piston
Ink Capacity: 1.0 ml / 0.04 oz
Overall Weight: 42 g / 1.48 oz
Cap Weight: 14 g / 0.49 oz
Body Weight: 28 g / 0.99 oz
Overall Length Capped: 130 mm / 5.24 in
Overall Length Posted: 156 mm / 6.14 in
Body Length (not including nib): 102 mm / 4.01 in
Nib Length: 23 mm / 0.91 in
Body Length (including nib): 125 mm / 4.92 in
Cap Diameter w/o Clip: 16 mm / 0.63
Cap Diameter w/Clip: 18 mm / 0.71
Body Diameter at Ink Window: 14 mm / 0.55
Body Diameter at Blind Cap End: 11 mm / 0.43
If this pen were a movie, it would be…
Mar de Amores (1998)
Dan: 9.25 – Aurora made a good decision with the packaging of the Mar Tirreno. The pen comes in a large box with a matte black finish and the Aurora logo on the lid. It’s solid, heavy, and very well constructed.
Opening the lid is like opening a treasure chest, it’s a bit heavy and requires a bit of effort to get to the treasure inside. On the inside of the lid is a pocket to hold all the manuals and booklets. In the lower right corner a bottle of Aurora black ink is nestled into the leather-like surface. The pen rests in the middle of the case like a piece of treasure that when first viewed upon just takes away your breath.
Eric: 8.0 - Aurora’s packaging is well made and elegant. The outer box feels both durable and protective. The inner wooden box is black and mysterious. The Aurora name/logo is front and center on the box top. Unfortunately, it looks like a sticker that has been applied somewhat off kilter. I can’t swear that it’s a sticker (my fingernail will not catch its edge), but why is there anything that even remotely looks like a sticker on this box?
Open the lid, however, and the box top is instantly forgotten. Resting, like Sleeping Beauty on a black pillow, is a lovely pen begging to be awakened. The pen’s colors and silver furniture are strikingly beautiful against the black background.
Dan: 8.5 – The piston unit in the Mar Tirreno operates just like the one found on the 88. You can read all my thoughts on the piston filler in that review.
The only difference I noticed on this pen is the feeling at the end of the stroke is very soft and mushy. It doesn’t feel like you’re hitting a wall, it feels like your pushing the piston into a pillow. I don’t particularly like that feeling. It’s not there’s anything wrong with the piston or that it might be easier to break, it just doesn’t feel crisp and solid.
Eric: 8.5 - In typical Aurora fashion, the Mar Tirreno’s piston filling system is straight-forward, easy to use, and gets the job done. I consider the ink capacity to be a bit small for a piston, but it’s workable.
Dan: 9.25 – The Aurora Mar Tirreno makes a strong first impression. The large footprint of the black box makes its presence known and the green Auroloid practically glows from within the black interior of the box like a piece of kryptonite.
Once the pen was filled and the nib hit the paper, I could tell I was in for a heck of a ride. I just didn’t know how good it was truly going to be. The smoothness I felt in the nib was unlike any Aurora that I’d ever written with. I checked the pen a couple of times to make sure I was actually using an Aurora.
The Test Drive quickly turned into a cross country road trip. I just couldn’t get enough. It’s like when you try a new dish for the first time and you actually love it. You don’t want to stop eating! You know if you have one more bite you’re going to explode, but you’re willing to risk it. That’s kind of what it was like with this pen.
Eric: 9.0 - The first thing I noticed when I picked up the Aurora Mar Tirreno is that most of the pen’s weight is near the nib. Removing the cap reveals why, the section is sterling silver.
Inking up the pen with Private Reserve Avacado [sic], I began to write. The feel of the nib on the paper and the pen in the had was superb! The balance, both posted and non-posted, was perfection itself. The nib was smooth and the flow just slightly on the wet side, exactly how I like it. I did not want the Test Drive to end, but I took solace in the fact that I would soon take the pen on a Road Trip.
Dan: 6.0 – I don’t know what the deal is with Aurora and their nib design but I really, really don’t like it. I’m glad they’re at least putting their name on the nib now, but what’s with all the cheap, knock-off scrollwork and the giant “18k” in the center of the nib? Why isn’t the same logo that’s on the top of the cap in the center of the nib? Why is “Aurora” printed so small and near the base of the nib? I have a feeling these questions will never be answered and, more depressingly, the design will never be changed.
Eric: 7.25 -
Your nibs perform beautifully. Aesthetically, however, there is much to be desired.
Please remove the scrollwork, then stamp the Aurora name/logo where the encircled 18K now resides.
Doing so will remove the generic look of your nibs and transform them into miniature works of art, worthy of close inspection, macro photography, and bragging rights.
Dan: 9.25 – I hate to say it, but I was actually surprised by how good the nib was out of box. I know, for how much the pen costs not only should it write well but it should also turn your chicken scratch into world class calligraphy.
The majority of Auroras that I’ve written with have had quite a bit of feedback from the nib. Not scratchy, but more of a little ‘tooth’. Not this nib, though. This one was as smooth as butter gliding on glass. The feed held up its end by constantly delivering a slightly wet flow of ink. I never experienced a hard start, a skip, or inconsistent flow.
Another important part of the pen that performed well was the clip. It feels like there’s more tension in it than most other clips, but thanks to the large ball on the end it’s still easy to use with one hand. Since we’re talking about the cap I’ll just mention that it’s quickly removed in 1 ½ rotations and post securely.
Just because this pen is in the four figure price range doesn’t mean it’s strictly a “trailer queen” destined to sit in a padded case its entire life. It’s just as practical a daily carry pen as a Lamy Safari or Pilot Vanishing Point.
Eric: 9.5 - The Aurora Mar Tirreno is a pen built for performance. If you’re looking for a pen that will write each and every time you ask it to, look no further. Even when I purposely tried, I could not coax the Aurora to skip or hesitate. Leaving the pen vertical and untouched for 72 hours did not provide the much anticipated hard start.
There is, of course, the well-known Aurora feedback (not scratchiness) that will either be something you enjoy, dislike or don’t much notice. But if the primary function of a fountain pen is to put ink on paper in a controlled fashion, this pen is an absolute winner.
Dan: 9.25 – While I don’t really care for the sea theme, I do like the base design of the pen that integrates a barrel end ring, cap band, and clip ring. A good example of a pen of this style that I do like would be Aurora’s 85th Anniversary pen. I absolutely love the details found in all three bands on that pen. I would sell my left kidney for that pen. Anyway…
Starting with the cap, I just love the logo on the top. It gives the pen a higher quality look and feel over something that’s just painted on or is just plain and round. The clip ring near the top of the cap isn’t something we see very often. But I’d like to start to. Done properly, they add a lot of character to a pen. On this ring is Sardinia’s Nuraghi, the largest megalithic monuments in Europe. The cap band depicts Vesuvio’s outline and Capri’s Faraglioni, along with “AURORA MADE IN ITALY”. The barrel bottom ring is decorated with flower designs taken from Etruscan amphorae.
Representing the luscious native vegetation around the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea is the green Auroloid. It’s a fantastically beautiful material that just can’t be captured in images or videos, at least not by me. It’s a material that’s so stunning that I’ll just pull it out to look at it. Usually I’ll leave it on the desk in front of my keyboard so that I can see it as I work. I just can’t get enough of it.
Eric: 7.0 - First and foremost, the Auroloid material of this pen is beautiful enough to be dream inducing. Fix your vision on the material as you slowly turn the pen in your hand and it is very easy to imagine that you are staring into the gently moving waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea itself.
I’ve seen Auroloid called a resin and in bottom-line terms, I’ve heard resin referred to as plastic. If the Auroloid of the Mar Tirreno is plastic, it is one of the most beautiful plastics ever created.
The cap band on this pen is every so slightly on the wide side for my tastes. I very much like the idea of the clip ring at the top of the cap, but the poor execution is distracting (see Detailing). The Aurora name/logo on the cap top is an example of an excellent design decision.
Generally speaking, I prefer a pen’s section to match the pen’s body/cap. However, in the case of the Mar Tirreno, the silver section fits the look of the pen perfectly. The section is also long-ish, which allows for the threads to be completely out from under the fingers while writing.
Dan: 8.0 – There’s no doubt that Aurora can build a fine pen. That’s evident in this and every other Aurora pen I’ve used. But for the price, I was expecting a little more attention to detail.
For starters, the gap around the clip where it enters the cap is a little too large. I think the tolerance should be tighter here. It looks a little unfinished and not something you would expect to see on such an expensive pen.
The other issue I discovered was that the metal band between the ink window and barrel wiggles just the tiniest little bit. It doesn’t make any noise and it doesn’t affect your grip or feel of the pen. But, just that fact that I know there’s a piece that wiggles that’s not supposed to on this $1200 pen is a little upsetting.
Other than that, this pen is a finely tuned writing instrument.
Eric: 5.5 - There is much to be admired in the Aurora Mar Tirreno. The Auroloid material, as previously noted, is stunning and mesmerizing. The Aurora name/logo/shape in the cap top is design perfection. The lower band of the pen’s center band is undulating, reminiscent of sea waves. While the meaning of some of the artwork used in the trim may be lost on me, there is no question that much artistic care was taken during the manufacturing process.
While I very much like the clip on this pen, I do not like the gaping space between the top of the clip and the clip ring. Even without a loupe, the empty space is a major detraction from the overall beauty of the pen. If only the clip ring and the clip itself had been cast as a single unit, the gap would be non-existant.
Between the ink window and the Auroloid material of the pen’s barrel is a thin silver ring that is not seated properly. It does not seem to rotate but it is loose. I may not have noticed this looseness had I not intentionally inspected all areas of the pen with a loupe, but now that I’m aware of it, I can’t ignore it. It’s obviously a flaw in manufacturing and I have to assume that this ring on other Mar Tirreno pens is affixed correctly. For a pen in this price range, this is unacceptable. The pen should be returned for replacement or repair.
Dan: 10 – This was, without a doubt, the absolute best writing experience I’ve ever had. It’s like this pen was made specifically for me. I didn’t want to put it down.
The nib performed flawlessly. No skips. No hard starts. No rough spots. The nib was actually shockingly smooth. I’ve never written with an Aurora that was this smooth. It was almost magical.
I was really quite surprised by just how much I liked this pen. Picking it up, without writing anything, I would have initially thought that it was too skinny for me. Not that it’s a skinny pen, I just prefer larger pens like the Montblanc 149 or a Delta Dolcevita Stantuffo. But, the size and concentration of weight around the grip section makes this pen a serious, comfortable writer.
The sterling silver section also helped throw me for a loop. I don’t blatantly disregard pens with metal sections. I’ll at least give them a chance and usually end up tolerating them. But with the Mar Tirreno, I didn’t have any issues with it. It didn’t seem as slippery as some pens with chrome plated steel sections. Now, I don’t know if there’s actually any difference in the gripping ability between sterling silver and chrome plated steel, but the Mar Tirreno just seemed to perform better than other pens when there was some moisture on my fingers.
At first glance, and even right out of the box, I never would have thought I’d like this pen as much as I did. It took a few days of use before I realized its potential. Once I did, I didn’t want to put it down.
Eric: 9.5 - I cannot recall a more pleasant Road Trip. The pen, the nib, the ink, the paper, my hand, all became one and the writing experience was very close to nirvana.
My only niggle, and it’s a personal one, is the aforementioned Aurora feedback. I understand some people enjoy feeling some information from the nib while writing. Those people might very easily have given the pen a perfect ten in this category. I, however, find the feedback to be the single distracting component in an otherwise perfect writing experience.
|Comfort||Nib imprint design|
Famous Last Words:
Dan: The overall Geek Factor doesn’t represent how much I really love this pen. There were several things I wasn’t crazy about like a few minor details, the nib imprint, and the sea themed castings, but once I had the pen in hand and the nib on paper, anything I didn’t like was completely forgotten. This pen is the perfect example of how easy it would be to miss out on a great writer just because you’re not into its theme or the way it looks in a picture. It also shows just how many ‘annoyances’ you can overlook when you do find that perfect writer. I realize this pen is going to be unobtainable for some, but if you have the means, I highly suggest calling up your favorite retailer. If you don’t have the means, take a second, third, or even fourth look at the pen in your price range that you’ve kept skipping over without ever giving a chance. It might just surprise you.
Eric: Ignoring the dust-collecting gap at the top of the clip, the Aurora Mar Tirreno is a stunningly beautiful pen that is comfortable in the hand and performs well beyond expectations.
Given the pen’s price point, however, if my brother were to come to me with a $1000+ budget and ask my opinion of the Mar Tirreno, I’d advise him to see one in real life before making a decision. The Mar Tirreno, up close and personal, will either whisper your name and cast its spell or remain completely mute. You won’t know which until you have one in your hand.