Hi everyone, and welcome back to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Sunday, I’m reviewing a bunch of writing instruments from local stationery purveyor, Cityluxe.
I’ve been wanting to cover writing instruments – especially fountain pens – on Wah So Shiok for quite a while now, and I’m stoked to have finally found the right retail partner to make this review possible. In many senses, fountain pens are exactly like mechanical watches. Sure, there are cheap ballpoint pens that will get the job done at a fraction of the price, but it simply doesn’t exude the same enjoyment as a fountain pen does. There’s a sense of class and workmanship to fountain pens that I really appreciate, but unfortunately usage of fountain pens have drastically declined in this digital age. Hopefully, through reviews on this platform, I’ll be able to reverse a little bit of that decline.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the review!
Monteverde Aldo Domani + Monteverde Azure Noir Review
Cityluxe sent me the Monteverde Aldo Domani fountain pen (medium nib) for review, along with a bottle of Monteverde Azure Noir ink. Priced at $60, the Aldo Domani is considered an entry-level fountain pen, perfect for those looking to dip their toes into the waters of the fountain pen world.
My first impression of the Monteverde Aldo Domani was definitely positive. The Aldo Domani came in a nice green pen box, with a satin interior. The Monteverde brand is nicely stitched as well. When I first opened up the packaging, it reminded me of a Rolex watch box – it’s actually a very similar shade of green. If you’re planning to purchase the Aldo Domani as a gift, you can be assured that it (for the lack of better words) looks expensive. There are also the usual warranty and care guide included in the false bottom of the box, as well as additional Monteverde ink cartridges, which is a nice touch.
The Monteverde Aldo Domani is described as having a “mid-sized profile” and a “smooth finish”. It also comes in a variety of colours, such as Black, Blue, Lavender, Red, and even Pink! Cityluxe sent me the black variant, which is definitely the most professional looking one out of the lot. It’s one that definitely feels right at home in an office, or in the pen pocket of a suit. While the Aldo Domani isn’t particularly eye-catching in its design, it does feel quite sturdy as it is an all-metal pen, with both the cap and the barrel being forged out of metal. It also has a shiny lacquered finish, giving the Aldo Domani a more premium feel.
The silver accents of the pen adds some contrast to the otherwise black Aldo Domani. I like that the model name is imprinted on the silver barrel ring – it’s a nice little detail. I also appreciated that the silver pen clip is faceted, giving the pen added sophistication.
Elsewhere, there are several other neat little touches too. For starters, the Monteverde branding is elegantly imprinted (in silver, to complement the silver accents) on the tip of the pen cap. There’s also a black medallion at the top, made out of black resin.
My favourite aspect of a fountain pen is always the nib. It’s simply a treat to see how the nib is decorated – it’s similar to seeing a decorated movement through the caseback of a watch. On the Monteverde Aldo Domani, the nib is made of stainless steel with an iridium tip. On more expensive fountain pens, nibs are often made out of precious metals such as gold. Nonetheless, I found the engravings on the nib of the Aldo Domani to be well-executed. I found it interesting that the Monteverde brand name and logo appears twice on the nib. In particular, I really like the jagged engraving, meant to resemble the peaks of the mountain in Monteverde’s logo.
The Monteverde Aldo Domani comes with a cartridge converter, allowing you the option to either use the cartridges which Monteverde has provided, or the ink of your choice from a bottle. I definitely appreciated this flexibility in terms of inking options. In addition, I am very impressed by the quality of the converter included. It has metal components to it, and on the whole, feels sturdy and well-made. Compared to the converters included in lower-priced pens from say, Jinhao, the converted included in the Monteverde Aldo Domani is definitely a tier above in quality.
On the topic of inks, I should point out that Cityluxe carries a variety of Monteverde inks. I counted a total of 56 different kinds of Monteverde ink bottles offered on Cityluxe’s store – that’s insane! There seems to be every shade of the rainbow available, from Rose Pink to Scotch Brown. If you want to showcase your personality through a unique ink colour, there’s definitely a Monteverde ink for you. While I was tempted to go for one of the flashier options, I felt that the Azure Noir (pictured above) would be the most appropriate choice for a business pen.
Of course, no fountain pen review is complete without a writing sample! I really like the Monteverde Aldo Domani with a medium nib. It’s versatile enough for both daily writing and signatures. The writing experience is pretty smooth, with the nib gliding across the paper with relative ease. It’s neither too wet nor too scratchy – a perfect balance in between. With the Aldo Domani I preferred to write with the cap posted. When the cap is posted, there’s a nice hefty weight to the pen, resulting in a nice balance when writing. Lastly, I liked the Monteverde Azure Noir ink too! Monteverde states that the ink is a blend of blue with black, and is “full of depth and stability”. While it isn’t as flashy as some of the other colours available, I still found it subtly cool – it reminds me of midnight blue. It’s certainly more visually interesting than the typical black/blue ink!
It’s not enough to have a nice pen and ink – you need good paper to write on too. This is something that many fountain pen beginners do not realise. On cheaper, lower quality paper, the ink often bleeds through to the pages underneath, creating an unsightly mess. Luckily, that won’t happen when you use a Leuchtturm1917 notebook! As the name suggests, Leuchtturm1917 is a family-owned business that has been producing stationery and paper products for over a century. Their notebooks are widely considered one of the best in the market. In addition, Cityluxe offers customers the opportunity to personalise the notebook for an additional $15. Customers can personalise a maximum of 18 characters, in gold, silver, copper or blind font. Again, this is great if you’re looking to purchase the notebook as a gift. Cityluxe sent me the Leuchtturm1917 Hardcover Notebook in Demin, with dotted pages – let’s take a closer look at it!
For those uninitiated with Leuchtturm1917’s notebooks, they generally come in 3 different page variants – blank, lined, and dotted. Out of the three, I find the dotted (shown above) to be the most versatile. There’s simply a ton of ways that you can use the dotted pages for, some of which you can’t necessarily do on blank/lined pages. For ideas on how to use a dotted notebook, Papier did a wonderful article on it here. Personally, I found myself using the dotted pages as a planner, to plan my days during the CB/Phase 1 period. I know of peers that use a dotted notebook to take notes/draw mindmaps/etc as well. I have to say, the quality of the paper used here is really quite remarkable. It’s thick, feels nice to the touch, and there’s no bleeding of ink at all even though I was using a medium nib fountain pen (broader nibs are more susceptible to ink bleeding as more ink passes through the paper). Lastly, there are a few nifty features included too, such as ribbons that serve as bookmarks, a slot at the back which can be used to store cards, post-its, etc, and even label stickers! It’s certainly a feature-packed notebook, and a step up from the generic notebooks one can get from Popular.
Conclusion – so Cityluxe writing instruments “shiok” or not?
I really liked all the items that Cityluxe sent me. While not exactly eye-catching, the Monteverde Aldo Domani is, in my opinion, a great entry-level fountain pen for the burgeoning pen enthusiast. It’s well finished, has a nicely signed nib, and comes with a cartridge converter for maximum convenience. Most importantly, it writes smoothly, especially when posted. I also like the Monteverde Azure Noir bottle ink – it’s an interesting shade that’s reminiscent of midnight blue. Finally, the Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebook is one of the best notebooks I’ve personally ever used. It uses high-quality paper, and the dotted pages makes it incredibly versatile. I also love that Cityluxe offers customers the chance to personalise the notebook, making it the perfect choice as either a gift for a loved one or a way to make the notebook unique to yourself. In case you’re wondering, fountain pen engraving is also available at an additional $15.
For those interested, you can use the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” to enjoy 10% off most items on Cityluxe, excluding Pilot and Pentel products. After the promo code, the Leuchtturm1917 notebook can be had for just $33.30 currently (excluding personalisation), the Monteverde Azure ink costs merely $10.70, and the Monteverde Aldo Domani fountain pen would be $54. In other words, you can have a complete writing set (fountain pen + ink + notebook) for under $100! For those who find the Aldo Domani a tad too expensive, there’s still the Icona which is a great value proposition at $40.50 (after the discount). If you’re looking for something more aesthetically striking, there’s also the Jewelria. No matter your budget, there’s a Monteverde fountain pen available.
I’ll admit – I’m not exactly a subject matter expert on writing instruments. I simply review them from a layman’s perspective. If you’re looking for reviews by pen enthusiasts, you can check some of these down below!
Monteverde Aldo Domani reviews:
Monteverde Azure Noir review:
Leuchtturm1917 dotted notebook reviews:
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah So Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.