1. Appearance and Design. Sleek, contemporary, large.
The Dialog 3 is made of metal, in the shape of a cylinder, with sleek, minimalist looks. It is very large. The only decorations are a chrome clip, two sets of parallel gray lines and the Lamy logo.
The Piano White finish is a sleek, shiny white. The Dialog 3 also comes in shiny Piano Black, matte black and palladium. Elegance and restraint are the order of the day, and that’s reflected in the color choices.
Piano White is beautiful. However, this happens to be the second white pen I’ve bought this month. And for me, that’s a lot of white in a short period of time. I can’t help thinking I might have preferred the palladium or the glossy Piano Black finish. But my Dialog 3 experts assure me that the Piano White is the nicest. And it does look gorgeous.
I have a weakness for pens that look like a secret agent’s weapon, suitable for jabbing enemies with poison. The Lamy Dialog 3 is such a pen.
Plus, the white color means I can conceal it in my astronaut suit. So it’s versatile.
I love how the Dialog 3 looks, and I love how it doesn’t look like other fountain pens. But the Dialog 3 does remind me of another Lamy pen. (Pause for barely suppressed sob). It reminds me of my (stolen) Lamy Pico. (Pause to hex Pico thief.)
The Lamy Pico is a beautiful ballpoint with a cylindrical shape that hides a cool system for activating and elongating the pen. The Dialog 3 is a fountain pen whose cylindrical shape hides a cool system for activating and extending a fountain pen nib. I was not surprised to discover that the Dialog 3 fountain pen was designed by the man who had designed the Pico, Franco Clivio.
2. Construction and Quality. Solid construction; clip doesn’t line up.
The Dialog 3 is a hunk of metal. The nib is 14k gold. The materials seem high-quality. Everything feels solid and tight-fitting. The finish is smooth.
The Dialog 3 looks so minimalist because almost everything mechanical is inside the pen body. For writing, twist the back half of the pen clockwise until it stops, and the nib emerges while the clip flattens somewhat into the body, so your fingers don’t hit a high ridge while you’re holding the pen to write. (You can see that in the photo a few paragraphs above.) When you want to retract the Dialog 3 nib, you turn the barrel back counter-clockwise, until the parallel lines line up on both sides of the pen body. When you want to open the pen to fill it with ink, you turn counter-clockwise past the parallel lines, and then unscrew the pen body. Stopping points are indicated with haptic cues reinforced by the visual marker of the matching parallel lines.
I think the design is ingenious, and the general construction and quality excellent.
That said, mine has one niggle that may bother some folks. On mine, when you extend the nib, the center of the nib does not line up exactly with the center of the clip.
I checked inside my pen, and everything is tight. Mine just is this way.
I then checked with a friend with the same pen: his nib looks more centered on his clip. I checked with Dan Smith, the Nibsmith, who said mine seems more off-center than others he’s seen. Since Lamy has people at the factory examine and write with every finished pen, I assume mine must be within tolerances. That means, not every nib will line up with the center of the clip. Perhaps I could send it back if I wanted.
The thing is, you don’t see this while writing with the pen. I didn’t notice it for days. And the nib being slightly off-center in relation to the clip doesn’t affect the pen’s operation: my pen works perfectly and writes perfectly. And it feels very comfortable to write with it. So I’m pretty chill. I’m not sure I’m even going to ask Lamy about it. But others might. Which is why I mention it.
3. Weight and Dimensions. Weighty and large.
Weight of the pen: 47.8 grams filled with ink using the converter. Length of the closed pen (from the top): about 5 ½ inches or 14 cm. Length of the pen with nib extended: about 6 3⁄16 inches or 15.8 cm. Width: around ½ inch, or about 1.5 cm.
The Dialog 3 is large. On the one hand, it is similar to a capped Lamy Safari or Al-Star.
Now uncap the Al-Star.
The Dialog 3 is much larger, and the section part is much wider.
Here it is next to the Pelikan M605 White Transparent.
Much larger. (Also you can see how the Pelikan white is warmer and more ivory, and the Dialog 3 white is a cooler shade of white.)
Also much heavier: the Dialog 3 is more than twice the weight of a capped Lamy Al-Star. It’s the heaviest pen I’ve ever owned or used.
I don’t generally enjoy heavy pens, so I am surprised, and pleased, that I’ve found it so easy to use the Dialog 3, even for long writing sessions. I’m not sure why. The weight seems to be distributed pretty evenly over the lower two-thirds of the pen, which may help. And the pen’s width, the lack of a separate section and the low-profile clip make different grips comfortable. When I’m writing with the Dialog 3 for a long time, I think I shift the pen around in my hand without noticing it.
There’s one more reason the pen may work so well for me despite the weight. And that’s the nib.
4. Nib and Performance. So smooth it glides.
The Dialog 3 has the same 14k nib that you can see in the higher end Studios, which are based on the Safari steel nib design. My Dialog 3 has a fine nib: it’s a wide, Western fine and the feed is very generous with ink, so it’s not the slimmer fine I’d normally prefer. But the nib writes beautifully: so smooth I can’t just say smooth. Smooth, smooth, smooth. It needs no pressure. With a wet ink and on Rhodia paper, it was off and running so easily I’m taking it on faith it actually needed to touch the paper.
Sheen lovers will appreciate that even the fine nib puts down a lot of ink. I first filled my Dialog 3 with KWZ Azure #4, an ink that’s well-lubricated and is on the wetter side. I later switched to Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue, an ink that’s fairly dry. With Midnight Blue, the Dialog 3 fine nib still glides beautifully and starts up immediately.
This is a fantastic pen to write with.
5. Filling System and Maintenance. Proprietary cartridge/converter.
The Dialog 3 comes with a Lamy converter, or one can use Lamy cartridges. I have been using the included converter.
The converter forms a unit with the nib and feed, and you remove this from the pen’s metal shell to either fill or clean out ink. The pen body never comes into contact with ink, and neither does the trap door.
I happen to prefer a cartridge/converter system to all other filling systems, for convenience and ease of cleaning. This one seems to work well. It’s easy to fill and the ink flowed perfectly until I wrote the pen dry.
6. Cost and Value. Pricey, but special.
I bought mine on sale, but the Dialog 3 in Piano White lists at around $320 in the US. That’s expensive, to me.
Though it’s cheaper than my last new pen, the Pelikan M605. And, sit down, because the Dialog 3 is also less expensive than a Pelikan M400 in the US. The Dialog 3 is less expensive than any Aurora Optima, and far less expensive than a Montblanc LeGrand.
But there are other comparisons. At $320, the Dialog 3 is twice the price of a Lamy 2000. Then there’s the pen to which everyone tends to compare the Dialog 3 — the Pilot Vanishing Point. There are many Vanishing Points, ranging in price from around $150 to over $600 in the US. But let’s just focus on the regular-priced Vanishing Points at $150.
The reason people compare the Dialog 3 to the Vanishing Point is that the Vanishing Point has a retractable nib. Though the Vanishing Point operates with a button on top, like a click ballpoint.
I’ve owned four or five Vanishing Points over the years. My unvarnished opinion: there is no comparison between the Vanishing Point and the Dialog 3. Yes, they are both fountain pens with retractable nibs. Apples and oranges are both fruits that grow on trees.
The Dialog 3 is in a different league. The Dialog 3 is striking, and special.
I’ve never had anyone, pen fancier or not, comment on a Pilot Vanishing Point — not even the purple one. In contrast, I’ve owned the Dialog 3 for less than two weeks, and it’s attracted attention from everyone who sees it.
Now I like the Vanishing Point. But the regular Vanishing Point is a lower-priced model among the gold-nib fountain pens in Pilot’s range. The pen I’d compare it to is the standard Lamy 2000, which I also like. The Vanishing Point and the Lamy 2000 are widely available, sold by the thousands, and priced similarly. Both are “step up” fountain pens, but so good that a person could just stop right there. Different people will prefer one or the other.
The Lamy Dialog 3 is not a “step up” pen. It’s fairly uncommon to see, at least here in the US. In price, it sits near the top in Lamy’s range. The only more expensive regular Lamy fountain pen is the Lamy Imporium.
I think if you buy a Dialog 3 — which I did — it’s because the pen looks special to you. And I think it is. It’s solidly made. It’s fun to use. It’s great to look at. It’s modern, and there aren’t that many fountain pens in a modern design. It’s great to use. The nib is a delight. The only hesitation I’ve ever had is the weight, which so far I can work with. Plus, a lot of people actually prefer large and heavy pens.
The price makes the Dialog 3 more of a special purchase. But I think it’s a special pen.