Glenn's Pens

Pens of Note - OMAS 360

OMAS, in 1996, released the 360. This has been described as the last major design innovation of the company. The pen continued into production right up to the time when the company closed. A truly unique pen. The triangular shape means that the fingers naturally rest in the right place for even weight distribution on all sides and the correct nib angle to the paper. The triangular shape is composed of three consecutive circles which form opposing 60 degree angles (get the name 3 60 forming).

OMAS was not the only company to create a pen that guides the user on how to hold the pen. The Parker 73 has a nib section with a slight triangular shape. Others like Lamy have a similar approach. What sets the OMAS 360 out front is the degree of design and function.

The length of the pen is 160 mm closed, 190 mm open. The width of the pen is 17.5 mm. The body and cap if the pen is made if cotton resin. OMAS referred to the colour of 360 blue. Users refer to the colour as blue black. The piston hold holds 1.5 cc of ink. The pens can in a variety of nibs: Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Double Broad, Oblique Medium, OMD, OBD, OBBD. The clip on the pen is gold-plated phosphorous bronze. High Tech (HT) line was later issued with a silver tone rhodium clip. The bands of the 360 are rolled 18 k gold. Some 360s used a dual cartridge ink system, known as the Advanced Cartridge System (ACS). Basically two cartridges sit within a metal cage. The cage is released by turning the cap at the end of the pen.

++ There were a number of different models. They include:

    • magnum size, resin 360,
    • full size 360 cotton resin,
    • Mezzo size cotton resin,
    • transparent cotton resin,
    • Burnard celluloid resin 360,
    • royal blue celluloid
    • titanium 360.

Marco, of Novell Pen in Rome, posted on the his understanding of why OMAS created the 360. During the 1990s OMAS was receiving some pens to be repaired because the owners said they did not write properly. After checking the pens, Miss Malaguit of OMAS realized that most of them were being used improperly. The owners were holding the pen in the wrong way. She she decided to produce a pen that can be handled only in the proper way, and as a result, there would only a good performing pen. The challenge was to use a round piston in a triangular section. That is why the pen has such a large overall size.

In 2003, OMAS released the Mezzo, a smaller pen that was cartridge filled. The pens were made from cotton resign, and are known for the bright colours. They did come in black and white.

Magnum 360

I recently acquired the magnum 360 in blue/black cotton resin in the original line design. A wonderful pen. The "grand daddy" of the 360 line from my perspective. The 360 Magnum is a very large pen. Closed it is 6.25" inches in length. With the cap off, the pen runs a beautiful 5.5" in your hand from the nib to end. And if you write with the cap posted, this pen sits in your hand with just over 7.25". The shape of the pen, however, sits securely on the desk so there is no fear of this pen rolling off the desk onto the floor. It is not that common for me to select medium nibs. I lead to Broads or Stubs. My 360 Magnum pen is a bit of an exception to my collection.

The 360

The shape of the 360 is referred to as a curved triangle. The pen was originally designed by Italian architect and designer Stefano Bini. It is based on the intersection of three equal circles at their midpoints to form an equilateral triangle, three 60 degree corners. The design shape has been around from classical to early Christian times. In the 1800s Franz Reuleaux established its name as the Reuleaux triangle.

The clip of the 360 I think is one of of the top clip designs. So simple, so sleek, so elegant. There is a slight narrowing from the top and then widening at the base. The clip offers enough holding power in a shirt pocket to sit securely in the pocket, In 2007 a new 360 Line was introduced. OMAS again used a relatively clean clip, however, I do not feel it has the same stability of the original clip design.  

The 360 Line is a one that user's either love or not. For the OMAS pens prior to 2007, the nib section is also a triangle-shape. This means you can only hold the pen in one way. I think it is the correct angle of the nib to the paper. Some, however, like the freedom to be able to rotate the pen to their individual liking. The pens produced after 2007 addressed this as the nib section is more rounded.

On the new 2007 line of 360's the nib section transition from a triangle to a round shape. This is similar to the Waterman Exception line. The round shape gives move flexibility in terms of how one can hold the pen, however, I must say I really enjoy the classic shape and its works fine for my hand.

The 2007 line also has an angled top to the cap so that the new O for OMAS, a design feature of all the new lines, can be placed. For symmetry the cap top and the end of the pen body have similar shapes.

The Nib

OMAS pens are known for their nibs. While the OMAS nibs were made by the German nib maker BOCK, there was machine in the factory that was dedicated for use for OMAS nibs. The gold nibs sit on an ebonite feed. Ebonite is a material that creates the best nib feeds. The material when heated is soft and flexible. The fitting of the nib to the feed has the most options. Ebonite is also a bit porous and ink remains on the feed, and I think it creates a better flow than plastic-based feeds.

Ink Filling Mechanism

The original 360s have a piston fill mechanism and when filled the pen holds a good supply of ink. I can fill my pen in the morning and write with it at meetings for the better part of the day. The new 360 line (2007) went to a cartridge/converter fill system that had both a negative and positive aspect. Negative in that the pen did not hold as much ink, and I believe it is a cleaner, easier process to use a piston mechanism to fill the pen. But, positive in that if I was at a conference, and I did not want to carry around an ink bottle. All I needed was a few cartridges with me for an easy on the spot fill.

The Overall Look

The classic 360 is simple elegance. The new 360s, had an updated appearance. I particularly like the stylish 360 band at the base of the cap. Although I do like it, in a way I do miss the classic OMAS pattern. I made that point to the President of OMAS when I visited their factory. The response, move, products have to change to be current.

Interestingly, in December 2010 OMAS issued the Erasmus Mundus C.L.E. Certified Edition, a limited edition of 1950 pieces. This pen is in the classic line design with the beautiful clip and full triangular body and nib section along with the geek band at the base of the nib section. Back to the classics!


OMAS 360 Magnum


 OMAS 360 SE Gray

OMAS 360 Grey

The 360 HT SE (Special Edition) Pearl Grey, was released in 2004. It is cotton resin, piston filled and the the same size as the standard 360. The trim is rhodium alley plated metal. The 18 kt gold nib is also rhodium, coated.

OMAS 360 2007 OMAS 360 2007

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