Thursday, June 11, 2015

Italian Writing Instrument Manufacture OMAS Celebrates 90th Anniversary

"Writing is like travelling without the weight of luggage", Emilio Salgari said once, writer of timeless adventure novels able to describe far places and their atmosphere without ever having visited one. Maybe Armando Simoni, founder and soul of OMAS, knew that the pleasure of writing is closely related to the pleasure of living, to invent worlds and environments to be shared with the people we love. Salgari before and Simoni afterwards realized that real luxury means taking the time to put into words the world around us and the one that lives inside us. Armando Simoni also knew that to do it in the best way you have to use beautiful and precious writing instruments, able to make people want to commit to handwriting.

It’s thanks to him that the story of OMAS begins: an Italian Company based in the plain of Bologna which, after 90 years, is still known all over the world with its creations.

OMAS writing instruments tell the story of their inventor, Armando Simoni, a great lover of Greek art who, in 1919, as young engineer from Bologna, started the first hand make production of spare parts for fountain pens in his workshop in Via San Vitale. In the following years he then started producing pens for private labels and in 1925, on the June 15th; he finally opened the doors of OMAS, Officina Meccanica Armando Simoni.
Armando Simoni
In 1927 the Doctor’s Pen is made, for which a patent is filed for the "fountain pen with automatic filling system and enclosed thermometer". In the following 10 years many other patents were filed and represented real revolutions in the writing instruments business: from the first desk fountain pen to the device for automatic filling of the ink reservoir or the plunger piston system, to name but a few.

The small OMAS workshop soon becomes a well known Company throughout the world where creativity, technical knowledge and the genius of Armando Simoni, appointed in the meanwhile “Knight of the Italian Republic”, are sublimated in the design of original machinery used to obtain distinctive processing and create of a unique series of products highly desired by collectors.
Design, craftsmanship, precious materials and innovation, expertly mixed together, are the basis for each and every item produced by OMAS. The Lucens series is the first witness to it. It was produced in 1936 and enriched by the “plunger piston system” technology, then patented by OMAS, and by the transparent barrel. For this first collection, Armando Simoni develops an arrow shape clip that will become one distinctive sign of the most prestigious OMAS pens over the years.

All details, from the research into the materials to the study of technologies, tell of a great passion always accompanied by expertise and handcrafting: together, they make each OMAS creation unique and unrepeatable. And it was the unrelenting will of Sir Armando to always look for the adequate materials able to express the preciousness of his creations that made him open new horizons. In 1939, due to the inability to use the gold for the nibs and finishes and thanks to the valuable assistance of Ivo Germano, friend and client of him, he created and used “Permanio”, a special replacement alloy, which gave rise to the slogan "Like gold, better than gold."

From 1939 to 1950 some of the collections that have marked the history of OMAS were born: the 555, the 556, and 557, followed by the 361, the only pen with the pen nib on the central axis and thus allowing a double rigid and flexible writing.
The first 361 is faceted and represents a revolution in terms of both aesthetics and functionality, so that a major American company offered 1 Million dollar to Sir Armando to buy the patent and distribute it worldwide. Needless to say, the answer was negative: the 361 was a product made by OMAS and this was to remain! In 1950, the name Ogiva associated with round section pens appears for the first time whereas, in 1954, a click locking system is patented, which allows OMAS to create the cap pressure system.

After two years of illness, Armando Simoni died in 1958, leaving a big emptiness both from a professional and a human point of view. The heart of creativity, the love for beauty and the curiosity to experiment new solutions stops beating.

Ten years after his death, OMAS reworks the famous shape of 556F and introduces one of the most enduring models in its history, the model Milord, so called because of the elegance of its lines and the purity of its form.
In 1979, OMAS changed location and moved to Via del Fonditore, 10 in Bologna, which is still its base. Offices and production site become a unified space, which includes a small historical museum presenting the most beautiful pens by OMAS of all time.

In 1984 Italian Art was born, a collection that still exists and includes the faceted models 555, 556 and 557. It will then be the latter, in 1985, to change its name and become The Paragon, still the best known product and iconic model of the OMAS production.
The Paragon
Two years later, the collection A.M.87 is created on the basis of the 557S briar wood. It’s the first wooden pen with the piston filling system of that period. A special version with a cotton resin body was also created for the MOMA in New York.

In 1992, the Masterpiece collection is brought out: luxury writing instruments made with the most prestigious materials and stones in a limited edition of 30 pieces. The first is Almirante, dedicated to the five-hundredth anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus to discover the Americas.

The realization of one of the pens that consolidated the position of OMAS in the realm of the most innovative and revolutionary writing instruments dates back to 1996: the 360, with its triangular section, perfectly meets the main criteria of ergonomics. In the United States, the collection 360 obtained the important recognition “Readers’ Pen World Choice Award” in the category "Brand Icon". These precious writing jewels bring perfectly aesthetic qualities together with ease of use, combining in a unique way a sophisticated image with the pleasure of writing. But this is not the only international recognition that OMAS earns over the years. Thanks to the collection Italian Art, OMAS obtained also "Le Trophée du Stylographe" for the categories Design Award and The Fabulous Fountain Pen in Paris and the "Pen World's Fifteenth Annual Reader's Choice Awards" for the categories Best Contemporary Design and The Best Vintage-Inspired Pen in the United States.

In 2000, the French Group LVMH acquired OMAS from the Simoni family: it is a time of great change in which the Company re-organizes its structure to better serve the international markets without giving up its Italian character that made OMAS famous in the world. Although the property is now beyond the Alps, the soul of OMAS remains Italian: writing instruments continue to be designed, engineered and realized by hand in the factory based in Bologna.

Each writing instrument, the result of a multitude of delicate manual operations, brings out the typical characteristics of the "Made in Italy" and is a landmark of Italian excellence. And it is thanks to the new property that OMAS takes on a new path: the co-branded limited edition: Krug, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Solaia Antinori, Perrier Jouet, Cohiba, Montecristo, Maserati, Lamborghini and Emilio Pucci. All these pens are a limited edition capable of translating the brands who had chosen OMAS as a privileged partner into the materials, shapes and atmospheres of the writing instruments.

In 2007, the Hengdeli Holdings, the Asian giant that distributes leading brands of luxury watches, bought the share majority of OMAS and manages it alongside LVMH, focusing on the development of the brand in the Far-East.

Today OMAS, 90 years after that June 15th, 1925, still aims again, thanks to the creation of its writing instruments, to promote and contribute to the preservation of the true meaning of writing by hand, an up-to-date value as symbol of an ancient gesture.

Through the realization of its own art, OMAS paid tribute to big artists and masters. One example is the Anniversary Edition dedicated to William Shakespeare, celebrated with a fountain pen as a witness to his greatness and the tool which made his works possible; then the Anniversary edition Michelangelo, a sculptural work made of Carrara marble and silver to celebrate the greatness of the Italian genius 450 years after his birth; the Signature Edition collection created in collaboration with the master Ludovico Einaudi and again the next Anniversary Edition Dante Alighieri, major Italian poet and father of the Italian language.
And so it comes that each and every OMAS writing instrument is no longer just an object to collect, but a timeless item giving a unique experience of writing. With a small number of fountain pens and writing sets OMAS celebrates its first 90 years and invites you to stop the time through handwriting.

A first set with only 90 exemplars dedicated to the founder Armando Simoni and made up by three The Paragon Vintage in celluloid Scarlet Red, Green and Briar Wood celluloid, enriched for the first time by 9 rings and by the 90th Anniversary decoration on the nib, was produced and immediately became sold-out in early 2015.
Another set, this time composed of the OMAS three icon shapes, will be presented during the 2015 together with other unique products dedicated to all fans of handwriting. In addition to that, a calligraphy set will be made during the year for those who want to find their own ideal writing style.

There will be many other creations presented during the 2015. Worth mentioning is a historical model, on which the Company still maintains the greatest discretion, made with new technology and yet keeping intact the original features presented for the first time by the founder himself.

Even today, therefore, each writing instrument OMAS is made with natural materials such as cotton resin, celluloid, wood, titanium, gold and silver. Those materials are increasingly rare and difficult to work with, but they provide unique products and a uniquely pleasant feel to the touch. It may take more than 365 days to get the exceptional lightness, refined brilliance and pleasant warm feeling to the touch caused by the natural raw materials of OMAS pens. Each OMAS writing instrument becomes a real gem representing the highest level of craftsmanship, in which creative ability and aesthetics are naturally integrated with technical innovation and functionality. Each pen made by OMAS is unique and unrepeatable, a symbol of the "Made in Italy".

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