At the end of the First World War (1915-1918), the story and development of OMAS began. Motivated by commercial considerations, the company's founder, Cavaliere Armando Simoni, moved closer to a world for him not yet fully explored: American soldiers had been among the first to make use of fountain pens, and these had been brought into Italy by those service men returning from the front, helping to spread their use. Young Simoni's indisputably considerable skills in the field of precision mechanics led him to set up a service to repair and recondition fountain pens, up to the complete reconstruction of difficult to find components. At a time when the current concept of service networks for international products was unthinkable, he was a true pioneer.
Simoni was often heard to repeat, “A pen must make writing pleasurable.” If writing is the key to a man’s soul then OMAS designs speak about their creator. Simoni was an admirer of Greek culture, as the forerunner of Roman, hence, modern Italian, and pursued his passion for classical studies, in the creation of objects with a balanced design. As well as aesthetic considerations, Armando Simoni had been, since childhood, interested in the mechanics of small-scale apparatus and intricate instrumentation. Convergence of these two passions produced chirographics pieces of archetypal style and functionality: One of his earliest inspirations, the famous twelve-sided Arte Italiana model, reminiscent of a Doric column, is still produced today, and has become a world-renowned classic in the luxury pen market.
In 1925, at age 34, he had accumulated sufficient knowledge of chirographics instruments, and the inks employed in their use, to found OMAS (Officina Meccanica Armando Simoni). Simoni’s love of technical challenges resulted in the endless creation of surprising models; from the fountain pen with two nibs, to the series with the transparent ink holder, to emphasize lucent beauty. These exclusive items demonstrate the creative force of their designer. He was nominated Cavaliere della Corona d'Italia—Knight of the Italian Crown—and thereafter acquired the moniker il Cavaliere.
When the Second World War broke out, OMAS's activities were scaled back, but never stopped, despite the scarcity of the gold required to make the nibs. The use of Permanium, an alloy with comparable technical characteristics, turned out to be a happy substitute for the precious metal. With the end of the war and the industrial recovery, OMAS once again amazed with the legendary 361, a fountain pen with a tapering aerodynamic shape, protected by international patent, fitted with a nib designed to offer simultaneously flexible or rigid writing and even the possibility of drawing.
The new noble status of Simoni was extended to the firm as the small Bologna-based workshop was transformed into a world famous company. When Armando Simoni died in 1958, the OMAS tradition continued under the guidance of his daughter Raffaella and son-in-law Angelo Malaguti. The company philosophy remained unchanged, while the collections were innovative, responding to the tastes of changing times. In 1983, his eighteen-year-old grandson Gianluca joined the company, and immediately demonstrated his natural talent by personally designing the majority of the publicity material. Going on to confirm his abilities, he designed a collection dedicated to his beloved father who had died prematurely.
In 1988, with the IX Centenary dedicated to the 900th anniversary of the University of Bologna, OMAS began a long series of official collections commemorating the most important historical, cultural events of our time: the Treaty of Maastricht, the 3000 Years of Jerusalem, the Return of Hong Kong to China, the 50th anniversary of the FAO, the 50th anniversary of UNICEF, Roma 2000 dedicated to the year 2000, and the Third Millennium, to name just a few. The excellent quality and extraordinary inventiveness of OMAS pens sparked the interest of the world-renowned producer of luxury goods LVMH (Moët Hennessy—Louis Vuitton), and in May 2000 OMAS became part of this group.
Today the pens are still manufactured according to the highest standards that have distinguished them since 1925 and with the distinctive OMAS “O” still adorning the cap, in collections such as the instantly recognisable 360, the Bologna, and the Arte Italiana Arco. Extending the tradition of commemorating and celebrating world cultures, and momentous events are recent limited and special editions such as the Aleksandr Pushkin. These and exquisite pieces restate in art and engineering, Simoni’s original philosophy of and for creating, at once, the most elegant and utilitarian scrivening implements.