Pen Review: Caran D&039Ache 849 Fountain Pen – The Well-Appointed Desk
I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the caran d’ache 849 fountain pen ($52) to finally be available. It was accidentally revealed a little earlier than planned in March, but it didn’t hit the US until mid-June.
Reading: Caran d ache 849 fountain pen review
Aesthetically, all cues come directly from the original 849 pen and pencil, but some unique design decisions were added to make it a capped pen. First of all, like the ballpoint pen and pencil, the 849 fountain pen is hexagonal and features the same distinctive clip. i love that caran d’ache chooses to cover her own mark with her clip. the only text visible on the pen is “swiss made” visible above the clip. if you look below the clip, the company name and “849” are visible. the placement of this clip gave me the idea to do the same with my kaweco sport pens. it is so elegant and discreet.
The end caps are silver chrome and stick out a bit, but are narrower than the rest of the pen. you’ll see below… there’s a good reason for this.
for the initial release, caran d’ache chose to offer the 849 fountain pen in four dazzling fluorescent colors (pink, green, orange, yellow) plus black, white and navy blue enamel lacquer on an aluminum barrel. and wow, pink is always pink! it’s hard to get the camera to capture how neon it is and I’m sure most photos online don’t capture the other colors fairly either. they are fluorescent! or op art in black and white and navy blue. the paint finish is perfect.
The cap is snap-on, and if you notice in the image above, there’s a silver ring that slides under the edge of a lip on the body of the pen to create an airtight seal. It is a very nice detail.
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The nib has a modern and unusual shape with a custom caran d’ache logo branding. for a steel toe, it has a bit of softness and a bit of spring. i got the ef nib knowing it would probably be a european ef and i was right. Line width is comparable to a Kaweco EF but with much more bounce. This is by no means a flexible tip, but definitely not as hard as nails.
The same chrome lip on the cap also fits over the end so the cap sits securely. how clever is that!
The pen ships with a caran d’ache international cartridge. in this case, its idyllic blue tint. I couldn’t wait to try the pen right away, so I popped the cartridge in and noticed that the cartridge is actually stamped with the company name on one side and the color on the other. no playing cartridge roulette with caran d’ache! How kind of you.
while the 849 fountain pen is priced a bit higher than some of the other “entry level” pens, aesthetically it feels like a pen that many would compare to a metropolitan pilot, safari lamy or the twsbis. So, I thought I’d show them all together. You will notice that the 849 fountain pen is visibly thinner. what the 849 has is that of these four pens, it is the only one that accepts standard international cartridges and converters. both the lamy and the pilot use proprietary systems and the twsbi is just a plunger filler. the 849 and the metropolitan are also the only metal-bodied pens. lamy offers the al-star in metal but not in bright colors like the 849.
When published, the caran d’ache is the longest of all at a whopping 7 inches (14.2 cm). I found the pen completely comfortable to use without posting (almost 5 inches/12 cm). it has a shorter and narrower grip section. the grip section is resin with a small step due to the lid closure. Other people have been testing the 849 fountain pen over the past week and have found the shorter grip section less comfortable than I have, so that’s something to keep in mind.
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I was very surprised to discover the line variation of an ef nib. I found it smoother than I expected it to be too. the tips have to be custom tips. The design, shape and style are too unique to be a Bock or Jowo nib. although caran d’ache you can have one of those companies do the tips for you. I don’t know the specific details about
Weight-wise, the 849 isn’t very heavy, even for metal. capped or posted, it only weighs 18g. uncovered, it weighs 11 grams. I only had the cartridge, so possibly with a converter, you could add a couple of grams if you wanted. on the other hand, it also made the pen very comfortable in my hand. when you add in the smoothly rounded hexagonal shape and overall feel of the 849 fountain pen it’s generally a pen that can’t be put down.
The bright color made it hard to lose in my bag so I was constantly looking for it and the snap-on lid meant it was easy to open and close for quick notes. the 849 wrote smoothly for me and i liked the bounce of the ef tip. I don’t know if a broader point would have as much play, but to be useful on the widest variety of paper types, I recommend a finer point. If you know you’ll only be using high-quality papers, or if you have a particularly heavy hand, try the wider or m tip.
The more I use this pen, the more I like it. considering that I really got it as a curiosity, so my expectations were very low. The fact that it wasn’t a rough and tough selling point to boot put it well ahead of the curve in its ability to impress me. I’ve always liked the 844 mechanical pencil and 849 ballpoint pen. They’re based on the fixed pencil design that’s been around since 1929. So the fact that the pen looks great, writes well, and features some great design details sets it apart. over the top for me.
Is it a little expensive for a fountain pen with a steel nib and an aluminum barrel? probably. it’s worth it? that’s your call. but as with all caran d’ache purchases, i find that after making them i am always glad i did. supracolor colored pencils it’s worth it. bicolor 999? Yeah. water soluble technalo pencils? Oh yeah. blue pencil cartoonist without photography? indeed. The Swiss stuff may be a little more expensive, but they seem to build it a little better. thank you, caran d’ache. Now take my money!
disclaimer: pen chalet sent me this article free of charge for the purpose of review. see the about page for more details.
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