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The hexagon is the emblem that represents the design of the Caran d'Ache 849 collection. The simple, faceted shape is taken on by the silhouette of the 849 and modified with rounded verticies for a pleasurable grip and appealing aesthetics. Much like its contemporaries in the fine writing world, namely the Lamy Safari (AL-Star) and the Pilot Metropolitan, the 849 Collection has gained a cult-like following over the years that has made it the defacto writing, drawing, doodling, idea-creating instrument of choice for many creative professionals around the world.
Since 1969, the 849 ballpen has long been the staple of architects, professionals and creatives. The design is overwhelmingly simple. The faceted, hexagonal shape is reminiscent of a traditional woodcase graphite pencil, an instrument that Caran d'Ache has a long history of producing. The familiarity of the faceted sides, plus the fact that it will not causually roll off one's desk, makes it an iconic and useful design.
Over the years, Caran d'Ache has allowed notable industrial and fashion designers to weigh in on the collection with special editions that feature colorways and patterns not available in the regular, everyday collection. Fashion designer Paul Smith recently put his accents on a collection of limited edition 849 ballpoint pens that bear his signature style.
Besides having an elegant and simple design, the 849's secret weapon that makes people flock back to this pen time and time again is the heart of the pen - the Caran d'Ache Goliath ballpoint refill cartridge. It is unlike any other cartridge that is currently produced by any pen manufacturer. It is Swiss made in the Caran d'Ache workshop and boasts and incredible 600 pages worth of ink in a single cartridge. The smoothness and line coverage is an experience that is unparalleled for a ballpoint pen.
Since we first landed on the Moon, the world has known the 849 collection as the ballpoint & pencil modes. In 2017, Caran d'Ache introduced the next evolution in the fountain pen. The fountain pen itself is nothing new, of course. The technology has been around longer than the Swiss company's 100+ year history. The manufacturer is also not stranger to the mode, as the luxury collections of the Leman, Madison and Ecridor all have a fountain pen mode, some utilizing an 18kt gold nib. What is exciting about the 849 fountain pen is the entry-level price point and extended design sensibilities of the ballpoint.
The iconic, hexagonal form takes place in the straight, cylindrical profile of the streamlined fountain pen. The color choices of the barrel and cap mimic those of the core colorways of the 849 collection. You have your standard black, blue and white followed up by more adventurous, flourescent colors in the Orange, Yellow, Green, and Pink.
In a preview of this fountain pen collection, we shot a detailed video to show you all the highlights of this writing instrument, including the superb experience of putting the stainless steel nib to paper.
The Swiss-made fountain pen has a smoothness and flow that is beautiful and representative of the level of quality you would expect from Caran d'Ache. Don't take it from us, here's what Ana from the writing arts blog "The Well Appointed Desk" had to say about the nib:
For a steel nib it has a bit of softness to it and a little bit of spring to it. I got the EF nib knowing it would most likely be a European EF and I was right. The line width is comparable to a Kaweco EF but with a good deal more bounce. Its by no means a flex nib but its definitely not hard as nails.
One of the other bonuses about the 849 fountain is the adaptability to using international style cartridges or converter. The pen includes one Caran d'Ache Idyllic Blue ink cartridge to start. Optionally, one can purchase an international standard converter to fill with bottled ink. Sure, you could go with the converter from CdA directly, but any standard style K5 converter will do in its place. For purposes of the video review, Tom had used a Visconti converter since we were out of stock of the ones from CdA.
In taking the feedback from customers and the online pen community, the one common complaint about the 849 fountain pen is the small, black resin grip area. In order for the cap to sit flush with the body of the pen when closed, the design of the front section had to be thinner to accommodate for the design. The cap pulls off to reveal the section, which is a smaller, narrower diameter than your standard size of fountain pen, like a Lamy Safari or Pilot Metropolitan. There is also a step down from the barrel to the section, which is an abrupt transition and can be uncomfortable for some to hold.
What the pen looses in the grip area, it makes up for in overal design aesthetics and balance. Even with the elongated size with the cap posted on the back (extends to a whopping 7 inches!), the metal barrel of the pen does not feel heavy or cumbersome, even while posted. The generous flow and springiness of the stainless steel nib complete the experience and make this pen a true everyday staple for students and working professionals.
Although the word "cult" may conjure up displeasing associations, it can be tastefully applied to the simplified ideals that this pen design represents. Writers, artists, designers and creatives from around the world have been known to band together around their instruments of choice. The enthusiasm for quality and the experience of putting pen to paper is the common thread that holds together the fabric of the online community of pen enthusiasts. Each member of this community could belong to multiple subsets of interests, much like a film buff will have their favorite directors and genres. So, a pen enthusiast can be a zealot for the old fashioned fountain pen as well as a cult follower of the 849, Lamy Safari, and Retro 51 Tornado Popper, etc.
We're enticing you to join the "Cult of the 849" with a bright addition to your pen collection. Enter our giveaway below for a Caran d'Ache 849 fountain pen in YOUR CHOICE of body color.