While I've long enjoyed Caran d'Ache pencils and have dabbled in their inks, I've never explored their pen offerings, probably because I (correctly) suspected that I would find the design of their pens too narrow for my taste and comfort. That said, given the overall quality of Caran d'Ache products, I didn't want to pass up the chance to review both the fountain pen and ballpoint versions of the Caran d'Ache 849, a budget-friendly option from a brand not typically known for pursuing the entry-level market.
The Caran d'Ache 849 ballpoint has been around for a long time, so much that it's become something of an iconic writing instrument. The 849 features a hexagonal barrel, clip, and smooth knock, and comes loaded with the Caran d'Ache Giant "Goliath" cartridge, which according to the company "delivers up to 600 pages of A4 writing." Overall, it's a good ballpoint pen with a large-capacity refill that writes a fairly solid line. There's not too much more to say, other than to note that the version pictured here is the special "Nespresso" edition, made out of aluminum sourced from recycled Nespresso capsules. It's a cool idea, but I'm not sure it warrants the nearly 50% markup over the standard version, unless you really like the slate blue color and matte texture.
Caran d'Ache introduced a fountain pen version of the 849 a couple of years ago at the $50 price point, offering another option for a segment of the fountain pen market that too often goes overlooked. Featuring a hexagonal metal barrel, "snap cap", and stainless steel nib, the 849 fountain pen is a nice writer that retains the aesthetic of the ballpoint in a slightly larger package. The stainless steel medium nib writes a wet line and is pleasantly springy.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Caran d'Ache makes quality writing instruments. While I found both of these pens slightly too narrow for me to use comfortably for long stretches of writing, they're still very nice pens at the price point, and I've enjoyed using them for short notes and as slim "planner pens," especially the ballpoint.
Site sponsor Pen Chalet carries the Caran d'Ache 849 in both the fountain pen and ballpoint version. Unfortunately, the "Nespresso" ballpoint pictured here is a special edition and available in limited quantities, but other colors are readily available. (The standard version is also much less pricey, running approximately $20 for the standard as opposed to approximately $43 for the Nespresso.)
Disclaimer: I purchased both pens featured in this review using affiliate credit from Pen Chalet. This post contains affiliate links.