Pen Review: Caran D’Ache 849 Fountain Pen

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen

I have been waiting with bated breath for the Caran d’Ache 849 fountain pen ($52) to finally be available. It was accidentally revealed a bit ahead of schedule way back in March but they didn’t arrive in the US until mid-June.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen

Aesthetically, all the cues come straight from the original 849 pen and pencil but there are some unique design decisions added in order to make it a capped pen. First, 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 their own branding with their clip. The only text visible on the pen is the “Swiss Made” visible above the clip. If you peer under the clip, the company name and “849” is visible. This clip placement gave me the idea to do the same thing with my Kaweco Sport pens. Its so tasteful and understated.

The end caps are chrome silver and stick out slightly but are narrower than the rest of the pen. You’ll see further down… there’s a good reason for this.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen

For the initial release, Caran d’Ache chose offer the 849 fountain pen in four eye-bleeding fluorescent colors (pink, green, orange, yellow) plus black, white and navy enamel lacquer over aluminum body. And wow, is the pink ever PINK! It’s hard to get the camera to capture just how neon it is and I’m sure that most online photos are not capturing the other colors justly either. They are FLUORESCENT! Or op art black and white and navy. The paint finish is perfect.

The cap is a snap cap and if you notice in the picture above there is a silver ring that slides under the edge of a lip on the body of the pen to create a tight seal. It’s a very nice detail.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen extra fine nib close-up

The nib is an unusual modern shape with a custom Caran d’Ache logo mark. 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.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen cap

The same chrome lip on the cap also fits over the end so the cap posts securely. How clever is that!

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen cartridge

The pen ships with an international cartridge from Caran d’Ache. In this case, their Idyllic Blue ink. I was impatient to try the pen immediately, so I popped the cartridge in and noticed that the cartridge is actually foil stamped with the company name on one side and the color on the other. No playing cartridge roulette with Caran d’Ache! How very nice of them.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen comparison

While the price point of the 849 fountain pen puts it a bit higher than some of the other “entry level” pens, aesthetically it feels like a pen many would compare with a Pilot Metropolitan, a Lamy Safari or the TWSBIs. So, I thought I’d show them altogether. You’ll notice that the 849 fountain pen is visibly more slender. What the 849 has going for it is that of these four pens, its the only one that takes standard international cartridges and converters. The Lamy and Pilot both use proprietary systems and TWSBI is a plunger filler only. The 849 and the Metropolitan are also the only metal body pens. Lamy offers the AL-Star in metal but not in bright colors like the 849.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen comparison

When posted, the Caran d’Ache is the longest of them all at a whopping 7 inches (14.2cm). I found the pen completely comfortable to use unposted (almost 5 inches/12cm). It does have a shorter, narrower grip section. The grip section is resin with a bit of a step down due to the cap closure. Other folks have tried out the 849 fountain pen over the past week or so and have found the shorter grip section less comfortable than I have so that’s something to consider.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen writing sample extra fine

I was really surprised the discover the line variation from a EF nib. I found it smoother than I expected it to be too. The nibs have to be custom nibs. The design, shape and style is too unique to be a Bock or Jowo nib. Though Caran d’Ache may have one of those companies make the nibs for them. I don’t know the specific details about

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen writing sample

Weightwise, the 849 is not very heavy, even being metal. Capped or posted, it only weighs 18gms. Uncapped, it weighs 11gms. I only had the cartridge in it so possibly with a converter, you could add a couple grams if you wanted to. On the flipside, it also made the pen very comfortable in my hand. When you add the softly rounded hexagonal shape and the overall feel of the 849 fountain pen is a generally un-put-down-able pen.

The bright color made it hard to lose in my bag so I was continually reaching for it and the snap cap 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 nib. I don’t know if a wider nib would have as much play in it but for usefulness on the widest array of paper types, I recommend a finer nib. If you know you’ll only be using high quality papers or you have a particularly heavy hand, than try the wider F or M nib.

The more I use this pen, the more I like it. Keeping in mind, I really got it as a curiosity so my expectations were really low. The fact that it was not a scratchy, hard-starting POS put it way ahead of the curve in its ability to impress me. I have always loved the 844 mechanical pencils and 849 ballpoints. They are based on the Fixpencil design that has been around since 1929. So, the fact that the pen looks cool, writes well and featured some excellent design details put it over the top for me.

Is it a bit spendy for a steel nib, aluminum barrel fountain pen? Probably. Are you worth it? That’s your call. But as with all Caran d’Ache purchases, I find that after I make them I am always glad I did. Supracolor colored pencils? Worth it. Bi-color 999? Yep. Technalo watersoluble pencils? Oh yeah. Sketcher non-photo blue pencil? Indeed. Things from Switzerland may be a bit more expensive but they just seem to build them a little better. Thanks, Caran d’Ache. Now take my money!

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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23 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with this pen. I got the green version with the M nib. The nib, to me, is far inferior to that of the Lamy Safari / Al Star, and to that of the TWSBI or Metropolitan. While Medium sized, I find it scratchy, and I encountered many skipping problems.
    The transition between the barrel and the grip section is not very comfortable, and the nib makes writing for a long time quite tiresome on the hand.
    I love the design, I waited for this launch, and was among the first to buy the pen, but must admit I expected much more from Caran d’Ache.

    1. Wow. I’m sorry to hear about the skipping issues. I’ve had no skipping with the EF at all. My husband doesn’t like the grip or step down transition either.

  2. Hello! Thank you for a great review. But can you please tell me why the logo on a nib is different from customary logo which is on every nib of Caran d’Ache fountain pen (like CdA)?

    1. I suspect the logo is different because the nib is shaped differently and the pen is themed around their 849 series so the logo on the nib matches all the other markings of the 849 hex designs.

      1. Thank you Ana. I couldn’t find information about the removability of the nib anywhere. I just removed mine and was able to clean the feed. I used the fibers of a toothbrush and pressed them into the line and somehow the flow improved, put a cartridge to test and I guess the flow improved quite a lot. The pen comes without any information, and people need to know the nib is removable… I didn’t try sooner with fear of ruining the pen. Thank you again.

  3. Ana, since writing this review have you added a converter to this pen? The one supplied by the Very Reputable Online Merchant is a “standard International converter” and doesn’t seem to fit. I have written to C d’A for help but when I spotted your review I thought I’d a

        1. Hi, Ana! I decided to go for the Caran d”Ache branded converter from Amazon, since I have a Prime account and I figured shipping from GoldSpot or Pen Chalet would render the total cost about the same; and I’m not convinced the Levenger version would fit the 849. I’ll let you know the result.

      1. I ordered a branded Caran d’Ache converter and when it arrived, I saw that it was indeed apparently identical to the Standard International converter. It seemed to be more secure when joined to the section, though, so I inserted it and the pen lay empty for a few days.

        Today I finally found time to ink it up. When I unscrewed the barrel, the converter had come loose and was stuck inside the barrel! Good thing I hadn’t already inked it. I was able to pry it out and then I tested both the branded and generic converters again for secure insertion.

        I found that it was necessary to shove pretty hard and twist the converter to get it to stick. I ended up using the generic converter to ink it and found:

        I don’t think the pen is for me! It feels too slender and I am one of those who find gripping the section uncomfortable. The length is OK unposted, but posted it feels unbalanced in my hand – a personal reaction, I know. So I think it will be cleaned and re-gifted sometime soon.

  4. When I put the cap on the end and write with mine, the cap feels loose. Is it supposed to stay firm because mine wobbles a bit.

    1. When you post the cap, it does wiggle a bit but it should stay put. I turned mine upside down and shook it and it didn’t fall off but it did shimmy a bit. It shouldn’t move much when you’re writing unless you are scribbling vigorously. Hope that helps.

  5. Thank you for posting this review. I completely agree with your views on the aesthetic and feel of the pen. I bought mine at the Collection Room at Tsutaya Bookstore on January 1. I had always wanted a Caran d’Ache pen or pencil but the stationery stores in Japan only stocked the pricey ones. Once, I saw a mechanical pencil that cost over US$500. (I backed away from the display case but have coveted one of these babies ever since). I rubbed my eyes when I noticed the very low price of 6500JPY. Apparently, the book store decided to start importing the less pricey pens and pencils, and thank goodness. I was attracted to the colours and branding but was skeptical because of the steel nib. I have a particularly heavy hand and use high quality papers so I could really only use gold nibs and medium points (Montblanc, Pilot Namiki, Kaweco, Lamy, Montegrappa). When I tested it, the nib was super soft and it felt like I was rolling a rubber ball over paper. I bought one immediately, in red, along with a deliciously neon pink mechanical pencil. I noticed a bit of skipping in the first hour but when I pressed the nib on the paper, the ink flowed out without problems. I scribbled with it every day for the past three days and now, there is no more skipping. I am using Caran d’Ache ink cartridges in infinite grey and magnetic blue but I was told that Pelikan cartridges are also a great fit. Overall, this has been a very awesome way to start 2019.

  6. I bought this fountain pen on Caran D’ache’s reputation for the design and manufacture of its writing instruments. Not the 849 fountain pen – There is a component inside the cap that starts to oxidise and produce a fine green powder that prevents you from releasing the cap of the pen over time. It works well for the first few months, but once the pen has ink in it the problem starts.

    I sent my pen for repairs, a new cap was installed. It worked well for a few months and then the problem started again. This time with no ink in the barrel! Stay away from the 849 I’m not sure if this problem exists with their other fountain pens.

    1. I have had the same Caran d’Ache 841 since they were released and I have not had any rusting issues. It is one of my daily pens and I use it almost everyday, capping and uncapping repeatedly. I have a second that I’ve used for a couple years as well and have not had any rusting issue with that one either. I am wondering if its (1) environmental or (2) type of ink?

  7. Thanks for your response. Maybe the 841 doesn’t have the cap components of the 849 or perhaps you have been luckier than I. I live in the Australian desert with the driest air where numerous airlines have parked their aircraft for months through COVID to prevent the impacts of humid environments on aircraft components. As I have said, the second time around I hardly had ink in the pen. I bought the pen for standard everyday use and used standard inks available in the market e.g Sheaffer and Watermans. I guess my problem is that this may well be a design flaw if a pen and its components are susceptible to environmental and ink types, Caran d’Ache might consider using less temperamental materials or else put out a disclaimer before selling the pen to say – use only with x, y or z inks and is only works in the following post codes of the following countries. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from Caran D’Ache. They put me on to their local repairs person who had changed the cap for a third of the cost of the pen and given me instructions on how to use or not use the pen in the future. I might as well not have a pen at all!

  8. And here is the response from Caran d”Ache they need to add another disclaimer 🙂 – we take no responsibility for our product if bought from anywhere other than us direct!

    Your product has been bought through Amazon website and not through our website or in a store selling our products.
    In those conditions we cannot exchange or refund the product or provide our after sales service.
    We recommend you either to contact the buyer or the customer service of Amazon –and if you still can, you should return the item to them.
    As we do not have control over the stocking methods of thousands of different retailers and resellers, we can not guarantee that the product has not been opened, changed, modified or repackaged in order to get the perfect Caran d’Ache product.
    We recommend you to buy our products in our online boutique, or in physical stores.

    1. Wow. That’s a heck of a statement. I understand that grey market products do end up on Amazon and it would be hard to know if the seller is legit or not. But yes, I wish it was more clear that buying fountain pens on Amazon will not be supported by manufacturers.

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