The 849 ballpoint pen has been a staple of the Caran d’Ache line since 1969 and is based on the Ecridor and Fixpencil that preceded it. It’s an aesthetically classic design that has become the basis for color experiments as well as graphics by artists and designers en vogue.
I recently picked up the Rose Gold model (list price: $54.50 for the Rose Gold, standard 849 models list for about $30) at Wonder Fair in Lawrence, KS to complete the 849 trifecta as it were: I have the fountain pen and the 844 mechanical pencil but had yet to acquire a ballpoint pen. I was smitten with the color and the matching clip so I went ahead and bought it.
The shape of the pen is a slender hexagonal design that tapers down to the grip. The feeling of the 849 is that of a slightly wider hexagonal pencil and the tapered barrel is that of a sharpened pencil. As a result, a lot of people find the shape a bit narrow overall. Thinking of the whole design as entirely based around the look and feel of a traditional wood-cased pencil though may make it feel less awkward. From the beginning, the Fixpencil was a transition from a wood-cased pencil to a mechanical pencil but with the same feeling as a traditional pencil. Then the pens they built kept the same shape.
I love that Caran d’Ache discreetly hides their branding and model number under the clip. The only thing that is clearly visible is the “Swiss made” stamp above the clip. It keeps with the methodology that truly high-end products usually don’t have their branding all over them (think Hermes handbags vs. Coach C bags). If its really good, you know it without having to flash your logo all over creation.
Engraved around the push button is Caran d’Ache but even with the macro setting on my camera it would be hard to see it and capture it. The knock is smooth and quiet. Its more push button than a click which is probably why the 849 ballpoint is so beloved.
One interesting thing to note about the Rose Gold 849 is that it has a bit more toothy texture than some of the other 849 designs. The 844 mechanical pencil and the 849 fountain pen that I own both have glossy enamel finishes while the Rose Gold has a slightly gritty texture. If you’ve found the other 849 styles too slippery, the Rose Gold or the Gold Bar might be easier to grip with the metallic paint. Some of the 849 designs with patterns printed on them also add a bit of tooth to the surface as the designs are silkscreened on over the enamel paint.
The other thing people love is the Caran d’Ache “Goliath” refill. The 849 ships with the medium point which is a bit too broad for my liking but it is very smooth for a ballpoint refill and is a substantial-sized refill. It’s pricier than the average refill but I’ve had many people ask me for other pens that can accept the Goliath refill specifically because they enjoy the writing experience so much.
It is possible to get Goliath refills in F, M and B in a few different colors so I am definitely going to try a F at which point I think the Rose Gold 849 will become my favorite ballpoint.