When we talk about Swiss-made pens, usually it is about luxury, fine materials and steep prices.
That’s why I was quite surprised to come across what Caran D’Ache has to offer with their colourful and playful special edition pen range.
It is very different, and hence I was keen to try it out, hear what others think about it and then share my review with you.
First impressions count, and hence I think that packaging is crucial when buying a relatively small item like a pen.
In this instance, I was not disappointed. Caran d’ Ache team has designed a great looking metal box covered in glossy white paint. I love how you can see the shape of the pen protruding through the metal. It looks great as a display in the shop too. They really thought about how to make the maximum visual impact.
The box also has the brand name embossed at the top and a limited edition sticker at the bottom showing the three colours used on the pen.
It is quite nice that the box also serves as a single pen case, which remains shut with the help of magnets.
So how do these pens feel? It is a little bit of mixed feelings for me personally.
I will start with things that impressed me. The hexagon barrel is unique and taps into an iconic image of the 849. I like that it is easy to grip and the that the metal’s cool gives a nice quality feel to it.
Stainless steel pen tip has a premium version of tungsten carbide ball that required high tech engineering and production, and you feel that when writing.
The paint job is exceptional on all parts and is worth admiration on its own.
On the other hand, the push-button makes this muted sound, that does not relate to high-quality engineering that a solid click would have. And in pens, at least for me, that is very important. I also realise that it is a matter of preference too.
The pen company was founded in 1915, and after Arnold Schweitzer took over, he gave the name we know today – Caran d’Ache. It comes from the famous caricature artist at that time who went by the same name. It makes sense for a pencil company to associate itself with a famous artist; interestingly the word also means ‘pen’ in Russian (karandash).
Caran d’Ache is also known for designing a hexagon pen body in the 1950s – it was a revolutionary design at that time. From 1962 the company started making its iconic pen range called ‘849’, which is still very popular today. The focus shifted from a unique hexagon shape to colours and design partnerships.
In 2010, the Guinness World Records recognised Caran d’Ache for making ‘The Most Expensive Pen’ called ‘1010 Diamonds Fountain Pen’. It contained 850 diamonds and solidified Caran d’Ache image as the premium writing instrument maker globally.
Special Edition 849 pens come in six different colours: bluish pale, burgundy, canary yellow, hibiscus pink, Veronese green, and cobalt blue. They all are equally impressive, and hence I would choose one by the colours I am trying to match to things around me and my lifestyle.
849 range is well known for decades, and comes as a ball or a fountain pen, with new colours and partnerships.
The company also made other special editions for this pen range. Nespresso 849 come in two colours and are made from recycled Nespresso capsules. While ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) all-red pen is supporting displaced Syrian families.
Hence owning any of these pens would definitely feel quite special.
Switzerland is well known for its precision engineering that helped so many Swiss watch brands become globally recognised companies. But this country also makes other consumer products like pens.
Making a pen requires a high-tech production line, and creating a colourful pen range with multiple colour mixes and matches makes it even more difficult. Caran d’Ache makes their iconic pens and pencils in their Geneva workshop, less than half an hour from the city centre, in the factory building purpose built in 1974.
Producing colour is part of the work that team does here. The skills come from making colours for colouring pencils, but now it is also shifting to Special Edition pens. Hence innovative colour mixes and names.
It is a perfect example of how every item can be so much more special. You can buy a pen for a euro in a local shop, but you will never appreciate it as much as this pen.
I also think that it is a great gift idea. It has an interesting story about its Swiss heritage and workshops in Geneva. It is contemporary and very different from the rest. And it comes with very impressive packaging.
Colours also allow us to play with our lifestyles, colours at home or match them to the cover of our diary. I actually gave it to two sisters who loved receiving similar gifts but personalised them by giving pens in two different colours.
Hence I think it is amazing. It is contemporary, innovative and fun. And thanks to high-quality engineering it will last for ages.
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