Thursday, June 2, 2022

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 380

Here's a review of one of my favourite non-fountain-pen writing instruments - a red Caran d'Ache '849' Rollerball I got from Joe & Sara of Nikaido in September 2021. When I heard about this model, I was so eager to purchase it that I asked them to email me when they got it in stock...and they did! And here it is....

(please click on images to enlarge)

If the rollerball looks familiar, it's probably because it reminds you of another well-known pen...

-- the Caran d'Ache '849' ballpoint!

Yep, the new '849' rollerball is the big sibling of the iconic '849' ballpoint! The' 849' ballpoint was first produced in 1969 and comes in a wide variety of colours and designs (including some limited editions). The rollerball just came out a few months ago, so it's currently only available in five colours - red, blue, white, matte black and matte grey.

Price-wise, the rollerball costs about twice as much as the regular (non-limited edition) '849' ballpoints, depending on where you buy it. I'm a big fan of the '849' ballpoint, so I was really looking forward to owning its larger relative ... and I was not disappointed at all, despite my high expectations!

Both Swiss-made models are hexagonal, capless, retractable aluminum pens with nickel-plated clips and clicker buttons, and they're identical in every way, except for their size and weight. Caran d'Ache claims that the rollerball is 28% bigger than the ballpoint -- too bad its price is twice that of the ballpoint's! (but that's probably the only thing I'd change about it, honestly)

My measurements (total weight includes the weight of the refill):

Caran d'Ache '849' rollerball: Length: 13.7 cm; Total weight: 15.9 grams
Caran d'Ache '849' ballpoint: Length 12.8 cm;  Total weight: 9.9 grams

Both the '849' ballpoint and' 849' rollerball pens have well-designed, springy clips (one reviewer said they were removable, but I haven't tried removing mine). Some users have complained about the clicker button, though - specifically, the way in which you remove it to access the refill inside. You have to press down and twist the button at the same time to do this, which can be a bit tricky with the ballpoint (as its clicker button is smaller), but it's much easier with the rollerball. I don't have a problem with either one.

 I measured their diameters at their gripping areas with some calipers, and I got 1.1 cm for the rollerball and 0.8 cm for the ballpoint. It sounds like a small difference, but the rollerball feels noticeably girthier than the ballpoint.

Side note:
I did the same measurement for a Parker 'Jotter' ballpoint (the regular 'Jotter', not the larger 'Jotter XL') and it was 0.85 cm at the grip area --just a tiny bit wider than the '849' ballpoint-- but I prefer the way the '849' ballpoint feels in my hand.
Both pens are the same length, but the '849' ballpoint is a bit heavier (by about 2.3 grams) than the 'Jotter', and I find its hexagonal barrel provides a better grip for me. I still love my Jotters, though! (I didn't compare the '849' Rollerball to the Parker 'Jotter XL' because the '849' is an obviously heavier, chunkier pen).

Above: The '849' rollerball came with a Caran d' Ache (CdA) 'Roller Ball' refill, whereas the '849' ballpoint came with a CdA 'Goliath' ballpoint refill (which is shorter than the rollerball refill).

The 849's 'Roller Ball' refills are available in Fine (0.5 mm) or Medium (0.7 mm) widths, and come in blue or black rapid-drying liquid ink; mine came with a black 0.7mm refill (a word of warning: there are other CdA rollerball refills, but they won't fit the '849' rollerball!). The 'Goliath' ballpoint refills come in a larger variety of widths (Fine, Medium and Broad) and ink colours (Black, Blue, Red, Green, Turquoise and Violet - all oil-based inks); my pen came with a Medium blue one. Both types of refills write smoothly, but I much prefer the 'Roller Ball' refill.

A word about cheaper refill alternatives: The Caran d'Ache refills that the pens came with aren't cheap, so
here are two alternatives I've tried myself that work with no modifications required:

  • Parker 'Quinkflow' ballpoint refills (which have hybrid ink in them) work in both the '849' ballpoint and the '849' rollerball. A 'Quinkflow' refill costs $7 CDN at my local Staples store, whereas a Goliath costs $12-$14 CDN, which is a pretty hefty price for a refill. Yikes!
  • Caran d'Ache makes a less-expensive refill called the 'Swissride' ballpoint refill (which also uses a hybrid ink) that will work in the '849' ballpoint; it's longer and skinnier than the 'Goliath' refill, but it fits perfectly. I tried the 'Swissride' in the '849' rollerball and it did not work. I believe 'Swissride' refills only come in Medium black or Medium blue, so they're a bit limiting in that way, but the ink is nice (as is the price ;)

Above: Out of curiosity, I tried the 'Goliath' ballpoint refill in the rollerball. It does fit, but because the 'Goliath' refill is shorter, its tip isn't extended far enough out of the rollerball's (non-removable) nosecone for my liking.

I didn't mean for this to be such a long review, but there are so many good things about both of these pens. Both the '849' ballpoint and rollerball are durable writing instruments that look greet, write beautifully, and are very comfortable to hold. You might prefer the size and weight of one over the other; I love using both of them. The '849' is a true style icon, though, so you can't go wrong with either pen. Many thanks to Sara and Joe of Nikaido for this wonderful new rollerball!

(photos & review by Maja)

We'll be featuring a fountain pen in our next blog post, so watch for that on Saturday. Ongoing thanks to everyone who has contributed to our virtual "show & tell"!

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