The Caran d’Ache 849 is an iconic ballpoint pen that has been made continuously since the 1960s.
Caran d’Ache 849 History
Caran D’Ache is a Swiss company with a long history in making writing instruments. Established in 1915, they began as the Ecridor Pencil Factory making wood pencils for artists and creatives. In 1924, they were purchased and renamed “Caran D’Ache” after a French cartoonist’s pseudonym. Caran D’Ache comes from the Russian word for “pencil” which roughly translates to “karandash.”
In 1929, Caran D’Ache trademarked the Fixpencil. One of the first mechanical pencils which used a revolutionary clutch system. This design is still used today in many lead holder type pencils. The 1930s saw a premium version of the Fixpencil which lead to the Ecridor Series. Now the flagship line of Caran D’Ache products.
The Ecridor line had its first premium ballpoint introduced in 1953. The ballpoint became well known for its elegance, reliability, and hexagonal body — an element drawn directly from the company’s history of pencil making.
In 1966 Caran d’Ache released the Goliath ballpoint cartridge. It featured a stainless-steel body and tungsten carbide ball for smooth and clean writing. It is similar to a Parker G2 style cartridge but doesn’t have the recognizable plastic cap. The Goliath became an instant hit with its capacity to write for 8,000 meters. Even now, it’s one of the longest writing ballpoint refills.
The 849 Ballpoint, introduced in 1969, became an instant success with its sleek design. It was the most reasonably priced pen able to write almost 5 miles. It continued the hexagonal design of its predecessors and has since sold in the millions.
Now it is available in a wide array of colors and designs. Some of which came from prolific designers and artists Caran D’Ache partnered with.
It is available for about $16-$20 for normal versions. Special designs and limited editions can fetch even more as they become sought after collectibles.
Caran d’Ache 849 Review
The 849 may not be quite as iconic as the Jotter but it is equally recognizable. The hexagonal shape and unique clip are dead giveaways of the design.
The pen features an all-metal barrel and clip. The body is a lightweight but durable aluminum. The clip appears to be spring steel and is flexible yet strong. The button and mechanism are also metal except for one part. A plastic sleeve which locks the action in either the extended or retracted position.
The length of the 849 is ideal for me. At 5 inches (12.7 cm), it’s much like a Jotter which is a favorite of mine. The body diameter is about 5/16 of an inch, it is small which I like but people with larger hands may find it too small.
While the 849 feels good in the hand, it is a bit too heavy. The mechanism and clip are the culprits here. I dont find this to be much of a problem since the pen is rather light.
Disassembling the pen can be a little finicky. To do so, you depress the button about 3/4 of its travel the unscrew counterclockwise. Once completely unscrewed, it will pull out allowing access to the refill.
The click is the one complaint I have with this pen. It is smooth but relatively silent. There is a very faint click feel to it but its note very satisfying for me. I would prefer a more audible and tactile click. The 849 click gets the job done and isn’t bad. It’s not what I prefer, though.
The clip seems like it’s made of folded spring steel. It’s also one of the most recognizable design elements of the pen. the angles of how it grips the body and the clips shape are very modern and attractive. It’s also strong with good flex. I like the clip a lot both in form and function.
Writing with the Caran D’Ache 849 is very enjoyable and I can see why it’s popular. Its small and light and the hexagonal shape make for a comfortable grip. The aluminum body is smooth, but the coating offers just enough texture for it not to slip in my hand. The weight lends well to extended writing as well.
The refill that comes with the 849 is the Goliath ballpoint refill. It’s an OK writer but not exceptional — I would like it a lot more if it were a hybrid ballpoint. However, I can’t deny the capability of it. The ability to write for 8,000 meters is quite impressive. I don’t know of another refill that can even come close.
I chose to swap the refill for something I enjoy writing with a bit more. At first, I thought this was going to be difficult since the Goliath is somewhat proprietary.
I like experimenting and seeing what refills will work in various pens, so I tried a standard Parker G2. Full disclosure, my 849 is the Black Code (model 849.019). I had seen that Parker G2 style refills didn’t work. They would not lock in the extended position.
I tossed a Parker Quinkflow in and found that it worked flawlessly. Good extension, good retraction, and the action was still smooth and consistent. I tried several other refills like the Jetstream SXR-600 and a Schmidt EasyFlow 9000. I found that the metal-bodied Parker refills work where plastic ones do not. I tried Premecs and an Ohto Flash Dry, but they were unsuccessful. I don’t know if this will be true with other versions of the pen so your mileage may vary.
Currently I’m using a Monteverde Ceramic Gel refill with a fine point. I like this refill a lot and use it in several pens.
The Caran D’Ache 849 is a nice pen with a long history and is quite popular. After getting me hands on one I can see why. It’s a nice body with a sleek design and the hexagonal shape is iconic of the company.
The 849 makes a great EDC pen with its aluminum body and the stock refill will last you a long time. If you don’t like the Goliath, it does seem possible to use the very popular Parker G2 style refills in it.
For around $20, The 849 is a great pen to have and could easily become a collectable. With the number of finishes available, I’m going to have a hard time not buying several more.
Caran d’Ache 849 Ballpoint Pen Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Barrel Color||Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, Patterned, Copper, Silver, Turquoise|
|Body Diameter (mm)||9.0|
|Grip Color||Black, Blue, Green, Yellow, Patterned, Copper, Silver, Turquoise|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||9.0|
|Country of Origin||Switzerland|
|Capped? Retractable?||Retractable - Top Button|
|Clip?||Metal - Removable|
|Length Capped / Retracted (cm)||12.8|
|Ink Color Shipped||Black|