Caran d′Ache produces indecently expensive fountain pens that, sadly, appeal a lot to me. If, at least, they performed badly or were clumsily engineered with twisted tines and brittle feed, I could give up drooling and enjoy cheaper pens. Sadly Swiss decided to remain stereotypically Swiss and managed to create stunning fountain pens that write even better than they look. Old Ecridor Retro that I’ve managed to buy three years ago still performs perfectly well and can ashame a lot of other pens. Although I rarely use it because of slender barrel and section I still can’t convince myself it’s time to resell it. It’s gracefully thin. And when I add that I enjoy design of almost all Caran d’Ache pens you’ll realise I’m in deep trouble. Once I become oil sheikh the problem will be resolved.
Fortunately I’m patient and enjoy hunting for great deals. In 2014 I’ve managed to buy two Caran d’Ache pens (Leman and Varius) for around 20 % of MSRP. They both had some issues but after short visit to local Pen Doctor everything was corrected and I can enjoy the pens.
A bit of history
Caran d’Ache is a Swiss manufacturer of art and luxury writing instruments. It was founded in Geneva in 1924 when Arnold Schweitzer purchased the Ecridor Pencil Factory. Schweitzer named his new company after Caran d’Ache, the nickname of a French satiric political cartoonist (who in turn took his name from карандаш (karandash), the Russian word for pencil).
CdA Varius is available in several variants. Mine is called Varius Metrub and it combines a rubber body and silver parts resulting in modern and stylish look. The first thing that catches the eye is hexagonal shape. I like it a lot. The narrow metal-section lies well in the hand but I’m not sure I coould recommend it to someone really big and with big hands.
Just by looking at the pen you can easily tell that it is of the highest quality. The “Maison de Haute Ecriture” does NOT disappoint you in the quality department. This is very well made pen.
The clip is functional – it can be easily clipped to any shirt or even jeans pocket. Tension of this clip is just enough to secure the pen while having enough give to operate it with relative ease.
The end of the barrel is designed to allow cap posting. It snaps into place and is held with friction. It’s a tight and secure fit. I never post my pens though, so I’m not sure how well will it work with years of use.
Even the most beautiful fountain pen with bad nib won’t make for good deal. Happily Caran d’Ache Varius is equipped with slightly stubbish broad nib made from 18 ct gold. It’s extremely wet and burning through full converter takes a second (well, not really, but it uses quite a lot of ink). I enoy this nib a lot although I can imagine some people won’t because it may resemble them of marker and not a fountain pen. For me the performance of the nib was flawless and I enjoy the fact it allows for some line variation. I enoy nibs with character and this one has at least some “personnality”.
It’s a cartridge/converter fountain pen. It’s easy to clean especially if a bulb syringe is used to flush the pen. The nib and feed are friction fit so it’s easy to remove and clean after using some nasty ink. The filling system works fine but is boring.
Caran d′Ache Varius is great but expensive (almost 1 000 USD) fountain pen. The truth is it’s not competitive fountain pen – for this kind of money you can easily get few pens that are better – more innovative, handmade, more advanced in every imaginable way. In case of Caran d’Ache products we don’t actually pay for the pen, we pay for a brand and posibility to enter the luxurious brand world. Of course the pen is nicely engineered but Lamy 2000 is better open and costs much less. For the price of Varius Metrub you can easily get Pelikan M1000, Montblanc 149, Conid. I would never pay full MSRP for this pen, however as I’ve managed to get it for – if I recall well – 150 $ I consider this purchase to be more than reasonable. At this price point it’s really nice pen. Not the best there is, but more than ernjoyable to use on every day basis