since there is not much mention of this pen on FPN I thought I’d put a post together. I considered making it a review, but there is no way I could be objective.
After a long production run the Hexagonal has recently been deleted from the catalogue; indeed, actual production would have already ceased a year or three ago. The Hexagonal, and particularly the Ecaille Chinese Lacquer finish, represents an older time and philosophy, as well as a slightly outdated aesthetic. The gold and maroon seems rather 1980s, not a finish being produced today on any other pen that comes to mind; it would be way too small for the overwhelming majority of modern fancy pen buyers (personally I enjoy using a variety of pen sizes), when this price bracket must translate to a “full size” or “oversize” pen, whether that be current production or vintage; and certain details would be done in a very different way had the pen been designed in even the last ten years, such as the basic, straight clip, which would have to be more stylized and symbolize something, or the screwed end piece of the barrel, held in with a Loctite-like substance, which although means the barrel can be accessed from both ends in case of a service issue I have also seen it fall out without much more than normal use (but not on this particular one, which I’ve had a few months).
It is a pen, however, that adapted the CdA trademark hexagon shape from the original Ecridor mechanical pencil into a product aimed at distinct advancement, both as a consumable, writing tool, and as something emblematic of the rise of CdA into new markets, much like the Ecridor pencil had taken the hexagonal shape and advanced the company beyond their fixpencil, an advancement of the basic wooden pencil. It is a pen that company owner and former president Mr. Hubscher is very proud of. Mr. Hubscher has a steel trap mind and a remarkable memory for what Caran d’Ache has made or even considered over the past 50+ years, and the Hexagonal, he believes, is the pen they “got just right”, across the spectrum of design, style and function.
It is also my favourite Caran d’Ache pen (although admiring it for a long time, I have only recently got one). For me this pen is truly second to none in terms of attention to detail, not in that they got spot on a signature of the historical figure it is dedicated to, or that they used the fibres from a military coat from a battle 400 years ago, but that they went to the trouble of filling the rectangles on the gripping section with lacquer. They went to the trouble of writing a few details about the pen under the clip, which would not be visible to anyone but the owner. And it is hard to describe, but the way the barrel screws on exudes quality, the kind of exacting standards you would get on a top of the line pen in the 1950s and which manufacturers seem to have been unable to replicate on modern and contemporary pens.
All of the fit and finish is superb, from the way the barrel screws onto the section, or the sublime click when the two hexagons of the cap and barrel match up like puzzle pieces. This is a pen crafted along the lines of an older, more understated philosophy of manufacture, in which all of these aspects were not “features”, but simply part of a quality, over-engineered product. Although the rich, high-quality gold plating and totally unique tortoiseshell coloured Laque de Chine are not exactly understated in appearance, it is details like the fact that the manufacturer’s name is discreetly tucked away under the clip that hark from an era when these fancy pen makers made a “quality” good, rather than a “luxury” good – even my beloved Caran d’Ache. Also written under the clip are the words “Gold Plated G” – why this would need to be written on the pen at all I have no idea. The gold plating throughout is stunning, feeling almost “soft” to the touch; in addition to their other strengths, I have always found CdA gold, silver and rhodium plating to be the best in the business.
There are a few curious oddities with my particular pen. One is the fact that it carries the current and older logo on the same pen, the older “CdA” sitting in the deckle in the clip, and the more stylized, newer logo laser engraved on the cap top. In addition to this the hand applied Chinese lacquer of the cap and barrel is not exactly a close match – the barrel is darker with finer detail, the cap lighter with no definite lines. Why these things are the case for mine I do not know for certain, but I can only speculate that it was one of the very last of the line, and was made up of remaining parts they had. It is all factory correct – I was there when the sealed plastic slip was opened for the first time. While this particular example is the one I have seen the most inconsistencies on, there have been others – I have seen a rhodium and carbon fibre FP with the newest logo on the clip, but no engraving at all on the cap top, and I have seen another FP (I forget the finish) with the newest nib but no screw threads in the section for the screw-in converter. While mine actually does have screw threads the current, screw thread converter is too big for the barrel, and the barrel does not screw on with it in place (it came from the factory with no converter in place, so evidently they had the same problem). I’ve fitted a slim Waterman converter which works well.
The performance was not exactly what I would have liked straight from the factory – the newer style small (i.e. non-Leman) 18ct nib seem to always need a bit of further polishing of the tipping material, and the Broad size always seems to have “baby’s bottom”. Mine is a Fine, albeit a rather thick Fine, which I had sorted out after just a bit of playing around. The sole grievance I have with this pen is actually the plastic feed, and it is obviously something I have no way of fixing. Although my personal preference is mostly for ebonite, plastic can be fine for a feed. But whatever plastic it is they make their small feeds out of they seem to repel ink, which means watery inks can have inconsistent flow as you use the ink welled up in the feed after you first uncap the pen, becoming drier after a few sentences, or thicker, saturated inks can stop flowing altogether. The only remedy for this, I have found, is to use something like Noodler’s and refrain from washing the pen out too much. The feed becomes coated in inky goodness and flow problems are solved, even after changing to watery inks.
Because the gold is just a bit too gold for me when I’m out this will serve solely as a desk pen, and there is still not a scratch on it, unlike my other most used and loved pens. I’ve had a variety of inks in it, but seem to have settled on Visconti Blue, at least for now.
Certainly not a pen for everyone, especially my particular inconsistent example, but it is one of my favourites that I own and without doubt my favourite that CdA has produced.