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The Cross Apogee


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#1 ismaeltapiaii

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:00

So, I've been wanting to write a review of my first fountain pen for a while, but I wanted to include pictures, and I've been far too busy and lazy to take any. Now I've realized that I'm never going to get around to doing that, so I'm just gonna do a review without pictures of then pen or of writing. If you guys are really curious, let me know and I'll post some.

Anyway, yes, the Cross Apogee is my first fountain pen. Some friends had turned me on to the idea of getting a fountain pen, so I started looking around for a good one that wasn't ridiculously priced. I had some specific criteria for how I wanted it to look: it had to be black, and it had to have silver-colored trim. To me, gold looks extremely tacky. I know lots of people disagree with me, and that's fine, but I can't stand gold. Not on jewelery (if I ever get married, my ring will be platinum), not on coat buttons, and not a pen. After looking around at various manufacturers and models, I stumbled across the Apogee and fell in love. So, the review.

Appearance and feel

There are lots of pictures of this pen around, including on the Cross webpage. In general, it's a very sleek pen. Capped, it's got a fairly pronounced taper from end to end, and I really like that. To me, it looks very modern, but not at all boring. In fact, I think it looks very sophisticated and, well, sexy. I love looking at it.

If you take the cap off, you see the rhodium-plated gold nib and a small silver-colored ring. One of the things that I've seen other people say that they don't like about this pen is that the nib is very small relative to the rest of the pen. On the one hand, yes, I think that's accurate. And, if I could redesign the pen, I'd definitely make the nib bigger. Having said that, however, I don't think the nib is comically small or that it's so disproportionate as to detract from the overall aesthetics of the pen. In fact, I think that the nib fits the design of the pen very well.

The nib itself is monochromatic--this is not a two-tone affair. And I like that.

The pen feels solid. The cap snaps on confidently and posts securely.

The Apogee is definitely the heaviest of the fountain pens I've tried. For reference, those are a Parker Sonnet, a Waterman Hemisphere, and a few Pelikans. I like that weight. It makes the pen feel substantial. At the same time, it's not so heavy that it's uncomfortable to write with. I haven't written with it for extended periods of time yet--I haven't used it to take notes during a day-long trial, for example--but I don't think it will present a problem.

In general, the appearance and the feel of this pen are top-notch.

Filling system
The Apogee is a cartridge/converter pen. It came with the converter and two cartridges. I have not used the cartridges because, well, I was excited to try the converter with Noodler's Bulletproof Black (which is awesome, by the way). I have to say that the converter--which screws into place--is great. It feels sturdy and it's easy to use.

I have had some problems with filling it; I made a huge mess on my desk. I attribute that more to my inexperience with the whole converter thing than any flaw with the pen or converter itself.

Overall, I like the system, but I do wish it could hold more ink. I don't know if it holds enough to make it through a day of trial without running out of ink, and that makes me sad.

Nib and writing
I was a little worried that the writing experience with this pen would be underwhelming. Some of the other reviews of the Apogee on here mentioned that the nib was scratchy or that it had poor flow. Also, I really wasn't impressed with the majority of other pens I tried--the nibs on them felt worse than the Pilot G2s I'd been using.

So, when I took out my pen and filled it up, I was a little apprehensive. All of that melted away, though, the second I put pen to paper. Writing with my Apogee is smooth and pleasant. There's no scratchiness at all, although there is feedback. The nib isn't super flexible, but it's got enough give to it so that you can get a good amount of line variation just by applying more or less pressure. One of the things I noticed about some of the other pens I had tried--the Waterman in particular--was that they tended to get caught on the upstrokes. There's no issue with that with this pen. Both of my fountain-pen-owning friends were very jealous of this pen when they wrote with it. In general, this pen is just a dream to write with.

The writing itself is also very nice. The line is broader than I was expecting--I got a medium, but if I had it to do over again, I'd strongly consider a fine. I'm getting used to the medium now, though, so maybe I'd think the fine was too narrow now. I don't know.

Anyway, the line itself is very clean and has a good amount of wetness to it. The pen started right up and does almost always, although there is a little hesitation on start up now and then. It does also skip occasionally, but not enough to be a problem. I'm also finding that it's skipping less as I become more used to writing with it.

The clip
The only substantial issue I have with the pen is the clip. While it looks great, it's somewhat difficult to operate. It's spring loaded and you have to push down on the end of the clip closest to the end of the pen in order to make the clip spring up. This would be fine except that I think you have to push too hard to make the clip come up. Add to that the fact that the round pen is very slippery and it becomes difficult to, for example, clip the pen into your shirt pocket with one hand. That's annoying.

Cost and value
This pen retails for $165 on the Cross site, and I've seen it for that price on some other webpages, including Pen Hero. I looked around, thinking I could get it for much less if I was patient and vigilant. In the end, I ordered it from Amazon on Christmas Eve for about $90 shipped. I was very pleased. I think that it was definitely worth what I paid. If I hadn't gotten the pen for $90, I probably would have ended up paying about retail, and I would have been happy with it, although I'd still have some lingering doubts about whether any pen is worth that much money. If you're someone who doesn't have that hang up, then I'd say that it's definitely worth the MSRP.

Overall, I'm extremely pleased with this pen and would highly recommend it. I'd give it a 9 out of 10, with the one point being taken off for the clip, which annoys me. If not for that, this pen would be perfect.

[Stock image from PenHero]

Edited by MYU, 26 January 2009 - 16:07.
added stock image


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#2 Russ

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:19

Thanks for the great review!

I think there are as many preferences for caps (snap vs. screw) as there are for clips. One way I made friends with the Apogee clip was learning to catch the middle fingernail on my right hand as I slip the clip over my shirt pocket. It works well, and the massive clip holds the pen on securely.

I too like the Apogee's appearance, and its buttery-smooth nib (after I smoothed it, especially).

It is a pen which will last for years. Enjoy it!

#3 I am not a number

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 21:51

Good review of a pen which I have only recently tried. I think that you have captured all the points very well and I look forward to more of your posts!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of nothing at all...

#4 Ifeelgud

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 13:13

I agree with your review. I have the red lacquer version. Some have criticized the small size of the nib - but I feel it is in keeping with the contemporary look of the pen overall. The only initial issue I had was with the occasional feed problems which were down to air getting trapped at the bottom of the ink converter. However, this has been remedied naturally as the months have passed which I can only put down to the cartridge itself becoming more slippery?

Great modern looking pen!

#5 Gawain

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 13:50

Great review!
I've tried many Cross ball point pens and I've been disappointed with every one. Maybe its time I tired one of their fountain pens. I do enjoy fountain pens with small diameters (slim pens).

Might I make an observation? Since you are fairly new to fountain pens, it may be that you are pressing too hard, if you get flex from a Cross nib. I could be wrong. But, try this. Without looking for flex, try writing with little to NO pressure on the nib. Just let the nib glide across the paper on a film of wet ink. Once you get the hang of writing like you are using a fountain pen and not a ball point pen (or gel pen), you will be totally hooked on the experience forever.

Cheers,
Gawain
Thoreau "for every thousand hacking at the branches of evil, there is one chopping at the root"

#6 asimplemaestro

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 15:37

Good review of a beautiful pen.

#7 JonDoh

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 13:37

I've had three of them and all three have had horribly scratchy nibs. Scratchy to the point that I can't write with them - it's like running fingernails over a chalk board. It's a beautiful pen and I want to like it so much, but I've had nothing but bad experiences with them and with Cross customer service.
It's not what you look at, but what you see when you look.
Henry David Thoreau

#8 pmsalty

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 17:17

I received a Cross Apogee as a Christmas present from my grandson's. As you say it is a substantial pen, brass bodies have a tendency to make a pen a little heavier. I like it also. Mine is filled with Noodler’s Legal Lapis and is my check writing pen. It’s my heaviest FP so if it has to go in a pant’s pocket I can be assured it won’t fall out. The nib gives feedback but lays a nice line. Mine also is a medium and seems more like a broad. Nice review for a nice pen. However if you have flex on your nib you must be pressing to hard.
PMS

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#9 Fazby

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Posted 10 July 2009 - 18:45

I have the black apogee also and really like it. The nib had to be smoothed by a nibmaiseter first though.

Now the other colors tempt me.....

#10 RickySlickUHS

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 20:21

I've got the Titan Red Cross Apogee and I absolutely love it. It's my first fountain pen as well.

I found with the Montblanc Bordeaux that the flow wasn't as good and the nib was a bit scratchy too. I definitely missed on some of the strokes but whenever I go back to Cross Black cartridges I'm always reminded of why I love this pen. It feels effortless to write with, its a perfect weight and looks really good! I'll probably get a Fine nib for it eventually but I'm satisfied for now.

I think my problem with the Montblanc ink could be solved with a higher quality ink. I'm going to order some Diamine Oxblood here in the next few days ;).

#11 Russ

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 00:53

And I've been plotting to get a B nib !

#12 nicholasyeo

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 13:48

The Apogee is one of my all time favourite pens. I like how it is a not-too attractive
but nevertheless classy looking pen that is made well. I refrained from buying it but
still might consider someday!

#13 JonDoh

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 15:19

Either you got lucky and got a good one or I got two bad ones. I've sent mine back to Cross three times and they still don't write right. I gave up on them after Cross lost one of them and replaced it (six months and many phone calls later) with a pen that wrote just as bad as the one I had sent for repair. Cross used to be known for pens with super buttery nibs - I have two from the 80's that are incredible writers. But since shipping production to China quality has gone down the toliet.

If your pen writes as well as your review suggests then consider yourself lucky and enjoy it.

Edited by JonDoh, 02 November 2010 - 15:21.

It's not what you look at, but what you see when you look.
Henry David Thoreau

#14 nicholasyeo

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 16:10

Either you got lucky and got a good one or I got two bad ones. I've sent mine back to Cross three times and they still don't write right. I gave up on them after Cross lost one of them and replaced it (six months and many phone calls later) with a pen that wrote just as bad as the one I had sent for repair. Cross used to be known for pens with super buttery nibs - I have two from the 80's that are incredible writers. But since shipping production to China quality has gone down the toliet.

If your pen writes as well as your review suggests then consider yourself lucky and enjoy it.

That is quite regrettable. I think Cross has great design but it's true that quality from China made nibs
can't be up to the high standards. I had an ATX and Compact earlier, with steel nibs but - lovelyyyyy.

#15 kalum

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 20:31

Thanks for the great review!

I think there are as many preferences for caps (snap vs. screw) as there are for clips. One way I made friends with the Apogee clip was learning to catch the middle fingernail on my right hand as I slip the clip over my shirt pocket. It works well, and the massive clip holds the pen on securely.

I too like the Apogee's appearance, and its buttery-smooth nib (after I smoothed it, especially).

It is a pen which will last for years. Enjoy it!


Russ,
I Hope you are well. I am just curious as to what you mean by 'smoothed' the nib? Do you mean some procedure or simply by using the pen naturally over a period of time? I just got one of these pens and whilst the nib is perfect, your comment was curious to me.
Thanks

#16 JonDoh

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Posted 17 September 2014 - 14:30

Update to my previous comments.  I sent my pen off to have the nib smoothed and now it's an enjoyable writer.  It's a shame I had to make this additional investment in the pen when I don't have to do this with any of my Pelikans.  But now at least I have a pen that I can use.  

 

I have its rollerball mate and together they make an attractive pair.  The rollerball, which uses gel ink, is a very smooth writer.


It's not what you look at, but what you see when you look.
Henry David Thoreau






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