I’d waffled around on the Cross Spire for a while—it looked neat, but the standard diamond-dimpling just wasn’t my thing. But as soon as I saw the Red Lacquer model come in at Office Supplies and More, I said hold that hot tamale, I’ll be back on payday.
Sleek. Slim. Shiny. What more do you want, you ingrate? The cap screws on to close and to post, and takes less than a full revolution to do so. Convenience-wise, this saves time, but be warned: this makes it a little too easy to open. I have, on occasion, opened up my Nomadic Wise-Walker bag to find the cap clipped to a pocket, and the rest of the pen laying down in the bottom of the pocket, having come unscrewed of its own volition.
Undoubtedly, this has got to be the thinnest fountain pen I own. The Kaweco Liliput or perhaps the Ohto Rook are the only others that comes close, but they are not standard length pens like the Spire. I’m not bothered by the thinness of the barrel, I just have to be mindful if I get in a blaze of writing that I don’t seize up my hand like I’m trying to bore through the table, one letter at a time. When I get like that, pens this thin will be uncomfortable to write with for extended periods of time. But if you prefer thin pens, you won’t need to be mindful at all (just don’t be mindless either, then you won’t be able to think of anything to write).
Visually, I wouldn’t change a thing about the grip. It looks so elegant. Practically speaking, however, having such a small grip adds one more point to pay attention to when I’m writing—this is not one of those comfortable-at-all-angles-grips for me. Let’s keep in mind though that I hold my pens like a broken-wristed cave-dweller; the grip isn’t a big deal, but it does take me an extra second to make sure I’m holding it in a nice, comfortable way.
The nib is 18k gold, and the pen takes special Cross Slim cartridges (standard international cartridges are too fat to fit in the barrel). I’m a little disappointed about the cartridges thing, as it means I’ll have to either refill the tiny cartridges or find a converter if I want to use any other kind of ink. Compatibility with standard model cartridges is something I like to see to draw people in to fountain pens (one less obstacle to convenience, having standard cartridges), but let’s get real; this isn’t an entry-level pen. This game isn’t being played where cartridges mean a diddly-dang-doodle; this is an object of art and luxury, and if that means having bizarre proprietary cartridges then so much the better for Cross. The pen writes fine (the kind of lines you’d need for everyday regular-world writing), and it writes well; it’s the sort of pen I’d use at work, if I worked on serious and important business things.
This isn’t a pen you need. It’s a pen you want. Come up with an important occasion, and reward yourself with one of these (unless you hate the color red). I’d recommend trying to find one in person, if you can, and if not, start bugging your favorite online pen store to carry the lacquered version of the Spire. You could hit up the Cross website, if you’re not interested in saving any money in this acquisition. Or you could try poking around online for deals—a quick, bleary-eyed search found a 30% discount at Pens & Leather. Let me know if you find a better deal and I’ll pass it on; given that I’m tired and I already have one, I’m not particularly motivated to sleuth out the best deal on this pen right now.