Fountain Pen Review

The Cross Peerless 125 Platinum Medalist

This pen was a Christmas gift from my girlfriend – very cute – both, my girlfriend as well as her gift. Ok, I go no further – no need to bore you to death. The pen I want to introduce you today is the Cross Peerless 125 Platinum Medalist. It was on sale at Appelboompennen and quite cheap back then.

It is my first fountain pen from this company since I am nowadays a bit focused on european brands and hence neglecting all those from Japan or the US. I don´t know entirely why. A part of the reason was, however, one of my first a bit more expensive fountain pens was the Sailor 1911 (see review on this blog), which I was not dissapointed of, but I found myself not using it so often due to its Zoom-nib which was an experiment that sort of failed. A Platinum President which came much later was also not that satisfying. What has this to do with Cross? Well, not much, but my mentioned focus on european brands had its influence – with the european brands I am always satisfied. It comes in Addition, actually, that the nib and feed of this fountain pen is produced by Sailor

Anyway, back to the choice of a Cross-pen: When I was checking the webpages of fountain pen shops, I was recalling my time when I used to be a “young” schoolboy as I got one of the super-slim ballpens from Cross together with a retractable pencil. I found the tapered shape super stylish and the slimness, although absolutely unergonomic for my hands, I found somewhat exalted or extraordinary. And nowadays I found the design which had not changed over time again quite special. OK, the not changing design is not very new and not restricted to cross, neither. Obviously the fountain pen companies keep their design over decades – especially if the design ist somewhat “iconic” (I realize actually, that this is the reason why it is called iconic). Well, when I saw the offers of the abovementioned seller I immediately refreshed my memories from the old pens I used when I was in school. I browsed then through the sales of the Cross-pens with the focus on fountain pens, because ball pens I am not interested in at all, anymore (no, this is not an expression of elitism). And I found quite quickly this pen, the Cross Peerless 125 Platinum Medalist. Main reason: it is a girthy pen – far, far away from the slim pens I had once – and which are still available. I was tempted a bit from the Star-Wars-series Cross offers, but actually not too much. They are a bit above my budget (I didn´t know to that time that somebody else eagerly wanted to cover the expenses) and I don´t like the hype, and yes, commerce, around the new Star Wars films (neither back then when the first films came out, by the way; but that is not part of this introduction). Back to topic: The option of the gold-plated iversion I found too much over the top and the black issue I found and still find too boring. Not in general, but I have too much black pens (old ones and new ones) with platinum or gold trims. The Peerless platinum plated was my pen of choice because the color-scheme shows elegance combined with sort of understatement. It is just not pretentious but not boring, either.

parts
Fig. 1: The parts of the pen.

The pen features a guilloched, matted silvergrey cap and barrel. Here, I must admit, that I am not completely sure whether this term is correctly chosen. Neither do I have a clue how this pattern (the “guilloche”) was made (etching or engraving). The cap is quite thick compared to the barrel and most of all to the bottom part of the barrel. Actually, it looks a bit unproportionated in a way. Uncapped, however, the pen looks balanced in that matter. So, it is acceptable for me. The section is of black, shiny plastic. The finnial as well as the endpart of the barrel (which gives the impression of a twisting turning knob for the actually non-existing piston) and the clip are of goldplated metal (only the clip is obviously of steel, since it is magnetic). The cap-threads which go over into a ring seperating the section and the barrel, is of the same material and plating. The mentioned ring says in capitals “Cross Peerless 125” with golden letters on a black (plastic) background. The section is finalized with a goldplated ring. The finnial and the fake-endcap have a thin milled ring with black color – a quite nice detail, I find! The cap ends also with a goldplated ring. Also it shows on its very top (the finnial) a very dark gem from Svarowski. Here, I would wish a bit more colorfull or more translucent gem because as it is now it just looks like a black, facetted something – not very appealing at al. But this is may be just me. The quite tight clip is typically (for Cross that is) curved and carries the imprint of the company logo. And here I am a bit surprised: all the fotos from this pen I found in the internet show the logo as gold lettered on a black background, my exemplar has an embossed logo – strange. May be I have a fake version? Nah, probably not.

cap_and_clip
Fig. 2: Cap, clip and barrel of the Cross Peerless 125

The pen is – as mentioned earlyer – not a piston pen but a cartridge/converter pen. The converter has threads to screw it into the section. It looks proprietary and not “standard international” (I don´t own cartridges).

The “heart” of the pen is an 18 karat gold nib of size 6 – comparable of the Meisterstück 146, Pelikan M800 or – more evidently – of the Sailor 1911 large. And why is it evident? Because nib and feed look like those from the Sailor. And also, because I red in internet forums that both are produced by Sailor.

section_and_nib
Fig. 3: Nib, feed and section of the Cross Peerless 125.

Nothing wrong with it – quite the opposite, in terms of writing experience. Only in terms of the width of the nib … it says “B” (it also says from front to rear: “PEERLESS/125/-B-/18K 750/CROSS” – the slashes indicate a new line) but it writes like a thin M or a slightly broader F. So be aware! You buy an american pen with a japanese understanding of nib grades.

I am not a big fan of demonstrating or describing the writing experience with a standard nib in an individual fountain pen. According to my experience the variability from nib to nib (even from the same grade – not to mention from the same brand or model) is to strong and dependent upon the exemplar I hold in my hands. Softness, flexness and wettness. And it is quite subjective and about personal preference. What I can say about the purchased item is anyway that it writes quite smooth and wett – exactly as I like it. Overall I am a bit reconciled with japanese nibs (after the – only for me(!) disapointing Zoom-nib from Sailor and the nail of a nib from Platinum). This nib is quite soft (actually the same softness of a Montblanc 146 or M800 nib), but of course not at all springy (I mean flex). For me it is a good supplement to my otherwise medium to broad nibs which I prefer, otherwise

The cut offers no stubbish character, though. But this is not a big surprise in modern thin nibs – according to my not too high experience, that is.

What makes the pen literally “peerless”? Well, actually nothing … It compares quite well with other fountain pens in this price range. For me, it is the shape or the design which makes it a bit more special in my pen collection. Overall, it is not fancy at all, but due to its material and color scheme it actually is somewhat special. As far as I know, there are not much variations of this pen on the market – appart of the black and the goldplated version (ok, there is a full-gold version for the price of a half fortune on the market, but this doesn´t count). Pelikan produces every year a “new” version of its Souverän-pens (pens with a new facelift by color or materials but never by shape), which is not only boring in my oppinion … Montblanc builds at least sometimes new pens (Heritage) which are not just a spin-off from their Meisterstück series. The Writers Edition from MB for example is internally nothing else than the Meisterstück 146 but in a new cover – at least the design and most of all the shape is quite variable and newly desinged with accents they think fitting to the writer, so one deals actually with a quite different pen – something which can not be said with respect to the Pelikans … and the prices are also slightly over the top, don´t they?

writing_sample_cross_peerless_125
Fig. 4: Writing sample of the Cross Peerless with its broad nib from Sailor (which writes like F to M nib from western brands).

Summary and overall impression

The Cross Peerless 125 Platinum Medalist is a girthy fountain pen. I am not sure whether the overall design can be called elegant. This is because the cap is way thicker than the barrel (in partciluar the downtapered end-part of it). But without the cap everything is well proportionated and the term is well appropriate. It is a postable pen, but the balance is totally gone then.

The pen is heavy (53g inked) which makes it for me quite well to write with because I can write best with fine nibs if the pen is heavy. “Fine” nib is regarded to its actual width but not to its labled grade, which is “Broad”. But this nib is by no means braod at all. I would say not even “regular” japanese broad is that thin …

The guilloched and matted surface (Aluminium?) is quite pleasant to the touch, also the plastic barrel. The wirting experience is also quite well (as mentioned earlyer, it doesn´t offer you much if I tell you something about my writing experience, because every nib is different and everybody has a different writing experience with the same nib …).

Would I recommend it or buy it again? The answer is yes to both! I like it very much to own it as the first american (high priced) pen in my collection. It is equipped with a Sailor nib, which has a good reputation. The pen is well built. And although it is much cheaper than a Pelikan Souverän M800 (not to mention a MB 146) it has everything what a pen in this price class should have – except the filling system, which is cartridge/converter rather than a piston filling system.

It is following now a size comparison and some visual impressions of this beautiful fountain pen. Enjoy …

size_comparison
Size comparison of the Cross Peerless 125. Top: capped, middle: uncapped, bottom: posted. From the left to the right: Caran d´Ache 849, Pelikan Souverän M400, Montblanc Meisterstück 146, Pelikan Souverän M800, Platinum President, Lamy Lx, Montblanc Meisterstück Diplomat (149) and the Cross Peerless 125.

Cross_peerless_125_Platinum_Medalist

cross_peerless_125_with_ink_bottle_black-whiteCross_peerless_125_Cap_imprint

This and that

Ink Capacities …

… for various fountain pens and converters.

I gathered numerous fountain pens (own ones and those from friends) and measured their ink capacities. I also took a couple of converters – proprietary ones such as for Lamy or Sailor as well as standard international ones (SI). This list cannot be representative since it does not contain any eyedroper pen …

The measurements were performed quite simply: With the respective pen or converter, I sucked up water from a little container and spilled it into a little bottle with a scale (the little blue thingy in the title picture filled with blue substitute). I spilled out as much as possible (by turning the twisting turning knob of the pens and converters several times), but of course, a little bit of ink was always left in the feed. Anyway, the measurements give you quite precise impression of how much ink can be hold by each fountain pen or converter. Therefore, the measurements are sort of the minimum one can expect (I would guess anyway that the feed can hold max. 0,1ml, depending on its size – but this is only a guess, nothing more).

It is not a surprise that the converters have quite low ink capacities (around 0,6-0,8ml), but it is actually a surprise that the big and girthy pens do not hold enormous ink amounts, either. Eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 149ers or the Pelikan M1000 – as these two are the flag ship pens of the respective pen brands. In turn, some of the smallest and thinnest pens hold quite much ink, eg. the Montblanc Meisterstück 14 from the sixties as well as the MB 24. Both hold 1,6ml and 1.5ml, respectively. Also the rather small Pelikan M200/400 hold 1.3ml/1.4 ink which is comparable with the significantly bigger pens M600 and M800 from the same brand (both 1,3ml).

Very low ink capacities are shown in the Heritage Rouge-et-Noir-Series by Montblanc. I had two of them for measurement and both hold not more than 0,6ml of ink … even a Montblanc converter or an unbranded one (standard international which fits into old Montblanc Noblesses or Slim Lines or even into modern Graf von Faber-Castell converter-pens) hold substantially more ink (0,8-0,9ml). That is a bit dissapointing. Similarly behaving the converters from Sailor and Platinum (0,6ml). The Kaweco converter holds least ink of all the converters checked here, but this one has to fit into a very small Kaweco Sport – a very small pen … What do we learn from this? Size doesn’t matter …

Diagram:

inc_cap_diag

 

Table:

Pen ink capacity [ml]
Kaweco Converter (for KW Sport) 0,5
Montblanc Heritage R&N Coral 0,6
Montblanc Heritage R&N Tropic Brown 0,6
Platinum President Converter 0,6
Sailor 1911 Large Converter 0,6
Lamy Converter (Al-Star, Lx, Safari) 0,8
Cleo Skribent Ebonite 0,8
Montblanc 3-44 G 0,8
Pelikan Converter (threads) 0,8
No Name Converter (“SI”) 0,8
MB Converter (looks “SI”, for Slim Line and Noblesse) 0,8
MB Converter black-gold (threads and spiral) 0,9
Graf von Faber-Castell Converter (for all FvF-C) 0,9
Visconti HS Lava (oversized, Bronce) 0,9
Visconti Wall Street Converter 1,0
Lamy 2000 Macrolon 1,1
Montblanc 32 1,1
Lamy 2000 Metal 1,2
Pelikan Souverän M1000 Black 1,2
Montblanc Meisterstück 149G 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Ultra Black 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Daniel Defoe 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE Agatha Christie 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück WE William Faulkner 1,3
Pleikan M800 Tortoise Shell 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M600 1,3
Pelikan Souverän M200 1,3
Montblanc Meisterstück 149P 1,4
Montblanc Donation Pen Johannes Brahms 1,4
Montblanc Writers Edition Alexandra Dumas 1,4
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 Burgundy 1,4
Pelikan Souverän M400 1,4
Pelikan M1000 Demonstrator 1,5
Noodler Flex Pen 1,5
Montblanc 24 1,5
Montblanc Meisterstück 14 1,6
Fountain Pen Review

Sailor 1911 Large (Zoom nib) …

… a Japanese precious?

I assume, the Japanese brand Sailor is well known in the fountain pen world. The company was founded 1911 in Hiroshima. Quite often the namegiving number is imprinted on the nibs of several (if not all) pen collections/series from this company. This together with an anchor (may be to emphasize the nautic symbol with the company name “Sailor Pens”).

So, let’s hoist the anchor and sail away …

The 1911-Series shows a wide spectrum of sizes and colors/finishes/materials (see the following page for details: http://www.sailorpen.co.uk/1911-series.html. To summarize this, classical cigar shaped pens are available like the Large or Classic as well es more “chiseled” ones like the Young. You find finishes in black, yellow, blue, burgundy, white and even translucent ones (demonstrator). Most are cartridge/converter-pens except for the Realo, which has a piston filling system. This particular series has also an ink window which all others are lacking.

The fountain pen I demonstrate here, the 1911 Large with rhodium trims is not shown in the webpage mentioned above, may be it is meanwhile abandoned. You find a sibling which is called “1911 Silver”, so either this is a new name for the one I own, or the shop I ordered it, sold it under a wrong name. But does this matter? No, I don’t think so …

Parts_and_finnial
Top: Parts of the pen. Bottom: finial

 

Look and Size

The pen is a classical cigarr shaped pen with a screw cap (is it only my impression, that I have to turn it a bit more often than eg. a Visconti Wall Street or a Pelikan Souverän?). It hast a very regular shaped and unfancy clip, which just works as it should, a neutral finial and a blind cap separated from the barrel with a silver ring (rhodium plated). The cap has a slim and a broad ring, it says in outlined capital letters: “Sailor Japan Founded 1911”.

When you open the cap (two full turns) you get to see the section which tapers down and expands a bit at the very end (to prevent the fingers touchiung the nib and feed).

The nib is a 21kt gold nib (rhodinated). The nib is longer than those from a Montblanc Meisterstück 146, but again narrower than that from a Pelikan M800. The fountain pen itself is sizewise very comparable to the abovementioned pens (see image below). The nib of the Sailor 1911L is by no means undersized compared to the rest of the pen anatomy (as it is the case for the Graf von Faber-Castell Anello – just as an example).

The nib shows a flourish imprint, as well as the founding year (1911), the anchor, the carat number (21kt) and the corresponding permille value (875) and finally the Sailor-Logo.

Something I found interesting: the upper part oft he barrel, where the threads are located, looks almost identical to the Platinum President (see size comparison-image), although the caps are not interchangable. Also the trims of the cap look very, very similar.

Size_comparison
Size comparison (capped and uncapped). (1) Sailor 1911L, (2) Platinum President, (3) Pelikan M800, (4) MB Meisterstück 146, (5) Lamy Safari, (6) Edison Collier, (7) MB Meisterstück 149.

 

Material

The Material is a so called PMMA-resin. Well, it does not tell me too much, please feel free to read the respective Wikipedia article:

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly(methyl_methacrylate).

Does it look different from, well, for example the “precious resin” the Montblanc pens are composed of? Yes, it does! But I cannot describe the difference, I am sorry. Is one of both harder? I don’t know, I don’t want to intentionally scratch them with a needle or so, just to prove their hardness. The biggest, “obvious” difference is that the precious resin in MB-pens is slightly translucent (you observe a dark red color under very bright light), whereas the PMMA in the Sailor is absolutely opaque.

 

Filling mechanism

Just a simple cartridge/converter system. But proprietary. “Sandard international” will not work.

 

Nib performance

The 1911-Series are delivered with EF, F, M, B MS and Z nibs). MS means Music nib and Z means Zoom nib. According to what I have learned about Japanese nib grades the general eqaulization of japaneese F corresponds to western EF (as well as M=F, B=M – so, Japanese grades are one grade thinner than western grades with the same name) applies also here.

The pen shown here is equipped with a Zoom-nib. This type of nib enables the user to produce wide lines as well as fine lines with the same nib. The stroke-width is dependent upon how you hold the pen (see image below). It is obvious that this type of writing is nothing for a regular use for a quick letter or shopping list. One would use it carefully and with intent on the purpose. Of course, the nib is absolutely usable for a regular use, anyway. When holding the pen “normally” (in the usual 40-50 degrees handholding) the stroke will be a western medium to broad stroke). When flattening the angle even stronger the stroke gets bolder. But actually not very much so. The biggest difference occurs between the upright position (very thin stroke like western F) and the normal type of pen-holding (western medium to broad grade).

Zoom_nib_synopsis
The Zoom nib in the Sailor 1911 L
zoom_Nib
This is how Zoom-nibs work

 

Well I didn’t found so far a use for the capabilities of the zoom nib. It might be very good for thin remarks on articles or any kind of book, but in this case an EF-nib or reverse writing of a broader nib does the same job). But this is only me! In the web are numerous youtube-videos available that show the purposes of this nib much better. Back then, when I bought this pen with this nib I was fascinated from it, but actually I had no use from it in practice afterwards.

The nib experience with this particular nib is also not too awsome, since it sounds like a felt pen while wiriting. The tip is very rough and quite often it accumulates fibers from the paper. However, I never experienced a hard start or skipping at all. It just writes.

The nib is quite stiff and shows no flex. The line variation is supposed to be obtained by different pen holding, anyway. Reverse writing is possible (at least with this one). I generally put not much attention to the option of reverse writing in a review, because I made the experience that this is different for each nib (even when it comes from the same manufacturer and if it is the same grade), but if it is possible with one exemplar it is most likely not generally impossible due to the specifity of the nib design.

The same applies to wettness. This is a very individual thing for each nib. This one is quite wet, but another one might be super dry …

Writing sample
Writing sample of the Sailor 1911 Large.
stroke_comparison
The broadest stroke possible with the Sailor Zoom-nib (*) compared to other broad nibs.

The bottom line

The Sailor 1911 is (in a positive way) a very classical (up to unspectacular) pen, which has shapewise much in common with a MB Meisterstück (146) and even more with the Platinum President. Also the handling is very comparable (the balance is a bit different, due the heavy brass from the piston filling mechanism in the MB 146, though). In my opinion, appart from the nib, this pen is absolutely “average” for its class. What I find very special, however ist that the ink never(!) dries out, no matter how long the pen is not in use. No other pen I know offers this (except for the Platinum 3776 … coincidence?). This pen is a reliable well performing, good workhorse.