Has your pen experienced magnetron sputtering – or is it just a Cross Spire

March 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

Be assured, magnetron sputtering is not a fault but a sophisticated electro-magnetic process.  It is used in an advanced surface coating system that offers a fine, high-gloss, durable finish, without filling-in even the finest detail on etched or engraved surface decoration.  Magnetron sputtering is used in the Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) process.  PVD offers the benefit of being a relatively green process with little release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the application process compared with conventional spraying or plating techniques.

 The new Cross Spire range has been finished with PVD in 3 colours, Caviar Black, Golden Shimmer and Icy Chrome. On close inspection of each of the 3 colours, it is impossible to confirm that the chrome and gold finishes are not conventionally plated, even with the fine diamond pattern engraved surfaces.

The Cross Spire pen range in 3 PVD finishes

However, it is not the finish that grabs the attention first with the Cross Spire, but the slender barrels of each format, including the fountain pen. At just 8mm diameter, the fountain pen feels exactly the same as using a slightly weighty conventional lead pencil.  The screw-top cap is removed and posted with a corresponding male thread machined into the top end.  This functions in 2 ways, extending the length of the pen to a significant 153mm and adjusting the balance on a very light pen of just 18 grams.

The nib is quite special for such a small pen.  Visually, it looks almost out of place because of its size – a full sized-nib on a miniature pen. When compared to the Cross Apogee nib, the Spire’s nib is virtually identical across the width and even a little longer!  But this is the real deal.  18ct gold with colour coded finishes in gold and rhodium as appropriate, although, Cross seem less forthcoming about the finish on the black nib. The writing experience itself is everything that would be expected of a pen at this price point. The Spire fountain pen at full price is £155.00 (PenFountain.com price £139.50).  The first sample I tried which, to be fair, was a pre-production model, was quite generous in its inking whilst the subsequent production model sampled was a little more reticent, but quite acceptable.  The Spire also shares the same 0.5mm line width as for other medium nibs from the Cross range.  It is available with the standard fine, medium and broad nib width options.

The Cross Spire full sized nib compared with a Cross Apogee

Because of the overall dimensions of the Cross Spire, the writing experience is a little unusual with the diminutive barrel taking some getting used to.  However, for the more copious fountain pen writer, the combination of small diameter, light-weight and length may offer an exciting alternative to the more conventional pens from other manufacturers. The Spire is offered in 3 colour schemes all finished with the PVD coatings.  The black is a particularly interesting option with an all black, gloss finish including trim and nib making this diminutive pen more acceptable to a potential male market.

As may be gathered from my comments here, I am quite impressed with this latest offering from Cross.  But, this is a cartridge only pen using dedicated Cross Spire cartridges and only available in either blue, blue-black or black inks. On the mechanical side, the screw cap-posting facility is let down by the random positions of the clip when tightened, none of which line the clip with the nib.  For writers with smaller hands this is unlikely to be a problem. For larger hands, it may have the clip catching the crook of the thumb.

In summary, if you write extensively and are looking for a fountain pen that doesn’t tire your hands or, you want to use a real fountain pen with discretion, the Cross Spire is worth looking into.  But the cartridges and the clip may prove a drawback.  The Cross Spire is available from PenFountain.com, or in our Cranleigh shop, in fountain pen,  ballpoint and rollerball formats.

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