One of the hallmarks of success, I believe, is a company’s capacity to surprise—its customers, consumers, and sometimes even itself. And that’s just what Caran d’Ache has done with the introduction of its new high-tech, Swiss-made RNX.316, just released. A huge step from its highly decorated limited editions and beautifully crafted pillar lines, the RNX.316 is not only specialized in its appearance, but also in the material used to make it: 316L stainless steel, known for its strength and imperviousness to heat and cold. And the name RNX, while sounding acronymous and state-of-the-art, is actually a nod to the company’s rich heritage, which began in Switzerland in the early part of the twentieth century. It is a riff on the words “round and hexagonal,” two shapes that have done the company proud. This collection is no exception, since it incorporates both iconic silhouettes in its design.
The RNX.316 comes in two versions: PVD (physical vapor deposition) Black and Steel. Having recently seen both versions in Switzerland, where they were introduced in January, I must say that it’s hard to pick a favorite. The black, which is laser engraved, has a futuristic stealth appeal, while the plain steel pen is simply a great looking instrument that relies on interesting chiselling and polishing effects to woo its user. Its guilloche is created using a special engraving process wherein a spiral effect is created on different planes. It’s all about the juxtaposition of profiles.
The fountain pen (there’s a rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil, too) has a steel PVD-treated nib available in fine, medium and broad sizes--wonderfully smooth, I might add. Another interesting note is the innovative cartridge changing mechanism for the fountain pen and capped rollerball: the system for changing the cartridge also activates the opening of the writing block. By unscrewing the lower part of the body, a counter-screw mechanism advances the writing block and enables the cartridge to be easily changed. A guide piece ensures that the two elements are perfectly aligned and allows the writing instrument to be closed with a single click. The ballpoint has a pushbutton mechanism and is fit with the Caran d'Ache’s Goliath giant cartridge in fine, medium and broad sizes. The mechanical pencil has a pushbutton mechanism with a replaceable eraser under the button. It uses 0.7 mm lead. The RNX.316 ranges in price from $198 to $390.