Ad alert Tuesday, July 22nd 2008
Caran d'Ache 1010 gold version © Caran d'Ache
The Swiss company’s recent creation paying tribute to the art of watchmaking is captivating Americans.
In an America infatuated with anything “Swiss Made”, admirers of luxury fountain pens have declared their new favourite. In this year’s July edition of Pen World, a specialist magazine published in the United States and distributed in some 70 countries, readers awarded the “Pen of the Year” prize for the most exquisite writing instrument to a pen created by a company from Geneva: the Caran d'Ache 1010 limited edition. Honoured by this publication boasting some 30,000 readers, the 1010 edition from Caran d’Ache is itself a tribute: a tribute to watchmaking ingenuity.
In fact, each element of the Caran d’Ache 1010 is sculpted to call to mind a timepiece, a watch crown, or a complication. The pen’s body, for example, which resembles the dial of a skeleton watch, is enclosed in two cages: the first evokes a watch’s gear train mechanism while the other resembles the bridges which hold the train together. The grooves in the cap, the silver contour encircling the Caran d’Ache logo, as well as the piston pump set with a ruby, all resemble a winding mechanism. As for the clip, it is in the shape of a watch hand. At the very end of the pen's body, a half-sphere of sapphire crystal contains a balance wheel poised between two rubies.
A series limited to 510 pens
Even the name of the instrument has been chosen to honour the creators of timepieces: 1010, or 10:10 reflects an instant of symmetry between the watch hands or, as Caran d'Ache likes to put it, the instant at which luxury fountain pens and high-quality precision watchmaking come together. Furthermore, Caran d’Ache willingly associates with watchmaking professionals, with whom they share such values as perfection, elegance, and reliability. Even the combined expertise of the various craftsmen (designers, gem setters, engravers) needed to create this incredibly distinctive object is similar to the range of talents brought together in the craft of high-quality precision watchmaking.
Each limited-edition 1010 pen is individually numbered: Silver, rhodium-coated models are numbered 1 to 500 and those in gold are numbered from 1 to 10, with a clip set off by a 57-facet diamond. Those in gold sell for 120,000 US$ each (20,000 US$ for the silver version). Introduced last October, before captivating America, the 1010 edition has already proved itself in Europe: at the end of last year it won the “Grand Trophée” from Stylographe, the French magazine dedicated to fountain pen enthusiasts.
From wooden pencils to luxury items
Strengthened by such contrasts, Caran d'Ache, a company founded close to a century ago, has resolutely established itself among those companies specialising in crafting luxury fountain pens. Besides its elegance and similarities with watchmaking creations, the Caran-d’Ache 1010 edition, in fact, tells a story – that of a Swiss company which, starting with multicoloured pencils traded in class at school, succeeded in creating a place for itself in the world of luxury products. Founded in 1924 after buying out the Ecridor factory, the company was renamed Caran d’Ache after the pseudonym of cartoonist Emmanuel Poiré: “Karandash” (“pencil” in Russian). After a long period focused exclusively on the national market, the Geneva-based company, renowned for its coloured pencils sold in rainbow collections, only entered the international scene in the 1990s – and it did so with success. Expanding its product line to include luxury writing implements, Caran d’Ache has become renowned the world over for its creations. In 1999, the company even earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for its limited edition Modernista Diamonds, set with 5,072 brilliant diamonds and 96 rubies. With an estimated value of more than 300,000 dollars US$, it became the most expensive writing instrument in the world.
The 1010 edition is also the last stage in an evolution targeting the world’s markets. The 1010 edition is becoming increasingly renowned in the United States, the company’s fourth largest export market, due to its abundance of enthusiasts and collectors of luxury items. With its homage to high-quality precision timepieces, the 1010 confirms the success of this new global strategy. ■