Ask a non-pen person if he knows a pen brand, and he'll most likely answer something like: Parker, Waterman, Sheaffer or cross. The amusing, and interesting part though, is that a lot of pen bloggers and serious collectors seem to steer clear from these 'mainstream' brands. Are we some sort of Pen-Hipsters? At least that's what it looks like.
It's quite a harsh introduction for a pen review, I must admit. However, this is really the way I thought about these brands. But thoughts and opinions can easily be altered, and the pen I'm about to review, did just that!
I never thought I'd actually say this, but the Cross Peerless 125 is definitely one of the better pens I've handled lately! From the second I got my hands on the huge box, I was impressed. The cardboard box feels very sturdy, and is actually quite heavy. It's a fairly standard clamshell box, but it's very nicely executed, with a nicely 'pleather' texture on the outside, and soft white fabric lining the entire inside. A neat aspect of the presentation, is the fact that you get an acrylic pen stand! I must admit that I didn't use it more than a few times, but it's certainly a nice extra.
On to the pen... First impression is that it's huge. I always compare pens to a lamy al-star of safari, just because I always have one of those laying around, and chances are you have one too! The Lamy Al-Star is not a small pen, but this Cross easily dwarfs it, just like it trumps the Pelikan M805 and Visconti Homo Sapiens Oversize pictured above!
For the people that like the boring numbers and measurements: the Peerless measures about 143mm long (that's about 5"4/5) closed, and a sizeable 130mm (5"1/5) uncapped. It's a pretty fat pen as well, at about 12.5mm (1/2") on the body, and 15mm (3/5") at the widest point of the cap. It weighs in at 45 grams closed, and 27 uncaped, which is rather substantial. Though for a pen this size, it really doesn't feel 'heavy', and it balances out nicely in the hand. I prefer to use it unposted, which has the best balance for me personally. But it can be posted very securely, a bit too secure even. The cap snaps into place, and it requires a good amount of force to get it back off. Posted, it does look a bit unweildy with its huge cap, but balance is surprisingly good, both posted and unposted.
The design of the Peerless reminds me of the Cross Townsend, only a lot wider. It's a pretty unconventional-looking pen, with a strong taper at the back of the barrel, and a very narrow finial on top of the huge cap. Fun fact, inside the cap fineal, you'll find a black swarovski. The stone doesn't draw attention, but it indicates the amount of detail Cross put in this pen. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the looks of this pen, I definitely wouldn't buy it just for its looks.
My review unit came in the Platinum and gold color scheme. Which is probably the least attractive finish this pen is available in. I dislike gold trims more often than not, and this pen would have definitely looks better with the silver trims. The platinum finish on the barrel and cap is pretty sweet though. It has a nice guilloché-pattern engraving, and the platinum finish seems to have a matte brushed finish. The combination of the engraving and the matte finish give the pen a very special feeling in the hand. It's soft and pleasant to the touch, hard to describe, but definitely different from any other pen I ever used.
The band around the barrel says 'Cross Peerless 125' and is filled with black enamel to make the letters stand out. The same 'cross' branding returns on the rather funky looking 'bent' clip (not my favourite looking clip honestly, and pretty stiff too). The cap comes off after about two full turns, and that's also the point where you'll find my most important part of criticism: Capping and uncapping the pen doesn't always 'feel' right. The threads are quite finnicky, and dare to catch in a wrong way. I found myself having to try twice more often than not, especially when in a hurry.
Once it's uncapped though, I just immediately stop complaining. Pretty much everything from here on is good,... great even! The grip section is long enough to not have to touch the threads. And when you do touch them, they don't feel sharp, except when you rest the threads on your middle finger (weird enough I could only really notice them on my middle finger, my thumb or index finger didn't have any trouble with the threads whatsoever!) Another plus, is the fact that because the cap is so wide, there's little or no step from barrel to section, which improves comfort even further. The black resin section has a very subtle bulbous taper towards the nib, and it's very comfortable to use (believe me, I survived writing over twenty pages in less than three hours with this pen. So it's safe to say that this is a comfy pen!)
The 'pièce de résistance' is definitely the nib. And there's a pretty simple reason why: It's made by Sailor! Rumours are spread all over the internet that Cross teamed up with Sailor to provide the nibs for this pen. Probably the best decision they could have made, because this nib is GOOD. It writes and performs like a Sailor nib, which are some of the best nibs you can get, so you won't hear me complain about this one. The medium 18k gold nib is reasonably large, and has a nice and clean design imprinted on it. As I said, it performs wonderfully. It's smooth but with noticeable though pleasant feedback, flow is spot-on and it's virtually impossible to make it skip or miss a stroke. Being a japanese nib, you can expect it to run slighly finer than your average medium nib, but I like fine nibs so no complaints there either!
Filling the pen can be done with the supplied converter, or with Cross' proprietairy cartridges. As I didn't get the converter in this test unit, I siringe-filled an empty cartridge, which worked fine as well. The only complaint I have here, is that Cross cartridges are rather small, and run out of ink fairly quick (But so are standard international cartridges I guess...).Did Cross surprise me with their Peerless 125? Most definitely, yes! It might not be the prettiest one from the bunch, but I really like the way this pen feels in the hand, and performance is exceptional. It's a high-end pen for sure, but I think the price point of 325-375 EUR / 450-550 USD is rather decent.(The completely resin models are the cheapest, the completely gold-plated ones are on top of the price chart. This Platinum-plated model is somewhere in between.)
Note: this pen was lent to me by Penworld, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, nor was I monetarily compensated. The opinions shared in this review are completely my own!