From the “What the Hell Were They Thinking?” Files…It’s an ugly, pitiful little thing, but I guess it gets the job done.
Cross Dubai Fountain Pen
Filling System: Cross Cartridges (No Converter Included)
About the Pen:
If I had to describe the Cross Dubai in one word, it would be “not fantastic.” (But Ken, that’s two words. Shut up!) Thankfully, it only cost $15, because it’s not all that impressive of a writing instrument. The nib is fat and mushy…should probably be considered a broad, not a medium. It dries out fast. The section is slippery. It has an ugly design. It doesn’t come with a converter.
In summary: The Cross Dubai is kind of a loser. Truthfully though, it’s not entirely terrible either. In many ways, writing with it is pretty freaking unpleasant. But when the ink is a’flowin’, it’s kind of appealing, too. A little.
Founded way back in 1846, Cross is a huge name in writing instruments. The fact that they’ve been around so long must mean they know what they’re doing. When I was a kid, the name Cross on a pen meant that it was top-o-the-line and had a price tag to match. I’ve never tried a high-end Cross, but this sloppy mess of a pen might have made that experiment even more unlikely.
This pen was a complete impulse buy for me. I was wandering through Staples (probably looking for new colors of Post-It Notes that I didn’t have and would never open) and saw a cardboard stand with a bunch of inexpensive Cross fountain pens, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try one.
This pen takes the cake for stupid design. It has a slim section and the barrel tapers away from it down to the ugliest end cap I’ve ever seen. It’s long and tapers down to a tiny diameter, giving the body of the pen an overly sleek and unseemly shape. But the real fun happens when you put the cap on. It’s HUGE. It’s way thicker than the barrel, and probably 3 times the diameter of the back end of the pen.
This pen reminds me of that idiot on the beach who only works his upper body…you know: the guy with the huge chest & arms and the scrawny legs. Yeah, that dude. This pen is that dude. I want to kick sand in its face.
The chrome furniture on the cap is decent, but not great. It has a slim, tapered cap band, a tiered and rounded finial, and a basic clip that could have come off of any ballpoint out there. I never post my pens, but I wanted to see if posting it made it look any better. It didn’t. Somehow, Cross managed to make this pen look even more ridiculous posted than it does capped. Good job, Cross!
The section and barrel are completely plastic. The cap appears to be made of aluminum with a plastic cover over it that matches the barrel. The simple clip has CROSS stamped longways on it.
Build Quality (4/5):
The materials kind of suck, but the pen is well made. Fit and finish are very nice (excluding its already mentioned ugliness). The barrel and section threads are machined well and screw/unscrew smoothly. The cap snaps into place firmly and securely…with a soft but satisfying click. Click! Click! Nice Click!
There is nary a converter to be found. Not even sure if any converter would fit…it would probably get claustrophobic in that skinny little barrel.
For the most part, the Cross Dubai writes when it should. If I set the pen down for a week, it writes well right away. It doesn’t like to have its nib exposed, though. If I let the pen sit uncapped for more than like 10 seconds, it will hard start…often taking a little coaxing to start writing again. If you’re taking notes in class or at work, and you need a pen that can handle long pauses, this pen will probably get on your nerves.
Look, I’m sorry, but I find slippery pens kind of gross. This pen has a slippery section AND barrel. There’s nowhere to hold this pen without having it slip around. I was using this pen at work where it was a little humid, and the pen kept sliding around and rotating in my hand while I’m trying to write.
That’s not acceptable!
To compensate for the greasy pig syndrome, I had to grip it really tightly, which of course, gives me hand cramps. Even my shoulder gets sore from all that tight gripping after a while.
The whole experience is kind of icky. It’s the only pen I’ve had to repeatedly wipe down to use.
The balance is okay if you don’t post it. The body is wicked light, but the metal cap is heavy, so if you post it, the pen gets really back-heavy.
Writing Experience (2.5/5):
I think the previous section sums it up well: icky. The Dubai does lay down a nice, juicy line, but it’s also a bit mushy, so my e’s and a’s often fill in. There are some random hard starts, but they’re few and far between. If the nib was a little finer and the section not slippery, then this pen would probably be much more enjoyable to use.
What I will say though, is that the nib is really smooth. I’ve found that the tines are pretty far apart, and that may have something to do with the mushiness of the line, and also makes the nib prone to getting the tines out of alignment. That’s easy to fix, but annoying when it happens.
There are way nicer pens out there for $15. The Pilot Metropolitan and Nemosine Singularity blow this one away. So do a whole host of sub-$10 Chinese pens that you can find on eBay. $15 isn’t going to break the bank, though, so if you enjoy a wet, broadish nib, then you might get some enjoyment out of the Cross Dubai.
I just can’t get past the slipperiness, though. The thought of holding this pen gives me the willies.
The Nutshell: Overall Score: 15/25
|Best Qualities||Worst Qualities|
|Smooth, juicy nib||Slippery surfaces|
|Excellent build quality despite lousy materials||Ugly as hell|
|Dries out fast|
I feel like I was a little harsh on this pen. The nib is web and smooth. It’s a little broader than I like, but it’s a nice writer. I can’t really recommend it, though. A slippery pen is horrible to use, and it’s fairly troglodytic in appearance. I think for the money, there are so many better pens out there.
Someday, I would like to try a Cross with a fine nib and a decent section…but if I’m going to be honest, I doubt I’d by another Cross pen without trying it first.