Cross Bailey collection is a firm favourite in the ever expanding collection of high quality Cross pens. The pen is finished in a wonderful, shiny lacquer. The fountain pen have a steel medium nib, accepts Cross screw in style converter or ink cartridge. The rollerball pen accepts Cross rollerball refill while ballpoint pen accepts Cross ballpoint pen refill with twist mechanism.
System: The ballpoint pen accepts Cross ballpen refills with twist mechanism
Posted by Laurence Miller, PhD on 3rd Jan 2013
I bought the new Cross Bailey to replace the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck ballpoint I had used for 20 years. As some of you may know, Mont Blanc black ballpoint refills used to have a thick, dark, smooth line that made them a joy to write with. By contast, the Cross refills of the day wrote smoothly, but with a fainter, almost gray, line. About 10-12 years ago, Mont Blanc started monkeying around with their ballpoint refill formula and haven't gotten it right since. Mont Blanc's current refills start out writing okay, but after a few pages (I take notes all day in my clinical office), the refill starts skipping and writing with a thin, scratchy feel. After several years of frustration, I turned back to my old, slim, gold Cross Century pen that I first gotten in 1978, bought a new Cross refill, and discovered that their refills now write with a smooth, dark line, although they tend to blob up somewhat, requiring frequent nib-wipes on the page. But I had gotten used to a thicker pen feel from years of using the Mont Blanc, so I decided to try the new Cross Bailey (now, all Cross products are made in China) to see how their $40ish pen stands up to the $400ish Mont Blanc.
First, the Bailey is a little heftier than the Mont Blanc, which is not too much of a problem. The pen feels comfortable in the hand while writing, and the clip is just the right tightness to cling snugly to your shirt pocket, without slipping out when you bend over or being so tight that you have to rip your shirt off to get the pen out of your pocket (which, incidentally, is a particular problem with Pelikan pens). Also, the Cross Bailey refill nib lies snug in the point housing, with minimal clicking when the pen touches paper, giving the overall writing experience a solid feel. The main difficulty with the Cross Bailey, and the one that keeps it from getting more stars in this review, is that the twist mechanism can feel tight, sluggish and forced, compared to the brisk, easy, smooth twist mechanism of the Mont Blanc. If you're pulling the pen out of your pocket frequently to take multiple brief notes throughout the day, extruding and retracting the refill nib can get to be a chore.
Obviously, there are going to be engineering differences between a $40 pen made in China and a $400 one made in Germany, but if Cross can correct this design flaw, they will have a formidable challenge to the Mont Blanc, especially since the latter is going to continue to lose customers on their weak ballpoint refills. Unfortunately, we pen aficionados are a dying breed, and as people are writing less and less, and using keyboards and touchscreens more and more (soon, voice activation will eliminate the need for hands altogether), our cherished pens will soon be relegated to the status of museum pieces. Until then, they should be a much fun to use as possible.
All prices are in USD.