A Sophisticated Pen - the Sarasa Grand Gel Retractable Pen

Are you looking for a sophisticated pen with a high-end style, but not the high-end price? You all know how much I love to play with writing instruments and this one came on my radar a few days ago. It’s called the Sarasa Grand Gel Retractable Pen and it’s made by Zebra Pen.

The Sarasa Grand is a metal pen - not cheap plastic - and it has significant weight to it, so it feels good in your hand. It comes in 3 barrel colors - gold, navy and rose gold.

Here’s a snippet about the pen from Zebra’s website:

“For those who love the Sarasa gel pen but crave a weighted, more sophisticated pen body, the Sarasa Grand is the pen for you. With Rapid Dry Ink Technology (RDI), and a brass barrel, this pen leaves no doubt as to its quality and durability.

  • Rapid Dry Ink – No smears. No smudges

  • Convenient, easy push clip

  • Transparent window for ink supply monitoring

  • Refillable with JF-Refill

  • Available point size: 0.7mm

  • Available barrel colors: Navy, Gold, Rose Gold

*Product tested by third party lab to be equal or faster dry time to industry leaders on 9 common writing surfaces.  Dry time can vary and is dependent on several variables including pressure while writing and surface.”

It truly does have a sophisticated look and feel to it, and with a list price of only $8.23 each, it’s a steal compared to Cross, Parker, Mont Blanc or other fine writing brands.

But………looks aren’t everything. So…..I evaluated the pen on the manufacturer’s major marketing points.

Drum roll please……………………….. and the results are:

Rapid Dry Ink - EPIC FAIL! I wrote on 5 common office surfaces - a standard legal pad, a standard sticky note, a piece of standard 20# white multipurpose copy paper, a standard business card made of 100# matte white cover stock and a sheet of 80# gloss text paper (commonly used for company brochures, flyers and other marketing materials). The only surface it DIDN’T smear on was the legal pad. On all the others, it smeared miserably! Take a look at the sticky note, which is just plain paper:

sg note.jpg

or the business card:

sg bc.jpg

Their disclaimer is noted, but if you’re going to claim (as they do quite boldy on their packaging) that your product has been proven to dry faster, it should at least not smear on standard paper! I definitely wouldn’t recommend this pen for lefties or important documents.

Convenient, easy push clip - I find the clip to be both stiff and slippery. It takes a higher than average amount of pressure to operate it - and that’s when I can keep my thumb from slipping off of it. Now, for me, that isn’t as much of a big deal because if I’m going to clip my pen anywhere, it’s usually onto a piece of paper and I just slide the clip onto the paper - I don’t have to push the clip. So no harm, no foul as far as I’m concerned. However, the major issue I have with the clip is that it’s in the wrong location on the barrel. It sits up way too high and it prevents you from being able to depress the button on top of the pen - unless you pay attention and pick it up a certain way. If you happen to pick the pen up with the clip facing your chest, which is what I usually do, you can’t depress the button because the clip is in your way. Notice in the picture below how the metal clip extends past the top of the pen. It goes three-quarters of the way up the height of the button. You have to pick it up with the clip to the side in order to push the button. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to be conscious of how I’m picking up my pens!


Transparent Window for Ink Supply Monitoring - Another EPIC FAIL. What could possibly be the problem with a transparent window, you ask? Well, like the clip, the window is up too high. It only allows you to see the top 1/4” of the refill. I took my pen out of a brand new, unopened blister pack - totally unused, completely full. Look at the pictures below. The window is 2” long and 1-1/2” of that is hidden underneath the clip. In the first picture, the dark area you see at the bottom of the window is the ink. The other picture shows you how much ink is left in the refill and how that lines up with the window. Once the ink gets below 1/4” from the top, you can’t see it in the window anymore even though you have tons of ink left. AND….. you can only see that 1/4” of ink when the pen is retracted. When you push down the button to write with the pen, the refill is pushed further down and the top 1/4” of ink disappears and the window is completely empty. So what good is the window?

sg ink1.jpg

I wanted to like this pen - I really did. And I do like the style of it. It’s classy and sophisticated. If that’s all you need - something to carry that looks good - buy this pen! But in terms of functionality, it’s a disaster. I give it 2 paperclips.

2 paperclips.png

Better luck next time, Zebra.