Are Waterman Pens Better Than Cross Pens?

If you are trying to decide between a Waterman pen and a Cross pen, you might be struggling, because there’s a lot to think about with these two options, and no easy answer. Which will suit you better depends upon your personal preferences, so let’s compare these two brands so you can make a decision.

Waterman pens tend to be better than Cross pens if you are prepared to spend more money. They hold their value better, too, but you have to spend more upfront and Waterman pens are not very budget-friendly. Both offer high-quality products, but Waterman often wins on several counts.

A lot of people overlook Cross pens and then wonder why, so it’s worth comparing the two brands to figure out which is more suited to your needs.

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Are Waterman Pens Better Than Cross Pens?

Holding a Waterman Expert Rollerball Pen
Holding a Waterman Expert Rollerball Pen

There are many factors that need to be considered when you are comparing two pen brands, so it’s important to take these into account. It is not as simple as one or the other brand is better. You need to think about things like:

  • Barrel material and robustness
  • Nib quality
  • Nib options
  • Ink quality
  • Budget price point
  • High-end price point

Of the two brands, Waterman is undoubtedly better known and better recognized and tends to enjoy more popularity as a consequence. It also generally manufactures higher-end stationary, meaning that it’s a great option if you want to spend a lot and get a really great pen.

However, you shouldn’t discount Cross pens just because of Waterman’s history and prestige. Cross has been making pens for longer, with a founding date of 1846, while Waterman was founded in 1884. The two have some comparable products, and it’s worth taking the time to weigh up the pros and cons of each one before you make a decision.

Which Pen Has A Better Barrel?

Both Cross and Waterman create superior pen barrels, and there isn’t much in it beyond personal preference when you compare the two. The barrels are made from high-quality materials and are well designed to offer good grip and ergonomic control of the pen.

The barrels are also lightweight to minimize hand and wrist fatigue and make writing more comfortable, but not so light that you lose control. They are robust and will last for many years as long as you treat them reasonably well, so your pen shouldn’t break or fall apart.

This has given both brands an established reputation for excellent quality and workmanship and means that the pens are a pleasure to hold. Obviously, the lower-end barrels in both brands may lack some of the quality of the high-end pens, but overall, the two are comparable and will last for years.

Which Pen Has Better Nibs?

This depends a bit on whether you plan to buy a rollerball, a ballpoint, or a fountain pen. Both brands offer these different options, and you need to choose one that will suit your needs. If you are looking for a rollerball or a ballpoint pen, you will probably find that the two brands are pretty similar and there isn’t much quality difference between them.

However, when it comes to fountain pens, Waterman is almost unmatched for the quality and range of the nibs it supplies. This may be partly why the brand enjoys such fame when it comes to fountain pens; no matter what kind of nib you prefer, you will be able to find one to suit your needs.

This gives Waterman pens a big edge because the nib quality is one of the most important factors when you are choosing a fountain pen. If you don’t like the nib, you won’t like the pen; it’s as simple as that. A poor nib design will result in skipping and blotching, and can spoil even the fanciest pen.

Cross pen nibs also lack designs; they currently have no conical or inlaid nibs in their line (since the discontinuation of the Verve), which gives buyers fewer options to choose from and makes them a poorer choice.

What Nib Options Are Available?

Waterman pens also win in terms of the nib options that can be used for them; they support far more different nib types. A Cross pen will often only support fine and medium options, but Waterman pens will hold far more.

That means you can use extra-fine, medium-fine, broad, double broad, or oblique nibs with a Waterman pen, while you may not be able to do this with a Cross pen. A Cross pen often requires you to change the full section and nib when you want to replace the nib, as well.

This does depend on the style you buy and your nib to some degree, but it’s important to bear it in mind when you are making a purchasing choice. Because Waterman pens are so flexible and straightforward, many people prefer them, especially if they use non-standard nibs and want them to work easily and beautifully.

Which Pen Has Better Ink?

Overall, Waterman and Cross tend to be comparable when it comes to ink quality. Both brands produce high-quality options that will fit their pens well, flow smoothly, and are cost-effective – at least for their rollerballs and ballpoints.

Waterman Expert Rollerball Pen Gloss Black with 23k Gold Trim Fine Point Black Ink Gift Box
  • Expert Black with golden trim, Fine tip, Black ink, Gift box
  • Generous silhouette for premium, executive styling and supreme comfort when writing
  • Sophisticated gloss black lacquered body, gleaming 23-karat golden trim and clip, and broad ring embellished with the...
  • Skilfully constructed rollerball nib unites the tradition of liquid ink with ultimate comfort and convenience
  • Meticulously crafted in France to enhance your signature style

It gets more complicated when you are dealing with fountain pens because there’s a lot more variation, but on the whole, the brands are still pretty comparable and there isn’t much between them. They both offer premium, high-quality ink refills, and they tend to be compatible with other refills, such as Noodlers ink.

It’s worth checking what specific refills the pen you are looking at takes and how cheap they are, as well as the kinds of reviews that they get. This will let you know if your pen is going to be awkward and only take certain refills that are low in quality.

Overall, however, neither brand has the edge when it comes to their ink, and you can choose either and still be perfectly satisfied with the results.

Which Offers Better Budget Options?

If you’re looking for a pen at the low end of the market, Cross is a decided winner. This is because Waterman doesn’t produce pens below the $150 (if you buy them directly from Waterman), whereas Cross pens can cost around $50 for a ballpoint. This gives them a considerable advantage over Waterman when it comes to the budget market.

However, Cross does suffer from some image problems surrounding their lower-end pens, and they are more expensive than lesser-known brands, with little to show for the additional cost. You won’t get exceptional quality or a particularly special pen, in spite of paying extra for the name. Many people find themselves disappointed in the cheapest Cross options.

Once you reach the price point at which Waterman pens cut in, you’re likely to find that these are the better deal, because they offer such exceptional build quality and workmanship. The higher-end Cross pens are great too, but in general, Waterman still outperforms them in most standard tests.

The comparison will obviously depend on specifically which budget options you are looking at, so take this into account when making your choice. It’s worth reading reviews concerning individual pens before you choose one, so you can get the best value for your money.

Which Offers The Better High-End Option?

Waterman again tends to be a winner if you are looking to spend a bit more. The pens do have a premium attached to the price tag as a result of their quality, but this premium is backed up by solid workmanship, excellent quality control, and an established brand that is consistently associated with above-average products.

Cross pens have lost some of their prestige in recent years, and do not hold their value as well as Waterman pens, so if you plan to resell the pen at a later date, this is worth taking into consideration. Even if you don’t plan to sell the pen, it’s important to think about how its price will change over time.

Waterman also provides special edition releases, and these tend to hold their value surprisingly well – it may even go up, despite use, over a few years. This makes them preferable to many people, who can enjoy the special pen and sell it at a similar price or even a profit after a few years of use.

Overall, therefore, the Waterman brand usually wins on the high end as well as the budget options. That isn’t to say that Cross pens are valueless or people should avoid them; they are excellent pens. They simply don’t compete particularly well with the Waterman brand.


Waterman pens win against Cross pens for many reasons, including their nib flexibility and range, which is one of the most important aspects. A Waterman pen will hold its value noticeably better than a Cross pen and is often considered more prestigious. However, Cross pens are also well designed and compete with Waterman pens in terms of their barrel quality and ink.

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