TWSBI Precision Mechanical Pencil 0.7 Retractable Pipe Review
This is the first review by new contributor Blake Starbuck. Blake is a fountain pen, writing instrument, and watch enthusiast from the US. You can follow his Instagram account here for some awesome photos. To read more reviews by Blake, click his author page next to the little pencil icon above!
- Description: A practical, modern competitor to the Rotring 600 mechanical pencil.
- Point Size: I opted for the 0.7mm for some added lead durability, but it is also available in a 0.5mm option.
- Filling Mechanism: The leads load into the pencil by removing the cap and eraser and dropping several into the feed tube.
- Weight: 27 really well-balanced grams.
- Measurements: This pencil is 141mm in overall length and 9mm thick on hexagonal portions of body (grip area is closer to 8mm). 9mm width at grip.
- Color Options: I selected black as the most classic option, but is also available in a very nice silver color, which appears to be a fine balance between shiny matte finish (as oxymoronic as that sounds).
To me, and I think most of the stationery-obsessed world, the TWSBI brand is synonymous with tremendous value for money. My unscientific guess would be that 95% of those in this world are thinking of TWSBI’s fountain pen offerings. In their initial attempt to make a similar splash in the realm of the mechanical pencil, does the strong value proposition association the brand enjoys with their pens hold up? Let’s take a closer look and make a call.
Appearance & Packaging:
The TWSBI Precision Mechanical Pencil comes in a frosted plastic case reminiscent of mid to late 2000’s Apple products. Its content include the pencil, a pack of refill leads and a tube of replacement erasers nestled neatly inside light blue foam cut specifically to hold each. When I first viewed the pencil, I thought it looked like the love child of the Caran D’ache 849 ballpoint pen and a Rotring 600. In spending more time with it, however, I came to recognize it had some of its own unique qualities.
The facets of the hexagonal barrel are defined, but not sharp and the knurling follows a similar form being prominent, but not aggressive in feel or appearance. The clip is insanely robust and tight, which is great for keeping it in place and not bending it, but can be abusive to clothing, bags or pen rolls. I was not able to remove the clip from the pen after 3-4 minutes of moderate exertion; I don’t know that anyone would have a desire or need to do so, but it may be worth noting.
Like most other TWSBI products I have used in the past, I found the Precision Mechanical Pencil to be well made with limited evidence of machining marks or corners cut, in general.
Writing Performance & Filling System:
While my mechanical pencil nerdery doesn’t compete with that of fountain pens, I do know that the common point of division among drafting style mechanical pencils in fixed pipe versus retractable. The common argument for the prior being less potential for wobbling during writing as the pipe has no moving parts. In my intermittent use over a couple of years now, I have had no issues with instability of the pipe impacting the writing experience. I also find the ability to retract the pipe prevents unnecessary poking of my leg or chest if I have it clipped in a pants pocket or shirt placket.
The leads load in the top of the pencil, underneath the cap and eraser. I have found I can load 5-6 comfortably with no misload issues. The leads provided by TWSBI have worked well for me and I have found their quality similar to those I’ve used from Pentel.
For anyone making their first attempt at using a “professional grade” drafting pencil, I feel the weight of any of them might take some adjustment. This pencil is solid metal in construction and at 27g, about 8x the weight of the Bic mechanical you might be used to. Once you’ve overcome that, however, using the TWSBI Precision is a real joy and you will find the weight confidence inspiring in writing, sketching, doodling, drafting, etc. For those of you (like me) with more experience with capped pens, think of a fountain pen that is ridiculously off-balance posted, but your ideal weight and length unposted. For me, that’s the feeling I get when using the TWSBI Precision Mechanical Pencil.
– Tremendous value for money at $25 USD.
– Very well balanced in writing.
– Understated and professional in appearance.
– Robust, tight clip may be too aggressive for clothing and bags.
– Available in only 0.5 and 0.7 at present. These size are most common and will likely meet most folks’ needs, but larger sizes are made and available from other brands.
– While my preference for grip width of pens and pencils tends to be on the smaller side despite my larger hands, I feel 8mm might be too narrow for those with a preference for larger grips.
I am just not as passionate about pencils as I am about pens, at the moment at least. That admission out of the way, I do appreciate having a GADA (Go Anywhere Do Anything in watch lover lingo) mechanical pencil that will likely outlast me. Further adding to my satisfaction with the purchase is the retail price as well as the inclusion of leads and more replacement erasers than I am likely to need. If you are mechanical pencil curious, this would be a great toe dip in the water at less than half the price of a Rotring.