- Description: A brass mechanical pencil with a bespoke all-metal mechanism.
- Lead size: 0.7mm, with more options depending on the success of the Kickstarter
- Material options: Brass, Stainless Steel or tungsten carbide coated Black Steel
- Size: Length 117.5mm (4.63 inch), Width 10mm (3/8 inch)
- Weight 40g / 1.41 oz. (Brass)
- Packaging: A fitted black cotton sleeve that can be reused to protect the pencil from scratches
- Price: £66 for the Kickstarter pre-order, £95 thereafter.
- Where to buy: Here!
Editor’s Note: This review is written and photographed by Tim Pockett, my UK-based partner in stationery crime (even though no crimes have been committed). You can follow Tim on Instagram at @Rockett86 for some awesome EDC and stationery photos. Big thanks to Tim for putting together this killer review. – Ed Jelley
Up for review is Wingback’s latest foray into writing instruments, the Mechanical Pencil. This is the second machined stationery product from this London-based design studio, following their successful Pen Kickstarter a few years ago.
Featuring a bespoke mechanism with retractable lead sleeve, this compact propelling-pencil is a determined attempt to marry premium aesthetics with functionality.
Before we get into the details, I should mention that this sample actually features a pre-production mechanism. If you spot any scuffs or scratches, it’s because at the time of writing it was one of only two in the world and has gone through a fair amount of trialling.
Fit & Finish
If you’re familiar with Wingback’s Mechanical Pen, you’ve probably already noticed that the Mechanical Pencil shares the same geometry and compact proportions, which are all about function leading form. Ergonomics were one of the pen’s main design parameters, so it’s no surprise to see Wingback sticking to this successful formula for their pencil. But let’s talk about that in a minute.
The Mechanical Pencil’s fit and finish are superb. All outer parts are machined in Birmingham, England, from solid brass. Smooth surfaces are finished with an almost imperceptible brushing to help hide scratches. Knurling encompassing the barrel is clean and consistent.
Just below the knock, you’ll find Wingback’s logo discreetly laser etched into the barrel, with the option for personalisation on the opposite side.
Wingback’s Mechanical Pencil incorporates a custom, full-metal mechanism. Designed in-house, the mechanism is precision made in Japan (Japan being to mechanical pencils what Switzerland is to watches).
Designing their own mechanism meant that Wingback could create their own product, on par with the best propelling pencils. Not just a nicely machined exterior with someone else’s guts, Wingback’s pencil packs a few handy features.
Push down on the knock, and the pencil’s retractable lead sleeve emerges. When extended, the lead sleeve is as sturdy as if it were fixed. Keep the knock pushed down whilst putting pressure on the lead sleeve and it’ll disappear up inside the body.
This means you can drop the Mechanical Pencil in your pocket without fear of it punching a hole in your duds (and / or body parts). Being able to retract the pencil’s lead sleeve translates into portability – in keeping with Wingback’s “For the Journey” ethos. It’s a mechanical pencil I can see myself not only grabbing for sketches but also for marking up DIY jobs around the house.
The bespoke mechanism makes good use of the pencil’s wider than average, 10mm diameter barrel. There’s room for around 40 lead refills in the lead reservoir, which is about 2.4m of lead. According to Wingback, that’s 30 miles of use.
The mechanism in the Mechanical Pencil is currently only available in 0.7mm, which might not be your preferred lead size. Depending on the success of the Kickstarter, Wingback have said they may offer other sizes in the future.
To refill the pencil, the barrel needs to be removed. You’ll then be able to grip the mechanism securely when you unscrew the cap to access the lead reservoir. That’s a few more steps than required to refill your typical pencil – but due to the Mechanical Pencil’s high lead capacity, refilling will probably be an annual occurrence at most.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that there is no eraser beneath the mechanism’s cap. Personally I didn’t mind, because I never actually use mechanical pencil erasers. I’d like to say it’s because I prefer good quality, stand-alone rubbers. But, if I’m honest, it actually bothers me to have a dirty worn down piece of rubber on my nice clean machined pencil – more than I’d care to admit.
I mentioned above that Wingback’s Mechanical Pencil has been designed with near enough the same proportions as the Mechanical Pen. And just like the pen, the Mechanical Pencil demonstrates that a good design can mitigate and even harness the weight of a writing instrument to make it even more comfortable to use.
The Mechanical Pencil’s compact length sits comfortably in the hand. After two hours of use, I hadn’t experienced any fatigue in my hand or fingers. At around 40g for the brass version, it feels perfectly balanced. Details such as the knurled section, as well as the pencil’s shorter overall length, make it both easy to grip and depress the knock to advance the lead.
- The very high standard of machining make this a great looking pencil
- Great ergonomics for marathon users
- Rock-solid, retractable lead sleeve for easy carrying
- Bespoke all-metal mechanism makes this a true mechanical pencil both inside and out
- Refilling takes a few more steps than your average propelling pencil
- Lack of an eraser might be an issue for you
- Kickstarter version is only available in 0.7mm
Having reviewed a few of their products, I’m probably starting to take Wingback’s quality of machining for granted. But the finishing on the Mechanical Pencil elevates the simple aesthetics, making for a very good-looking writing instrument.
Beyond appearance, the bespoke all-metal mechanism makes it feel like a true mechanical pencil, and demonstrates Wingback’s commitment to making a proper tool – and not just something that looks nice.
Features such as the retractable lead sleeve put it a cut above most of the competition, and complement the pencil’s compact, pocketable form. The best mechanical pencil is of course the one you have with you. And this one is far more likely to be in a pocket than the usual pointy type.
The world of high-end mechanical pencils is a very small one. But thanks to Wingback, it just got a little bigger.
Back the Kickstarter here!
The Disclaimer: Although I had to send this sample back, Wingback offered me a no-strings completed pencil once they start production. I will definitely be taking them up on that offer. No money changed hands. All opinions are my own.