Pentel GraphGear 1000 Pencil Review

Sorry – images lost in some rearranging.

What Is It?

A very nice automatic pencil – it’s labelled as a “Draughting Pencil”, and certainly seems to be made for more serious use than most.

  • Metal Body.
  • Large pocket clip.
  • Eraser under cap.
  • Lead hardness indicator.
  • ‘Pocket-safe’ retractable tip.
  • Knurled metal and rubber grip.
  • Available for .3mm, .5mm, .7mm and .9mm leads.
  • Cost – at the time of writing, £15.50 RRP (£9.99 from Cult Pens).

Looks

I suspect the looks of this pencil will come down to individual taste. I love it, but I can imagine some people hating it. It looks like it’s somewhere between an item of medical equipment and some sort of alien weapon. It’s every bit as odd-looking and shiny as it looks in the pictures.

If you’re looking for something that will look nice with your work suit, you should probably be looking at the Kerry instead.

If you’re looking at the pictures, and thinking “Wow, that looks cool“, then you’ll love it just as much in reality.

Feel

It’s all metal, so it feels heavy, and very solid and strong. The mechanism inside is quite heavy too, and it uses an unusually powerful spring, so pushing the mechanism down takes a firm push on the top button. When you release the mechanism again to retract the tip (pushing the top of the pocket clip), there’s a real snap as it jumps back into place. If you’re holding it lightly, the whole pencil jumps slightly in your hand.

I like that sort of thing, so I enjoy using this pencil.

The grip is very good at gripping. It’s not the most comfortable thing to hold for a long time (if you want that, try the Faber-Castell Grip Plus) but your fingers won’t slip on it, and it is more comfortable than many others. The grip section is wider than the rest of the pencil, which also makes for a better grip. The odd little rubber ovals that poke out through the knurled metal help with the grip too – when your fingers are dry and you’re gripping lightly, knurled metal can be a bit slippery – the rubber takes over then, and keeps the pencil in place.

They look kind of funky too. (Looking funky is good – it’s smelling funky that’s bad.)

In Use

The long thin tip gives you a good clear view of what you’re writing or drawing. If you like to hold a pencil really close to the tip, though, there’s nothing to hold down there.

The weight makes for a nice feel – I like a heavier pencil. The balance point is almost exactly in the centre, which, on a pencil this long, is a little high for my taste.

There’s an eraser under the cap. Like everything in this pencil, the cap feels a little over-engineered, and takes a fairly good pull to remove it. Fortunately, though, it has been designed with a flared-out end, so there’s something to get a grip on. Where the Kerry takes slightly cut-down erasers, this takes Pentel’s erasers full-length, so they should last reasonably well. If you’re going to do much erasing, you’ll want a Mars Plastic handy, but for small corrections, this one is actually quite effective.

The lead hardness indicator is fiddly to change, but then so is changing the leads in any automatic pencil, so it’s not something you’d do often. The more likely scenario is that you like to use 2B, HB and 2H leads, so you buy three pencils and set the indicators on them to whatever you’re putting in them – so you’d only do it once.

Conclusion

This really isn’t going to be the pencil for everyone, but you can probably tell – I love it. I’ve tried quite a few, and nothing else feels as solid, or as strong. It’s also not cheap – you could buy almost ten cheap Pilot pencils for the price of one of these. But they won’t feel this good, they won’t look this good, and they won’t have the features this has.

I had a difficult time choosing between this and the Kerry, and I went for the Kerry in the end. Fortunately, Simon then sent me the GraphGear to review anyway, and I’m very glad. I still carry the Kerry at the moment, but I find I’m using the GraphGear much more often.


Disclosure: Our GraphGear 1000 was sent to us for review by Cult Pens. We bought from them and linked to them before they started sending us samples, but we like to be open about it.

33 thoughts on “Pentel GraphGear 1000 Pencil Review

  1. Hi Gunther,

    I love my Mars technico 780, but Pentel’s mechanical pencils do take some beating in the more ‘normal’ styles. We’ve just got a whole new range of Faber Castell at work, and there are a few tempting ones there. Their clutch pencils don’t feel quite as solid and grippy as the 780, but they look great. I may have to get one, just to make sure 😉 The cheap(ish) Perfect Pencil, based on the Castell 9000 is quite tempting, too, especially since the pencils aren’t too expensive.

  2. Hi,

    another collector of mechanical pencils here, this time from Germany. Although my collecting habit is quite new, I use mechanical pencils every day for 25+ years. I am a big Staedtler fan. They offer a very good price-ferpormance ratio, and even the cheapest models have never failed. But since Ohto and Pentel also have interesting models, I am unfaithful at the moment – the Pentel GraphGear is on the way 🙂

    Gunther

  3. I have owned quite a few Pentel mechanical pencils and I did order the Graphgear 1000 a year ago. I loved it! Although I paid quite a lot for a “pencil,” I find that this great for writing. It’s true that it is not the most comfortable thing to hold for long hours (especially in math classes), but I rather have the control and feel of this pencil than anything else.

    However, my Graphgear 1000 has not been in use for the past week because it BROKE! I never had any luck with retractable mechanical pencils. I bought two of one Pentel model and those broke within some months. This one lasted for a year of almost everyday use, but it finally gave up on me.

    What broke was the lead hardness indicator. It pretty much separated from the pencil and therefore the grip and everything else fell apart. I tried using super glue, but it eventually broke at the end of the day. Maybe the force of retraction really shook the pencil. I though this pencil was indestructible but it wasn’t for me.

    Anyone else have had the same problem or heard of anything like this?

    I just bought a Graphgear 500 for now and it works fine, but I still want to go back to the 1000. If my experience was a rare case, then I will buy a 1000 instantly!

  4. Hi Cerbera,

    I’ve had no problems with mine, though it’s not had such heavy use. I’ve managed to dent the metal on the grip, but it doesn’t seem to have affected it in use. We don’t generally get many problems with them at work (Cult Pens) either, so it seems like you’ve probably just been unlucky.

    Having said that, if it’s managed a year of daily use, it doesn’t sound like it’s done too badly.

    The 500 is a bit plasticky next to the 1000, but still feels pretty good. I’ve never really tried one out, though, just a quick look and feel.

    Another one to look out for, if you can get them where you are, is the Ohto Super Promecha. It’s another I’ve never tried, because we can’t get them in the UK, but they sound pretty impressive from comments here. In the US, they’re available from JetPens. Expensive, but it sounds like it might just be the best around.

  5. I am a Pentel pencil collector. The graphgear1000 is one of my favorites. nice weight. http://members.tripod.com/jeremy_ledford/ for my extensive collection. (well i think it is alot…:) )

    Someone asked about the Ohto Promecha. It is a nice weighty pencil, but when you advance the lead, it sounds not good, and feels not good. the inside of the barrel isnt polished, so the metal kind of catches and creates friction and slight vibration.

    germ

  6. Just got mine this past weekend. I really like it, and I put it through a 1.5 hour exam in my class this morning. It treated me right……

    There are a few shortcomings to note however. The indicator is nothing more that a strip of clear tape with lettering printed on it. The tape is wrapped around the barrel. I thought for the money I paid Pentel could have embossed and painted this feature….

    Otherwise, I love it.

    Anybody else think the indicator could be better?

  7. Thanks for the response. I’m taking a look right now at the Ohto Super Promecha. Very fancy indeed although I wouldn’t mind a regular Promecha. Maybe I’ll pick one up and give my thoughts about it.

  8. I think the reason it’s plastic is that the plastic parts of the retracting mechanism slide quite tightly within it. Plastic sliding against metal can be a problem for wearing away. It’s certainly the first part that will break if enough flexing force is applied to it, but it doesn’t seem to be too common – we’ve sold quite a few hundred of them at Cult Pens, and only seen two of them with this failure. There may have been more that just haven’t returned them, but it doesn’t seem to happen too often.

  9. I love the Graphgear and I owned a 0.9mm lead version. There is one design flaw, which is that the plastic part near the hardness indicator broke after a year of use. This also happened to an engineer colleague of mine. Looking at the design Pentel should make this out of metal. That part is highly stressed with the sharp metal sleeves around the plastic barrel (I do stress analysis for a living). Hope Pentel fixes this design flaw quickly.

  10. I know someone who swears by the Graph 1000 rather then the graph gear can someone explain to me why? Ron

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