Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Caran d'Ache Ecridor Mechanical Pencil Review

Switzerland’s Caran d’Ache are one of my favourite pencil companies. Even though they are a smaller company, they still try to produce a full product range. At one end of the spectrum they have drawing and artists supplies - pencils, pastels, oil paints and even face paints, competing with the likes of Faber-Castell; while at the other end they have fine writing instruments, lighters, mens jewellery and leather goods to fight it out with Mont Blanc, Tiffany, Bvlgari and others.


The Ecridor is one of Caran d’Aches traditional writing instruments, a part of their history. It is available in a wide range of decorative styles (rhodium plated, gold, with Swarovski crystals, different engraved patterns, etc) and writing formats – fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint and pencil.

My Ecridor mechanical pencil is the silver-plated, rhodium coated, chevron design. Fine straight lines are engraved along the length of the body and then rows of chevrons are superimposed to complete the design. Rhodium is a very expensive, shiny hard-wearing member of the platinum family, often used to plate silver to stop tarnishing. Lots of silver and white gold jewellery that is made from, and described as “silver” or “white gold”, is actually rhodium coated so you are looking at rhodium, not silver or white gold. Medic Alert even makes a range of silver rhodium coated bracelets. People with some medical conditions like diabetes or who take Warfarin often have problems with silver tarnishing, so the rhodium coating stops that. (No, I don’t wear a Medic Alert bracelet. Somehow I just trip across this sort of stuff and it gets filed away for future recall. But as a conservationist in New Zealand I am well aware of rats, and Warfarin is just diluted rat-poison, so I’m familiar with that. OK, enough of an aside, back on track now!)

The Ecridor is a made from a solid metal body. Maybe it starts out as a piece of hexagonal bar stock, has the tip section machined down, the centre drilled out, and hey presto, we’ve got a pencil. Of course, that’s just a theory that I personally like, could be complete rubbish. Anyway, this construction means the Ecridor has a good solid heavy feel to it, especially for a pencil of this size. Although it’s not “super-heavy”, it’s heavy enough that if you drop it onto your desk everyone in the office everyone hears and you worry about the desk being damaged. The hexagonal shape is very reminiscent of woodcase pencils. Overall this is a very classy “understated” pencil - art deco chevron styling, shiny silver finish, hexagonal body, good solid weight - a look and feel that I really like.

The engraving on the body is just deep enough so that you only just feel it when you grip the pencil, but it’s enough so that the grip is reasonably good despite the relatively smooth metal finish. The hexagonal body is a bit wider than normal woodcase pencils so this helps with the grip. The pocket clip is a fixed design but is quite strong and springy. The pencil mechanism is a push top ratchet, taking 0.7mm lead and there is a small eraser under the top button with a needle to help in the unlikely event of a lead jam. The lead sleeve is an angled cone, for writing rather than draughting, and it isn’t retractable, so this is not a particularly pocket-safe pencil.


The Ecridor comes in a simple nice red presentation case. The “CdA” logo is stamped into the pencil body just above the pocket clip, and “Caran d’Ache Swiss Made” is stamped into the top cap.


  • Best Point – Good solid look and feel.
  • Not So Good Point – Would prefer the sleeve to be retractable.
  • Price range – High.

Dimensions- Length 131mm, width 8mm across the hex faces. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip

36 comments:

steve l. said...

Very good review. It would make me want one, except I already have one. ;-)

Max said...

This pencil just radiates quality. One pencil rules them all. Sure there are better pencils to hold but none that will see civilisations come and go like this one will. And it's actually quite pleasant to write with also. It's heavy. This pencil takes writing seriously. I thought I remembered it vaguely from somewhere. So I bought one. And when I got it I showed it to my dad. And first thing he said was: 'Where did you find granddad's old pencil?' So that's how I remembered it. Granddad had a good taste in pencils ;)

kiwi-d said...

Hi max - Thanks for the comment and anecdote.

thamnu said...

My Ecridor XS fed lead very poorly. I often write on my nearly vertical music stand; often the lead isn't ready to write when I am. Yes, I smacked it a good one and now the feed is totalled. I have gone back to old reliable wood pencils for good.

wes said...

someone help i am in a pickle. my favorite stationary store has a temporary 20% off sale today and its either i get the caran d ache ecridor, or the lamy dialog 2. HELP and QUICK

paul said...

Can you tell which one you are tending towards? Personally I would say the Ecridor.

Wynne and Wes said...

Rhodium (ecridor barrel coating material) is supposed to be a fairly scratch resistant material. Have any ecridor owners noticed that the ecridor does or does not scratch easily? Help appreciated

Wes-

Anonymous said...

I can attest that it does not scratch easily. Alas, if you carry it around 24/7 and fiddle with it frequently, as I do, you'll eventually drop it, and 4+ feet onto concrete occasionally leads to a scratch or worse. But "worse" is relative, because, not only does the Ecridor benefit from this sort of patina, it's easy to dis- and reassemble with nothing more than a slotted screwdriver.

Finally, this says nothing of the pencil's most noble aspect: aesthetic perfection. I've yet to find a pencil more comfortable in my hand than the Ecridor (this coming from a maths major who spends hours a day writing with it rather furiously).

Wynne and Wes said...

thanks for the help, have you ever tried the lamy 2000, if you write hours a day nothing can be better.

Wynne and Wes said...

how is the mechanism of the pencil?

Anonymous said...

Please, is the Ecridor the same size as the 849 (and 849 ballpoint)?

Anonymous said...

Unh... should have been 844 and 849...

Faisal said...

I recently bought the Ecridor mechanical pencil from Swissmade.com. Then I ordered 6707.351 (0.7mm B, Caron D'Ache) leads from Montgomery Pens and I got a sample from Creative Art Materials, LTD who is the official dealer for Caron D'Ache in USA.

I tested almost 10 leads from both suppliers boxes and here is what is happening.

The leads shoot off from the other end from the nip, when I depressed the cap!

I then tried 0.7mm B leads from Mont Blanc and from Pental but, this phenomenon does not happen.

Anyone have any idea regarding this?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Anybody do you recommend CARAN d'ACHE DUNAS mechanical??

Alex said...

I'm having real trouble finding a really nice solid metal 0.5mm pencil.

I thought I'd found it with the Caran D'Ache 844 (plain aluminium body). But like SO MANY other pencils they only seem to do it in 0.7mm! WHY!?

I am an architect and draw CONSTANTLY and a 0.5mm gives a finer and better line in my view. The catch seems to be all the 0.5mm pencils are aesthetically cluttered and with less robust feeling/looking. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Alex, don't dismiss a Parker 45 stainless steel push cap propelled - an iconic and robust Parker design. No one does stainless steel better than Parker. Ebay. The flat caps prior to 2000 are easier to use than the domed jewel cap after that date - but either one is nice.

Louis said...

Hi Dave!

Do you like this pencil more or Yard-O-Led more? I know that Y-O-L is made of solid silver and I actually like the look better, but the lead seems to be too thick :D

I like metal pens and I usually use 0.5 mm pencils, and I am planning to buy one of these pens, just discovered that I get at least $140 discount at Filofax Sweden as a student :)

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Louis. Well they both look good, but if you are unsure about 1.18mm YOL lead then stick with CdA.

Louis said...

Thanks Dave!

I have now ordered Caran d'Ache Ecridor pencil :D

PointFour said...

Looks like there's a gap in the market for a pocket-safe, solid, metal m.p. with 0.5 lead...

PointFour said...

Hmmm, wrote too soon. *Maybe* the OHTO Cute Pencil SP-350C might be exactly that?

Kiwi-d said...

Ohto Tasche?

Sapphire said...

The Cute pencil doesn't really compare though - light weight aluminium and around one sixth the price of the Ecridor. And there are other high end metal pencils that are pocket safe - All the Cross pencils - the Pelikans - Sheaffer's dwindling range.
Some of them have a pipe style lead sleeve, albeit short ones, so they could be used as drafting pencils.
Tasche and Kerry are a bit of a cheat - they have caps. But I like them anyway.

PointFour said...

Thanks, Dave - the second time I've gone into reverse on (re)reading a review here! I got credit-crunched last year so wasn't going to buy an Ecridor, but I'd have liked to see a pocket-safe 0.5mm version of the regular Caran d'Ache pencil. I thought Cross, Pelikan and Sheaffer tended to be twist-top rather than click-top to extend the lead?

Kiwi-d said...

Yes, from memory, Cross, Pelikan and Sheaffer are frequently twist top.

Louis said...

I've just received my Caran d'Ache Ecridor pencil, it's very nice, it'd be even better if it comes in 0.5 mm :D

Louis said...

Hi Dave!

I just discovered that you have both Ecridor and Lamy 2000 as you top 5 mechanical pencil, which one do you use regularly?

Personally I like the look of this one more, but Lamy 2000 feels better in my hand, doesn't look as good though :P

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Louis
I use Lamy 2000 regularly.

Pedro said...

Well Dave, you did it once more. I just ordered a Caran D'Ache Ecridor pencil from Pen Boutique. I have the Lamy 2000, the Roting 600 .7mm and now it comes the Caran D'Ache. Your comments, this Blog, and the people who came here to comment, just convinced me. I will be using these pencils for drawing and to do my German lessons. One thing about erasers: people who make art do not care about the eraser of the pencils, they use other kind of erasers like the black like chewing gum type. I congratulate you for this Blog, I come here every day, now I will have to go to my work because if I continue here I will go broke. (That is a joke!) Thanks for everything.

Kiwi-d said...

Welcome to the Cd'A club...perhaps the club I enjoy the most.

Pedro said...

Dave, I just purchased a Caran D'Ache Ecridor Retro and it came with .5 mm point and it does not have a needle in the eraser. Seems that they are lowering their quality. I like .7 best because I use it for drawing. Anyhow, I can take the .5mm but this is to let you know that the Ecridor has changed (or, perhaps I have a different model? )...

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks Pedro.

Pedro said...

My Caran d'Dache is a new model, Caran d'Dache Ecridor Retro XS. This comes with a .5 mm lead. The people of Pen Boutique did not specify that in the information. This is what they answered to me when I inquired about the pencil:
"I believe I may have discovered the issue with your pen. The Caran d Ache Ecridor Retro Mechanical Pencil and the Caran d Ache Ecridor XS Retro Mechanical Pencil are very similar looking and the SKU numbers are similar as well. The XS version is a 0.5mm and the regular version is a 0.7mm. The XS version is $10.00 more. I believe you may have received the XS pencil. The XS version is alittle thicker than the regular version. I do not have either version in stock at this time. Please accept my apologies for the mixup in your item. If there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know. I have requested my data entry department to update our website."

Kiwi-d said...

The Ecridor XS has been around for a long time. Its a different model to Ecridor. Its shorter if my memory is correct.

cristina said...

Hi Dave! do you know how to take apart this pencil? I have a lead jam and cannot fix it :( thank you very much!

Lawrence said...

Hi Cristina. I am also trying to figure out how to take this pencil apart. Did you ever find out how to disassemble this?