Staedtler 925 25 Mechanical Pencil ReviewA year or two ago when I was browsing Leadholder, I noticed the Staedtler 925 25, one of the many ‘Made in Japan’ Staedtlers that don’t really seem to make it off-shore. Leadholder made the extremely interesting statement that the 925 25 was the only leadholder model that included thin lead versions (e.g. 0.5mm) and a 2mm lead version in a series that was stylistically the same. To quote Leadholder, “This is the first and only 2mm drafting leadholder I am aware of that is genuinely a member of a set of thin lead mechanical pencils. From the model number to the mechanism, the 2mm version works just like the thin versions…” Sure some other mechanical pencils have a 0.5 and 2.0mm option, but the thin lead MPs are generally ordinary ratchet advance systems whilst the 2mm lead version is a clutch mechanism and there are other obvious stylistic differences between them. Now, that whole concept wasn’t something that I had really thought about before, so obviously the Staedtler 925 25 had to go on the shopping list. But my shopping list’s pretty long, and things can take a while to reach the top, but one day, a parcel arrived in my letter box. Inside was a Staedtler 925 25-05. The parcel appeared to have been sent direct by a retailer I hadn’t ever dealt with, and there was no indication of who it was really from. Eventually some enquiries with the retailer revealed the identity of my anonymous benefactor. It was a very nice surprise gift to receive, and forced to me stop mucking around and get its 2mm sibling, the 925 25-20.
It was then, with considerable anticipation that I got my two Staedtler 925 25’s out for their turn at “review week”.
These pencils certainly look “technical” with their all-metal silvery appearance, diamond cut grip, concentric ring patterns on the grip and the top button, long thin lead sleeve, etc. They look like they mean business.
The diamond cut grip on the 925 25 is very fine, and then has concentric grooves cut into it which add an interesting element to the aesthetics. Certainly there is no way you are going to lose your grip on this pencil, although as always the sensitive skinned might possibly find it a little rough and irritating. Kind of like grasping a pencil wrapped in “nail file”. One very slight negative about this grip is that the grooves in the grip tended to catch on the lip of the holes in my wooden pencil holder.
The weight of the pencil is about what you would expect for an all-metal pencil. The 0.5mm pencil is 17grams whilst the 2mm pencil is 21grams. Obviously the differences in the internal mechanisms, and the lead itself make the 2mm pencil heavier. I am surprised at the difference of 4 grams; I would have guessed a bigger difference as in the hand the 2mm pencil is very noticeably heavier. I don’t have the 0.3mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm versions, but I assume they essentially weigh the same as the 0.5mm. Despite the weight difference, the balance of these two pencils is basically the same, fairly neutral midway balance. Overall though I definitely prefer that little extra weight of the 2mm version.
There is a lead hardness indicator window just above the grip. You unscrew the grip a fraction to loosen the indicator and turn it around to display your chosen lead hardness. I always have an irrational thought of the whole front of the pencil springing off during this process, or working loose later and exploding everywhere, but it hasn’t happened yet. On the 0.5mm pencil the lead indicator has grades B through to 4H, including F, but on the 2mm version it has a very different selection, namely 4B, 2B, B, HB, H, 2H and 4H. This would imply Staedtler see the pencils being used for very different applications. The 0.5mm version indicator is a fairly standard selection for draughting purposes, but the 2mm version is apparently aimed at artists or a mixed market.
Up at the top end of the pencil, we have a fairly standard sort of top button or cap. On the top of it is a very large clear “.5” or “2.0” indicating the lead diameter of the pencil. This is excellent stuff. The printing is even in different colours so there is no doubt about what lead size your particular version is. Not surprisingly this is a push-top ratchet lead mechanism, you push the top button to advance the lead. 10 clicks will get you about 7mm of the 0.5mm lead or 12mm of the 2mm lead. This is a good solid feeling clicky mechanism, but I must say its very strange clicking away and seeing the huge 2mm lead charging out of the tip. On the 0.5mm version, you pull the top button off to reveal a small white eraser. You can pull the eraser out to access the lead refill chamber, and there is a needle attached to the eraser to help in the event of lead jams. You can’t really push the top button back on without activating the lead advance mechanism. Now, things are a little different beneath the top button of the 2mm version. Firstly, there is no eraser - the lead chamber is right there, and there is no room to store a spare lead inside it. The top button does not double as any sort of lead pointer, so users of the 2mm version basically have to carry a separate lead refill and lead pointer – but that’s not anything too unusual for 2mm leadholders. Both versions sometimes had a small rattle when in use which I believe is the top cap rattling inside against the side of the main body, particularly when writing at speed.
The lead sleeve is a fixed 4mm thin pipe on the 0.5mm version, and a rather fatter pipe on the 2mm version – but still fixed and 4mm – so no stylistic difference. Obviously these are not pocket safe, although the 2mm sleeve is so “fat” that its not really in the same pocket-stabbing league as most mechanical pencils. Perhaps the only stylistic difference in these pencils is the tip section, where the general tip section of the 2mm version is a noticeably larger diameter than the 0.5mm version.
The pocket clip is a rather simple plain polished steel clip – strong and functional is about all you can say. The Staedtler logo is stamped into the clip, but it looks a rather generic clip that’s probably a standard buy-in part just stamped for Staedtler or whoever the final brandname customer is.
“Staedtler” and logo, plus the model designation “925 25-xx” and “Japan” are boldly printed on the top half of the body. Overall then, the 925 25 is a good pencil, and I think the rather unusual addition of a 2mm version to the model makes it a pencil that mechanical pencil enthusiasts and collectors should definitely consider adding to their collection. Of course the Japan-only aspect of its distribution means you might have to pay a premium price and shipping, but there are a couple of online retailers who have it.
- Best Points – Having a lead diameter series inc 2mm in the same model. The grip looks very efficient.
- Not So Good Points – Not much really – they could have done a little better with the pocket clip. Maybe included a lead pointer with the 2mm version.
- Price Range – probably Mid because of the limited distribution.
Leadholder says, “The history of thick lead leadholders, I think, is nearly closed. In the 1950s there were hundreds of varieties, many of superior quality and with unique features. Now there are few manufacturers still producing them, and even fewer, I'm sure, with any desire to improve them” Sadly, I guess he’s right, but then I like to think that the 925 25-20 shows that the door isn’t fully closed just yet.
Staedtler Japan remains a bit of a mystery to me. So many Japan only products, but some do get exported to the USA and other places. It all smacks of contract manufacturers, complicated distribution contracts with different parties for different countries, etc. A Staedtler, made in Japan, it just seems strange, a struggle to me, torn between two great pencil nations…this Flags of the World seems to fit exactly.