Saturday, June 14, 2008

Inoxcrom 2002 Mechanical Pencil Review

Inoxcrom 2002 Mechanical Pencil Review

Firstly I had better say I am not totally sure of the model designation for this pencil under review. I bought it as a ballpoint pen and pencil set, because that’s the only way to get an Inoxcrom pencil in my part of the world. You can buy pens as separate items, but not pencils. The labelling on the cardboard sleeve implies they are a Model 2002 chrome pen and pencil, but there are other numbers too. Down here, Inoxcrom have a rather unusual distribution model. You basically don’t find them in the normal place, i.e. in stores that sell other writing instruments. Rather you find them in homeware and gift stores, or in that kiosk at the mall that cuts keys, engraves trophies, sells torches, pocket-knives, cigarette lighters and…Inoxcrom pens. Many of their writing instruments have metal bodies, and the kiosks hope you will take up their offer of discounted engraving on that nice Inoxcrom pen you are giving as a graduation present. Well, anyway that’s how they are distributed in these parts – I’d be interested to know about where you see them in your part of the world.The Inoxcrom website doesn’t really tell you much. There’s a few graphics and so on, a very brief history of the company (started up in Barcelona, Spain in 1942) and not much else. Little to no product information. Their website doesn’t give any hint at the origin of their name, although to my English-speaking (?!?) ears the word “Inoxcrom” sounds suspiciously foreign for stainless steel. All that influence from Victorinox and chrome. Inoxcrom are certainly the only Spanish pencil manufacturer that I’ve heard of.I usually associate Spain with things like bull-fights, or some nice treats for the taste-buds or for the eyes. Right well that’s a fair amount of general introductory burble, on with the review.

I often find metal pencils surprisingly light when I first pick them up. You would think I would have learned from experience by now, but I must be slow. The Inoxcrom is one of those pencils that didn’t surprise me too much when I first picked it up. Although it’s a similar weight to many other stainless steel pencils, it is somewhat top heavy so when you pick it up the top heavy balance makes the weight more noticeable. I’m not generally a fan of top heavy balance points, but this is one case where it seems to work well.

So, now I’ve picked the pencil up the body is plain stainless steel so the grip is average. The mechanism is a standard push top ratchet, using 0.5mm lead. Ten clicks advances about 8mm of lead. The sleeve is 2mm thin round tube, and importantly it’s a retractable sliding sleeve. Somewhat unusually it takes 3 clicks of the mechanism to fire this pencil up from a standing start. The first click partially advances the sleeve out of the tip, the second and third clicks complete the extension and advance some lead out of the tip. Some folk may well prefer a fourth click to get a decent length of lead ready before they put lead to paper. The other unusual feature of this mechanism is the amount of lead cushioning. It is “extreme” on the Dave scale. The whole sleeve springs in and out about 3mm under reasonably light pressure. Certainly no one can argue that this cushioning doesn’t work, but you often feel the pencil springing in and out in your hand when writing, let alone when you make a full-stop (period). All this movement is a little disconcerting at first, but you do get used to it to some extent. Maybe I’m just heavy-handed?

I don’t know whose leads Inoxcrom use, but the leads supplied with the pencil seem reasonable, although some graphite dust often accumulated at the tip and thus occasionally left a little blob on the paper.

There is a small eraser under the top button, and there is a hole in the very top of the button so you can see the eraser through it. You pull the eraser holder out to access the lead refill chamber. It’s just a plastic tube and the eraser housing press fits securely into it with a bent metal hook pin. Sometimes getting the housing back into the refill tube can be a bit difficult, and as always, I wonder about the longevity of such arrangements.The body sections have brass inserts inside them with good quality fine machine cut threads. This type of construction compares very well with the rolled threads on some competitors, e.g. modern Parkers.Whilst we are looking at the innards, I was half expecting to see Schmidt or some other German name on the internal mechanism, but it is totally blank, so no hint as to its origin. I note with some interest that the markings on the ballpoint pen refill cartridge include “Made in Spain”.
The pocket clip is something that really stands out for me. It's an attractive enough shape and is quite strong yet springy, but it’s fixture to the body via an oversize slot just cheapens the whole pencil. It’s a little better on the matching ballpoint pen. Also, I really feel the pocket clip is a lost opportunity. It just cries out for a little brand decoration – like the Parker arrows, the Sheaffer dot, a brand name stamped into it - just something to take it that step up out of the plain generic ranks.

For me personally, when I look at the Inoxcroms down at the local kiosk, comparisons with Parker products are unavoidable. In this case the stainless steel Jotter springs to mind. Overall the Inoxcrom appears to match up fairly well, stylistically Parker have probably got the edge, but perhaps Inoxcrom win on features. I can’t comment on how the Inoxcrom will last over the years, whereas Parker has an established reputation, but it’s worth noting that Inoxcrom prominently offer an International Lifetime Guarantee. If you are a fan of stainless steel pencils then I would suggest this Inoxcrom is worthwhile adding to your collection.
  • Best Points – Cushioned retractable sliding sleeve.
  • Not So Good Points – The four-click start, fitting the eraser back into the lead chamber.
  • Price Range – Mid for the pen and pencil set.

Dimensions – Length 140mm, diameter 9mm at widest part of body or 7 – 8 mm in grip area. Balance point about 85mm up from the tip.

I get a small number of hits from Espana and I’d like to hear from any visitors from Spain as to how common Inoxcrom products are in their homeland.


Kityikana said...

Inoxcrom comes from "inoxidable" ie stainless steel, and "cromo" ie chrome. I don't know what it's like now, but when I was living in Spain 20 years ago, inoxcrom was THE pen to use. Pencils didn't come into the equation till later.

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks for the information Kityikana.

Germ said...

I love Stainless steel. However, in this pencil, the internal barrel looks like something from a $2.00 pencil. I know some inoxcrom stuff goes for a premium price, IMO.
Nice lines, though. Shame they don;t offer just the pencils.

Anonymous said...

This pencil looks pretty good, it looks as though it could complement my Parker Jotter.


Anonymous said...

The metal outside is nice, but I agree that the innards look like junk.

Anonymous said...

I just bought one but the cap does not have a hole. How come there are variations of the same pen?


Aric said...

For what it's worth, I bought one of these (or maybe its predecessor; I can't tell a difference between mine and the photos above) in France back in 1997. Twelve years and lots of abuse later, it still works great.

Joaquin Perez said...

Inoxcrom was, as Kityikana says, THE ballpen brand in Spain for about the last fourty years; today is not so common, overlaped by Pilot, F-C, Staedler and all the rest; but yes, is the only Spanish mech-pencil brand... and I love their classical ballpens..!!

Anonymous said...

Great pen and pencil set given to me by my company (UPS) on completion of an assignment.
Need to know where I can get some erasers,as original has worn to nothing.

Mike of UPS.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Dave I’m Gabriel fountain pen addicted but I can tell that mechanical pencils my second love. I want to start by telling you that this is a very good blog with lots of useful reviews and this review is another good example.
I have this pencil since 2002 and it’s working perfectly, the only problem is that my hand got bigger and the pencil remained the same.
I love the cushioned retractable sliding sleeve and system that allow the tip to spring in and out and because of that in so many years I don’t remember when I broke the lead last time. Now I’m asking you and your readers if you know another mechanical pencil that work in the exactly the same way but have a thicker grip.

Greg Williamson said...

I have two of these. A resin coated one, and a stainless steel. The resin has a little bit of give, making it easier to grip without being sticky like silicone. It’s also very attractive. It’s my favourite mechanical pencil.

Unknown said...

Hiya! I recently got one of these mechanical pencils from my father. He used to use it when it was young. Strangely enough, mine doesn't have a hole in the cap... Maybe I have a newer
or older version? The clip is also quite a bit nicer. It has a smooth shape with a little indentation where the clip clamps down on the barrel. One thing I don't like is that the cap comes off very easily. It doesn't seem to fit on the eraser holder at all, it just sits there. Oh well, the mechanical parts still work so I'm happy.