Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lamy Accent Mechanical Pencil Review

Lamy Accent Brilliant Mechanical Pencil Review

It’s Lamy time again. I’ve had this Lamy Accent for a few years now. To be precise it is a Model 198 LD 0.5mm Lamy Accent Brilliant Mechanical Pencil. There are both Lamy Accents and Lamy Accent Brilliants, the ‘brilliant’ bit denoting the body is ‘brilliant black lacquer’ finish as opposed to the matt black or palladium finish bodies. Brilliant is a suitable adjective for this Accent as it is a high gloss black – a very shiny and classy looking mechanical pencil.
Lamy Accent Brilliant propelling pencil(Click for hi-res)
Lamy Accent Brilliant LD mechanical pencilThe LD bit of Model 198 LD means the grip section is “diamond lacquer”, which is also frequently referred to as “rhodium rings”. A feature of the Lamy Accent range of writing instruments is their interchangeable grips. Other grips currently available include Briar wood (BY), aluminium-palladium (AP), India rubber (KK) and anodised blue aluminium (AB). Lamy advertise the grips as interchangeable, but on their website the “accessories” list only includes refills and erasers, so buying another grip might be a little easier said than done. Certainly that was the case for me, but I did manage to obtain an anodised blue aluminium grip as a spare when I purchased my pencil.

Weighing in at about 35g, the Accent is not a lightweight. Combine this with a fairly wide body, the glossy black colour scheme and shiny metal trims and you have a very impressive pencil in your hand. It looks solid; it feels solid; this is a mechanical pencil of substance. The lead sleeve is a small conical metal tip, not retractable. This pencil is for general writing only, and is not meant to be treated so callously as to be put in a trouser pocket. Clearly the designers intended you to use the pocket clip on the breast pocket of your jacket, or a pen loop or carry pouch.Lamy Accent pocket-clip side viewThe pocket clip is solid metal, very shiny…clean, simple, and effective. It is spring loaded. There is a small amount of side to side play in the clip. Lamy Accent pocket-clip front viewI really like the look of the rhodium rings grip. The brilliant shine of the silvery metal and the black body look good together.Lamy Accent LD diamond lacquer rhodium rings grip The rhodium rings are not quite a perfect match to their adjacent black resin rings and you can feel a little texture beneath your fingers. I did worry that the super shiny grip zone would not provide a particularly stable grip, but it did better than I expected. Certainly it’s not the most secure grip in the world, but it’s acceptable. At about 12mm diameter the grip zone is wider than average and that helps – shiny and thin would probably be a disaster. One other comment is that for me the grip zone is just a little too high up on the body. I wanted to hold the pencil right down towards the lower end of the grip, almost off the grip and onto the taper of the tip section.

As mentioned above, the grips are interchangeable, and I bought an anodised blue aluminium one as a spare. That was a mistake. The blue grip just doesn’t go with the black body. Too dull. To change the grips you unscrew the body and simply swap them over.Lamy Accent mechanical pencil disassembledLamy Accent interchangeable gripsUp at the top end of the pencil is the push top button, which is boldly marked with a number to indicate the lead size. Lamy Accent mechanical pencil push top buttonTen clicks will get you about 7mm of lead. The mechanism is quite firm and fairly noisy. You definitely feel like you are pushing on some substantial spring loaded mechanism. Beneath the button is a small eraser…emergency use only. There is also a clean-out rod should you suffer a lead jam, and naturally the eraser caps off the lead magazine.Lamy Accent pencil eraserEvery time I look at this top button I just think that something’s not right. It’s that grey ring at the base of the button…I just keep thinking, “Has it popped out or something? Ummmm...am I really supposed to be seeing that?” Lamy Accent Peek-A-BooI searched around for pictures of the Lamy accent on retail websites. The grey ring is clearly visible on a lot of photos of Accents, but not so obvious on photos of Accent Brilliants, so I emailed Lamy about this grey ring - Was it supposed to be visible or somehow was my push top button sticking too far out of the body and the grey section wasn’t normally meant to be seen? Now a lot of companies have a “Contact Us” section on their website and then you never hear from them. Luckily Lamy are not one of those so I received this reply, “You are perfectly right, the push button is composed of two different materials. The reason is that this push button is removable and that the lower (grey) portion is rubbing on the inner side of the barrel when it is taken out or put in. Choosing this material makes sure that the push button is not damaged or scratched in the process.” Well that’s fair enough, a scratched button can be an eyesore, but for me personally that grey ring really looks out of place on a brilliant black bodied mechanical pencil and I feel they could have done better.

Quite a few Lamy writing instruments are not obviously marked with the Lamy name, but the Accent is. Up by the pocket clip we have ‘LAMY’ in small lettering, and if you look really hard you will see a well hidden ‘GERMANY’ in the recess on the underside of the pocket clip.Lamy Accent brand markLamy pride themselves on their selection of materials and their design ethic. With the exception of that grey ring, I think they have done a good job with the Accent. They are also one of the few higher end brands who offer a mechanical pencil option as part of most model ranges, so irrespective of whether their pencils are to your taste or not, we should all give them a nod of appreciation for that.
  • Best Points – It looks and feels impressive.
  • Not So Good Points – That grey ring. It just looks like it’s sticking out and you aren’t really supposed to be seeing it. I’m not sure the grip zone is located in the ideal position.
  • Price Range – High.
  • Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – Now that’s a tough call. Lamy 2000 and Parafernalia Revolution are safe. That leaves Rotring 357, Rotring Newton Trio and Caran d’Ache Ecridor. It’s all a bit even, so I feel I must stay with the status quo, and thus Lamy Accent doesn’t make it into the Top 5, but it’s close.

Dimensions – Length 141mm, diameter 12mm at widest point. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip. Lamy Accent Brilliant pencil passion

(Click for hi-res)

21 comments:

Wynne and Wes said...

dave if you want more grips, then go on the spare part section of the website, the grips are there. Great review

Wynne and Wes said...

would you recomend me to buy the accent over an ecridor?

kiwi-d said...

Ahh, I see. I have been visiting the master Lamy.com international website where I cannot find them, but you have gone to Lamyusa.com where they are listed.

Wynne and Wes said...

right you are

Wynne and Wes said...

dave- do you know what metal the body of the accent is made of?

kiwi-d said...

Wes - if I could only have one I personally would choose Ecridor, but it is a close call and I'm sure many would choose Accent. Sorry, I don't know what the base material is.

PointFour said...

Dave,
What pencil would you recommend to survive being "treated so callously as to be put in a trouser pocket?" I was thinking of buying a Pentel Kerry for that, because it's pocket-safe and small, but they look almost "too good" for the job.

kiwi-d said...

I don't have a good answer to this question. Pentel Sharp Kerry and Ohto Tasche are the two i want to put in my trouser pocket but they are both just a fraction too big, and more importantly, as you say, they are "too good for the job". Or rather too expensive. This really is an unoccupied market niche as far as I can see.

kiwi-d said...

Follow up comment. Its really the other things in my pocket that the problem - car keys and coins play havoc with a nice looking Kerry. If that doesn't worry you, then go for it.

Max said...

To Wynne and Wes: I think I'd go for the Ecridor too. But it's a close call. What annoys me a little with my acridor is that the cap could be a little longer and with a firmer fit. Caran d'Ache got it right on the 844 mechanical pencil. I see it as one of the very best pencils. Solid, nice looking, simple - and it takes some beating. I carry one as well as a ball pen at work and they are still in top condition. Back to the Lamy Accent...
The Accent is a little too thick to hold for my liking. I don't like pencils where they get thicker where you hold them. I find that it ruins the balance when holding it. The Lamy 2000 is just perfect in that respect.

To PointFour:
Perhaps the Lamy Scribble would be right for you? The body itself is just plastic of some kind but I've carried mine in my pocket along with keys numerous times and it still in great shape.

Wynne and Wes said...

hey max,
where could i find the caran d ache 844

Wynne and Wes said...

what is the most durable scratch resistant pencil?
Lamy 2000?, Lamy tripen?, plastic or metal?

kiwi-d said...

Max - good points. The thickening at grip zone is a feature that I often though not always dislike.
Scribble is also a reasonable choice for the pocket, although personally I feel a cap or vanishing point is necessary for a pencil that is to live in a trouser pocket.
My wifes Scribble lived in her pencil case for a several years rolling around with other pencils, sharpeners, paper-clips and sundry supplies. It did show some wear and tear but overall to be fair was pretty scratch-resistant. Still, to me the scratches did stand out, its all a matter of personal taste - I'm probably just too fussy.

PointFour said...

Thanks for the comments on pocket-resistant pencils!

@Max: I'd ignored the Scribble because it's only available in 0.7 (or 3.15 clutch), and agree with Dave I'd rather have a cap or vanishing point, but it's an interesting suggestion. Lamy just say it's made of black plastic, so I suppose it isn't such high-quality material as the Makrolon in the 2000 series.

@Wynne and Wes: here's a UK link
http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Caran_dAche_844_Metal_Pencil.html
for the Caran d'Ache 844 metal pencil, also only available in 0.7 and not (I think) pocket-safe. I have a couple of their matching 849 ballpoints. They're creamy-smooth to write with and give a good density of ink, but Cd'A inks seem to me to be less fade-resistant than some, at least in blue and red. Not that I've tried many others, and blacks always seem most fade-proof.

What a pity that Zebra don't make a compact (i.e, capped) version of their stainless steel and plastic M-301 pencil, in the same sense as their F-301 Compact ballpoint. Here's the Cult Pens link for the Zebra stainless range:
http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Zebra_Stainless_Steel.html
BTW, I don't have any connection with Cult Pens except as a customer.

Wynne and Wes said...

Do cult pens have good service?

Sapphire said...

Yes they do and they keep the sort of refills and things that are hard to find.

Max said...

Sorry for being so unclear. I wouldn't keep the CdA 844 in my trousers! I know it's a little blasphemic mentioning on here, but you could consider getting a Lamy Pico ball pen. I carry one and it's a great travel companion. It's even reasonably pleasant to write with considering it's size and shape. Only real pocket safe pen I've seen is the Pentel Kerry or the OHTO Tasche Pencil which you can find at cultpens. Never tried any of them as they are both 0.5 and I prefer 0.7.

Dave B said...

Just when I thought I had it under control, someone has to point out where we can aquire more pencil stuff. So, of course, I place an order. I have the Lamy Accent 3+1 Multi pen/pencil, but was never really satisfied with the grip. I just received two new grips; the Palladium Finish India Rubber Grip and the Brilliant Finish Platinum Coated Grip. The platinum coated grip adds some needed bite to the grip area and also more heft to an already substantial pencil. The India Rubber grip is lighter in weight than both the platinum grip and the standard issue grip. I like this grip. The rubber is not very thick and does not really "give" or compress under hand pressure; it just provides a little tackiness to the grip. I aslo like the look of the Accent in all black with the rubber grip on it. Perhaps I can send Dave some pics and he can share them?

kiwi-d said...

Dave B - I'm always happy to publish something from a reader. You can email at the address up in the blog header.
DAve MP

Germ said...

Am I the only one who thinks Lamy are overpriced?

Wynne and Wes said...

i do think lamy are overpriced, but also they are really one of the only pen companies who designs with the user in mind, and not just the styling