Cross Century II Mechanical Pencil ReviewYears of blogging have corrupted me. I started this blog with rock-solid righteous prejudices –
Rubber grips = horrible and badIt is now clear to me that this blog has performed some sort of mental adjustment upon me, whittled away at my beliefs to the point I sometimes just don’t know where I stand.
Side-clickers = dodgy, mutant growths
Silver and gold trims = I’ll be tactful and just say they were not to my liking.
Down to business then. Stylistically the Cross Century II is a development of the Classic Century, with arguably the most significant difference being the wider body of the Century II. With the Century II the top half of the two piece body is wider than the lower half, somewhat reminiscent of the look of a capped writing instrument with the cap posted. The proportions of this pencil with its straight lines and tapering ends are rather easy on the easy on the eye.
See, that’s what I mean about breaking down prejudices. To me, the polished chrome body and 23K gold trims of the Medalist colour scheme should look…well, just not right…but somehow...?
Whilst 0.5mm is the only lead diameter option for the Century II mechanical pencil, it is available in 5 colour options, mine being the chrome and gold trim 'Medalist' colour scheme. Well, that’s 5 options in the retail range, there could be more in the separate business range, particularly as part of a BP/MP set.
In the hand the Century II has a reasonably substantial weight and feel, and is noticeably top heavy. The bright polished chrome finish is never going to win accolades for its grip enhancing properties. Actually the chrome body isn’t entirely plain – there are groups of very fine lines running the length of the body, but they don’t really contribute anything to the grip. At least with no specific grip zone you can grasp the pencil at any point and rotate it at will.
The lead advance mechanism is a standard twist top ratchet. You twist the top half of the body clockwise about 135 degrees to activate the mechanism. It is spring loaded so it springs back as soon as it is released. Ten activations will get you about 7mm of lead. You can operate the mechanism one handed, but two is best. There’s no doubt that twist mechanisms are slow and cumbersome compared to push-tops and most other mechanisms.
The whole top half of the mechanical pencil pulls off to allow access to the lead refill chamber. There is a small eraser under the top half for occasional use.
PAT 5,662,424 is marked on the body of the pencil mechanism which is the standard Cross patent, with links back to Kotobuki of Japan.
The lead sleeve of the Century II is a short thin metal pipe. The sleeve is retractable. You twist the top half of the body clockwise to advance the lead, but anticlockwise will lock the mechanism into rest mode and the lead sleeve can be pushed back up into the tip. As usual you can also retract the sleeve by ‘activating and holding’ the lead advance mechanism and pushing the sleeve in.
The pocket clip is not spring loaded but quite strong and functional. The rounded end allows the clip to slip easily onto a sheet of paper or shirt pocket. It also looks quite stylish.
“Cross” on the top half of the body and on the pocket clip are the only external markings on the pencil. I always wish manufacturers could somehow include some style or model identification on their writing instruments as well.
• Best Points – Overall looks, plus I like the rest mode option for the mechanism.
• Not So Good Points – Grip not the most secure.
• Price Range – High.
• Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? - No.
Dimensions – Length 140mm, diameter 9mm on the lower half of the body. Balance point about 85mm up from the tip.
1 - This Cross Century II mechanical pencil was supplied by Euroffice, an office supplies and stationery specialist in the UK, in exchange for a review of the pencil and an acknowledgement.
2 - The Cross item number of this Century II Medalist mechanical pencil is 330305WG.