Monday, September 10, 2007

Kaweco Sport Ice Mechanical Pencil Review

Kaweco Sport Ice Mechanical Pencil Review

The second to last of my holiday mini pencils is the Kaweco.

Many years ago, from the sound of the name Kaweco, I thought that they were a Japanese company. But then I did a little reading and discovered they were German. Actually I have always found it quite hard to find out much about Kaweco, other than the very basics of their history. Recently though, a reader from Germany vastly increased my meagre Kaweco knowledge by giving me the link to Gutberlet, the manufacturers of Kaweco.

I hadn’t previously heard of Gutberlet, but it appears that basically they are a company somewhat similar to Schmidt, making writing instrument components and owning and manufacturing the Kaweco brand products. So “Koch, Weber & Co.”, hence “Kaweco”, were founded in 1883 in Heidelberg and by the early 1900’s had become a major manufacturer of fountain pens, often credited as the first German company to make a pen that really didn’t leak. Like many a famous old brand they ran into trouble and are now part of someone else.

Right then, enough introductory rambling, onto the actual review. The Kaweco Sport has three versions – Classic, Ice and Bunt. Basically the combination of colour and lead size (0.7mm, 3.2mm or 5.6mm) determine the name of version, but they are all basically the same. Mine is a 0.7mm transparent blue pencil making it a Kaweco Sport Ice pencil.
First things first, this pencil looks great! Short, chunky, octagonal body in a brilliant shiny deep blue transparent colour with metallic internals. Fantastic. As well as going on holiday with me, I also used this as my “pencil of the week”, and a few people at work remarked on it. It really stands out, all glossy and blue, just lying there on your desk - a beacon amongst the detritus of commerce. I hereby formally apologise to Gutberlet / Kaweco, my photos do not do justice to your product.

There are no grip enhancements on the Sport so you can pretty much hold it anywhere on the body that you like. Overall the Sport might look great, but it’s just a fraction short for my liking, and it’s a bit too fat for me as well. The shiny smooth plastic body wouldn’t make for the best grip in the world, but the fatness helps with that. The shortness was a bit of an issue for me as the top edge of the body is a good sharp corner – not so comfortable when it rubs in between thumb and forefinger. The pencil is also quite a lot lighter than the short fat look might suggest. Having said all this, I did find it a perfect size for holding in my hand whilst banging away at the keyboard. You know, I wasn’t really having a good week, so me and Kaweco, we really taught that keyboard a lesson. Gave it a good beating.

The mechanism is a standard push top ratchet. 10 clicks advances 8mm of lead. A metal “Kaweco” shield or crown is stuck on the top of the top button. I couldn’t help but think that there should be a novelty version as well – when you push the top button down a light comes on. I’m sure it would look good with the blue colour. The tip is non-retractable and only has a little short straight sleeve section at the end of the tip so it’s only for general writing, not draughting.

There is a small eraser under the top button, and you access the lead magazine under the eraser. Putting the eraser or top button back on generally activates the lead advance mechanism, which is something that irritates me.The history of these Sport pencils and pens is apparently that they are short and don’t have pocket clips so that they fit right inside your pocket. However, pocket clips are available as an accessory. With this in mind I find the non-retractable sleeve and no pocket clip a bit hard to understand. Here’s my thought process – too fat to fit in a compendium or notebook, no pocket clip so you have to stick it in your pocket, tip is non-retractable so it stabs through…? Maybe it’s supposed to go in a pencil case, but I can tell you that the great glossy surface isn’t exactly the hardest wearing finish you’ll come across. All this just doesn’t quite come together. Great pencil, but…
  • Best Points – Great looks, interesting octagonal body.
  • Not So Good Points – Not pocket safe, no pocket clip,…where does it go?
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 112mm, width 13mm across the flats of the octagon. Balance point about 60mm up from the tip.

I also have this one too, Kaweco Sport Bunt, red 3.2mm clutch pencil. The red is opaque, not transparent like the "Ice" colours.


Speedmaster said...

Very nice! I've had my eye on Kaweco pens for a while but have yet to pick one up.

Anonymous said...

Wow! what a buety! Especially the 5.6 mm! what a beast! Any idea where i can get one from?

Anonymous said...

I just bought a 3.2 mm ice on ebay and have become crazily attached to it. Can't find anywhere to buy new lead for it, though. Any ideas? I love the fat octagonal body and the ease of putting it in my pocket -- it's a clutch mechanism so I don't have the non-retractable issue. Thanks for any clues on where to buy 3.2 mm lead! Nice blog!

B2-kun said...

Here are a couple of potential sources for 3.15 mm lead that would probably fit:
Found this on Googlee but have never ordered from them

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks for answering B2-kun.
Actually, without wanting to get into the world of crass commercialism, Swisher Pens are on my Online Retailers sidebar link, and for a rare revelation, they are where I got my Kaweco and leads from.
No, they didn't pay me to write this comment.

Anonymous said...

I have one of these but in white. However, I can't seem to refill the lead. Have you (or anyone else) had any trouble with this? Any suggestions? Just in case, I AM using the correct size lead.

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Miranda.
If you push and hold the top button down, can you push a new stick of lead up through the tip?

Michael J Corry said...

A bit late I know but I was reading your review again after I saw these advertised.
To the point - a pocket clip is available as an optional extra - like the Space Pens

clickiechick said...

If the non-retractable point is a sticking point, you can do like I did and use a wire cutter to cut off the 1mm sleeve, then lightly sand the conical part to remove any remaining rough edges. It makes the pencil pocket friendly and has no effect on the lead performance at all.