Monday, November 19, 2007

Delta Dolcevita Medium Mechanical Pencil Review

Delta Dolcevita Medium Mechanical Pencil Review

I’m generally predisposed to think of Italian products as being of superior design and quality. To date my only review of an Italian pencil has been the Parafernalia Revolution, which was not an entirely complementary review, and this has always left me with a sense of unfinished business, that there are other Italian pencils out there, and I should at least give Italy a chance to even up their scorecard. It is therefore with much anticipation that I awaited the arrival of my Delta Dolcevita Medium Pencil, and its use as my pencil of the week – or even longer!

La Dolcevita – literally “The Sweet Life” or The Good Life as we more commonly say in English. Some might equate that to the saying about “Wine, women and song”. Now I’ve certainly got nothing against any of that, but there is plenty of the Good Life in other things, like for instance “Rugby, beer and pencils”!

Just a note about the photographs in this review. I had a lot of trouble capturing the colour and contrast of Dolcevita, and consequently a lot of these photos make it look a bit washed out - lighter and yellower than it really is. In real life it is a nice bright medium orange colour. Very bright and sunny. Very attractive.
First impressions then. The pencil arrives in a bright orange card box, about 155 x 140mm x 32mm thick. Inside the box is a plush presentation case which is covered in black velvet on the outside, and tan leather and black velvet on the inside. Inside the presentation case is the pencil, along with a small booklet extolling the glory of Delta and the Dolcevita collection – fountain pen, roller ball, ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil, all in several different sizes, e.g. small, medium, oversize, etc. I imagine I have missed out on another instruction sheet, as this Delta booklet seems a bit light on instructions like how to fill your fountain pen, change the rollerball refill, etc. More specifically, it contains no instructions on how to operate the pencil. Luckily I’ve owned enough pencils to figure it out, but I’d imagine a lot of folk would be a bit perplexed.
Onto the pencil itself – well it’s pretty good looking too. Big solid shiny black resin cap with silver metal trims, bright orange marble resin body and black tip with metal trims. The black caps of Delta instruments are individually sequentially numbered, mine being number 12146 to roll off the assembly line. The main cap-ring is made from 0.925 sterling silver, hand engraved in reproduction of an old Roman décor featured in paintings from the ruins of Pompeii. There are also some hallmarks on the silver ring. This silver central ring really does look antique, and certainly reinforces the general air of languid opulence that hangs around this pencil. Although it couldn’t have actually happened, I have no trouble imagining Fellini using a Dolcevita to sketch scenes for La Dolce Vita, well you get the imagery anyway.

Despite the lack of instructions, I can tell you this pencil is a twist action mechanism, you wind the whole cap around to advance or retract the lead. The whole cap also pulls off to reveal a small rubber eraser, and in turn the eraser pulls off to reveal the lead storage chamber. However, this is just storage, you refill the 0.9mm lead in through the tip like the pencils of old. How the average punter is supposed to figure this out I just don’t know, hence my suspicion that I missed out on some instruction sheet or booklet. The Delta website doesn’t seem to have any instructions, well at least not in any place I found with a quick scan through the site.

The pocket clip is platinum plated, and features an actual roller at the end to help it on and off your pocket, providing extra protection for those expensive shirts and suits. Yes, it works rather well. As there is no protruding lead sleeve, the pencil tip is reasonably pocket safe. In the hand this pencil is definitely “substantial”. It’s a bit shorter than average, fairly heavy, top heavy, the cap is quite wide – all these combine to ensure you feel like you have a real handful of pencil, and the 0.9mm lead supplied glides smoothly over the paper. The resin body is very smooth and shiny, but the grip is still quite good. However, I imagine things could change if you were sitting at the caffé, sipping Campari, sweltering under the Mediterranean sun. I like the orange marbled body, but one thing I don’t like is that because the resin body is translucent, the lower part of it is darkened by the threaded section of the black tip screwed up inside the orange body. I feel sure they could have done something to keep the colour constant.

Well, in conclusion, for a pencil, this is a nice piece of luxury or jewellery. I’m glad to own and use it.
  • Best Points – This pencil definitely has character.
  • Not So Good Points – The lack of instructions about lead refilling, locating the eraser, etc. The discolouration of the orange body down at the tip.
  • Price Range – Stratospheric.

Dimensions – Length 138mm, diameter 11mm main body, 15mm at cap-ring. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

I took my Dolcevita away with us on a holiday weekend as part of this Good Life review; maybe it brought us luck, as we got upgraded to the penthouse suite at the Hyatt. Swweeeet - the Good Life alright - our hotel “room” was pretty much the same size as our house, and it had more bathrooms!

Photo - a page from my notebook, a quick sketch of part of the view from one of the penthouse balconies.

So, now our household has two important little possessions from Italy, one for each of us, His and Hers as it were – “Dolcevita & The Discus Thrower”


Anonymous said...

Well, it's certainly one nice looking pencil! Now you'll have to pick up a few nice Aurora, Montegrappa, and other Italian pencils for comparison!

Anonymous said...

Wow, immediate pencil lust just looking at the pictures. And its a .9mm no less! I must buy this.

Max said...

Mmm and OMAS not to forget. They do look nice!

Actually it puzzles me a little that many of the luxury brands aren't very strong in pencils. Only the German names seem to be focusing on mechanical pencils. Thanks Faber-Castell, Pelikan and Lamy, and of course Swiss Caran d'Ache.

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend gave me this pencil for Christmas. She is a keeper, so is this pencil. It is by far the best I have owned. The design is spectacular and it functions superbly. xo