Orenz


Well, I never! A fake mechanical pencil – Pentel’s Orenz got cloned 3

I love sliding sleeve pencil and am a big fan of Pentel’s Orenz, so naturally, I couldn’t resist when, last year, I saw a fake Pentel Orenz for sale. Well, I say fake, but this copy doesn’t actually pretend to be an Orenz, nevertheless, it is as close as can be…

Packaging

At the time when I bought it the fake Orenz wasn’t much cheaper than the real thing. I bought mine in November 2017 for £2.23 (~ $3.16; €2.55), but now you can get them for much less (£1.32 or $1.50 with free postage).

The Tian Zhuo copy and Pentel’s Orenz

Have a closer look at this pencil in my video.

The click-baity title and cover picture are thanks to some ‘advice’ from Techmoan.


Price: November 2017

Exchange rates: March 2018

 


A Look at Pentel’s orenznero PP3002 3

In a recent blog post I introduced the new Pentel orenznero, also called PP3002, its model number (for the 0.2mm version).

As you probably know nero means black in Latin and Italian – and, surprise surprise, the orenznero is black. Nero is also oren, as in oren(z), spelt backwards. Pentel seems to try to emphasise this fact by not using capital letters and the o on both ends of orenznero is stylised as, what looks to me like, a lead in a pencil sleeve viewed from the top.

Thanks to Yumiko I got one just after it was released in Japan. Altogether I paid just over £30 (~$36;35).
Here are my observations regarding this pencil after a week of use.

 

Transporting this pencil

First off: transporting this pen.

You can’t make this pencil pocket safe very easily. It is possible to retract the sleeve, but you have to push the sleeve/pipe really hard into the body of the pen, for example with your fingernail.

It’s also not a great pen to transport in pen sleeves/pockets/slots1. If you try to put this pencil in a pocket where the pencil’s sleeve or pipe will touch the material of the pen slot (think of something like the Nock Co Hightower)  the lead will forward and possibly break in your pen slot.

Materials used

The Orenznero looks beautiful. Especially on photos where you think it has something of the allure of the Rotring 800.

The Orenznero next to a Rotring 800

In reality, the Orenznero feels much cheaper. The body is made from plastic, but it is nice to touch plastic with a little bit of a texture.

The surface has a bit of a texture (enlarge picture to see)

Handling

The original Orenz is a great pencil. It felt as if Pentel revived an old friend of mine, the Staedtler Microfix.

Top to bottom: Staedtler Microfix, Pentel Orenz and Orenznero

In my previous blog post about the Orenznero, I talked about the history of the sliding sleeve pencil and about alternatives, including very cheap alternatives from Faber-Castell that cost less than a tenth of what I paid for the Orenznero.

Grip section to the left

Well, I have to say that the Orenznero feels, of course, better and is better made, but because the original or classic Orenz was so good I somehow expected that the Orenznero represents a quantum leap for auto advance pencils. This is not the case! It is, however, a nice pencil.

The Orenznero will work great is you hold it vertically, but if you write at an angle the sleeve will not glide back properly as it does with the classic Orenz, so if you don’t use light pressure when writing your graphite lines on the paper will get very thin or will even disappear as the sleeve will cover them. The force needed to slide the sleeve starts very low, like a classic Orenz, but the more the sleeve is pushed into the body the more pressure you need, in the end up to 0.3N.

A picture from an old blog post to illustrate this

Advancing the lead with a click and using the Orenznero like a normal pencil is not an option as it will advance too much of the 0.2mm lead – it would break. One thing to add, the Orenznero is very comfortable to write with hand has a nice centre of gravity in the front half.

You can see the centre of gravity where the pencil is balanced

Conclusion

It’s a nice pencil, but it requires a bit more pressure to write with. This is off putting in my case, as I am not so keen on pens that subconsciously make me change my writing habit (in this case to make me press harder when writing), something that might turn into the behaviour I use with other pens, too.

Just because it is such a nicely designed pencil I will use it a bit longer though, at least for now.

Mass-carved & Microfabbication??

  1. I am trying to clarify here as very different things are called a sleeve. []

Pentel’s new orenznero 3

Auto advancing pencils, from the 1970s to now

Auto-advancing mechanical pencils have been around for a while now. The Faber-Castell alpha-matic was released in the 1970s and was, as far as I know, the first of this type1.

These pencils usually work by forwarding the lead a bit when the sleeve or cone near the tip is depressed while writing. This will forward the lead a bit. As forwarding the lead is done automatically every time the sleeve is pressed during writing there is no need to push the pencil’s button anymore.

Pilot has a pencil similar to the Faber-Castell alpha-matic, but Pilot’s version is still made today. It’s called the Automac and looking at the grip section I think that the mechanism isn’t the only thing this pencil has borrowed from the alpha-matic. I think the Automac pays homage to the original auto-advancing pencil with its similar grip section.

My experience with auto-advancing pencils

If you want to try out a pencil like this: Faber-Castell still has you covered: For under £3 (~<$3.50; <€3.50) you can get a plasticky one with a cone that does the job. Ten years ago I used these a lot, just because of the novelty (at least for me it was new at that time). It was the only auto-forwarding pencil I have ever used. It worked well for me, but anytime I’d hand it over to a colleague to write with, especially if the pencil is filled with coloured leads, the user was almost guaranteed to break the lead and clog up the mechanism as it didn’t work well with soft leads, like coloured leads, at all.

Umeda (Osaka) Loft (image © Yumiko)

Enter Pentel’s orenznero

When Pentel’s fibonacci mountain video came out last week I was immediately intrigued. In this video the new orenznero is used in a plotter. I never owned a plotter, but having spent most of my pocket money in the 1980s on computer magazines the video was more than fascinating as a normal plotter wouldn’t work with a pencil for long periods of time without some extra mechanism. Pencils tend to get shorter when you write, unlike ballpoint pens or fountain pens, so the plotter would either have to lower the pencil again and again (for wood-cased and mechanical pencils) or it would have to press the button to forward the lead (for mechanical pencils).

The plotter in Pentel’s video doesn’t do either, so the orenznero must have some sort of auto-forwarding mechanism. Just like when writing with a normal Orenz, you can write for a long time with the new orenznero without having to push the button to forward the lead, but this time it’s not the sleeve retracting, it’s the lead forwarding that makes this possible.

Some of the diagrams from Pentel make me think that their mechanism works even if the sleeve doesn’t touch the paper at all, but I am not sure about that and the Japanese I learned at university in the 1990s is just enough for me to decipher some Katakanas, not enought to figure out how the orenznero works, so I’ll have to wait and see.

The good news is that Yumiko, I mentioned her before on this blog, has bought me one already, from Umeda (Osaka) Loft, so I will be able to try it out soon.

Mine 8^D (image © Yumiko)

There is a 0.2mm and a 0.3mm version. Even though 0.3mm would enable me to use Stadtler Mars micro and Pilot neox graphite leads I asked for the 0.2mm version as that is closer to a freshly sharpened wood-cased pencil and fits my small writing better. Well, it turned out that the 0.3mm version was sold out anyway and there were only two or three 0.2mm pencils left. Lucky me!


I would like to thank Yumiko for helping me to get this pencil.

If you want to find outmore about the (old) Orenz, here is my blog post about the 0.2mm version0.3mm version,  0.5mm version, and sliding sleeve pencils in general. There is also a page comparing different sliding sleeve pencils.

Reviews of the (old) Orenz can be found at Lexikaliker (german), The Pen Addict, I Liek Pencils, One Lone Man’s Pens and Pencils, and Rhonda Eudaly.

 

 

  1. You can’t this model them for quite a while now and used prices for the alpha-matic can easily reach £200 (~$250; €235) or more. []

Pentel Orenz 0.5 9

Another Orenz post.

I bought this Orenz from eBay seller Morgan’s Direct for £4.99 (~$7.30; €6.50).

Pentel Orenz 0.5 mm

0.5 mm, 0.7 mm and the Mannish Line

You might have seen my Facebook post about the recently released 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm version of the Orenz and about the Orenz Mannish Line that will be released in June.

The Mannish Line has some interesting colour combinations. Very tempting.

The UK packaging

The UK packaging

The Orenz in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm doesn’t seem to be available in Japan. The one I bought was the official UK version, but made in Japan, of course.

The UK Orenz on Silvine Memo Books

The UK Orenz on Silvine Memo Books

The sliding sleeve

The 0.3 mm version of the Orenz needed quite a bit more force to slide the sleeve than the 0.2 mm version, see the sliding sleeve table for more information. This made me think that the 0.5 mm version will need even more force to slide the sleeve, but to my surprise that was not the case. While the 0.3 mm version needs more than 0.1 Newton, the 0.5 mm version needs only about 0.1 Newton. That’s still more than the best 0.5 mm pencil, the Staedtler Microfix S, but as far as I know, this is the best value for a pencil currently in production. Using different leads might result in different values, but both the 0.3 mm and the 0.5 mm version of the Orenz were tested with the original leads they came with.

Great centre of gravity

Great centre of gravity

Vitals

Weight: 10.4 grams
Length: 14.5 centimetres
Diameter of the grip section: ~8 millimetres
Force needed to slide the sleeve: ~0.1 newton

This blog post has been brought to you by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

This blog post has been brought to you by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Conclusion

Overall: it’s a fantastic pencil. Pentel’s pencil designs are very polarising for me, I either love or dislike them, but the Orenz has a design I really love, unlike the P20x series liked by many, but not me.

It’s a shame that this pencil is only available in black. Pentel, please release it in other colours, too.

Pentel Orenz


Price and exchange rate: May 2016.

This mechanical pencil has been added to the sliding sleeve table.

More about the Orenz can be found in these Bleistift blog posts: Pentel Orenz 0.3Peanuts Orenz 0.2The sliding sleeve and the Pilot Color EnoWhy did the sliding sleeve disappear?

…or at The Pen Addict, I Liek Pencils, One Lone Man

…and at Lexikaliker, who was probably the first outside Japan to write about this pencil.

You can read more about Georg Christoph Lichtenberg at Wikipedia.

The notebooks in the photos are Silvine Memo Books.


Pentel Orenz 0.3 1

Another blog post about my stationery adventures in Shanghai.

Orenz #4

This time I want to show you another mechanical pencil I bought: The Orenz in 0.3.

This is my fourth Orenz now, but the first one in 0.3 mm. I guess you might say I’m overdoing it a bit, but it is a really nice pencil, so I couldn’t resist trying out the 0.3 mm version.

This one has English packaging

This one has English packaging

Expectations

When I bought it I had certain expectations.

Hypothesis 1: The 0.3 mm will need more force to slide the sleeve than the 0.2 mm version.

This is based the assumption that there is a bigger area of contact between lead and sleeve and between the sleeve and the rest of the body, which would result in more friction.

Hypothesis 2: The Orenz in 0.3 mm will need less force than the Staedtler Microfix S 0.5 to slide the sleeve.

This is based the assumption that there is a smaller area of contact between lead and sleeve and between the sleeve and the rest of the body, which would result in less friction.

Orenz 0.3

The background is a tribute to Lexikaliker

Price and colour

I bought the black version for 50 元  (~$7.60; £5.20; €7) from Shanghai Jiajun Craft Gifts Co. Most stores on FuZHou Road charge 55 元, but one or two charged 50. I bought mine in one of the cheaper shops. Some of the Orenz in the shops had the Japanese packaging, some had the English packaging.

On the web I have seen a gorgeous dark green version of the Orenz, but I’ve only seen it online so far – it wasn’t available in any of the shops I visited, so in the end I bought the black version because I didn’t like pink and I already have the white and blue versioning 0.2 mm.

Well, I wasn’t keen on the black version when I bought it, but now I started to like it. With the right light the shiny black surface can look really good.

The Orenz - just beautiful

What about the sliding sleeve?

So what about the force needed to slide the sleeve.

Hypothesis 1 was correct. When I checked I had to use 1 dN – 2 dN to slide the sleeve, certainly much more than what is needed for the 0.2 mm version.

To my surprise Hypothesis 2 was not correct. I had to use more force to slide the sleeve of the Orenz in 0.3 mm compared to my Staedtler Microfix S 0.5 77305.

To qualify this point: Other Orenz and especially other Microfix might behave differently. Some leads might have a slightly different diameter than others, which might result in different numbers when testing the force needed. Plus: my Microfix was bought in the 1980s, Staedtler stopped selling them in 1988, so maybe it got better with time. On the other hand, maybe Staedtler just did a stellar job with the Microfix and created a sliding sleeve that is unsurpassed by modern pencils.

Other items I bought in the shop

Other items I bought in the shop include an Indonesian Castell 9000 and a 12B pencil from Lotory.

Other items I bought there

Other items I bought there

I have added the Orenz 0.3 to my sliding sleeve table.


Prices: December 2015

Exchange rates: January 2016

The background of the first photos is a tribute to Lexikaliker, who kindled my interest in the Orenz – just that my background isn’t a Tenugui, but a Furoshiki – in my case a non-woven wrapping sheet from Muji.

I have discussed the Indonesian version of the Castell 9000 in a previous blog post.

To see the Orenz in its full beauty please open the Orenz images (the first three) in a new tab/window.