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Porsche Design P’3120 mechanical pencils

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The Porsche Design P’3120 series of writing instruments are machined from single blocks of aluminum. There are pencils and ballpoints in the series – no fountain pens or rollerballs. They are made by Faber-Castell, though press announcements indicate Pelikan is slated to take over manufacture of the Porsche writing implements. I’m curious if Pelikan can or will continue the current designs, or if there will be a new slate of products.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The first P’3120 was the aluminum version. Though expensive for a mechanical pencil, the sleek lines and unified look appealed to me, and I picked up the first of this set.

Two later versions in “anthracite” and “titanium” finishes changed the milled ring pattern to a tighter line.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The latest version is in black, part of the “Edition 1″ series. It differs from predecessors in having Porsche markings on the body rather than the clip.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

I hope the photos speak to the appearance, and I’ll mention some other aspects:

The grip is formed by three scallops in the pencil. It does require keeping the pencil in place in one’s hand, rather than rotating.

The clip looks beautiful – yet the weight and length of the pencils don’t work well with shirt pockets, and the clip is too tight to work well with jacket pockets. It is what I would call a desk pencil.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The refilling of the 0.7mm lead is done via a Faber-Castell cartridge. As with most pencils I buy, I immediately replaced the manufacturer’s lead with the fantastic Pentel Ain lead.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

The lead advance is achieved via twisting the cap (which is also the top half of the pencil). The P’3120 cartridge mechanism is one of the good ones – it works well, and there is very little lead breakage, though this is a heavy pencil and I suspect I write with what some might call a ‘heavy hand”.

There is a small “emergency only” eraser under the “cap”.

The pencil weight is 30g – not Yard-O-Led territory, but heavier than most mechanical pencils. Again, making this a desk pencil rather than a contender for the pocket.

Despite these great characteristics, in the end it is the overall aesthetics that won me over. The sleek, modern machined look is appealing. The pencil sits well in the hand, and functions well. I like each of the four versions, and use them all in rotation. I have not previously been drawn into the “get one of each” approach to buying writing instruments, but somehow was won over in this case.

As well, the machined aluminum resists scratching and day to day wear, quite unlike other writing implements I own. I think I would be content with a used version of one, which isn’t my typical approach.

Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencils

Overall, I like the P’3120, and wholeheartedly recommend it with the noted reservations.

15 comments to Porsche Design P’3120 mechanical pencils

  • Quite a sleek unique look! The conical taper of the sleeve suggests to me that they are designed as writing implements first. Nice peek of an item that I was not even aware existed before seeing this entry.

  • Henrik

    Thanks for taking the time and money to write this nice review.
    For years I’ve been trying to convince my self, that I “needed” this one. Seeing that it’s heavy and too long for shirt pockets – I know I don’t. Thanks, it the second time, you save me from myself.
    But the design is sooo appealing.
    Regards Henrik

  • Vikram

    This is a great pencil! I also wanted to ask a question: Is Pentel Ain lead the same thing as Pentel Super Hi-Polymer lead? Because I live in the States and there are no mentions of Pentel Ain anywhere around here, but there is an overabundance of Super Hi-Polymer…

  • I guess when Pelikan starts producing the Porsche pens in 2011 they will bring in completely new designs..
    The Porsche pens look very nice, but something always puts me off if there is a nice shell with a kind of generic mechanism inside… It always makes me feel that the pen is more of a marketing exercise, not a great combination of functionality and good looks.

  • GrannyKass

    Love the pencils, but will stick with my new (Japanese) rotating lead pencil.

    Vikram: The Pentel Ain lead series is available in the U.S. via http://www.jetpens.com an excellent resource for Asian products plus. . .

  • Alberto, they are indeed writing instruments!

    Henrik, the design is appealing, and though not ideal for a shirt pocket, it can be transported easily enough in a pen or pencil case.

    Vikram, there is an even newer Pentel lead, the Ain Stein: http://www.pentel.co.jp/product/stein/ . Alas, I really don’t know the differences, if any, among Pentel’s lead ranges.

    memm, I appreciate your comment, but I love the fact that the mechanism is user replaceable. An accident is always possible, and with a more expensive pencil, a lurking potential problem. Yet with this pencil, unless the accident is quite severe, it won’t be ruinous. The tip is part of the cartridge, so the most likely sort of problem category (drop to a marble or concrete floor) can be recovered from.

    Pencil mechanisms are usually contained and hidden, and we most notice them when they are distinct – such as when refilling an Autopoint or Yard-O-Led pencil – and that experience is not always so great in reality.

    This pencil is not a fountain pen derivative, and made by a company with roots as a pencil maker. That already says something to me.

    Though we’re aware of it being a shell (perhaps even more so as I showed a photo emphasizing that) with a replaceable mechanism, it is a great shell, and the mechanism works well. Except for the clip, I do feel it is functional as well as great looking. To me, the divided shell and mechanism approach is like separating a building’s plumbing and wiring, or a computer’s applications from the operating system – it does make sense and is good design.

    Speedmaster and GrannyKass, thank you for the comments.

  • Michael

    Porsche Design is the design studio behind Porsche motor cars.
    The designers there have turned there design skills to other items like pens and pencils which are obviously then made by other manufacturers.
    Cult Pens carry a range of Porsche writing instruments here
    http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Porsche_Design.html
    I have to say they aren’t for me but I still admire the design-led concept.
    The designs are very much the product of the studio and not of Faber-Castell so what the Pelikan offerings will be like will depend on the direction Porsche’s arists are taking in the future.

    On the subject of mechanisms, Cross pens are now selling a 0.7mm pencil mechanism that screws into any of their standard ball points (the ones with the skinny refills) and most of the “lifestyle” mechanical pencils are ball point derivatives – so maybe that’s the way to go. At least you aren’t limited to the range of models chosen by the manufacturer as a pencil range. The repairability idea is a bonus.

  • I think my comment might have sounded more negative than it was meant to be. My bad feeling towards pens with separate shell/mechanism probably stems from some bad examples I encountered in the past. If the mechanism is functional (just one example: has enough space for replacement leads) and works well I am happy.
    You made a very good point when you said that the pencil is not a fountain pen derivative and is made by a company with roots as a pencil maker.

  • SannyD

    Oh man those are sexy. my grandmother and i are pencil and pen heads she was plesantly surprised when i showed her this.

  • Duc

    I like this review. The photography is very nice. and the Pencil is very desirable! Compare to a fountain pen, it’s very reasonable.

  • Caron Geist

    Have any of you ever tried the Monteverde multifunctional Executive 3? I love it. I also love my sensa pencil .5mm which is next to impossible to find. I have a few of them but I love my monteverde which I use about 8 hrs per day. I’d be interested to know if any of you that have tried the Porsche Design also have tried the Executive 3????? I’m always looking for good .5mm pencils and I have 2 different Monteverde multifunctional ones. Considering the porsche design — can use some feedback. thx.

  • redringnut

    do these come with “my other pencil is a Porsche” stickers?

  • Nara

    After having done some search, I found your website has the most detailed review on this pencil…
    As you mention that the cartridge is replaceable, do you know where can I find the replacement?
    I own the aluminum one, and accidentally dropped it on the floor.. the cartridge appears to be broken.
    Thank you!

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