At just 155 years old, Stabilo is the youngster among the Nuremberg (Nürnberg) pencil companies – Faber-Castell is the eldest at 249, and Lyra and Staedtler are in the middle at 204 and 175 respectively.
A pencil maker in origin, Stabilo now includes cosmetic products and backpacking gear in their corporate umbrella.
Their stationery products definitely display trendy and youthful themes aimed at a young demographic, and I suspect woodcase graphite pencils are now a very small portion of Stabilo’s business. Of their eight or so pencil lines, I’ve only seen the all-purpose “All” line for sale in person. In contrast, their highlighters and markers seem almost ubiquitous.
The Opéra seems to be a writing line, offered in HB, B, and 2B. The pinstripes on the pencil edges echo the better known Othello line.
With white lettering and striping on a light burgundy body, the pencil strikes my eye as one of the most appealing on the market, and trumping the Othello. The restraint and simplicity are commendable.
Full name and model no: STABILO Opéra. The pencil does not display a model number, but the packaging indicates “285”.
Manufacturer: Schwann-STABILO of Heroldsberg, which is apparently about 20km from Nürnberg. The pencil packaging states “Made in CZ”, and Stabilo’s website indicates that their woodcase pencils have been made in the Czech Republic since 1992. (Some of the newer Stabilo pencils such as the Exam Grade state they are made in Indonesia.)
Stabilo seems to be doing some innovative things. They have launched a flagship store in Vienna (Wien) that looks really amazing. Notice the pencil shape!
They have put some of the construction online at YouTube:
If you browse further via that video, you can find television commercials by Stabilo for various markets such as Brazil and Malaysia.
They also have various localized websites such as this one for Stabilo Japan. They sell some interesting items I like such as this desk pad.
Background: I can’t find much on the background of this particular pencil line. There is understandably no trademark attached to the “Opéra” name, and I wonder why it would have been chosen.
Weight: About 3.9g.
Dimensions: Rounded hexagon with finished cap. Standard (~175mm) length.
Appearance: The pencils are hexagonal and sharpened. The factory sharpening is quite good – none of that scraped look that many other manufacturers seem to offer.
The pencil is marked:
Stabilo Opéra HB=21/2 (white coloured text)
The reverse says:
EAN No., Bar Code (white coloured text)
Grip: Nothing unusual to note.
Sharpening: The pencil sharpens easily. I am not sure of the species of wood used.
Writing: This is a relatively inexpensive pencil, even when procured via mail order. I was very happy to find a smooth, dark line readily produced by the lead. Each grade seems a shade different. I think it’s an excellent writer on a variety of paper types. The 2B really pops on an Exacompta Bristol card.
Erasure: A Pilot Foam eraser had no trouble with erasure.
Overall: The pencil looks great, writes well, and is inexpensive. A hard to beat combination. I’m very happy to have discovered the Opéra, and look forward to exploring Stabilo’s other graphite pencil offerings.
11 Replies to “Stabilo Opéra pencil”
I’ve been curious about some of their other offerings. I’ve got their 2B Micro 288 “Exam Grade” pencil, which has a somewhat thin matte black lacquer on it, but the fit/finish is alright.
It is a smooth pencil with a reasonably dark line, and it writes with light pressure, but not much darker (if at all) than a Hi-Uni in HB, though the point is much more fragile. With a somewhat broad point, I can see how it would be a nice smooth pencil for mark sheets though, and it’s pretty cheap here.
I’m not a big fan of it, but it’s a very usable pencil, and was actually surprisingly smooth compared to what I was expecting. I think if I were to choose in the local market though, I’d opt for a Mitsubishi 9800 or Ohto 9000 in 2B.
Thanks for this article, especially for the background information. I knew they produce in Europe, but I didn’t know it is in the Czech Republic. The video is nice and the desk pad looks fantastic. I wish it was available over here…
I have only ever found the Opera pencil in Germany, and not too frequently, either. A pity for, as you say, it is an excellent and reasonably priced pencil with a very attractive look and name. I think that it is one of the oldest Stabilo lines, along with the Othello. Were you able to obtain it via a website? Do share!
One place to get this pencil is Bundoki: http://bundoki.com/?pid=665622
Thank you for that detailed review of this classic pencil! I am happy to hear that you like the Opéra as well – it is one of my everyday pencils.
The pencils aside, there is something mesmerizing about the building and design of that store.
Frankly, the Stabilo Opera B I have is the scratchiest piece of pencil I’ve ever used. Soft and smooth writing and sketching – definitely, but the lead is plain dirty. I find it of too low the quality. I’d rather use a cheap Faber/Staedtler for ordinary purposes.
The scratchiest ever? (Greystoke, I removed the “URL” from your comment, as is seemed to be an amalgamation of an email address and a website.)
I need to buy the pencil Stabilo Swano 4909 HB=2. I can’t fing a place to buy. Could you help?
Queria comprar lapis stabilo Opera 2B=1 1/2. Como posso ?
Thank you for this review! I haven’t seen this pencil before, and I couldn’t find it on Stabilo’s German website. – It looks very nice but the disadvantages you have mentioned are off-putting. It is a pity since it is great to see a standard lead size in such a pencil, and the sharpener seems to be great too.