Though I have a pencil themed blog, FPN seems like it may be an appropriate place to present some photos and thoughts on the great Porsche Design P'3120 mechanical pencil series that I've really come to enjoy.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The lead advance is achieved via twisting the cap (which is also the top half of the pencil). I've read at FPN statements suggesting "all pencils are the same". That is wrong, wrong, wrong! (Just like suggesting all leads are the same.) The refill and advance mechanisms are what support and make the lead usable. And some pencils have lead breakage all the time - a sign of a problem with the mechanism. I suspect it is like large scale engineering - though there may be a tendency to want to make a building or bridge super-rigid, an ability to sway and adjust with wind and ground forces tends to work out for the better over time. Similarly with pencils. 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.
Overall, I like the P'3120, and wholeheartedly recommend it with the noted reservations.
Edited by smoky, 19 July 2010 - 00:04.