Appearance and Design
8 of 10
The Messograf is click-action ballpoint that accepts standard Parker style refills. Body construction is of polished chrome plated brass, with a somewhat rectangular flattened profile. This is necessary for movement of the fuctional vernier caliper that slides along the pen body, which is a matte finished piece of I believe magnesium or aluminum, but I could be totally incorrect in that regard. Total length is 6", and the body profile is 1/2" x 3/8", and the caliper section is 1" wide. Fitted to the slide is a matching clip, held on with two brass rivets.
Being a motorhead and technical geek at heart, I really enjoy how the function dictated the form in this design, but admit that more conservative folks may not take as much of a liking to it. Unfortunately, as I'll discuss later, it does compromise somewhat on how well it writes as a pen, so I cannot give it more than an 8 in this category.
Construction and Quality
6 of 10
As mentioned earlier, the core writing element is a ballpoint, using standard parker style refills. It is accessed by unscrewing the top click mechanism, and slides out easiy. Unfortunately, I have long-since disposed of the original ballpoint refil that came with the pen. All I can say from memory is that it was a standard and uninspiring ballpoint refill of unknown manufacture.
Unfortunately, I have not been entirely happy with the quality of manufacture of this pen. Individually, the body and caliper slide mechanism are well made, though I would enjoy a bit more tension to the caliper movement. The click mechanism though is significantly flawed. Since new, it is very rough in function, and would often times jam up. That is until two days ago when it went flying across the room after it separated internally.
5 of 10
Given that the performance is dependent on the refill, there is only so much in its performance that you can judge. But I can give a few insights into the feel of the pen when using my preferred Parker Quink gel refill. As expected, the odd profile does give it a different feel than a traditional round bodied pen, but I was surprised at how comfortable that profile really was. The rest of the pen, however, falls short as you get to use it more.
As with most retractable ballpoints, the point does have some wiggle and play inside the pen body. This is more pronounced on the Messograf due to the audible clicking of the metal on metal contact between the body and refill. You also need to be vigilant if your writing posture, due to the size and shape of the caliper mechanism. If I hold it with the caliper pointing down, toward the web of my hand, it can scrape against your hand if you extend your fingers too far and let the top of the pen too far from vertical. If you hold it with the caliper pointing away from your hand, the long clip scrapes against my pointer finger.
Now, if you are left handed, it may be a different story all together. For a leftie, you can hold it with the caliper and the clip facing away from your hand and thus won't suffer from any of the comfort issues I was suffering from as a rightie.
Now, I am sure you are curious about the extra functions that it gives you with the caliper? Other than how it rubs against your hand, it has a number of useful features. It functions, of course, as a basic outside caliper but is very limited in its use as an inside caliper as the measuring tines do not cross each other when closed. This gives it a minimum measurement of about 3/16", which needs to be compensated for when making a measurement.
Additionally it can function as a tire tread depth gauge by sliding the caliper all the way to the point and extending the clip into the tire treads. A separate set of measurments is provided for this.
There is also a conversion chart of some sort, but I haven't really figured out what it stands for, as it's written in German. I believe it's a conversion of metric of some type, but not of something I've figured out.
6 of 10
In a nutshell, the Messograf is a pen that I really tried hard to enjoy. It's a pen that I still want to enjoy, but I honestly cannot. Having a lot of technical hobbies, and a somewhat technical job, I've found myself using pretty much all of the extra features from time to time. In fact, I use them much more than I originally expected, and for this alone it's earned a long term place in my bag simply for its merits as a measuring tool.
But as a writing instrument, I almost never use it. It's uncomfortable, noisy and at the moment doesn't even work due to the failed clicker mechanism. If you're left handed, the biggest issues I have with this pen dissapear, though you may or may not find the flat profile to your liking (assuming that the clicker is simply a one-off problem of my pen only). Otherwise, for right handed writers, I will call this a very interesting concept that simply has too many flaws to recommend other than as a conversation piece.
Edited by HHaase, 05 January 2012 - 01:38.