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Review Of Pilot S20 & Rotring 800 Mechanical Pencils

rotring pilot s20 800 mechanical pencil

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#1 sannidh

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Posted 06 December 2014 - 18:50

Dear FPNers,
 
This is a review of two mechanical pencils - rotring 800 and the lesser known pilot s20. Both are very different in both design and make and I have not compared them in anything apart from their dimensions. In case you face any problem with the pictures, please feel free to read the same in the below link:
 
 
 
A mechanical pencil was a totally utilitarian thing during my engineering days, be it for drafting engineering drawings or making graphs. Shortly after, their utility started diminishing when AutoCAD and other drawing software could address most of the design elements, although their luxury value started beaming. Like fountain pens. Sparsely used but heavily sought after. That reminds me that I am still typing this post on a laptop rather than using one of my FPs. Mechanical pencils can delve from cheap plastic to rugged metal to precious wooden designs. In my view, metal designs seem to showcase more of modern industrial utility whereas wooden designs foray more into the aesthetics part of it.
Mechanical Pencils  A brief history in time
According to wikipedia, the earliest form of a mechanical pencil was found in a ship-wreck (British ship HMS Pandora) in 1791. However, the first patent was filed in 1822 by Mordan & Hawkins in Great Britain. Later Mordan started manufacturing mechanical pencils under the company – “S.MORDAN & CO”. Leads upto 0.9 mm wide became popular by this time. By 1915, Japanese were into it and Tokuji Hayakawa started a company to manufacture mechanical pencils, which later came to be known as  “Sharp” due to its first product – ‘Ever-Sharp mechanical pencil’. After the entire pencil division was destroyed in 1923, by the Great Kanto Earthquake, Sharp relocated to Osaka  and forayed into electronics industry.
Pilot S20 – 0.5 mm
A maple wood contoured design with a deep brown colour renders a very natural feel with a classical wooden look. The entire end cap section is made out of aluminium with a steel lead sleeve, till the seamlessly finished wooden grip section comes up. The grip section gradually gains diameter going upwards from the end-cap (0.8 – 1.1 mm) till it reaches a small aluminium band which says ‘S20’ and ‘JAPAN’ on opposite sides of the band. Then, it narrows down towards the push-button section, till it comes across a pilot branded aluminium clip and finally ends up with the aluminium(+ plastic) push-button.
 
DSC_1089.jpg
DSC_1093.jpg
IMG_2806.jpg
There is a lead-indicator in the push-button. To set the lead indicator, you have to remove the push-button which reveals an ubiquitous mechanical pencil’s eraser and rotate the pipe end of the push-button. The eraser section once removed shows a hosted clean-out rod. Design does seem minimalistic with a subtle emphasis on simplicity. The weight feels quite evenly distributed and the length of around 15 cm is quite comfortable to write or draw for extended periods. Sweaty slips at the grip section should be quite rare or even a non-occurrence. The grip section feels very firm.
The pencil itself comes in two wooden variants – Red and Brown.
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The mechanism operates with a audible click sound at the push-button and is quite error free. It’s quite comfortable to use for long writing or drawing sessions. As per my experience, putting additional 4-6 leads inside the lead reservoir tube will not cause any blocking problems at the sleeve end. The S20 ends with comfortable aesthetics.
For the disassembly part, the end-cap with the sleeve can be easily unscrewed from the barrel and the push-button and eraser-sections can be pulled out easily. I did not attempt any further disassembly, as the parts of the barrel seemed tightly fixed.
Rotring 800 – 0.5 mm
 
DSC_1100.jpg
 
As evident from the above picture, the lead sleeve does not come out unless you rotate the top knurled section which rests just below the gold-trim of the push button. So a completely retractable mechanical pencil with an all metal construction. Mostly constituted out of coated brass, the 800 has a weight of around 25 g compared to S20’s 18 g. To draw a comparison, both of them will be heavier than a Pelikan M400 or a Sailor-Pro gear slim fountain pen. It is available in two themes – silver and black. 
 
Design seems utilitarian, industrial with a subtle emphasis on its high-end design. It’s somehow evidenced by the gold trims to differentiate it from a 600. The sleeve comes out smoothly on half a rotation of the knurled switch. With a feeling of balanced heaviness and assurance, the pencil seems superior to many. The hexagonal cross section of the barrel prevents it from slipping from inclined planes and the knurled grip does the same for your fingertips. The tip apparently can wiggle a bit compared to other fixed sleeve-pencils (like 600), but does not really do so while in use.
 
DSC_1096.jpg
 
Very uniform yet very attractive to use. The pencil can be disassembled easily by removing the knurled grip section to reveal the inner tube. Cleaning can be done if required. The eraser cap and eraser section can be pulled out. The clip mentions ‘rotring’ while the backside of the hexagonal body says ‘JAPAN’ quite elusively.
 
IMG_2805.jpg
 
In Conclusion
A mechanical pencil will typically cost around 50 cents in my part of the world. But these two are beyond just mechanical pencils, perhaps a work of art and even a draftsman dream :happy: .
 
Writing
 
DSC_1103.jpg
 
 
Feature
Pilot S20
Rotring 800
Additional Comments
Length
Pilot S20
Fixed Sleeve ~ 14.6 cm
Rotring 800
Retracted Sleeve ~ 13.5 cm
Extended Sleeve ~ 14.3 cm
Quite Comfortable with respect to both length and weight
Weight
Pilot S20
18 g
Rotring 800
25 g
Design
Pilot S20
Maple wood and aluminium construction with Lead Grade Indicator at top cap
- Red and Brown Variants
Rotring 800
Brass construction, Gold Trim, Matte Finish with hexagonal anti-slip faces on barrel, Knurled grip
- Black and Silver Variants
- Both are ‘Made in Japan’ by the way
Barrel
Pilot S20
Contoured Wood – 0.8 – 1.1 cm
Rotring 800
Knurled brass – 0.8 cm diameter
- Both engage the writer in a non-slip(y) way
Tip
Pilot S20
Fixed Sleeve, Loud Click, Aluminium/Steel lead sleeve
Rotring 800
Retractable Sleeve, Gold trimmed sleeve
 
Mechanism
Pilot S20 Hard Click
Soft Click
 
Lead Capacity
Pilot S20~ 6 -8 without blocking
Rotring 800~ 10 without blocking
 
Economic Value
Pilot S20 Retails at $33, can be obtained at around $ 20-25 with ship
Rotring 800 Retails at $70, can be obtained around $60 from ebay-sellers
- You can get a mechanical pencil at 50 cents!!
- However, these are more than just mechanical pencils, perhaps a draftsman’s dream
Box
Pilot S20- Pilot Box
Rotring 800 - A triangular cardboard box
 
 

 

Thank you for going through the review.


Edited by soniknitr, 06 December 2014 - 18:54.

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#2 Tasmith

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 16:55

Excellent review!



#3 RMN

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 23:09

Thank you, very informative.

 

 

Do you have a picture of the Rotring with the point out? Above it is only shown in the locked position and the exploded view.

 

 

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#4 sannidh

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 01:32

Excellent review!

Thank you so much :)


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#5 sannidh

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 01:39

Thank you, very informative.

 

 

Do you have a picture of the Rotring with the point out? Above it is only shown in the locked position and the exploded view.

 

 

D.ick

Thank you D.ick.

I had taken the picture but somehow skipped the same.

Here it goes:

 

 

DSC_1102.jpg

 

Sonik


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#6 aderoy

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Posted 08 December 2014 - 23:17

You can also visit JetPens to see the Rotring 800 from different angle.

 

http://www.jetpens.c...ck-Body/pd/6767



#7 Tootles

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 00:08

I have the S20 in cherrywood and I can say that it is without doubt the nicest mechanical pencil I've ever used. And I generally prefer 2 mm leadholders.


Edited by Cryptos, 09 December 2014 - 02:51.


#8 sannidh

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Posted 09 December 2014 - 02:36

I have the S20 in cherrywood and I can say that it is without doubt the nicest mechanical pencil I've ever used. And I generally prefere 2 mm leadholders.

 

Yes you are absolutely right. It becomes pretty natural to hold a S20 due to its wooden make, both in terms of grip and feel (temperature).

 

You can also visit JetPens to see the Rotring 800 from different angle.

 

http://www.jetpens.c...ck-Body/pd/6767

 

Thank you.


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#9 lovemy51

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 11:58

nice review, thanx! 



#10 Algester

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 12:34

been eying on the S20 and S10 but sadly I cant seem to get hold of these pens here in my country....



#11 sannidh

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Posted 22 December 2014 - 14:19

nice review, thanx! 

 

Thanks :)

 

been eying on the S20 and S10 but sadly I cant seem to get hold of these pens here in my country....

 

Oh that's bad. In India Engeika sells it through an Indian arm. Do you mind ordering from ebay or engeika?

http://www.engeika.com/product/1330


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#12 Algester

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 13:42

Thanks :)
 
 
Oh that's bad. In India Engeika sells it through an Indian arm. Do you mind ordering from ebay or engeika?
http://www.engeika.com/product/1330

depends sometimes they are just way above what my credit budget allows so... traveling... yeah.... maybe if I get the chance to shop in Ginza, Tokyo going to Ito-ya should be a must for me... hopefully I can get all the goodies
and also the goodies from Akihabara if the time is right... maybe sometimes I'll be lucky it wont be my month so more budget on other goodies

Edited by Algester, 23 December 2014 - 13:49.


#13 sannidh

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 14:25

depends sometimes they are just way above what my credit budget allows so... traveling... yeah.... maybe if I get the chance to shop in Ginza, Tokyo going to Ito-ya should be a must for me... hopefully I can get all the goodies
and also the goodies from Akihabara if the time is right... maybe sometimes I'll be lucky it wont be my month so more budget on other goodies

 

Best of luck for a Japanese shopping then :)


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#14 MYU

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 16:46

Thanks for this double-review, sannidh.  It was disappointing to learn that the Pilot S20 does not have a retractable sleeve.  The stock photo sure suggests it but your photo says otherwise.  The Rotring 800 sometimes comes from the factory with a problem, where the lead advance mechanism isn't tightened enough.  This causes some performance problems and lead breakage.  Fortunately it is remedied.  While I prefer the 800 in this case, Pilot has made some terrific mechanical pencils over the years.  One of my favorites is from the steel black stripe family of writing instruments. The mechanical pencil is thin, but the stripes provide good grip.  And the mechanism is just so solid and reliable.

 

Pilot_BlackStripe-Family1.jpg


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#15 Tasmith

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 20:31

Since I bought my S20 a few months ago, my Rotring 500 and 600 are very rarely used.  I find the shape and weight of the S20 a perfect fit for me.



#16 RMN

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 00:05

Thanks for this double-review, sannidh.  It was disappointing to learn that the Pilot S20 does not have a retractable sleeve.  The stock photo sure suggests it but your photo says otherwise.  The Rotring 800 sometimes comes from the factory with a problem, where the lead advance mechanism isn't tightened enough.  This causes some performance problems and lead breakage.  Fortunately it is remedied.  While I prefer the 800 in this case, Pilot has made some terrific mechanical pencils over the years.  One of my favorites is from the steel black stripe family of writing instruments. The mechanical pencil is thin, but the stripes provide good grip.  And the mechanism is just so solid and reliable.

 

Pilot_BlackStripe-Family1.jpg

 

 

:puddle: :puddle: :puddle:

 

Problem is, where to get them.

 

Pilot Europe (Germany) only knows one model, the Capless which they offer in about 6000 colours.. (I know, I exaggerate)

Last years they DID add some other models, reluctantly, but they simply refuse to even special order a E95 or the Silver "animal" editions, let alone what I call the MYU range (well known to you :) )

 

D.ick


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#17 sannidh

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 06:48

Thanks for this double-review, sannidh.  It was disappointing to learn that the Pilot S20 does not have a retractable sleeve.  The stock photo sure suggests it but your photo says otherwise.  The Rotring 800 sometimes comes from the factory with a problem, where the lead advance mechanism isn't tightened enough.  This causes some performance problems and lead breakage.  Fortunately it is remedied.  While I prefer the 800 in this case, Pilot has made some terrific mechanical pencils over the years.  One of my favorites is from the steel black stripe family of writing instruments. The mechanical pencil is thin, but the stripes provide good grip.  And the mechanism is just so solid and reliable.

 

Pilot_BlackStripe-Family1.jpg

 

oh these look wonderful  :puddle:  :puddle:  :puddle:  :puddle:  and adorable collection I would vouch for :)

Thank you MYU

I think the stock picture apart from mistakenly showing a retractable sleeve, misses the lead indicator too 

Since I bought my S20 a few months ago, my Rotring 500 and 600 are very rarely used.  I find the shape and weight of the S20 a perfect fit for me.

 

Completely agree.. The feel of wood is so comforting wrt metals (though I never had a problem with a rotring/twsbi brass pencil)


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#18 Sagarb

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 07:47

Brilliant review..


Sagar Bhowmick


#19 MYU

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Posted 03 June 2016 - 17:37

 

oh these look wonderful  :puddle:  :puddle:  :puddle:  :puddle:  and adorable collection I would vouch for :)

Thank you MYU

I think the stock picture apart from mistakenly showing a retractable sleeve, misses the lead indicator too 

 

Completely agree.. The feel of wood is so comforting wrt metals (though I never had a problem with a rotring/twsbi brass pencil)

Thank you, Sannidh!

I have a few interesting additions, some ballpoint and mechanical pencil variants from the black stripe motif.  I'll have to take some new photos, plus... I've been remiss in photographing the phantom, the super rare MYU 500SS (silver stripe, or "white" stripe), along with its silver stripe companions.  HayWoody has that set and took some terrific photos back about 7 years ago.

 

Yes, I think you're right -- both the retractable sleeve and lead indicator aren't visible in the stock photo.  Wood does feel nice, if it's a good grain.  But I tend to prefer metal as I enjoy the initial cool feeling and the gradual warmth.  And the stripes on these Pilots does provide a nice passive grip.  :)


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#20 Dillo

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 23:11

Thanks for this double-review, sannidh.  It was disappointing to learn that the Pilot S20 does not have a retractable sleeve.  The stock photo sure suggests it but your photo says otherwise.  The Rotring 800 sometimes comes from the factory with a problem, where the lead advance mechanism isn't tightened enough.  This causes some performance problems and lead breakage.  Fortunately it is remedied.  While I prefer the 800 in this case, Pilot has made some terrific mechanical pencils over the years.  One of my favorites is from the steel black stripe family of writing instruments. The mechanical pencil is thin, but the stripes provide good grip.  And the mechanism is just so solid and reliable.
 
Pilot_BlackStripe-Family1.jpg


I think one of the things I like about the Pilot S series pencils is their simplicity. They don't have very much, but what they do they do well. The S series is a drafting pencil, so the sleeve is 4 mm long and non-retractable so that it can be used with rulers. They also put out less lead per click than a Pilot pencil designed for writing. (You can use drafting pencils for writing with no problems, but the design is optimised so that it will also work very well with rulers in addition to writing). Short of having a double knock system like the Pilot Holder H3005 or something like the Uni Shift or Pentel Graphgear, there isn't too many ways to make it retractable without introducing a lot of complexity or compromising the functionality of the pencil as a drafting pencil by making the lead sleeve slide in and out. (If you notice, those drafting pencils all have fixed lead sleeves when they are extended. They are an all or nothing sort of deal). Because of this, I suppose Pilot just decided to make it the way it is and keep it simple. The Pilot S series pencils have very few parts compared to many of their Pilot counterparts, and one thing unique to them is that the S series mechanism is specifically made for the S series pencils and the body is an integral part of the mechanism. A lot of other Pilot pencils use a very similar mechanism to each other and they have different length tubes to fit different models instead of having a specific mechanism made for them.

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