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Pilot Vanishing Point Retractable Mechanical Pencils

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About 7 years ago I became aware of the PILOT vanishing point mechanical pencil. By then it had already been discontinued and was sought after, prices going up rather high compared to the original prices (around $20). The only model numbers I'd heard of were H-1003 and H-1005. The last digit meant 0.3 mm or 0.5 mm.


But in time I began to learn that there were more models made. Apparently a good many of them never left the JDM (Japan Domestic Market).



H-1003 - All black plastic body, with chromed metal parts, lead size 0.3mm
H-1005 - Same as H-1003, with lead size 0.5m
H-2003 - Partial black plastic body, all metal section, brushed metal parts and metal grip with small black accents, lead size 0.3mm
H-2005 - Same as H-2003, metal grip with black rectangular accents, lead size 0.5m
H-2103 - Partial black plastic body, with brushed metal parts and knurled black metal grip, lead size 0.3mm
H-2105 - Same as H-2103, lead size 0.5m
H-3003 - Partial black plastic body, all metal section, brushed metal accents and metal grip with paired rectangular accents, lead size 0.3mm
H-3005 - Same as H-3003, lead size 0.5m
H-5005 - Very rare retractable tip titanium body with etched lines. Very few were made and it's nearly impossible to obtain today without spending thousands!
PLEASE NOTE: There was never any 0.7mm lead size offering for any of these models


While the H-10xx series is a competent writing instrument, the H-20xx, H-21xx, and H-30xx series were a notable step up. Professional grade quality. Reputedly very solid lead holder core, despite the retracting mechanism. The H-21xx series is all black, with a more industrial looking design, reminiscent of the Rotring 600.


There were also a few other models made with all stainless steel brushed or satin finish bodies, but no apparent model numbers (imprinted on the body or noted in a sticker). The only way I discovered anything about them was on Japanese websites, but even still, all they had were photos -- nothing else. Based on what little I've discovered, there weren't many of them made and unfortunately even within the Japanese marketplaces they're very much sought after.


I've seen some FPN members post about owning the H-1003 or H-1005. Anybody here own other models?


Btw, there is a recently manufactured Pilot Automac with retractable tip. It looks to be really well made, reminiscent of the earlier "vanishing point" models. Retail is about $50, which is considerably more reasonable than these vintage Pilot MP's.



Clicky Post wrote a great review about it (HERE).

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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I have had the H-1005 from way back when. i remember really liking this as a regular carry back in the day. Eventually the metal piece that screwed in to the tip to keep the lead in place started to constantly get loose. I tried to find this pencil but I think it's lost.

I did find a replacement for quite a bit more to remind of how great this was.

Thank you for the info on all these models I will likely never see.

I will give the Pilot Automatic a try in the near future.

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^ I'd read a few posts where people said they'd picked up the H-1003 or H-1005 for around $15 around the time it was being discontinued. It was such a terrific value then. Rumor has it that Pilot actually outsourced the retracting mechanism, and that gave rise to their discontinuation. But I can't verify that.


From what I've read, the H-1003 and H-1005 were likely the only models sold outside of Japan. The rest were for the Japanese domestic market. The Japanese tend to do that sort of thing. A perfect example was the Pilot M90 fountain pen. You couldn't buy it directly through any US or European retailers, unless it was through a 3rd party. They had intended to make a production run for export, but that fell through.


Btw, the newer model is "Pilot Automac", just in case you search for it. :) (And btw, Amazon appears to have it for a terrific price right now, pretty much half the price you'll find on JetPens).

Edited by MYU

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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Thank you, I was checking them out last night.

I need another mechanical pencil like I need another fountain pen...

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^ You and me both! ;)


I read up on the Pilot Automac... and it's not as tempting as I originally thought. Two strikes against it:

  1. It's heavy! Some say more so than a Rotring 600
  2. There's a slight wobble to the tip -- not at all rock solid. Rotring 800 may actually be better.

Even at a discount, I don't think I'll go for it.


This is the only Pilot Vanishing Point mechanical pencil I own:




It's one of those with an unknown model code (which was probably on the original packet). I saw one of these in mint condition with a sticker (original price of 2,500 JPY), and no model code. It was pure luck that I got this lightly used example. The seller listed it with simply "Pilot mechanical pencil". Another bidder with a huge amount of transactions in their history had submitted a bid for it, and for some reason did not drive the price as far up as I thought it would go. It was still very expensive for a mechanical pencil! But, relatively speaking I got a very good deal. A mint condition one with sticker went for more than double the price, a few weeks later. There's definitely a cult following in Japan on the Pilot Vanishing Point mechanical pencils, and I'm resigned to never expanding ownership beyond this one. So in a way that's a good thing -- I won't be trying for any more.


This mechanical pencil is very well made, but rather small in stature compared to something like a Rotring 800. I'll have to take some comparative photos.

Edited by MYU

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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I have a Rotring 600 and 800. I like the 600 more as a writing instrument, but use the 800 at work more because of the retractable tip. I generally use it in carpentry and don't need the feature of the 600 puncturing my lung because I clip it on my T-shirt neck.

The H 1005 I recently bought on the Evil Bay for just under a hundred dollars was to replace the same model I had many years ago. I was watching another one for a little more for quite a while and kept resisting because ot the one-hundred fifty dollar price tag. When I went back to pull the trigger it was at two hundred. I saw this one and jumped on it. It was everything I remember about the original. Glad I found this one, it's a comfort sort of thing. taking me back to times when I thought I was happy.

Edited by sd10521
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^ Yes, each of those rOtrings have their own characteristics that make them worth owning. Does your 800 have a little wiggle to the tip? Mine does, but it's very slight... not enough to bother me really. It might annoy someone who is drafting with high precision. I'd prefer to have a 600G, but they're quite rare and absurdly expensive (saw one sell for about $280). The 800 is essentially the same pen, but with some plastic bits. I don't worry about it wearing out, really. rOtring seems to use very resilient plastics.


I saw someone nab a set of two used H-1005's for a little over $100 USD. Open bidding too. Guess it's just luck o' the draw on bidding with these. But you know, the time having it in hand is probably worth paying a little more than waiting and waiting for months on end for that price break. It's nice to own things that cheer us up... they may be material objects, but they can have sentimental value. Like the CASIO TW-7000 titanium digital watch on my wrist from the mid 1980's. Nobody would give it a second look, but it's very special to me, with such a unique design to it, and I have a good feeling every time I clasp it to my wrist.



[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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Yes, the 800 does have a little wiggle to it, so does the 600 if I try, but nowhere as much as the 800. The H 1005 is somewhere in between them.

Each is used for a different purpose. The 600 just sits in my pen holder for every day use and he Pilot sits in the pen case so I know where it is when I want it. If I need something to be precise I have a set of Pental GraphGear 500's. Don't like the feel of them much but they are well made and I don't use them every day.

I have an old Seiko Quartz from the late seventies that I feel the same about. It's heavy, large, but accurate beyond my needs. I bet it's not worth anything right now, but it's one of those things I will never part with.

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I just pulled the trigger on one of those Pilot Automatic pencils. Under twenty three dollars with free shipping.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks when it gets here.

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^ Congrats. Yeah, that's a very good price. I've been tempted but I've got to keep the clutter down. If you come back with much enthusiasm about it I might cave, though. ;)

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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  • 3 weeks later...

It arrived today. It's a heavy little thing a little longer than my H-1005 and it has a good amount of wiggle to it, more so than any of the other pencils I have mentioned above. The manual advance retracts the point a little to quickly for my tastes but I can adjust for that.

Now for the good news, it feels solid, the weight is at the bottom so you are not fighting with it, and the automatic feature works quite well to my amazement.
This is just my quick results from writing about an A4 sheet and some quick notes with it. After getting the black one I ordered two of the silver ones, my girlfriend was about to glom this one on me.

I will report back again after a more serious road test.

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  • 2 weeks later...

After a little more time with this thing I actually like it. It's a nice pencil to write with but it's no way a drafting pencil, not even on a good day. Not because of the little bit of wiggle, but because of the pipe that holds the lead, it's too short and is angled for serious drafting needs.

The automatic feed works quite well. At first I thought it kept the lead too short for my usual personal habits but it just right for normal writing.

Well worth the money if you find it for under twenty five dollars and don't mind the wait on the slow, (and sometimes free). shipping from overseas.

I now put the H-1005 in it's safe place and use this one as my knock around mechanical pencil for now.

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  • 1 year later...

To add to my original post, there was also one other "H" series model: The H-5005. This is the "hen's tooth" model, the unicorn.




The original price on this was 5,000 JPY. A twin model of slightly lesser stature (not a titanium finish) was 3,000 JPY and didn't have a model number designation (only "Automatic"). From what I learned reading over horrible Google translations of Japanese blogs where mechanical pencil fanatics debated their finds from little stationery shops in various cities, it was expensive for PILOT to make this pencil. At the time, they had the following model pricing line-up:


H-100x - 1,000 JPY

H-200x - 2,000 JPY

H-210x - 2,000 JPY

H-300x - 3,000 JPY


The H-100x line sold best, because of the relatively inexpensive cost. The H-200x and H-300x shared very similar internals; it was more about the body that was different. The "Automatic" model was priced at 3,000, matching the H-3005. Both have been discontinued for some time, but due to much lower production numbers for the Automatic, the resale market prices are insane. Every time I spot an auction for it, Japanese bidders take it up past 50,000 JPY, often closing around 80,000 JPY. For a mechanical pencil that originally sold for 3,000 JPY. And you can forget about the H-5005. I spotted one auction for it, and it sold for 100,000 JPY! Your only hope would be to live in Japan and to keep combing through the little stationery shops for them. That's where those Japanese bloggers said they found them. But, only after an exhaustive search. The "opportunity cost" is high. And thus... these are effectively "unicorn" pencils. If I manage to make significant financial strides and $1,000 USD for a mechanical pencil doesn't bother me, maybe I'd buy one. But for now, I'm happier to pursue more obtainable models.

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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