Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood Beech Pencil

Review 1/3 today to make up for the staggered schedule. Next one coming in a couple of hours.

dscf8176This was a pencil that I had been dying to try out, but not up for buying. At $5.45/pencil this is definitely one of the most, if not the most expensive pencils I’ve ever reviewed. Caran d’ache is a Swiss manufacturer of school, office and luxury stationery supplies. Founded in 1915 in Geneva by Arnold Schweitzer, he named his company Caran d’Ache after the nickname of French satiric political cartoonist Emmanuel Poire, who took his name from карандаш (karandash) the Russian word for pencil. In 1929, they trademarked the design for one of the first mechanical pencils. (Wikipedia)

After being around for nearly a century, Caran d’Ache is still going strong with their iconic designs and luxurious materials. This pencil in particular is made from FSC-Certified Grovelier beech wood from the Jura mountains for northwestern Switzerland. (JetPens) Just from that description alone, I was excited to try this pencil out. I have to say, so far after almost 2 months of use, I have not been disappointed.

dscf8173The first thing that I often look at when I want to buy a pencil is looks. I admit it is a bit superficial, but a good-looking pencil more often than not indicated decent writing quality, at least in my experience. Some of the simplest pencils with elegant design and color choices have constantly performed better than garish ones. The best example I can give would be the Tombow Mono 100 and the Palomino Blackwing 602. Simple color palette, subtle branding and an attention to details made them some of my favorite pencils to use.

dscf8170With the Swiss Wood pencil, the clear coat of matte varnish helps keep the natural grain of the wood intact and looking amazing. I have started to love seeing the grain of wood ever since I started collecting oblique holders. I sometimes need a bib when I’m browsing through some of my favorite pen-maker’s catalogues. This pencil showcases the natural beauty of the wood and accentuates it with the red paint and Swiss cross on the back.

dscf8177Writing with it has been an absolute pleasure. It holds a point very well and I’ve yet to have problems with the lead breaking even with a decent amount of pressure. While the smoothness is not up to par with say, the Blackwing 602, it’s definitely up there in terms of how easy it is to write with on different papers. I’ve tested it out on everything from Doane and Field Notes to Rhodia and Maruman. It handled every change like a champ and I never had any trouble switching between them.

However, one thing to note is that there is no eraser. While to me this isn’t much of a problem, it can be a bit of an issue for someone who is more function oriented when it comes to pencils. Having a decent quality eraser can be a huge deal, especially with expensive pencils. The Blackwing 602 is the penultimate (get it?) luxury pencil as it affords the consumer both quality and functionality for the price. The Caran d’ache on the other hand offers natural beauty, high quality materials, but less functionality for its price point. This might be a turn off to some buyers, so I thought I should mention this.

If you’re looking for a premium pencil at a premium price, then look no further than the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood Beech pencil. It maintains the natural aesthetic of the wood grain while adding tasteful additions like the red and white Swiss cross on the back. It’s versatile and high quality lead can be used on numerous papers without a fuss and it can hold a point well. I highly recommend anyone interested in high quality pencils to try it out.

Caran d’Ache Technalo Pencil

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This is my first foray into Caran d’ache pencils and I’m very satisfied with my experience so far. The Technalo was something that I inadvertently picked up because I wanted to try some Caran d’Ache pencils and this one seemed pretty unique and different from the ones I’ve reviewed so far. I was curious to see how the water-soluble graphite would feel when writing. I wasn’t expecting Blackwing 602 performance, but the lead was soft enough to rival it.

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The pen is marketed as a water-soluble graphite pencil. This means that the typical use of this pen would be for watercolor-esque washed and you would see the graphite getting lighter with multiple washes. I have not gotten to test this yet as I lack the proper paper that is able to take a wash or two. Hopefully once I get some watercolor paper I can truly make use of this pencil. Until then, just writing with it will suffice.

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The matte finishing on the body is one of the things that was the biggest gripe I had about this pen. Due to the smoothness, it was extremely difficult for me, someone with sweaty hands, to get a proper grip when I was writing. I ended up forming a death grip near the front of the pen but still struggled to maintain a proper hold.

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There was a lot of rather ostentatious branding as well as unnecessary applications of shiny material. Unlike some of the more subtly branded and understated pencils I’ve reviewed in the past, the Technalo goes out of its way to seem luxurious. However, I have to say that it does look really good even if it’s not to my specific taste.

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The lead was very soft and honestly felt much like a colored pencil. The death grip I was slowly developing lea to me putting a lot of pressure when writing and I could feel the lead depressing when I pushed. It led to one side being soft and wider and when I switched sides, it started out extremely sharp and resulted in a darker line. You can see in stances of this phenomenon in the first picture.