Writing with a fine lead tip gives us greater control over our penmanship and lets us squeeze in more content into less space. It’s why we always try to keep our traditional wooden pencils well sharpened, and use graphite leads with small diameters in our mechanical pencils.
Unfortunately, I find that the most common lead diameter, 0.5mm, is just a little too thick to provide the crisp feel of a freshly sharpened pencil on paper. I could remedy this by writing with mechanical pencils that use 0.3mm(or smaller) leads, but that would result in a much higher frequency of lead breakage, hampering my writing experience. This is why when I discovered Pentel’s ‘Orenz’ line of mechanical pencils that promised to solve the issue of constant lead breakage when using small-diameter leads, I knew I had to get one.
The Pentel Orenz is a pencil designed to use extremely small-in-diameter(down to 0.2mm!) leads without breaking. It does this by using a unique lead protection mechanism that is not found in any other mechanical pencil. Pentel sells three versions of the Orenz, the standard model made of colourful plastic, a version with a plastic body and metal grip, and the luxurious Orenznero with a sci-fi-esque design and built with a premium resin-metal blend.
The Orenz’s lead protection mechanism works by having the metal lead sleeve completely surround the lead at all times, even when it is extended outside the pencil for writing! It only retracts a little when you press it down onto the paper, allowing the lead to come into contact with the writing surface.
By having the lead sleeve take the brunt of the pressure usually applied to the lead when writing, it protects the lead and prevents it from breaking. In my experience, this works exactly as intended. After 3 months of constantly using the Pentel Orenz, I have had exactly 0 leads break on me during my note-taking or sketching. It must be said however that due to the nature of the mechanism, the metal lead sleeve will be in constant contact with the writing surface. This results in a scratchier, rougher feel when writing, maybe the only drawback of the Orenz. I don’t mind it, but some people might find that this scratchy feel makes the pencil unusable.
Personally, I used the metal-grip edition of the Orenz for a couple months and throughly enjoyed the experience. If you like writing with small-diameter leads, give the Orenz a shot. You can easily find the standard model in most bookstores, and the more premium metal-grip edition can be found in large bookstores like Tokyo Hands at Orchard Road.
If you really like using the Orenz just like I did, consider buying the Orenznero, the top of the line Orenz model. Made from a beautiful matte black metal-resin blend, the pencil feels very premium and sturdy in the hand. The long, ribbed-style grip also ensures the pencil won’t slide around between your fingers while writing and unlike knurled grips, avoids being too rough on your skin during extended writing sessions. It’s definitely pricey at $36.50 USD before shipping on JetPens, and is a hassle to find and obtain, but I really enjoy using mine.
The nero adds a bunch of helpful features like a spring loaded lead sleeve and an auto-advancing led mechanism! That’s right, when you use the Orenznero you don’t even have to advance the lead yourself, the pencil does it for you.
Overall, the Pentel Orenz line of pencils exists to solve a problem all other mechanical pencils face, and does so convincingly. If the crisp, sharp feel of pressing a freshly sharpened wooden pencil onto a sheet of paper has eluded your mechanical pencil writing experience until now, the Orenz is something you should definitely try out!