I’ve been collecting mechanical pencils for 20+ years, but only seriously dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to it from about 5-6 years ago. My collecting philosophy is fairly simple - it needs to be mechanically interesting. I’m fortunate enough to have been able to acquire all kinds of fabulous pencils over the years, including most of the high-end grails.
It does indeed cover quite a bit - my collection has ballooned and savings have shrunk accordingly
Favorites (this is going to be a long list):
Writing (somewhat in this order):
Kurutoga Dive (current daily driver, best pencil ever made for writing IMO and no, the mushy tip does not bother me at all)
Pentel QX (best of the old school “automatics” to write with, even though the mechanism is actually different from regular automatics)
Pilot H-5005, Automatic, Automac
Faber Castell TK-Matic, Alpha matic and Porsche Design Classic Line
Drawing/Drafting/Diagramming etc (when you need precision):
Hi-Uni FFMatics - 3051FF and 5050 (Because of my low grip, I don’t even have to change my grip to knock. No other pencils come anywhere near these. I prefer the balance and weight of the 3051FF over the 5050.)
Tombow Variable SH-1500VP
Staedtler 925 95
Eye Candy (because sometimes you just want to stare at some pretty stationery):
Tombow Zoom La Nave series (especially the V472, but the rest are also uniquely beautiful)
Sakura Free matic, Archi Y2
Uchida Drawing Sharp D and E
There’s probably a lot more that I’m missing, but these are what came to mind first.
The QX is labelled on the box as “Push and Write” and not as an automatic. They did this intentionally to distinguish the QX’s mechanism from other automatics of the time.
All these automatics have one important drawback (which is what puts most people off): The lead sleeve needs to touch the paper and retract for lead to extend. This results in a scratchy feel and lighter pencil strokes.
Here’s how the QX works: When you push the tip against the paper (even with the lead extended), it will retract a little (kind of like a lead cushioning system, but not as soft) and when it springs back it will extend the lead further. The important thing to note here is that the entire tip including the lead and lead sleeve retracts. So you can “knock” the pencil at any point and ideally before the sleeve touches the paper. It took me a few paragraphs of writing to get used to this, but you keep getting lead fed without the sleeve ever touching the paper. I know this sounds weird but I started subconsciously “knocking” the pencil by pushing a little harder at every period pretty quickly. This eliminates the drawback of other automatics. There is no other pencil that does this.
Which brings us to the KT Dive. This is the only other pencil that can automatically extend lead without the sleeve touching the paper. I can totally see how the KT mechanism can put some people off. For me, I’m compensating for the paper squish in a notebook anyway, so adjusting for the tiny bit of added squish from the pencil tip is not a problem. This makes it amazing for writing - even better than the QX since I no longer even need to push the tip.
I would definitely not recommend it for drawing, drafting etc. where you are usually using a harder surface (which makes the tip squish more noticeable) and want to be more precise about how much force you apply at the pencil tip.
That is cool. I’d like to see how that works internally and now have to get one.
Regarding the KT Dive though, I also thought it advanced without touching the sleeve - especially because that’s how it starts for you when you uncap it. But when I got mine and tested, it seems to only rotate with the pressing of the lead, and to actually advance, it only does it via the sleeve method like all others do.
Ahh yes! The KT Dive does not automatically advance after every stroke. It’s every 100 or so strokes I believe. It’s designed for writing in short swift strokes i.e. Kanji. Works fairly well for notes and stuff too as long as you don’t write cursive.
And now I’m wondering if mine is defective or maybe I’m just a dummy because I’m reading the instruction booklet again and it sure does say it advances automatically. Also, it seems like the min max settings don’t do anything with mine… so with yours, if you tap the lead so it’s turning, it also advances?