Regarding the state of mechanical pencil innovations and technologies, there’s so much going on in recent years to easily say there is a second golden era at hand for this ubiquitous writing instrument. The first era was not so well defined, as innovations were scattered widely about. But sometime in the late 1960’s some impressive changes were afoot in mechanical pencil design, engineering, and innovations. Within the next decade, some laudable advancements were made, mostly coming from Japan and Germany. But clearly, without a doubt, it was Japan who regarded the mechanical pencil most highly, inspiring several prominent companies to produce truly beautiful and functional MP writing instruments (PILOT, Pentel, Mitsubishi [Uni], Platinum, Tombow, Sakura, OHTO, Zebra, Newman, etc.). By the turn of the 21st century, those innovations had tapered off, only to be reinvigorated a decade later.
With that in mind, there are many contenders for highly regarded mechanical pencils available today. Probably the most widely talked about is the Uni Kuru Toga, especially with the advent of the Dive model. PILOT has also had a bit of a renaissance with the re-introduction of the now discontinued Automac (design more reflective of the old Automatic merged with a little TK-matic flair) and the wooden equivalent S30. But without a doubt, one of the more notable achievements has been Pentel’s Orenz Nero (or more correctly, orenznero [ オレンズネロ]). An automatic-feed mechanical pencil of drafting style inspiration, a notable descendant from Pentel’s crown achievement in automatic feed mechanical pencils – the QX05 PN305.
Evolution to the Pentel Orenz Nero
In fact, of the 7 or so members of the Pentel Orenz Nero design and management team, it was Mr. Abiko who was on the original QX05 PN305 product team and carried over his experience to the Orenz Nero mechanical design.
Pentel Orenz Nero Design & Product team members
Pentel Orenz Nero Product, Design, and Engineering Team Members
- Shigeki Maruyama - Pentel Sharp planning & design dept. manager
- Abiko Daikei - Chief specialist in sharp design
- Yoshikazu Ito - Sharp development section engineer
- Tomoaki Shibata - Sharp development product designer
- Mr. Wakai - Orenz Nero 0.5 development team manager
- Mr. Mizuguchi - Pentel Sharp marketing dept. manager
Mr. Yoshikazu, Mr. Abiko, Mr. Shigeki at Yoshikawa Factory
Mr. Wakai (left) - Orenz Nero 0.5 dev. team manager with Mr. Abiko at Yoshikawa
Mr. Mizuguchi - Pentel marketing manager for mechanical pencils
Pentel Orenz Nero marketing manager interview, on NOTE.
Five Pentel pencil designers, interviewed; Orenz Nero included, on NOTE.
Pentel Orenz Nero launch event, on Digital Life.
Just a footnote:
If you look at the packaging, you’ll see Pentel writes the name as “orenznero” ( オレンズネロ), evoking the palindrome nature of it. The separation appears to be a Western thing, because of the established Orenz line. Even pentel.co.jp refers to it this way.
There were two limited edition releases of the orenzenro, in Blue-Black and Gunmetal. Sadly, they were immediately bought out and resold at well more than triple the price of the original… and in such limited numbers that they quickly vanished into the hands of collectors.