Zebra Sharbo X TF12

I’ve been searching for a good multipen for a while and I think I found the one I like the most

(How much of a nerd am I to be excited about my pen and watch going so well together?)

I was pretty set on a body twist multipen from the start. The models with many clickers on the back are usually the cheapest and have a big problem (aside from being ugly): the ink cartridge is twisted in a different angle depending on the color, so the angle in which you write changes depending on the color. If you write at too much of an angle, annoying ink blobs will accumulate at the tip, and that’s a no for me. Twist selectors have the cartridges all come from the clip side, so as long as you write with the clip facing up you know that the cartridge will always write at the same angle.

The first multipen with a mechanical pencil ever made, as far as I understand, was the Pilot 2+1

(source: Pilot Japan website)
Many others had been made before in Europe without a mechanical pencil. Thanks to everyone in the comments for the clarification.
The first sharbo was sold around the same time. Here I know that the release date was 1978

(source: ZEBRA シャーボ sterling silberモデル|瞬|note)
From bottom to top: 2000 yen model, 3000 yen model, sterling silver 10000 yen model. The two cheaper models are what are usually understood as “first edition” sharbo, the silver model came afterwards.
The pilot 2+1 later evolved to the 1+1 series and later all got discontinued. The sharbo series is still going strong, with its most affordable models (sharbo nu) on the 2000 yen range.
Screenshot from 2023-04-19 08-28-11
(source: シャーボNu|ゼブラ株式会社)

The TF12 was made as a revival of the original model. It is very unusual to find pens with this kind of etching sold nowadays. It was sold as a limited edition in 2018, although there is still plenty of stock in Amazon and rakuten.

The pen itself is great. Little play on the mechanism and tip. The mechanical pencil click is integrated on the body, which makes it quite muted and not very pleasant for us pencil nerds, but that’s the price to pay for a non-scratchy body twist multipen. The connector is made of metal, which should be a given on such a high end model, but the 10000 yen sharbo (TS10) has a plastic connector. You have to unscrew it every time you want to put lead or a new ink cartridge, so one would think they would make such a high stress part out of metal… anyway…

The only criticism that the TF12 usually gets is that the “zebra sharbo” inscription is just painted, not engraved. I do agree with that. Considering that the TS10 is engraved, what made them make the TF12 painted? it makes no sense.

I will raise another criticism. When you buy this pen, ink and pencil mechanisms come with it in the same box. The ink has a date on it, and it says June 2022. Can someone explain which kind of limited edition is still being made 4 years after the release date? Of course how many have been made is not written anywhere. Although I would like to blame Zebra and Amazon for shady practices, considering that this is one of the few pencils that are still made nowadays with metal engraving treatment, one can suppose it’s not cheap to make and it’s not easy to market. So probably all of the limited edition stuff is just a ploy to make this pencil viable, or to make some higher up happy.

Anyway, if you buy it for the design and not because you think this is super limited and will go up in value, you will probably be satisfied with it.


Your preferred Sharbo is the only multipen I like.


About the 2022 dated refill. I’ve always thought that modern Sharbo are sold ‘empty’ and only filled with the customer’s choice on purchase. Or is that only for Sharbo X?


All sharbo X are sold without refills, except for this one. The two ink tubes and the MP mech are inside two unbranded bags (normally they have a barcode etc) and the bags are inside a cardboard envelope inside the box

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I believe these were amongst the earliest multi-pens. I own art. #0381.

1968 catalog link: https://imgur.com/a/ddbk7kc


When I think of early multipens, the ones that come to mind are the various iterations of slide-out designs with long slots on the body. Typically 4 ink colors. Made by Fend, Kanoe etc.

I wonder if the above claim for that Pilot 1+1 has some kind of qualification? Like “first knock-type multipen with an MP component?”


I added your last sentence in my mind to make the claim reasonable … the Norma, Fend etc. usually are either multi-pen or pencil.


OT – about your watch, I spy a Citizen Attesa!

Citizen Eco Drive technology lit me up back in the late 1990’s. Got my first titanium chronograph Eco Drive back then. I still have it. Later on, I picked with the 20th Anniversary edition Attesa. It does atomic sync better than any other watch I own, even Casio G-Shock watches. Great brand. Citizen makes such solid watches.

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I forgot to update. I have corrected my post to add what everyone suggested.
Also, unintuitive but the 2+1 came before to the 1+1.

About the watch, indeed it’s a GMT Atessa. I had a period where I was obsessed with watches but thankfully I was able to escape without buying anything too expensive. This GMT I was able to get on mercari for 1/3 of the original price, and it’s been serving me well!

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I bought this Attesa 16 years ago. Still on original battery. Works great, and I just love the look of it. The DLC coating is actually not black, but a very dark, dark gray.


What is this? I found this in my stash.


That’s an early Zebra Sharbo. 1+1. They are pretty commonly found on YAJ. Nicely machined, although the mechanism isn’t as smooth as the later Sharbo X.


It’s on the main post!! angry OP noises


No, your main post is the TF12. That one Atxalias posted isn’t the same. It’s the early Sharbo.


Noted. :joy:




In my opinion the Sharbo X LT3 —with its little lookalike Rotring 600 Trio nose— is probably the nicest, best-looking multi pen ever made but it has a “flaw” that I have trouble understanding. Unless it was in fact a deliberate choice, which is the most likely answer at this level of craftsmanship. Everything is there. Great design, super matte colours with a splendid rubbery feel, the quality of the coating, the intelligent option for a glossy lacquer paint on the clip the exact same colour of the body that prevents it from peeling off, pen size/girth right there in the middle, perfect 20-22 grams, perfect balance, etc. Like other Zebra recent achievements, it is deliberately tuned to greatness…

My Sharbo-X LT3 Orange Flame

But it has only 3 active slots… And for it to be a perfect trio mechanism like the one in the Rotring 600 Trio, it would possibly need a 4th position where all the components are in rest. That a pen can be at rest is, to me, one of its greatest possibilities in terms of design and what goes on inside.

So, the Rotring 600 Trio is activated by gravity and the components retract back to rest (let’s call it 0) in a 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 scheme. Click open, sort of “un-switch” upper ring to close component, and the pen rests. Perfekt.

Perfect? Well kinda, it is perfect as a mechanism but there’s a lot of operations — and more operations means more parts and more parts means more chance for an instrument to break down (like it happens with the Rotring 800+) and it also makes a pen a little heavy on the back. Even so, the original Rotring 600 Trio materials are old-school, they don’t break, the unbalance can be negligible when a component is activated, so it’s almost the greatest multi pen on earth…

Almost because gravity multi pens are “clonky”. You will never silence those annoying little noises inside the pen (not without magnetic nano materials i guess, eh). The components need the slightest space inside to drop and when you hold the pen, you feel them moving or they tic against the sides of the shaft.

So Zebra, one of the best pen makers on the planet, makes the right choice and goes for a continuous rotating mechanism, like 1-2-3-1-…

But when you switch the body in a 1-2-3-1 scheme there is no stop, there is no fully retracted position eventually with that same soft, reassuring, silent landing “stop” that happens when you activate a component, which is one of the great qualities of the Sharbo-X. So what happens is that when you want to retract the components, you have to leave it mid way between any two stops. It sort of hangs there. And the pen never rests.

Now, in my mind there’s 2 possible solutions to have a null stop in a rotation mechanism. Either a blank stop after each position 1-0-2-0-3-0 (probably very annoying to use) or a 1-2-3-0 which I think would be perfectly acceptable since you can rotate the body backwards… in reality only component 2 would be two turns away from 0: <3><0<>1<>2>. :slight_smile:

PS: Lamy solved this in a duo pen, but it doesn’t rotate, you use the pen around a central resting position 1<0>2. if you move further it screws or unscrews the body. It is perfect, no? Not sure how their trio pens work because I’ve never had any with me. I’m kind of a multi-pen fan I realise now.

PS#2: Sorry for the long post, but I wouldn’t dare reviving such an old thread for less, ahah. It also took me an entire bloody morning to write this thing. I should be painting or whatever. Have a nice weekend!


Yes, this is a common complaint. I really don’t know why Zebra never upgraded the Sharbo X to have a retracted detent. They did introduce it in the Surari model, though. I posted about it HERE.

But I agree, the Sharbo X series is a very nicely done multi-pen design. Personally, I’m perfectly happy with 3 inserts. But you can get 4 in the TS10. It’s a heavier multi-pen. And it’s tragically much more expensive. In any case, I’ve heard feedback on it and not as good as with the Sharbo X LT3 / ST3 series.

I like the Surari, but it’s not as attractive to me as the Sharbo X. Its advantages are being a little thinner, a metal end cap, and the detent for retracted. But that “bullet” shaped nose cone is not as appealing to me as conical. I also don’t like the fact that chrome furniture has no alternative. There’s no matte silver / gray / black options.


I remember discussing the detent situation with Cytherian a few months ago (maybe in this thread?)
In any case, after using the TF12 and the craft design technology sharbos I have no complaints about their usability. Even if it doesn’t obviously “click” into place, I’ve never had the problem of the mechanism being left half retracted.

Since the TF12 became discontinued and relatively rare (although some still appear in mercari) I decided to stop carrying it around and buy two more production models for common use. I bought a black ST3 and a grey TS10, both are greatly discounted on amazon (TS10 is down to 5800 JPY from a MSRP of 11000). I’ll update here my thoughts on them after they arrive.

BTW I recently learned that there is an extra model which isn’t in zebra’s website called AL5. It seems very similar to the ST3 but I guess that, like the other 5000 yen models, the difference is in the finish. I think this one is made out of aluminium? I’m not sure. I also don’t know to which model the craft design technology sharbo corresponds to, I’d say it’s either the ST3 or AL5…