Being products of the digital age means that we often forget about how things used to be. For most of us, pens and pencils have gone the way of the dinosaur. When we want to communicate, we generally do so via email, text, or FaceTime. When we want to take notes, there are a literal smorgasbord of apps that make it possible.
And that’s a shame. We’ve lost a lot in the digital age, and solid notes are one of those things. It’s important to have a notebook or a journal, and it’s doubly important to have the proper writing utensils. If you’re looking for the best of the best, look no further than a solid mechanical pencil. Erase your mistakes, jot down notes in style, and add a personal touch to your daily life that’s probably long since been removed.
Here are 8 of our favorite mechanical pencils:
By far the most affordable—and widely purchased—entry on this list, the Uni-Ball KuruToga is little more than an average mechanical pencil. It’s under six bucks to own one, but that six bucks makes all the difference the minute you hold it in your hand. It features the same rotating lead mechanism that you’ll find in most of the higher-end mechanical pencils, as well as exclusive diamond-infused #2 lead that keeps lines dark and crisp, all at a price that damn near anyone can afford. We carry ours everywhere.$8
One of the more affordable options on this list, the Alvin Draft-Matic is a crowd favorite because it’s a world-class mechanical pencil in a small, unassuming package that won’t cost an arm and a leg to replace if it gets lost or misplaced (or “borrowed” by a colleague—fuck you, Mark). The knurled metal grip and butt feel sturdy, but the plastic barrel ensures that it’s not too weighted.$11
Caran d’Ache is a Swiss-based manufacturer of office and school equipment, as well as superbly crafted luxury writing instruments. In fact, they’re the company that started it all. In 1929, they released the world’s very first mechanical pencil, the Fixpencil. Still sold today, the Fixpencil sports an elegant and simple body, and features a clutch mechanism and sharpener in the cap, which means your writing stays as sharp as it was intended. For 24 bucks, it’s an excellent value.$24
Simple, beautiful, and exceptionally high quality—that’s exactly what you can expect from the Cross Classic Century Classic Black mechanical pencil. It’s sleek and thin, and features a black body and tube with tasteful gold accents and a thin .7 mm head. It’s perfect for tasteful professionals or even just people who take their daily thoughts and to-do lists seriously. One thing that stands out about Cross Pencils that we absolutely love is that they offer a lifetime mechanical guarantee on all their products, even though you’ll probably never need to use it.$45
First and foremost, the E-Motion by Faber Castell is one of the most beautifully designed pencils on this list. While the wide body chrome and wood finish are beautiful and exceptionally comfortable, it’s important to remember that this is a Faber-Castell—one of the largest and oldest manufacturers of pens, pencils, and office supplies on the entire planet, known the world over for their impeccable engineering and classically German attention to detail. People really enjoy the thicker 1.4 mm lead the E-Motions take because they aren’t brittle and are great for on-the-go, everyday use. One of the Amazon reviewers even mentioned that she purchased this to replace the exact same model her husband had purchased for her 15 years prior. If that’s not a testament to the quality of these pencils, we don’t know what is.$49
If we’re being honest, there isn’t a single pencil that Rotring makes that we aren’t big fans of. That said, if we had to pick just one to last you for years and years of devout service and trusted quality, it’d be their beautiful 800 series. The top-of-the-line “twist and click” retractable mechanism means that the entire sleeve and lead come apart in order to ensure pocket safety and prolonged durability. The pen also features an ergonomic barrel to prevent hand fatigue, as well as a brass mechanism for accurate lead movement at all times. There are several different Rotring pencils, but we prefer the 800 for its all-metal body and twist and click mechanism.$74
This mechanical pencil is by far the most beautiful writing instrument we’ve ever seen. Knurled grips and butt with a hexagonal all-metal barrel, the Loclen stole our hearts because we honestly don’t think we’ve ever seen something so elegant and distinguished built to look so damn tough. Everything on the pencil is dull and brushed except the nose cone and clip, which come shiny and polished. The pencil itself is technically called “Black,” but features more of a gunmetal than anything. Either way you cut it, it’s absolutely gorgeous.$118
No, that’s not a typo. The very same people who brought the world the 911, Carrera GT, and 550 Spyder also produce some of the world’s finest and most beautifully designed watches, menswear, computers (seriously, they make computers), eyewear, pens and mechanical pencils. The Mikado is one of our favorites because aside from being sleek, modern, and absolutely gorgeous, it also has features an intricate feeding system that uses over 17 individual small-diameter rods to position the lead down into place. It’s awfully expensive at nearly $300, but it’s the kind of design and engineering that you could only expect from the Porsche name.$295