Monday, June 6, 2022

REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

From the UK comes Wingback, a small and relatively young EDC-focused brand with a strong focus on creating sustainable, durable products that last, manufactured on UK soil! 

Wingback's commitment to sustainability and durability is immediately noticeable when unpacking their flagship writing products: the Wingback Mechanical Pen and Mechanical Pencil. No materials are wasted on packaging, as the pens come wrapped in a simple but durable Wingback-branded cloth sleeve - ecological, saves on shipping, and practical too. I like it! 

In the hand, the solid metal construction of both pen and pencil immediately gives off a feeling of longevity. Though small in size, the pen and pencil have a surprising amount of density  (especially the Mechanical Pen!) and substance to them, in part due to the all-custom, fully metal internal mechanisms. 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The design is kept very minimal, with a clear industrial and rugged look due to the knurled elements and pronounced, crisp chamfered edges all around. The surface of the mechanical pen(cil) is kept in its 'raw' machined state, you'll still be able to pick up on the CNC machining lines - which are extremely clean and precise. Going clipless is the only option here, so some uncontrolled rolling around on your desk is to be expected.

Wingback's entire product portfolio (which isn't super extensive, but still) is characterized by the same design language. Pronounced knurling, industrial rugged designs, and three distinct colorways to choose from: raw brass, raw stainless steel, or black-coated steel (a tough tungsten-carbide coating). Even some of their leather goods feature machined metal accents that tie their product designs together. I quite enjoy that level of consistency.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
... Although there's also one inconsistency on the Mechanical Pen that does look somewhat out of place. There's a subtle, yet noticeable (both tactile and visual) difference between the knurling on the section and the twist mechanism of the pen. The section's texture is less deeply cut and less aggressive to your fingers. It still adds some grip (though not as much as with more pronounced knurling), and it's more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time. Yet I don't quite understand why they didn't just match the texture on the twist mechanism.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Tactile Turn Glider, Ensso Giro, Karas EDK, Modern Fuel Pen, Wingback Mechanical Pen, Wingback Mechanical Pencil, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
The Wingback Mechanical Pen and Pencil are much smaller than I originally anticipated. I guess it's just one of those designs that don't really convey scale very well in pictures. Hence, the above size comparison ought to bring some clarification. As you can see, Wingback's pen design is quite compact in nature, hovering in-between full-sized and truly pocket-sized pens.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
So, how 'pocketable' are we talking then? Both Mechanical Pen and Pencil share identical dimensions: 11.8cm (4.64") in length and 10 mm (0.39") in diameter. They do differ in weight, though. The pencil is the lightest, as the much larger mechanism takes up most of the internal space, whereas the pen is machined much thicker on the inside (which is what gives the pen that very dense feeling!). This translates into a weight of around 37 grams for the pencil (still by no means light for such a compact pencil!) and 50 grams for the pen. Of course, the choice between steel or brass will also make a slight difference (the brass options being heavier), though it'll only differ a few grams.

In terms of comfort, the more compact size of the Mechanical Pen and Pencil is noticeable but not bothersome. For my average-sized hands, neither pen nor pencil felt too short or uncomfortable to hold. You still get a writing experience similar to that of a full-sized pen. It's worth pointing out that the knurled section - while comfortable in diameter - sits quite far back on the barrel, so you'll tend to grip the pen a bit further back. For people with larger hands, that may make the difference between a comfortable pen, and one that disappears in your hand.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Wingback Mechanical Pen is outfitted with a custom-made, solid metal, twist mechanism. It unscrews at the back (which is also how you change the refill) and is held securely in place with a rubber o-ring. The mechanism turns smoothly without play and has a very satisfying snap when it clicks into place. 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Pen comes equipped with a pressurized ("writes in all conditions") Fisher Space pen refill, and I have to say either Fisher upped their game or I've become more lenient towards ballpoint refills because I'm quite enjoying the writing experience. Granted, I'm still not a huge fan of ballpoint refills, but this one does lay down a smooth and relatively dark line of ink. Perhaps a bit more consistent than the average ballpoint pen, though still not quite as consistent as I'd like (hence, why I gravitate towards gel refills most of the time). Unfortunately, the Fisher Space refill is proprietary, so there's not a lot of leeway in terms of alternatives that will fit in the Wingback Mechanical Pen.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
The Mechanical Pencil - just like the pen - also comes with an impressive custom-made internal mechanism. All-metal parts, again solidly put together with little to no play or rattle between the parts, and the knock has a nice soft click action. The tip also has a retractable lead pipe, an essential feature for an EDC pencil that's bound to live in your pocket. 

Refilling the pencil requires some disassembly, but Wingback deliberately designed the mechanism so that you don't have to refill it very often. The large mechanism holds an absurd amount of spare leads inside (the website says 40 pieces for the 0.7mm mechanism, which seems about right), so you can basically drop in an entire tube of fresh leads and be good to go for ages... well, depending on how much you write or sketch of course! 
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL
So there you have it: my first encounter with Wingback's products, and quite a positive one I must add. I appreciate their "Buy once" philosophy, and find that it is truly reflected in the impeccable production quality of their Mechanical Pen and Pencil. In terms of EDC, I have no doubt these pens will serve well for years to come. 

Pricing starts at 95 GBP (around 110€/ 120$) for either Pen or Pencil. A substantial price tag, but one that I feel is justified by the excellent build quality, and the fact that these products are made locally in the UK. The black steel version adds a specialized tungsten-carbide coating, which ups the price to a rather hefty 140 GBP (165€/ 175$)! 

As it stands, the Mechanical Pen and Pencil are the only writing-related products in Wingback's catalog, though I hope they'll expand the range further in their design style... perhaps with a full-sized pen, or even a fountain pen? That'd be neat.

Note: This product was provided by Wingback, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW: WINGBACK MECHANICAL PEN & PENCIL

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