There is a tipping point in this hobby when you realize you have hit the point of no return. Where that point is is different for everyone. For some, it is spending $20 on a pen. For others, $200. For me, with wooden pencils, it is when I spent over $5 for a wood pencil. And I liked it.
The pencil in question is the Swiss Wood Pencil from Caran d’Ache, the venerable Swiss maker of high end stationery and related accessories. I’m a fan of the brand, and have had good experiences with the few pens I have tried.
Caran d’Ache spares no expense in their product offerings - the Matterhorn Sharpening Machine is a great example - and this includes the Swiss Wood pencil. When the product description states “made from FSC-certified Grovelier beech wood from the Jura mountains of northwestern Switzerland” you know it is going to hit you right in the pocketbook. The question is “Is it worth it?”
Short answer: Absolutely.
The exterior design of the pencil is stunning. The beech wood is as dark as you will see in a pencil that isn’t dyed, and the natural color shows through the lightly applied clear coat. I’m a fan of eraserless wooden pencils, especially those with dipped ends like this. The red paint marked with the Swiss flag is a wonderful touch.
In use, I don’t think I’ve found a pencil in the HB range with point retention as good as this. Along with graphite darkness, that is the most important factor I look for in a wood pencil. My lines are sharp and smooth, and I don’t dull out the tip and have to sharpen nearly as often as I do with other pencils.
The final, and possibly the most talked about, feature of the Swiss Wood pencil is its scent. Most pencils are made from a variety of cedar wood and give off that classic pencil smell, like a pile of fresh pencil shavings. The beech wood of this pencil, however, gives off a unique scent that is honestly hard to pin down. The description calls it nutmeg, but I, and others, have caught whiffs of chocolate, cola, and even soy sauce. Regardless, I like it, and you can even pick up the scent when you are near the pencil, or catch a trace on your fingers after you are done writing.
Great products come in all price ranges. You can find amazing pencils that will give you everything you need for a dollar or less. What makes the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood stand out from the pack is its superior quality, design, performance, and uniqueness. Is that worth five times what you would normally pay for a pencil? The number of times I reach for this pencil over other models tells me that it is.
(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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