Put them side-by-side, and the Retro 51 Hex-o-matic looks a lot like an ‘everyday carry‘ version of the Retro 51 Tornado. But really, aside from the knurled-metal end, the two pens share little similarity. The Hex-o-matic is thin, clickable, and durable. It has a matted, hexagonal body with a round, knurled grip, and it has an overall shape that is reminiscent of a syringe. Its metal construction gives it a nice bit of weight, and, like almost everything Retro 51 produces, I like it a lot.
One of the more remarkable aspects of the Hex-o-matic is actually its packaging. It is fairly intricate, as if it were designed by an origami expert, which makes for a great first impression. But unlike the Tornado’s packaging, which doubles as a pen holder, this elaborately-folded cardboard tube is ultimately useless. I’ll soon be tossing it in the recycling bin as I wonder, “how much did this packaging add to the cost of the pen?”
The Hex-o-matic comes loaded with a Schmidt Easy Flow 9000 ballpoint refill, which is the same refill used by the Retro 51 Slim Tornado. It’s definitely good; much smoother and darker than a typical ballpoint, though it smears more than it ought. However, since it is a pen that seems built for ‘on-the-go’ usage, I really wish it came with a pressurized ink refill, such as the one that comes with the Fisher Space Pen. Unfortunately, that particularly refill doesn’t quite fit, at least without modification.
At $28, the Hex-0-matic feels a little expensive, especially when a decent metal pen like the Pentel Energel Alloy RT is under $10. But now having used the Hex-0-matic a while, I find it competing for pocket space against the Everyman Grafton, a favorite of mine (that costs even a little bit more money). So if you want a nice, durable pen to throw in your pocket as you run daily errands, this pen is a very good choice.
- The Hex-0-matic is also available with a silver barrel, but this post at The Well-Appointed Desk also shows white and orange versions. Where can I find one of these beauties? Also, she has some suggestions for alternative refills for the Hex-o-matic.
- Reviews at The Clicky Post and Economy Pens are both positive, but they also call out the price as seemingly expensive.
- If you’re curious about the mechanical pencil version of the Hex-0-matic, the youTube channel Clutch Situation has a video review.
3 thoughts on “Review: Retro 51 Hex-o-matic, Ballpoint, Medium”
I should say, it’s almost a complete copy of rOtring 600 pencil design, or Rapid Pro.
I’ve heard those are good. Unfortunately, I don’t have much use for pencils… maybe someday.