Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rotring 600 Mechanical Pencil Review

Rotring 600 Mechanical Pencil Review

For a while now I have been in contact with Ovidiu from Romania who is a fellow collector of mechanical pencils. I’ve been twisting his arm to write a guest review for my blog, and eventually he succumbed to the pressure, and so, here is his review of the Rotring 600 mechanical pencil.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil
For some years after I got into collecting mechanical pencils, the Rotring 600 was something of a myth for me. Very hard to find at that time and quite expensive, this pencil was and still is considered by many, the definition of a drafting, professional mechanical pencil.

Rotring pencil instruction sheet
My pencil was bought from Japan and it arrived in a small, black cardboard box, along with a sheet of paper that quite amusing is entitled “Manual”. In fact, Rotring and Manual are the only words intelligible to me, because the actual instructions are written in Japanese. This manual seems to apply also to the cheaper Rotring 500 and Rotring 300 models and explains, as I figured from the picture, how you can insert the leads into the mechanical pencil’s inner tube.
Rotring 600 box
On the box it’s written Sanford GmbH – Hamburg, Germany, so this pencil is surely made after 1998, when Sanford bought Rotring. This text is the only thing that betrays the German connection of the Rotring 600, because, as far as I know, this pencil is only available in Japan stores and most likely it is also Japan made.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil tip section
The first impression when you hold the Rotring 600 for the first time is how well it is made, is like a solid block of metal, with no wobbling parts. The body is brushed silver aluminium (there is also a black model), with the traditional (for drafting pencils) knurled grip with rhombus pattern and continues with the 4mm fixed sleeve, so we can’t talk about pocket safety here. The grip itself is nice, not too rough to hurt your fingers with long term use and also provides a pretty good grip. The central part of the body has a hexagonal shape, in a design effort to link somehow this modern pencil with the older wooden pencils. The hexagonal body also gives this pencil more stability when you write with it. The body is continued with a rounded part where the clip and the lead hardness indicator are located. The clip itself is nice and sturdy, made from the same brushed aluminium as the pencil with the Rotring inscription embossed, another nice touch, that gives class and elegance. The lead hardness indicator is in fact a knurled ring and is the standard twist mechanism that helps you choose the hardness of the leads you are using. You have enough values to choose from : 4H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B. Around the top, it’s the classic red ring, a trademark of the Rotring writing instruments.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil end cap
The cap is standard, also made of brushed aluminium like the rest of the pencil and it hides a small eraser. It also has the information about the lead size embossed on the top. I was surprised not to see a needle under the eraser, but I then I have never had problems with lead jams so far.

Disassembled view Rotring 600 mechanical pencil
The mechanism is a standard push top ratchet advance, with a very positive, loud “click” which I like. Ten clicks will give you around 7mm of lead which I think is an ideal length for 0.5mm lead.

I have used the Rotring 600 many times, for writing mostly and very rarely for quick drawing. The feeling is that of a solid instrument, one that won’t let you down. It is very well put together, you don’t feel any play in the mechanism. The weight is very well distributed, with the center of gravity somewhere around the centre of the pencil. Personally, I prefer the weight to be distributed towards the grip, but that’s just me… that’s probably why I like Ohto Super Promecha so much. The grip can feel a little slippery after long periods of writing sessions. The brushed texture of the body guarantees that the pencil will remain scratch free for a long period of time, with minimal care.

All in all a fantastic, almost perfect pencil with a technical, robust and simple design, a real trendsetter at the time it was launched, and one that I highly recommend.
  • Best points: The design and build quality, the history behind it.
  • Not so good points: You have to be very picky to find something wrong with it, but honestly I wished a thicker grip.
Dimensions:
Length: 142mm
Thickness: 9 mm (the hexagonal barrel across points), 7mm diameter for the grip.

Price range: Medium

OK, thanks Ovidiu. I’ll look forward to something about the Ohto Super Promecha in the future :-)

Link to Rotring 600 Model Identification
.

139 comments:

Slywy said...

I've bought drafting pencils just because I liked the look and without knowing anything about them. I presume the non-wobbly fixed sleeve is for precision when creating, say, architectural drawings (I'm not even sure I picture how a draughtsman holds the pencil). What is the purpose of the knurled grip? (Really bad for writing, as I found! But obviously good for its intended purpose.)

Ovidiu said...

Thank you David!

Slywy, you're a little tough on drafting pencils :). Of course, any evaluation of a mechanical pencil is in fact subjective. Some may like a certain pencil, while others don't. Non-wobbly sleeve helps in any situation, not just when you draw with a pencil but also when you write with it because it gives you precision when you use it. The purpose of knurled grip is, of course, to ensure a better grip of the pencil :). I like the Rotring600 grip quite a bit, it's ideal for drawing and also for not very long writing sessions.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Slywy
A brief reply about drafting pencils…and one that risks starting much debate :-)

The long sleeve is to assist when running the pencil along a ruler or a drawing template of pre-cut shapes, etc. It aids good vision, ensures you can run precisly along the guide, etc. Sleeve rigidity obviously assists precise start and finish points, etc.

Controlled (and constant) line thickness is an important aspect of such drafting work.

In the days of “thick leads” (e.g. 2mm) and clutch pencil type leadholders the leads had to be constantly sharpened, the pencil held at an angle to the paper and slowly rotated as you drew to keep the line thickness constant, etc. The round grip assisted pencil rotation. Having it knurled assisted in maintaining a good grip over long periods of use.

The development of thin leads (e.g.0.5mm) changed things. Now the thickness of the line was the lead diameter. Now instead of being held at an angle to the paper the lead had to be held perpendicular to the paper to avoid chisel edge and variable (uncontrollled) line thickness. Pencil rotation and lead sharpening were no longer necessary. On that basis you could argue the round knurled grips are no longer necessary and just tradition. However round knurled grips still provide a solid non-slip grip for extended use. Granted many find them aggressive on the fingers.

Of course the long rigid lead sleeve is still a requirement.

2nd_astronaut said...

IIRC I learned to rotate even 0.5mm pencils at the drawing course at university.

Anyway... What are the alternatives to the knurly grip? (Please don't say rubber grip, philistines :-) ). An unstructured metal surface is often quite slippy.

[eulogy]
If I had to choose one MP, at this time it would be the 600. I like the look, touch, weight, balance, length, diameter. It has enough quality to give pleasure for a long time, and it is not so expensive that you have to worry about it too much.
[\eulogy]

Anonymous said...

Over 15 years ago I found a Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic .5 and fell in love. It was the perfect pencil. Over the years the threads in the barrel wore down and eventually became unusable. It was not until recently that I discovered that the same basic model can be found in the Rotring 600 but with much better materials. This is the holy grail. The perfect mechanical pencil. I have been trying to replace my old Rapidomatic with every cool mechanical pencil I could find until I found the Rotring. I'm glad you have a review up with a nice gallery attached. Thanks.

Kiwi-d said...

Hi 2nd.
What was the reason for rotating the 0.5mm?

Anonymous said...

Been using one of these for about 15 years.

Brought it for scoring music.

Fantastic piece of equipment, be lost without it.

2nd_Astronaut said...

Kiwi-d, the reason for rotating was the same as you wrote: to have a constant line thickness and color. Of course the variance is smaller than with a 2mm lead holder, but still visible.

Anonymous (1): In fact, Koh-I-Noor has a Rotring 600, too (only without the Rotring :-) ). Here is a photo from Germ: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_m1Y1qAR4UB0/SXEgdkG62cI/AAAAAAAAA5A/Qzuk6_VXgR0/s1600-h/Kohinoor5640.jpg
and one from Dennis:
http://www.leadholder.com/assets/lh-thin/kohinoor/kin-5640.jpg
But, they are harder to find than Rotring 600s, so it's only worth the effort from a collecting point of view.

B2-kun said...

Nice review of a fine looking drafting pencil. While I regret not getting one when I was back in school, I find a few of the currently available Japanese drafting pencils a bit more appealing.

Anonymous said...

Comments lost on Guestbook 3?

Anyway:
"Where did all the RR-600s go"?
I collected some :-)
http://www4.pic-upload.de/23.02.10/1l557nvzhzgz.jpg

-Arne (Hamburg)

Kiwi-d said...

Hi 2nd. If you hold the 0.5mm perpendicular to the paper there cannot be any variation in line thickness, hence no purpose in twirling. So I guess you were taught a drawing style where you didn't hold the pencil perpendicular?

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Arne - sorry, that site won't diplay for me - says "Site don't allowed".

2nd_Astronaut said...

Kiwi, your guess is right: we held the pencils at "normal" writing angles. I have to add, that this drafting course was just over one term (and felt quite archaic in times of CAD).

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, this should work.
Just a little snapshot
http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/206/1l557nvzhzgz.jpg

-Arne
:)

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Arne, yep that works.
CRIKEY!!!!!!!
How may 600's you got? Do you just stick to 600's or have you cornered the market in some other commodity too?

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave, I have about 20 pencils, some fountain pens, ballpoints, rollerballs and trio-pens but there are still gaps to be closed.

In addition, I have 800s from Japan with 2 mm lead and of course the funny FAKE wannebe, bought via ebay at Andrey's Pencil Shop (Moscow).

I also collect Elysees und the nice stuff from Japan as OHTO, Pentel etc.

-Arne
:)

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Arne
Care to be more specific about the exact fake, i.e. a link?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Dave, no links anymore.

But I kept the picture from Andrey's shop and combined it with this fresh macro shot.
This is no rotring (= red ring), this is a cheap red rubber ring, no precision there. Look yourself:

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/9374/imgp7766bsdiv.jpg

-Arne
:)

Kiwi-d said...

Cool!
Tomato brand pencils :-)

2nd_Astronaut said...

Hi Arne,
I also bought this Tomato -- it is really of inferior quality:
- totally different touch (more smooth surface, also the grip is slippy)
- too small font for the lead degree
- on my pencil the lead degree ring is deformed (it moves around at some rotation angles, while it is nearly impossible to rotate to other positions)

So it is not an identical twin like Rapidomatic, but a low-quality clone :-/

1962PENCILS said...

Thanks Ovidiu for reviewing the rOtring 600. Well done, great photos!
The 600 series is an iconic family of writing instruments, one of my all time favorite, i have a few myself, including this one. The major difference between this Japanese edition and previous ones is the metallic lead reservoir which is made of plastic in older models. If only they have used the old style imprints (which i like better) instead of having only the lead size showing in the barrel ...this would be the best 600 series ever made!
If you look carefully to the instructions sheet, at the bottom, before the addresses and the phone numbers, you can read the Name "Holbein", which i think to be the company that bought Sanford's the rights to produce the recent "N500", "600" and "800" series in Japan. The 800 series is actually the old 600 series with gold trims and double action mechanisms, i think these (recent) 800's never existed before.
Also, rOtring is still alive (besides these Japanese releases), the brand was not terminated by Sanford. I heard that "Aristo", an Austrian brand that once belonged to rOtring, had bought it and they were about to reintroduce it worldwide, i am not 100% sure of this, i heard it from a local retailer i know. Coincidence or not, i came across some new "Aristo" products also made in Japan. Lets hope this to be true, maybe they could reintroduce others like the 700 and the high end "Altro" series, that would be great.

Ricardo.

2nd_Astronaut said...

Ricardo, just from memory so to be taken with caution: I think the model name 800 is new indeed, but there were 600G models available earlier.

Thanks for the interesting info on the differences between "old oldstyle" and "new oldstyle" (japanese) 600s. I read elsewhere that the old ones have better quality -- so you disagree with that statement? (I own only recent RRs).

@Dave: Had to smile at the tool-tip of the last photo :-)

Kiwi-d said...

2nd - thanks for noticing the tool-tip. I have recently become aware that many browsers were not displaying my tool-tips, so this time I read more and did it so hopefully all browsers should display it.

1962PENCILS said...

Hi 2nd_Astronaut,
"...I think the model name 800 is new indeed,"
- As you say, these were previously known as the 600G, i also said 600's with Gold trims!

"I read elsewhere that the old ones have better quality -- so you disagree with that statement? (I own only recent RRs)."
- As i said, the only difference i can find between old style and recent Japanese models is the lead reservoir which is made out of metal in the new 600's (Ovidiu's photos show it clearly) and was plastic in all previous editions, that is why i say this is the best 600's series ever made As they were already perfect maybe this was the only component they could upgrade, besides that they are exactly the same, i cannot see or "feel" any differences between them, maybe the new models are a bit heavier because of that extra metal component, as i don't have a precision scale to check this, i cannot say exactly how much they wight, if Japanese 600's are indeed heavier (as i suspect they are) then the difference is very small, i cannot feel it just by holding the pencils.

Ricardo

Ovidiu said...

Thanks Ricardo :). Very interesting info about the Rotring family. You're right, the Rotring 800 is for sure produced and sold only in Japan. Who makes them, and the other Rotring models like 600 and 500, if it's "Holbein" or other firm, remains a mistery I guess. I hope too that the Rotring name and products will live on, will see what the future brings.

Dave, it seems that all modern browsers (IE8, Opera10, Google Chrome 4 and Firefox 3.5), at least these last versions support tool tips.

Kiwi-d said...

Ovidiu - yes, the problem was essentially my (common?) misunderstanding of the use of alt and title text for images, as some browsers display alt text in the absence of title text, others don't, etc. End result, different people saw different things. Me too when I started viewing my own blog with different browsers, and different versions of the same browser.

2nd_astroaut said...

Oooohh, it must be Alzheimer, the difference thing between old and new ones were already discussed at penciltalk, where I read it some time ago...

BTW, there is also the weight difference given: 22.7 to 21.7 grams.

BTW2: In this old brochure http://www.leadholder.com/ad-rotring_600-ad-barry_jones-final2.html
a hexagonal trio pen is shown. I think it is even nicer than the one kiwi-d has (sorry) :-)

2nd_astroaut said...

Wanted to also link sth else I saw at penciltalk:
http://img.levenger.com/is/image/Levenger/AP0845_0408?rgn=0,0,1914,1914&wid=800&hei=800&op_usm=0.5,1.0,0.0,0

I like the hexagonal push knob, but I won't look for one of these after the bad experience with the Tomato :-/

2nd_astronaut

Anonymous said...

@2nd_astronaut
Kiwi-d's trio pen is just a rotring Newton trio, the older (hexagonal) ones were named rotring 600 trio (knurled) and it's unknurled successor rotring 600 Newton. The brochure shows the old one and they are really rare and expensive @ebay
I have three silver 600 Newton trios, one came with a rotring wristwatch in hexagonal shape.

-Arne
:)

Kiwi-d said...

Oh, I'm totally deflated now, demoted to "...just a...".
:-)

It's a good thing it's only 1 hour to Beer O'clock on a Friday evening in my time zone.

Germ said...

I have to say, for a pencil that costs this much, new at the store, it MUST HAVE an all metal advance mechanism. why i likely will never get one.
but i do have to say, they are way cool.

Ovidiu said...

Speaking of Rotring being alive and well in Japan, have you seen the new Rotring Rapid Pro? Very nice!

Kiwi-d said...

Hi 1962Pencils - interesting comment re Aristo and Rotring. Aristo were part of Rotring but seperated many years ago, and then Rotring became part of Sanford in 1998. The Sanford website still lists Rotring as one of their brands and a quick search of Press Releases, etc on their site brings up no mention of any sale of Rotring. A quick Google search on Rotring and Aristo doesn't bring up any news either.

Of course the sale may still be pending and "secret", or it may all be rumour. Let's face it, no one seems to know what Sanford do with their brands! Since Sanford openly license out their brands, I wonder if perhaps it was more of a case of Aristo starting to brand some of their products for Rotring, etc?

Kiwi-d said...

Well this big long comment list would really benefit from threaded comments. Unfortunately Blogger doesn't have a native feature for this. I was looking into Disqus, and installed it on my test Blog, but it has failed to import the existing comments, so thats not looking good. Perhaps their support staff will be able to help, we'll see. Otherwise I'll just have to wait for Blogger to introduce threaded comments, which I feel sure they must be working on.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Dave, :HAL:

I was only whinging at a high level ;-)

Here is the gift set mentioned above
http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/3923/imgp7783bs.jpg

I will sell it on ebay.

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

I had good use out of my 0.7mm Rotring 600, but I had a tendency to hold it where the knurled area and the hexagonal barrel join. That's one reason why I like the unregarded Zebra Drafix series - very long grip area, grip it where you like. Having said that, I found I tend to grip lower when doing "precise" work, higher when scribbling notes, and the 600 is more suited to the former than the latter.

- PointFour

Fernando said...

I owned this mechanical pencil during muy engeneering studies (both silver and black body). I think it had a innovative design which definitely started a family many have followed (Staedtler, Ohto and other guys).

To be honest I must say that it had a few points to be improven:

1.- It was not made of steel or aluminium (as many people thinks), it was made of some kind of coated brass. With a continuous use, appears a goldened colour even more in the grip zone. Not many people has used it long enough to find this!

2.- The tip is not retractable, so it could get easily damaged during the long technical drawing sessions.

3.- It was not possible to fix the lead grade indicator (not many mechanical pencils had it in those years), so it could be accidentaly moved quite easily. This indicator was almost useless.

4.- In quick writting, the grip was to rough, so it became uncomfortable after a long class writting.

In my opinion, it was a great mechanicla pencil, but not the fetish, or ultimate pencil it has become over the years (I think the same as the Beatles).

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks for your comments Fernando.

ray said...

I just ordered a rotring 800 .5mm in black... my first rotring, I hope its everything I expect it to be. lol.... I don't need it, I just want it for now.. might come in real handy when i start my engineering courses.

So far i love my Staedtler 925-25-20 2.0mm automatic lead holder. and my VERY old classic zebra uh Z-01? or whatever it is.. that black and silver tool. been with me since JHS, the clip broke :D

@Aren, is it possible that you post up the ebay link? i may be very interested in a pen like that... well the watch too :P geek factor!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ray,
it'll take a while before offering, I think december will be the best opportunity for me.
If you want a 600, visit ebay germany, you can use your normal login
www.ebay.de

Because they were manufactured here there are lots of offers, some even in mint condition for less than 20 EUR
Or what about a 600 tie pin? ebay-no
230443130103 :-))

If you need help - just ask here.

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

Does the 800 version have a lead indicator?
-technopencil

Anonymous said...

To judge by these pictures, presumably not:
http://www.pencils.jp/product/190

-A.
:)

Anonymous said...

I just ordered an 800 gold/black 0.7mm Rotring from Andre's auction. The description says made in Germany and the photo looks authentic — much like the 600, without the cheesy bits in the photo posted early marked "fake."

Anonymous said...

I just received my Lava Rotring 600 retractable point (excruciatingly expensive at $165, I think.)

I was severely disappointed due to the amount of play / slop in the barrel when the lead cone was extended and about 2mm of lead extended.

The fix: used a 4mm diameter o-ring inside the sleeve to eliminate the slop. This took a bit of time to position correctly and to ensure the mechanism won't bind. So far it works like a swiss watch on ruby journal bearings :).

I would have returned the venerable 600 series if I couldn't fix the slop. (I'm anal that way). But that worked beautifully and I'm on my way to writing architect's calligraphy once again.

:)

Anonymous said...

Can you show us a picture of this precious lava pencil and the o-ring?
I have three of them. 0,5mm twice and 0,7mm. None shows your problem.

btw: nice to read too:

http://www.penciltalk.org/2009/07/knurly-the-rotring-600-mechanical-pencil

-Arne
:)

ray said...

I just got my 800 0,5mm in black and gold...

The retractable tip has slight play, nothing noticeable while writing, however if you wiggle it, its there... the slop annoys me and i want to figure out how to fix it.

the clip kinda annoys me but i dont want to remove it.

the black finish is perfect, i am almost certain this pen is 99% metal and 1% plastic somewhere... i dont know how to fully disassemble it.

what can i say, its my second favorite... next to my 925 25 20 staedtler (i think it would have been better if the price was lower... staedtler wins in my mind because of price / performance over the rotring.)

overall, this pencil is great for the rotring lover i think, idk what you guys would pay for this thing., perhaps the 600 is more worth the money since it doesnt have any play at all?

ray said...

oh and no lead indicator.. but that wont bother me as i only really have 2b lead... pentel ain 2b.. mmmmmmmm buttery.

font9a said...

I used a rubber o-ring doubled in half on the lower part of the advance tube in my Lava 600 — then I put a tiny drop of 3-in-one oil on it. It cured the slop, and made me whole again.

I would have abandoned the 600s if not for this fix. But I love Rotrings like nothing else.

I used an o-ring from a left over mountain bike suspension seal. But there are o-ring resellers all over the web.

Good luck!

— c

ray said...

so a lightly lubricated o-ring...

I really want to see a picture of what you did :( lol

Anonymous said...

Hi Ray,

here is my rotring 600 0,7mm in black and gold... and with a lead indicator, see insert on top of the picture.

The retractable tip has no play

the clip is perfect to me.


The black finish is perfect.


What can I say, I like my 925 25 20 Staedtler too :-D

See the prices I payed in the picture. Shipping costs were on top.

http://www4.pic-upload.de/11.03.10/ytpu8gae2i76.jpg

ray said...

wow so the tip is fully retractable like the 800 AND it has a lead indicator?? damn I GOT RIPPED OFF! lol!

jk, i love my 800 just gotta figure out how to snug up the tip.

ray said...

btw just want to make clear that by "play" i mean it feels like its a separate piece from the grip/body (which might be normal and i am just being anal about this)

so your 600 retractable tip feels like one solid piece under both writing and physically moving the tip situations? if this is true i have to find one to check and its true to my standards, i must have one. :( lol

mine only feels one piece while writing, but when i hold the knurl grip and wiggle the tip, its clear its two pieces.

for now gotta think about the faber emotion or lamy scribble, and a lava fountain.... with gold... :P

and i want to say that your pencil collection is quite.. impressive.

sorry admin for just posting and posting and posting.. lol

Anonymous said...

Of course there ist some "Spiel" (play) but not to notice when writing/drawing.

The caliper says 3.01 mm diameter of the lead holder's tip, surrounded by 3.19 mm space. That's acceptable.

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

btw: caliper & hexogonal

Take a SCHMIDT® push pencil mechanism
http://www.schmidttechnology.de/en/schreibgeraete/produkte/bleistiftmechaniken/c_1_2_1.htm

put it in a Messograf
http://www.cleo-skribent.com/index.php?id=16

and you have the perfect gift for mechanical pencil lovers.

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

Here is a hint/tip for a rotring 600 pencil 0.7mm old style, black
and gold, unused. The seller does not really know what he is selling so
the vultures didn't recognise this opportunity yet.
Enter this number in ebay and try to get it.
280479125814

I will not bid.

Bob said...

Just picking up on the post and noted your earlier point:
"In the days of “thick leads” (e.g. 2mm) and clutch pencil type leadholders the leads had to be constantly sharpened"
I worked as an apprentice engineering draughtsman back in the mid-60s (long before CAD-CAM) and can certainly confirm this statement. We used Staedtler clutch pencils with those huge thick leads but rather than sharpen by rotating, a strip of sandpaper or emery board was used to file the lead down to a chisel shape so that one could get the lead tight against the T-square and obtain a clean thin line - I suspect a 0.5 thickness.
If the Rotring 600 had been about in those days, I suspect that me and my fellow trainees would have sold our mothers to get hold of one!
There are a few comments against the knurled grip and whilst it would be good to see an alternative to the metal - would I end up with callused fingers like a lead guitarist? - the grip is required when precision drawing is required.

Anonymous said...

a sandpaper pad:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53818504@N00/3219011363/

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Bob
Thanks for your comments. The days of "thick leads" were a little before my time so I can't speak from personal experience. I've certainly seen mention of all sorts of different sharpening methods to produce a different variety of tip points and shapes.
So, tell me, in a real life situation, how much effort did you put into maintaining a consistent line thickness on an individual drawing?

Peter Lin said...

I bought an 800 first, but I soon replaced it with a 600. I didn't like the slop in the tip of the 800, and the lead advance button doesn't give a satisfying cilck like the 600 does. The whole thing just doesn't feel as precise. And imo the gold bits clash with the 'technical' style of the pencil.

Justin said...

i'm considering picking one of these up on ebay. my only concern would be finding replacement erasers, since the pencil isn't made anymore. or is there another type of eraser that will fit?

Kiwi-d said...

Get the seller to clarify the design of the eraser holder, but usually it is a folded U sort of shape that you could re-use many times by cutting a replacement eraser out of an ordinary block eraser. Alternatively, with effort, I'm sure you could find another brand that would fit.

Louis said...

Hi Dave!

If one has to choose between a Rotring 600 or Staedtler 925 25, which one would you recommend?

Kiwi-d said...

Ahhhh, nothing like putting a bloke on the spot...well if if forced to choose I go with the staedtler 925 25

Louis said...

Thanks! :D

Anonymous said...

Im buying a TUL mechacical pencil in 2 weekends from now. P.S. Techniclick II is my all time favourite mechanical.I'd consider making a review.

Kiwi-d said...

Anonymous - always happy to consider guest articles and reviews. Contact me via My Profile if you want.

Theodore said...

I just ordered one here from:

http://smartimports.net/home.php?cat=277

Can't wait until it arrives.

Robert said...

Not sure if this has been posted but Rotring is showing the Rapid Pro line now. Cult pens have it for sale in 0.5, 0.7 and 2.0 mm sizes.

Looks similar to older generation 600's.

https://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/rotring-Rapid-Pro-Pencils.html

Rot Ring said...

They look similar, bur they aren`t.
We still await the winner's reviews

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

I have been collecting pencils for some time. I love the Rotring 600 above and beyond all others. Can't find one thing wrong. Old school and built like a tank.

BreezeAir said...

About 5 years ago those pencils were sold here in Moscow in my Architectural institute. I've bought a 0.5 black one and it was stolen quite fast. Next day I bought a silver one and I still have it, it's a good pencil and its grip doesn't get dirty all the time like black version. But Faber-Castell's TK-Fine Vario is lighter (almost as light as a wooden pencil) and has better balance, so it works almost as a wooden pencil in terms of drawing comfort. However this baby is rock solid and made to last. I also should add that it's not very heavy, compared to Porsche P3100 for example.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know anything about Alvin K Mechanical pencils made in Korea? I have the 0.5 &0.7. I really like them. Any news/comments?

Tony said...

Do we all agree the Rotring 800 has too much play in the guide?
I had a look at some Ohto pencils, the 0.4mm appealed to me but I was unable to find Ohto 0.4mm leads, if anyone has a link I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Nice review.Beautiful pencil.
Does anyone know where I can get a replacement nib section for this pencil,dropped mine and bent the sleeve, there were some on ebay but no longer available. Either colour would be good. I just want to use my pencil again.

Anonymous said...

The pencil is too heavy. If you drop a plastic or aluminum pencil, the tip will survive. Not so with Rotring 600. The tip will bent.

Péter said...

thanks for the review, it's very good.
I'm planning to get a new mp and I can't choose between the 600 and ohto promecha 1000/500
Has anyone some experience with the ohtos?
thanks,

peter

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this review. I've been looking for a good, solid mechanical pencil for my boyfriend - he's studying for a degree in mechanical engineering and always writes in pencil, so I wanted to get him something nice that he'll use.

Kiwi-d said...

Anonymous - glad to be of help - there is no question that the Rotring 600 is a classic tool in the toolbox of the mechanical engineer.

QPH said...

I came across this one (Rotring 600) and Rotring Rapid Pro on the web. There is some discussion above on the comment section about the two, but there's no "verdict". Could anyone please give any comments about the two? I love to get one of these for myself. To me, retractable tip of the Rapid Pro definitely gives the edge. But what about other factors?

QPH said...

@Kiwi-d: Btw, could you please do a comparison review b/w Rotring 600, 800 and Rapid Pro? They look kind of similar so it would be very interesting to see how they compare to each other.

Also, thanks a lot for this wonderful website. I came across it several weeks ago through googling "Best mechanical pencils" :-).

Rot Ring said...

I have both.
Take a good old rotring 600 from the nineties: the true look and feel.
Look at German ebay: www.ebay.de
or some sellers there. All sell world wide.
ebay item# 170585531138 e.g. seems to be a good deal.

If you can find one, take the gold-edition which has fully retractable tips (0.5 and 0.7mm only)

-Arne
:)

QPH said...

@Arne: Thanks for your recommendation. By "the gold edition", do you mean the Rotring 800?

Rot Ring said...

No @QPH, although they seem to be similar;
AFAIK rr 800 was never made in Germany, only the rr 600s with the red label and lead size printed on their body (2 versions).

I meant the first golden edition, see here:
http://www.airplaneupload.de/bild.php/1020,rotring600goldbmKLSKE.jpg

But those are very rare and expensive.
May be you'll be glad with the rr800 :)

QPH said...

@Arne: Thanks for the pic. I've never seen this before. It looks fantastic! :-). Also, could you plz tell me briefly, what makes you prefer the 600 to the rapid pro? Thanks :-).

Rot Ring said...

In brief @ QPH:
the rapid PRO's body has not flat but rounded sides - it is nearly round. That looks wanted and failed.

And because the grip's diamond cut (knurled?) not only looks like made for little girls compared to the strong tool-grip of the 600s, it's even bigger in diameter than the body, that means, it would roll away if there wasn't the clip!
That's useless.

Just for you a rr trio shot to compare with a black 600, golden Edition, tip retracted.
http://www.airplaneupload.de/archiv.php?bild=1193&bild_name=p1110188bmBE7SG.jpg

Get the rr 800.

-Arne
:)

Kiwi-d said...

Arne, "...made for little girls...", don't hold back buddy, no need to be polite, tell us what you really think :-)

johnd.scott said...

Can anyone tell me how to reload the lead in a Rotring 600. I have tried single leads and multiple leads, to no avail.
I have even tried pushing the lead back in with no luck
I have a recently bought Rotring with a metal lead reservoir.
Cheers
John

Anonymous said...

Just got my 600 model today and was pleased to discover it readily fits Pentel Z2-1 eraser sizes, widely available in American stores. Hage having to carve erasers to replace the funny sizes some models require.

Anonymous said...

Rotring is the absolute best! I have used the same Rotring 600 Old Style Black pencil on a daily basis for 15 years and counting. The finish is worn a bit, but the mechanics are still perfect.

Expecting my original instrument to break down soon, I bought a second one off of eBay several years ago. But, it is still waiting to be used.

It's no wonder Rotring discontinued making these. Since you never have to replace them, the manufacturer would seldom have returning customers.

Anonymous said...

Great blog here! Just bought myself a Rotring 600 pencil and I was wondering if any owners are having a similar issue to me. This is my first Rotring so I have no idea what is normal or not.

The red ring on my pencil is quite loose in that it rattles and there is quite a bit of play - it also freely spins 360 degrees. I thought it was a threaded ring at first and it was just loose but after trying to tighten it down, there are no threads that i can tell on the ring.

Is this looseness/play in the red ring by design?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous: Can this blogger or someone else let me in on the likelihood of finding the black Rotring 600 in his link. I'd go with an 800 if not for the absence of a lead indicator (and also the loose retracting tip another mentioned). Also, is the second link's pencil made in Germany instead of Japan? Or is it just a rare Japanese 600? I'm new here, so thank you for any/every response.

http://www4.pic-upload.de/11.03.10/ytpu8gae2i76.jpg

http://cgi.ebay.de/Rotring-600-FM-0-7-SILVER-Retracting-Pencil-Mint-Rare-/170600983046?pt=DE_Haus_Garten_HomeOffice_Schreibger%C3%A4te&hash=item27b89c6a06

Rot Ring said...

First things first:
endurance!

There is no offer right now, old sources are sold out, the difference is uncertain (search for my picture here to compare) and the price is unbelievable high - you can get several for that:

There is only one ebay-law: everything comes again :D

Rot Ring said...

@ "The red ring on my pencil is quite loose"
Show us some pics - overview and details

Anonymous said...

@Rot Ring:
Waiting for the retracting Rotring 600 will be a test in patience; I wish it wasn't so. What I believe I'm waiting for is a Japanese pencil, the German made are too expensive (last link). What sites will be best for discovery? sekaimon.com and ebay.de. Can you please recommend others? But since the Japanese pencils are priced better, is it useless to search ebay.de. And what about our ebay.com (US)?

And if patience withers, would you settle for an old style 600 (German) or the new 800? I can hardly contain myself until I get a hold of one. Physics and Biochemistry tests are on hold as I search!

Thanks for your help!

Rot Ring said...

Hehe - the rr-virus still works ;)
This is a pencil for a lifetime:

One should buy if one needs something and not wait until death.

So go for a new 800 - there is nothing wrong with it.

The search string for ebay (anywhere) is
rotring (600, 800) ("0.5", "0,5", "0.7", "0,7") gold* -newton

the cheapest offer I found is €49.83:
http://www.smartimports.net/products/Rotring-800-Series-0.5-mm-Mechanical-Drafting-Pencil.html

Andrey has some too:
http://stores.ebay.com/ANDREYS-PENCILS for 85.00 USD

Tell us when you are an owner and show some pictures then

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

I have found the RR600 on this site:
http://www.smartimports.net/products/Rotring-600-Series-Mechanical-Drafting-Pencil.html
Is this a fake? I would like to pick up one of these, but want to make cerain I am getting the "real" pencil, as I understand they are not in production anymore? Or is it that this is the Japanese made vesion and of similiar quality, but just with a metal lead holder vice the clear plastic of the original German made model?

Ed said...

There is a Rotring 600G for the top bidder in Yahoo Japan for the next three days, anyone desperate enough for it? First time I've seen it.
http://page19.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/x155712552

Rot Ring said...

Those are just normal rr600 - not retractable or even golden.
Retractable and golden parts belong to the same side of the medal.

'nuff said.
Go and get one/some.

Anonymous said...

@ Ed/Rot Ring:

http://page19.auctions.yahoo.co.jp/jp/auction/x166793217#enlargeimg

I ordered an rr800 from smartimports; should be here Monday. The link is of the pencil I was too impatient to wait for, found it after Ed posted.

Is the 600 interior in this link the same as the 800s? Please suggest a course of action, I'd like to keep the 800 coming, but not if the 600 is recommended. Please offer your expertise.

Depending on outcome, I'll have a black, .5mm Rotring 800 pencil for sale. Bought for $67.50 on smartimports plus $14.00 shipping. Please make an offer.

Rot Ring said...

There is nothing wrong with a rr800 0.5
Try it out!
And then get the cheaper rr600 0.7mm too - and keep both.

:)

John Funk Copenhagen said...

GREAT Site, thnx....
Am i the only one who's customized my Rotring 600 by using a black and a silver?
Had it since 1991 and used it every day, more or less... Not entirely true, sometimes it gets lots for a year or two, but I allways find it again, Love it totally ;-)
http://www.provelo.fr/files/johns_600.jpg

Rot Ring said...

@ JFC
I think: yes - you are :D

There were only two double-offers on ebay lately and I presume that every collector thought:
shit, I have to bid on both to bring them to origin again :D
I didn't.

John Funk Copenhagen said...

Really, kind of Boring, i think more customized 600's would be great.
Background on my bastard Rotring 600:
Nicked it in the first advertising agency i was in waaaay back, there was a lot of them around back then.
Over the years ive dropped it twice, hence bending the tip. But, with a little care its been possible to straighten the tip and its fully functional today, soon celebrating its 20 years of good use.
A design flaw would be that it tends to land on the tip when dropped.
Ive used it in most parts of the world, Rwanda, Shanghai, , Budapest, Annecy, New York and of course, Denmark.
Theres some info i cannot seem to find; When was production started, and when was it discontinued.
With all the discussion in this site about where to obtain japanese versions, tomato brands etc. im REALLY proud and happy to have the original which has been a faithful companion for many years now (apart from the times when ive misplaced it)
Thanx!

Rot Ring said...

I would like to free a 600 of its surface, polish the brass and finally gold plate all visible parts.
And then see how the bids rise in the sky on ebay worldwide, of course starting from 1,- (and some hints/advertising here and there ;) )

btw: the production of the golden/silver series startet in 1989, see ad concept and final flyer here:
http://www.leadholder.com/ad-rotring_600-ad-barry_jones-final2.html

... and ended about 1995 because it was too masculine for female buyers... so the rr600 Newton line followed up. I don't like that line much but those with the lava-finish are great.

The Riepe KG was sold to sanford in 1998 and that was the end of all glory.

-Arne
:)

Rot Ring said...

Correction:
rr600 startet in 1989
rr600 - gold in 1991

John Funk Copenhagen said...

Thanx a bunch....
Great ads, the http://www.leadholder.com/art-barry_jones-rotring_600_ad-concept.html concept ad actually reminds me of how we used to work back then, in a world of Rotring 600's, repro camera's, dark chambers, Letraset lettering and no computers...
And then machinery came along and spoiled all the fun with Illustrator 88 and Photoshop version 1.0.1, and ohmygawd Pagemaker, DOH!
J

Rot Ring said...

I knew Aldus since 1987.. first on a PC then on Macs.

btw: here is a nice thread about the rotring 600 pencil and a lot wannbe owners. Some years old and still alive:
http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/359847/pencil-fi/375

John Funk Copenhagen said...

Auch Aldus Completely forgot, The Horror - The Horror...
Arne cannot seem to find your email here so I go public;
Are you by any chance of danish origin, or norwegian? Where you at?
Just curious...
J
(Registering here seems far to advanced for me....)

Rot Ring said...

Sorry, I'm not scandinavian, I live in Hamburg (rotring and Montblanc town) and Denmark is almost at the front door.
My first girl friend was from Græstedt. One year later, Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon. Beautiful times...
Both events changed everything ;)

Anonymous said...

HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GERMAN AND JAPAN 600 ROTRING PENCIL?

Anonymous said...

Do the newer Japan made models have a retractable tip?

Anonymous said...

800 yes, 600 no.

Anonymous said...

How do I reload the lead on my Rotring 600 Lava 0.7MM Mechanical Pencil? Even my friends cannot figure it out, although it must be simple...

Thanks! Sarah

Anonymous said...

@Sarah
Look at the pictures above, #5 ff
Pull off the cap then pull out the eraser.
Now you can fill in new leads.

-A.
:)

Pedro said...

My friends I have not posted never here but bought a Rotring 600 on eBay from Japan and it is very nice for drawing. The feel in my (left) hand is very comfortable and very precise. Your comments made me buy one. Thank you for the advice! However, you can be sure I will also become a collector. Poor of my pocket!

Rot Ring said...

Well done, Pedro!
You won't regret it.
As a collector try to find 0,9mm or even 1,0mm ones - they are very rare even on ebay-Germany. A good place to look for 600s.

-A.
:)

Anonymous said...

just wondering, I have one of these and love it, however, is the red ring at the top supposed to move? it can when you hold it and rotate the ring.. still feels secure and all, just was curious if mine was ok or not, or do they all do that?

Rot Ring said...

What is the red printing on the body?

[ ] complete "rotring 600 x,x mm"
[ ] only "x,x" (see first picture above)
[ ] nothing but "x,x" marked on the cap

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that with all the talk of little difference between the Japan models and the early series 1 model no one has mentioned the internals at the grip section. My 1991 RR600 does not have a white plastic sleeve as shoen above but simply an exposed, sturdy spring which sits against a small white collar which supports the 3 jawed chuck. This is why ANDREY on ebay only sells the grips which fit the Japanese models - they don't fit the early series 1 models.

2 1/2p

Anonymous said...

Dave, could you please write a review on rotring 800 or give me a link that has such a review? i am considering buying one coz my friend is visiting japan this summer, but i am not sure if it's worth the $64 price.

George said...

Anyone know if they fixed the 800 "looseness" by now?

Ed said...

If some 800 have looseness like mine put a couple tiny pieces of tape in the nose of internal barrel and the and that will solve 95% of it and then it will not be noticed, that is what I did.

Anonymous said...

If one had to purchase a 600 or a Rapid Pro, which would they go with? Construction-wise, I've heard great things about the 600. But the fixed sleeve scares me a bit.

Is the Rapid Pro really not as solidly built and balanced of a writing instrument as the 600, despite the 50% price bump?

Anyone have any recommendations?

Anonymous said...

I have two 600's (silver and black and both recently but separately acquired) and both will allow the lead to slide back into the sleeve when writing with a little down force, which I seem to do most of the time when I write. The problem is aggravated as the lead shortens. Very disappointing for a pencil with this cost to allow the lead to slide back up the sleeve when writing. None of the Pentels I own do anything similar to this. Any suggestions on how to correct this? At first I thought one of the 600's had a defect, but this problem seems to occur no matter which 600 I use, so there has to be something more significant going on. Really love the weight of the pencil and I hope this problem can be resolved easily or it's back to the Pentels for me.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a Rotring 800 can offer some input? I see the 600 clocks in at 18 grams, which is already quite heavy, generally 2-3 times the weight of a normal "heavy" pencil. However, the 800 is listed at 28 grams, more than 50% heavier.

I do prefer heavier pencils myself, but is there a point where it's just TOO heavy?

The 800 looks pretty good otherwise. I heard the tip has some play though, how bad is it exactly? It's not a one piece construction, so clearly the moving parts won't have the same stable feel that the 600 does, but if it's quite noticeable, then it's probably not worth it/

The lack of lead indicator is of no consequence.

Anonymous said...

You can buy Rotring pencils on jetpens.com or pencil.jp

To anonymous who has problem with lead going back into tip: that is the case with all mech pencils when about 5mm of lead is left..solution is to click most of it out of the tip and then push it back in then start writing..this solves that situation for me.

Robert Leunis said...

Just bought a 600 0,7 and an 800 0,5 via Rakuten Japan for 59 euro
Thanks for the great review

Unknown said...

$35 seems very reasonable http://www.smartimports.net/products/Rotring-600-Series-Mechanical-Drafting-Pencil.html#

Anonymous said...

I didn't find a rotring 600 newton thread, so I post my tip here:
X-mas is coming and if you are looking for a special gift for a rotring 600 Newton fan, look here on ebay: trio pen with rotring wrist watch (original Suxdorf design)
251174344132
The seller will send to Europe but just ask him if you are foreign.
Only 18 hours left.
-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

rotring 600 is back!
They listened to us. We finally succeeded!

http://www.rotring.com

-Arne

Gunther said...

I wonder how the new version compares to the old 600 – I'm very sceptical.

2nd_astronaut said...

Vittorio wrote a short review http://dmpencils.blogspot.it/

2 1/2p said...

Very interesting Arne. Questions:
1. - will it be stamped "germany"
2. - will it be the same as the "Japan" model only with the full red lettering
3. - will the grip be interchangeable with the "Japan" models.
4. - will the grip diamond pattern be the same as the Japan models.

Still skeptical...but definitely interested.

Anonymous said...

just found this review about the new rotring 600 and 800. unfortunately it is all written in german but the images look very promising. cheers p.

Anonymous said...

Now if they will only start producing the 600 ballpoint for a reasonable price.

Bod said...

Hate you and your website Dave! I was perfectly happy using the crappy pencils from the stationary cupboard but now I've got a pencil problem.
Just ordered a 600 as my life would somehow be empty without it. Just glad I didn't go for the 800... There's always next week.
Keep up the great work!
Matt

Anonymous said...

Hey,

thank you for the review.

i was wondering if i get the rotring 800 will it get slippery after hours of writing with it? i was looking at lots of mechanical pencils for long writing sections but couldnt find any information on whether they get slippery after hours. the one i have at the moment is the Pentel Kerry P1035 0.5 and after i while it gets really slippery so i cant continue using it.

Regards,
Robertson

GT said...

Bought the 600 during a short trip to Japan and after I got back home, I really thought that I cannot use my other pencils because all of a sudden, they felt cheap. But it is indeed a very nice find. And I found it only because of your website, really. It is nice to go into the world and community of MPs, although I have to say as a current student, rather expensive.
To anyone in the pencil community having all incarnations of the 600: Can you make a full comparison between different 'generations'? I still don't quite get it. Why is, say, a German 600 from 1995 much more better than a current 600 from Japan?

Cytherian said...

There is indeed a "Rotring" website that is actively selling Rotring writing instruments. It seems to be endorsed by Sanford, but it's based out of Europe because prices are all in Euros.

Anyway, I've heard that the new version of the Rotring 600 is not quite exactly the same as the original. Something about the internals, where some plastic was substituted for metal and rather than being a benefit ended up with a shift in the balance. Regardless, there's an extremely cheap version of this very pencil now available for less than $10 shipped, labeled as "Red Circle". Major bargain as it's very close to the original (except the hexagonal edges are now rounded off a bit).