Rotring 600 Pen Review
I decided to pick up a Rotring 600 pen because I thought that the overall look was super interesting. If Darth Vader were to write with a ballpoint, I think that he would choose this one. I’m not sure what specific features of this pen stood out to me, but something just stuck with me that made me find this pen so interesting. I think that having knurled metal in two locations does give the pen a very interesting appeal. The double knurled barrel combined with the red highlights and stubbed off mechanical-pencil-style tip give the Rotring 600 a really exotic look. These pens are available in both black and silver. I think that the silver looks really cool in its own way, but I am still a fan of the black and red color scheme.
All Rotring pens and mechanical pencils are designed and manufactured in Hamburg, Germany. I bought this pen off Amazon for around $30, and it arrived in several days. The pen arrived in a padded envelope, but box that this pen came with was an oddly shaped triangular prism that was brutally squashed during transit. When I first pried this pen out of the mangled box, I was surprised with the profile and thinness of the pen. I thought that this pen would have a similar thickness to something like the Zebra F-701 or even our Geno pen, but it was much slimmer. It is not the slimmest pen that I have ever picked up, but definitely slimmer than expecting. It is worth noting that the barrel has hard hexagonal edges, which make a great compliment to the rounded grip. Compared to other Rotring models such as the Rapid Pro or the 800 model, the barrel on the 600 has much sharper edges. In addition to the profile, the weight was also heavier than expected. The click mechanism is smooth and powerful with a louder than normal click sound. After I got over the initial excitement of getting my new pen, I decided to fully dissect the innerworkings of the Rotring pen to analyze the German engineering taking place behind the scenes.
The bottom piece unscrews from the barrel at the edge of the knurling to reveal the components. The threads are completely metal, and there is a slight chatter as you begin to unscrew the barrel. Once you get the barrel out, you are greeted with the standard Rotring HDF 1.0 refill (which is apparently made in France). These cartridges are very similar to the Schmidt style refills, and I believe that the Rotring 600 is compatible with most Schmidt style refills. Once the refill is removed, there is actually a spring that hidden inside the tip of the pen to ensure that the pen is able to retract properly. It is worth noting that there is also a rear spring in the back of the pencil for the click mechanism. I was unable to successfully remove this portion of the pen (I’m not entirely sure it is possible). With that being said, the rear knurling does seem to rotate independently of the pen barrel. If you look closely at the red accent at the rear edge of the pen, it appears to be somewhat elastic or slightly rubbery. I would imagine that this is to limit the movement of the rear knurled piece. The pen clip has a really tight fit, but this clip is removable if necessary.
One of the only negative attributes of this pen is the finish. Its not that I don’t like the way that it looks or feels, rather the durability. I have had this pen for about a year now, and after a while the finish starts to chip off in areas that are vulnerable such as the tip, the barrel and the clip. The paint chips off and this exposes the raw metal below (possibly brass). For me, this doesn’t really bother me much, but I know a number of people who would become very frustrated with these paint issues.
Even though Rotring is thought of as more of a drafting company, I think that this pen is more than suitable for everyday carry applications. Rotring is an equally reputable manufacturer of mechanical drafting pencils as well. I think that people will slowly add Rotring pieces to their EDC as seen here. Overall, I think that this is a very high-quality writing instrument that has a very wide variety of applications. Even though it feels that Rotring might be targeting the audience of architects, designers and illustrators with their drafting collections, I think that this Rotring 600 is suitable for just about any user.
Update (2021): Sadly, I have since misplaced my original black Rotring 600 and decided to pick up a silver Rotring 600. As expected, the silver version is extremely similar to the black model but with a few subtle differences largely around the finish. Unlike the black color, the silver model does not appear to have any surface finish that could chip off or fade over time. Other than the color/finish, these two colors are pretty much indistinguishable.