When one talks about premium mechanical pencils, there are usually two ways the conversation can go: luxury or drafting. Here, we discuss one of the most common drafting pencils. The Rotring 600 has been around for a while (still researching its history) though its newest version began in the 1990s with Rotring having been bought out by Sanford. It has a very fragile tip that many new users have bent beyond repair and a price that is way above similar Pilot and Uni offerings. So, how does Rotring stand up to the lore it carries?
Lead size: 0.35mm (effectively 0.3mm), 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Country of Manufacture: Japan
Price: $50 (Retail), $20-25 (Amazon)
The Rotring comes in a lackluster cardboard box. While the Midori Pen Case also came in a cardboard box, the Rotring’s feels noticeably cheaper. Inside, there is a cardboard divider forcing the pencil into a snug corner. The pencil is sheathed in a plastic bag which it can easily slip out of (which can give a scare to the one opening the packaging). On the other side of the divider, there is a small information pamphlet that provides some general use tips and warranty information.
Fit and Finish
Upon holding the pencil, the first reaction most people have is “this is so heavy” and it’s true. At around 20 grams (more accurate number to come), the pencil is much heavier than store bought Bic mechanical pencils.
Taking the pencil apart, one finds that there is a minimum of plastic components. I’ve done some research on the history of the pencil to find out that the internal mechanism used to be completely metal. However, the plastic in the pencil does not feel weak and I do not fear that it will fail to work anytime soon.
Holding the pencil is a joy. The knurled grip provides a wonderful surface to hold. The Alvin Draft-Matic (a similar pencil based on the Rotring 500) has a sharper grip that can be painful to hold for long periods.
The mechanism seems to take any type of lead. I have fed HB, B, and 2B leads from different manufactures and no single brand seems to break more often. As a matter of fact, even though it has a thin tip, lead breakages are seldom and are mostly from user error.
The thin tip is an area of concern. Having seen many pictures of the result of fallen pencils (most should be marked “nsfw”), when I bought the pencil, I immediately dug up an old tin pencil case from my childhood to protect the pencil when I took it from my desk. It has since been replaced with a Midori Pen Case.
I have not used the eraser although I will note that it is about the same size as Pilot P20x series pencil erasers. It feels like it is on the dry side.
The Rotring 600 is a wonderful pencil. It is easy to write with it for long periods of time and it is very robust, sans the tip. This is one for the pocket.