rOtring 600 Gold 0.5mm Review

Introduction

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I love my rOtring 600. The solid construction and the attention to detail make it a joy to write with. However, the thin tip is fragile and prevents it from being pocket friendly. rOtring’s answer to this was the rOtring 600 Gold. It has a modern relative, the rOtring 800, that has been met with relative controversy due to fit and finish issues. How does the rOtring 600 Gold match up with its relatives?

Specs

Place of Manufacture: Japan
Length: 13.3cm (retracted), 14.3 (extended)
Weight: 34 grams

Design

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The rOtring 600 Gold can be easily disassembled to show all the main components. On the back end, the eraser cap and eraser can be removed simply by pulling. While the pocket clip can be removed, it is firmly attached and removing it would require a large amount of force. The pocket clip itself is engraved with “rOtring” with a stylized “O”.

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On the front end, the knurled grip can easily be unscrewed. Following that, the tip and main mechanism is exposed. The tip can also be removed by unscrewing, although it is a tad more difficult as the mechanism itself will turn as well if it isn’t held tightly.

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One interesting thing to note is that the mechanism is all metal and that there appears to be no plastic parts (except for perhaps the lead indicator). This probably has no impact on the actual performance or longevity of the pencil, but it does give the pencil a different feeling knowing that it is all metal.

rOtring pays a lot of attention to these small pieces of detail. The engraving on the clip seems pretty standard, but they also marked the lead size on the end cap. This is not found on the newer rOtrings.

The main feature of the rOtring 600 Gold is the retracting mechanism. When the pencil is closed, the tip is retracted 3-4mm into the grip, which protects it from damage. Further, when the pencil is retracted, the mechanism is locked and no lead can be extended.

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The mechanism itself is activated by twisting the end portion of the pencil. This also houses a lead grade indicator, which also rotates. Here is where you will also find their iconic “red ring” (rotring in German).

It can be easy to identify why the pencil was called “gold” due to the gold hardware on the tip and at the end of the pencil.

Fit and Finish

I bought this pencil used, but through the wear and tear, there are still some aspects of the fit and finish that I can comment about. The tolerances are not as tight as I would have expected, though not so bad to the point that it is a bother. The end mechanism that rotates to extend the tip has some wiggle, but the pencil as a whole, however, does not rattle.

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There is very obvious wear to the finish. It appears as though someone had tried to move the clip and, instead, scraped off part of the logo and quite a bit of the coating. The finish, however, seems very tough and it is a bit confusing to me as to how much force was required to do this type of damage.

The knurling is a bit blunted by design and does not provide the grippiness that is usually associated with more modern rOtring products. However, during writing sessions, I did not find myself losing grip of the pencil and it did not have as big of a “bite” as rougher knurling does.

Functionality

This pencil meets the expectations that I had for it. The clip holds the pencil securely to my jeans with no wiggle. I have no fear of it falling out of my pocket at anytime. It hasn’t fallen apart or had the tip accidentally extend while the pencil was in my pocket. It can really easily be said that the pencil is very pocket friendly, especially because of the mechanism lock.

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Extending the pencil is quite easy. Exactly a half turn of the end piece is required to extend the tip. The tip will “snap” into place, with an audible click.

In order to turn the lead indicator, the end piece must already be fully extended in the direction that you want to turn the lead indicator. Otherwise, you will end up extending or retracting the pencil instead. While some may think of this as a flaw, as rOtring did as they removed the lead indicator on the rOtring 800, I personally think the lead indicator is a nice touch and is very helpful.

As for writing experience, once the tip is extended, it feels just like a rOtring 600. While I am sure the weight distribution is different, they are both hefty enough that I cannot tell the difference. The tip has a bit of wiggle, but when the lead touches the paper, it no longer moves.

I had an issue where the lead kept on breaking and the pencil was becoming hard to twist open. I soon realized the problem was that the tip was unscrewing itself ever so slightly. The extra length that it gave made twisting the pencil open harder and, because it wiggled more, the lead was more prone to breakage.

Replacement erasers seem to be near impossible to find. rOtring 600 erasers do not fit as they are a tad too big. I have heard that rOtring 800 erasers will fit, but I have yet to try them. I will update the review once I do.

Comparison to rOtring 600
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The body of the rOtring 600 and the rOtring 600 Gold are the same length. The tips, however, are a bit different. The tip of the rOtring 600 Gold is slightly longer, though the slim sleeve area is the same length.

The knurling is much milder on the rOtring 600, as previously stated. The rOtring 600 has pyramid shaped knurling, while the rOtring 600 Gold has flat knurling.

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The clips are nearly the same, although I found the rOtring 600 had deeper engravings. Also, the rOtring 600’s lead indicator text was a bit whiter and the lead indicator itself was a bit harder to turn. This, however, may be because the pencil is newer and has not sustained the same amount of wear as the rOtring 600 Gold has.

Conclusion

Given the choice to pick the rOtring 600 Gold or the rOtring 600, I’d have to pick the rOtring 600 Gold again and again. The retractable tip simply provides so much more usability to the pencil. While there are more moving parts, when all the components are properly fitted, the pencil is a mechanical monster. I’ll be treasuring this pencil for years to come and it’ll definitely never be too far from my side.

Pentel Graphgear 500 0.5 Review

Introduction

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I love my Rotring 600, but it’s price sometimes makes me a bit wary about bringing it out. It can also sometimes be nice to switch it up. The Pentel Graphgear 500 is a low-mid range drafting mechanical pencil that has a knurled metal grip. But, at a fraction of the price of the Rotring, is the quality and the design there?

Specs

Lead size: 0.5mm
Country of Manufacture: Japan
Price: $7 (retail), ~$4 (street)

Fit and Finish

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For a pencil with a retail price of $7, I am quite pleased with the level of quality. There is quite a bit of metal on the pencil. the grip and tip are one piece of silver colored metal that has a substantial weight to it. The knurling is a bit on the aggressive side, although not overly so. The metal parts are all straight and clean with not sharp edges. The tip is thin and around 5mm long.

 

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There appears to be little if any flash from molding the plastic parts. The internal mechanism seems to be fixed to the body of the pencil. I assume that with enough force and pressure, it could be removed, but at this time, I don’t want to risk that. The logo is applied to the body using white paint. It chips easily and can be removed using a finger nail.

 

The end cap is metal and is friction fit onto the pencil. It is a bit nicer than a lot of other end caps as it has a raised edge. Underneath it, there is a generic Pentel eraser.

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There is also a clip affixed around the body near the end. It is stamped from sheet metal and has “JAPAN” written around one of the edges. It has a certain springiness to it. It can be removed from the pencil with some force.

Functionality

The weight distribution is very much focused towards the tip. That being said, the pencil does not feel out of place in the hand. Because the weight is in the grip, the pencil is easily controlled and manipulated. The slim tip allows for accurate lines.IMG_20160426_221203

Loading more lead is easy. The end cap and eraser can be removed effortlessly and 4 to 5 pieces of lead can be stored in the body.

Advancing the lead is done by clicking the end cap. Clicks are a tad mushy and the mechanics feel a tad imprecise. Around 2mm of lead are advanced per click.

The eraser works all right although it is not the best. I’m pretty sure it is the Z2-1 eraser for their mechanical pencils, which is a non-clumping, dusty eraser. It does not wear particularly quickly.

The pencil has a lot going for it, and without other pencils to compare with it, there would be not much wrong with it that one could say.

Comparison to the Rotring 600

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IMG_20160511_230319There are many similarities between the Pentel Graphgear 500 and the Rotring 600. Perhaps the most notable is the tip section. The Graphgear has a larger grip and has additional “milled” rings. Although it looks nicer than the Rotring, the Graphgear as a certain cheap feeling to it. I suspect I feel this way due to the metal that is used (steel in the Graphgear vs brass in the Rotring). The tips are of similar length although the there is more distance between the grip and tip in the Graphgear. This wastes more lead as there is more distance between the mechanism and the tip. Further, depending on how you like to hold pencils, the distance may be too long for your taste.IMG_20160511_230245

Another similarity is with the clip. Here, the designs are pretty similar and both have similar properties. If we’re grasping at straws, we can say that the Rotring’s clip allows for deeper carry, though it is mounted much lower than the Graphgear. On the other hand, the Graphgear’s clip is much more easily removed.

Conclusion

The Pentel Graphgear 500 is a great value. The metal grip and stamped metal clip are features normally seen on much more expensive pencils. However, due to the price, there were some shortcuts taken and, in the end, the more expensive pencils still outperform the Graphgear. However, I would definitely consider the Graphgear as a “throw in the backpack” or a secondary pencil.

Ohto Sharp Pencil (APS-350ES) Review

Introduction

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I love mechanical pencils. I love wooden pencils. The Ohto Sharp Pencil line tries to get the post of both worlds. It looks like a wooden pencil. It feels like a wooden pencil. But, 0.5mm lead comes out and the ferrule is actually a push button. How well does it actually work?

Specs

Place of Manufacture: Japan
Price: $5 (from Japan), $15 (Amazon)

Packaging

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The pencil came in a simple plastic packaging. It opens via a flap on the bottom.

Fit and Finish

 

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The finish on the pencil is superb. The lacquer is smooth and the silver foiling is sharp. The clip fits well and does not wiggle. The eraser cap is of a little concern though. While it is firmly attached, there is wiggle associated with it. I believe this is from the entire mechanism inside not being that sturdy.

Design

I believe that this is essentially a wooden pencil without the graphite with a mechanical pencil mechanism stuck in. The mechanism is not attached on the top except for the eraser cap. The end piece where the clip is attached to seems to only provide place for the clip and offers no other purpose.

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Functionality

 

I like the form-factor of this pencil, but at the same time, it is its biggest weakness. The pencil feels out of place in the hand, not because it is too short, but because of its diameter. It almost feels like trying to grip a toothpick. I did use it for an entire day of note-taking and found it to be tolerable nearing the end of the day. However, I would definitely recommend a thicker pencil if you want comfort.

However, due to the length and diameter, this pencil is quite useful in many ways. It can easily be slipped into a pencil case or sleeve as a backup pencil as it does not take up that much room. It can also be placed in a shirt pocket without fear of it making a hole as it is not long enough.

Conclusion

As always, this pencil has a specific purpose and it does it well: it is for convenience, not comfort. It is meant for backup use or a gimmick and not a workhorse. In that regard, it works very well. Don’t force it into tasks it shouldn’t handle and you got yourself a nice mini-pencil.

Rotring 600 0.5mm Review

IntroductionIMG_20160127_232013

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?

Specs

Lead size: 0.35mm (effectively 0.3mm), 0.5mm, 0.7mm, 0.9mm
Country of Manufacture: Japan
Price: $50 (Retail), $20-25 (Amazon)

Packaging

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.IMG_20160127_232325

Functionality

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.IMG_20160127_232229

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.IMG_20160127_232409

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.IMG_20160127_232503

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.IMG_20160127_232119

 

Conclusion

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.