The rOtring 600 fountain pen holds intense fascination - the industrial design and high build quality are hallmarks of the model.
I purchased my first rOtring (a ballpoint, sadly, not a fountain pen) in a shop that carried high-end Italian suits. The owners of the store were clients of mine so I became a client of theirs; after buying yet another example of Italian tailoring, they mentioned that I should have a stylish pen to go with my stylish suit. Naturally, it was a rOtring 600.
Flash forward a decade, and I decided that I needed a 600 fountain pen to go with my BP, MP, and the magnificent "Trio" pen (red and black BP plus MP in one large, heavy, intimidating package!) I eventually ended up with this pair of rOtring 600s, both of the "old" style - with the elongated, knurled section and rotating nib indicator. All of my rOtrings are of the old style, and I wanted them to match!
The chrome model is a daily-use pen, while the black one sees almost no use. I thought they made a nice contrast for the photos.
Speaking of the photos, this time I went a little more "artsy", showing the pens amongst pieces of precision machining equipment. I hope you like them!
First Impressions: Design and Appearance
One thing about the rOtring 600: you won't mistake it for anything else! The first thing people usually say when encountering an example is "gee, you could use that thing as a weapon!"
The 600 is made from machined hexagonal stock, with knurling and an austere styling that says "industrial" in capital letters. The clip - a simple folded piece of flat metal - serves to enhance the design elements without detracting from them. At the bottom end of the body you'll see a black "O"-ring; this serves to secure the cap when posted.
The finish on the silver model is a matte-finish chrome, while on the black pen it's some sort of tough, baked-on flat lacquer. At the top is the signature rOtring red band; the cap jewel on the black pen is gold plated, as this particular example is part of their "Gold Series."
You'll note that the body of the chrome pen shows wear and scuff marks; it is my "workaday" pen, the pen that I take when I know I'll be getting dirty or knocked around. I don't think many other pens would stand up to the kind of abuse that this one will!
No doubt about it: this is a "macho" pen. It would look perfectly at home perched on the hood of a Hummer H1!
Features and Construction
The pen is what I'd call large sized - 5-1/2" long capped, 5" uncapped, and a whopping 6-3/4" when posted. The girth, however is a shade less than 7/16", making it feel smaller than it seems. Many people are surprised by the weight: for an all-metal machined pen, it's not what I'd call heavy. In fact, the similar-sized Duke 2017 is noticeably heavier than the rOtring 600.
The cap is a snap type, and seats with the feel you'd expect of a German product. The cap is machined to go on in one of eight positions and not rotate when capped - so that the flats of the body and cap always line up. The aforementioned "O"-ring on the end of the body serves to secure the cap when posted - though the inordinate length, and corresponding destruction of balance, leads me to believe that no one actually posts this pen. I certainly don't!
Of course, you'd expect all of the parts to fit together perfectly on a German pen, and they do. Rotating the pen shows no sign of wobble or run-out. The cap is very well sealed, as blowing into it reveals no pressure loss.
One of the identifying features of the "old" style 600 is the knurled top of the cap - rotating it reveals a series of letters corresponding to the nib sizes offered, so that you know which of your rOtrings has which nib!
The long, tapered section shows the other feature of the early pens: knurling, which matches that of the nib indicator. Newer models have a somewhat shorter tapered section, sans the knurling. Personally, one of the things that originally attracted me to the pen was that fine knurling, and I can't stomach the pen without it!
The pen uses the popular international-size cartridges or suitable converter.
The Nib and Writing Performance
The nibs on these two pens differ considerably. The nib on the chrome pen is rOtring's standard steel nib, in this case of medium ("M") width. The nib on the black pen, as befits the "Gold Series" to which it belongs, is of 18k gold in an extra fine ("EF") width. Both nibs have the "rOtring slant" - the nibs slant downward slightly as they protrude from the section.
The medium nib performs admirably. It is slightly on the wet side, and quite smooth. It has an ever-so-slight "silky" feeling, as opposed to a "butter" feeling, when gliding across the paper's surface. It's not obtrusive, but does let you know where the nib is and what it's doing. Overall, I'd rank it as very good to just short of excellent.
The extra fine nib feels similar, but a bit springier - no doubt due to the softer gold construction. Its line is a bit on the dry side, with that same slightly silky feeling. Frankly, I don't usually like extra fine nibs because they just don't feel good to me; this is the best nib of such width that I've yet tried, and I actually like using it.
Both pens start immediately and with absolutely no hesitation. In fact, when I pulled the black model out of the drawer for the pictures, I uncapped it and wrote a few words; it had sat, unused, for more than a month and still started immediately!
The rOtring 600 has something of a cult following. Until I tried one, I never understood the attraction. But over the past few years, the chrome model has become one of my few "regular use" pens. I grab it before many others because I know that it will start immediately, write wonderfully, and survive a direct nuclear hit. What more can you ask for?
Edited by GrantC, 10 July 2006 - 19:20.