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Classic review: Rotring "Old Style" 600


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45 replies to this topic

#21 spiph

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 21:19

I have owned a 600 for about 12 years now and its a shame that I didn't know what I was doing when I purchased it. I absolutely love the weight, balance, and appearance (it's why i bought the pen), but I never use it due to the fact that is has an EF nib. I am a designer by trade and like to use my pens for sketching and drawing and most of the time i like a bold broad wet line when drawing. My EF nib in the 600 doesn't provide one. I have been looking for a broad replacement nib for sometime now and can't seem to find one. Does anyone where to find one?

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#22 mholve

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 21:26

They're hard to come by these days; certainly the early-styled type. Occasionally one pops up here and there, but usually EF/F/M.

I recently picked up a black/gold version in an F. Having had the Art Pen for years, also with an F - I kind of knew what to expect. I tend to prefer an M, but I love the F on the Rotring. Built like a tank, wonderful writer and definitely a high-quality pen.

#23 BrianW

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Posted 20 June 2007 - 20:14

QUOTE(GrantC @ Jul 10 2006, 07:19 AM) View Post
<span style='font-size:12pt;line-height:100%'>rOtring 600 "Old Style" Fountain Pens</span>



Introduction

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!


Final Analysis

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?



#24 Loveforwords

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Posted 19 April 2008 - 23:16

Is it possible to just get the nib and section for a black one? I have roller ball, that uses the same body.

#25 MYU

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Posted 19 April 2008 - 23:35

QUOTE(Loveforwords @ Apr 19 2008, 07:16 PM) View Post
Is it possible to just get the nib and section for a black one? I have roller ball, that uses the same body.

The cap won't fit. The internal piece used for the rollerball won't accommodate the nib.

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#26 Empacherguy

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 08:01

Interesting comments all throughout this thread. I flat-out LOVE my rOtring 600 ("new style" I guess), and cannot imagine life without it. Nary a day has gone by in the past 4 years that I haven't used it: the thing is flawless. Lament, lament: they're no longer made? Man am I glad I picked up an extra when I got wind of the sad dismissal of this awesome instrument!! I can't bring myself to give it away to someone special, as was my original intent.

#27 Loveforwords

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 19:10

QUOTE(MYU @ Apr 19 2008, 03:35 PM) View Post
QUOTE(Loveforwords @ Apr 19 2008, 07:16 PM) View Post
Is it possible to just get the nib and section for a black one? I have roller ball, that uses the same body.

The cap won't fit. The internal piece used for the rollerball won't accommodate the nib.



Thanks for the info.

#28 MYU

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 19:34

I hadn't gone back to see the first page... just did so and was dismayed to find that the photos don't show. I guess Grant's links have gone dead.

He said one model is chrome. I've never seen a Rotring 600 in chrome--only silver, black, and lava. I did find a description on a website saying that these are chrome plated brass in matte finish. Strange--"chrome" brings to my mind a mirrored silver finish. Anyway... has anyone seen a mirrored chrome version of a 600?? wink.gif

Edited by MYU, 20 April 2008 - 19:34.

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#29 Bernie0104

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Posted 20 April 2008 - 21:08

QUOTE(MYU @ Apr 20 2008, 08:34 PM) View Post
I hadn't gone back to see the first page... just did so and was dismayed to find that the photos don't show. I guess Grant's links have gone dead.

He said one model is chrome. I've never seen a Rotring 600 in chrome--only silver, black, and lava. I did find a description on a website saying that these are chrome plated brass in matte finish. Strange--"chrome" brings to my mind a mirrored silver finish. Anyway... has anyone seen a mirrored chrome version of a 600?? wink.gif



Hi,

I think that the chrome 600 in question is the Rotring matte chrome finish... silver to you and I! Rotring described that finish as a chrome finish. The Rotring 900 on the other hand was available in both mirror chrome and matte chrome finishes.

Bernie.

#30 penmanila

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 07:59

i just got me one of these big, bad, black rotring 600 "old style" FPs today here in manila, where my local bookstore is having a sale--got my rotring brand-new with a box for just $31! sweet deal. if i had the time, i'd go all over manila and buy up the rest of them (i'm sure they even have some rare 700-series ones in stock) but alas, time's even more precious than money right now.... i love the high-gloss cap end, the heft (man, the heft!) and, of course, that trademark red ring. (today's also the day another german pen--and another 6xx--arrived by courier--my pelikan M650 from singapore. whattaday.) smile.gif



two pens, two sensibilities.


Edited by penmanila, 21 July 2008 - 08:28.

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#31 Sam P.

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 11:40

QUOTE (penmanila @ Jul 21 2008, 03:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
i just got me one of these big, bad, black rotring 600 "old style" FPs today here in manila, where my local bookstore is having a sale--got my rotring brand-new with a box for just $31! sweet deal. if i had the time, i'd go all over manila and buy up the rest of them (i'm sure they even have some rare 700-series ones in stock) but alas, time's even more precious than money right now.... i love the high-gloss cap end, the heft (man, the heft!) and, of course, that trademark red ring. (today's also the day another german pen--and another 6xx--arrived by courier--my pelikan M650 from singapore. whattaday.) smile.gif



two pens, two sensibilities.


Sir, where'd you get the rotring for that price? I'd want to know.

Sam
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#32 xmattxyzx

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 11:48

Good lord, $31? I am so envious.

#33 penmanila

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 15:46

i got the rotring 600 at national bookstore quezon avenue. i liked it so much that i went to another NBS branch later in the day (NBS SM north), and picked up another 600 FP, this time in silver with an M nib, also for $31 (P1,400)! at this rate i just might visit more branches and pick up one or two more. (they don't come with converters, though, and the original rotring cartridges are out of stock--however, inoxcrom cartridges fit just fine; you can get them at SM north for P29.50 or 65 US cents a six-pack).

ps / it's the very same pen that's selling for almost $200 on ebay, like this one:


http://cgi.ebay.com/...8QQcmdZViewItem

Edited by penmanila, 21 July 2008 - 16:01.

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#34 welch

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 18:30

Three years later, someone has referred to this: a superb story!

Nice review, I have the newer version FP, and thought I'd take the oppurtunity to tell how my rotring 600 saved my life not just once but 3 times in one day. While driving in Florida, I swerved to avoid a collision and found myself off the road, into a river and sinking quickly. As my door would not open, I realized I would have to break out the winshield. I grabbed my Rotring 600 and used it to break the winshield, kicked it out, and began to swim towards the surface. Just as I broke the surface and gasped for air, I felt a sudden and furious attack of an alligator as it clamped down on one of my thrashing legs. As the Rotring 600 was still in my hand, I uncapped it and used the M steel nib to poke at the terrifing reptile's eyes. It released me and I made my way to the shore. Once there, I needed to stop the bleeding, so I applied a tourniquet. Once again, the Rotring 600 saved the day. Now capped, the pen made a perfect tension turning rod to twist the tourniquet. I owe my life to my rotring 600. I shudder to thing what would have happened if I had chosen a celuloid as my user for the day!
When the EMT arrived, he said "What is that? A fountain pen? Don't they leak and stain your pocket? Can I borrow it?"

;)


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#35 Scrawler

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 03:40

I have one of the original matte black 600's, which I bought brand new when they came out. It looks and feels like a machine bolt. It had exactly the right machine look to it that would have been appropriate in my technology office. I love the look and feel of it, but stopped using it after a short while. It has the fine nib. It runs dry, skipping letters. It requires too much pressure on the paper to keep ink flowing through it. It only works with a very slow and deliberate style of writing, so I cannot use it to keep notes or sign my name. I wish it were not so and I could use it, but am planning to just keep it as an interesting artifact. As a pen, it is a failure.

#36 mana

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 06:53

Scrawler, I have a bunch of the first generation rotring 600 fountain pens and they all work pretty much flawlessly. I can write as fast as I can with them and they do not run out or skip. So I do not think that the pen itself (design wise) would be a failure as such, you just have a specimen that has some problems.

Hmmm, have you tried taking then nib/feed assembly apart? I think your pen just needs some loving tuning, all of the things you mentioned can be remedied with applying information found on this site and some elbow grease.

Separating the nib and feed from the section can feel a bit daunting (they are friction fitted) but they should pull off straight with some force. Just use a rubber covered pliers or tape.

If they feel stuck there is a round hole on the bottom side of the feed (close to the section). If you have an appropriate piece of metal you can try to push it out. I used a stainless steel fork that had the correctly shaped (roundish) and sized prongs.

Just take a firm grip close to the section and use the pin/fork to push it straight out. It might take some force and real care should be taken when doing so to align the direction of the force straight out. The forces in question can grow large enough to break the feed if applied to the wrong direction. It would also be worthwhile to "aim" the pen at a towel or something to catch the parts, I spent a few minutes looking for my nib and feed because they flew off with some force. :D

In hindsight I should most probably construct a device consisting of a steel nail with the right diameter round cross section and a piece of plank. Just drive the nail in perpendicular to the plank, cut it at an appropriate length, file the end straight and use that to pull the nib/feed out (after fastening the newfangled device to the table/bench top). Should be more safe that way...

The feed should be inspected (mainly the slits and canals) for obstructions, clogging etc. These can be bits of leftover plastic from the manufacturing process etc. You can use a surgeons scalpel or a razor blade to clean them and in some cases smooth them out or make them more open. It is also worthwhile to wash the section, feed and nib now that they are apart.

The nib can take more work, some of it you can do yourself and some should be left for a nibmeister. There is a lot of info about doing things mentioned above (adjusting feeds & nibs) on this forum alone so just dig in.

So yeah, I think your rOtring 600 has a fairly good chance of becoming a good or even an excellent writer. And the feeling one gets from doing things like that successfully is priceless. You breathe new life into your pen.

There is always a risk but the pay off is worth it to me. I remember the first time I tried a pen that I had tuned myself. It was a Parker Sonnet with an 18k gold nib, fancy but with poor flow and skipping. I really had deemed it hopeless. But oh boy, you should have seen the grin on my face when it painted a really nice and wet, almost luscious black line on paper, the kind I had only seen in my dreams.... it really had become alive... :D

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#37 Scrawler

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 14:53

Hi mana,
I am reading your response as I am drinking my first cup of coffee, it all seems a bit daunting to my uncaffeinated brain. I am in no way a pen expert, I just like to write with them. I do not have much in the way of tools, and I am a bit frightened of breaking it. If it requires force, it may be best if I wait until I am next visiting a city and look for a pen repairer there before I go. I was honestly surprised to read this entire column, because I just thought of this pen as a write off and a shelf ornament. I had thought it was a design flaw, because there is no hole in the stainless steel nib, unlike every other pen I write with, which does have a hole of some sort in the nib. I will review you instructions later and see how confident I feel about it, but the idea of taking pliers to a nib is just frightening. If I break it, I am pretty sure that it is irreplaceable. I am having trouble finding a new nib for another of my German pens, which I was able to take apart, by hand force, but in that case I did not mind, because the nib was broken and the reason for taking it apart was not to tune it, but to replace the nib entirely.

#38 Scrawler

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 17:48

OK, I have just taken a scalpel to the nib of my Rotring 600, and I take back every bad thing I have said. It is now just excellent.

#39 mana

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 18:20

OK, I have just taken a scalpel to the nib of my Rotring 600, and I take back every bad thing I have said. It is now just excellent.

Yay! :D

Adopt, Don't Shop! Support Your Local Animal Shelters! - Let's make this world a better place together! Because... now is the only thing that is real...

"Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design." - Dieter Rams
 

EDC: Post WWII green binde Pelikan 100N CI 14K B, Blue Marbled M200 F, 400NN Tortoise CI 14K BB. INKED: early 70s LAMY 2000 MK, Parker 51 Aerometric F & M, rOtring Art Pen 1.1 & Woodshed Pen Co. Red swirl 1.1 mm CI, Kaweco V12 14K B and then some... Inks: Pelikan 4001 BB & Turquoise, vintage Parker Quink, Lamy Turquoise, Diamine Eau de Nil, Sailor Souboku etc.


#40 Anes

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Posted 13 October 2009 - 19:31

Great review, great pen. I am using my R600 for last 8 years...






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