Rotring 600 Mk 2 (Newton Mk 1) Lava EF (steel nib)
Rotring made a number of fountain pens before being acquired by the Newell Rubbermaid conglomerate; among their many products was the Rotring 600. As others (most notably Splicer) have detailed elsewhere, the 600 went through two iterations, with the latter sometimes referred to as the "Newton" (not to be confused with the later Newton design).
The pen came in a small cardboard box – evidently it was manufactured late in the 600’s production run, as the sticker on the box bore the name "Newton".
Appearance and design (9/10): Industrial chic
Rotring's 600 series embodies no-nonsense industrial design – a combination of a hexagonal cap and barrel and a cylindrical section. There are no adornments other than the trademark red ring on the cap. Even the clip is simplicity itself.
Some 600s were manufactured with 18k gold nibs; this is not one of them. The stainless steel wing nib is unadorned, except for the discreet “Rotring” and “EF” markings on the sides of the nib.
The pen is coated in Rotring’s lava finish, which has a rough finish and is slightly sparkly.
There are also abundant signs of attention to detail. There is a scalloped edge to the barrel where the cap meets the barrel. The section has spring-loaded studs which help to hold the cap in place.
The section is threaded so that the nib is not symmetrical with the barrel. However, it is aligned so that the nib is at the right angle when the barrel is resting in the hand.
Construction and quality (9/10): Typically Germanic
The widespread reputation of Rotring 600s being nigh-on indestructible is well-deserved. The 600 appears to have an all-brass construction underneath; its solidity and build quality is reminiscent of that other miracle of German mechanical engineering, the Leica M rangefinder camera.
The one pitfall is that the cap does not post securely. There is a rubber grommet on the end of the barrel, but the cap does not fit snugly. In practice, however, I have not found this to be a problem as the centre of gravity is uncomfortably high with the cap posted.
Weight and dimensions (10/10): Reassuringly substantial
I do not like lightweight pens, and this particular 600 feels reassuringly substantial in the hand. The 600 is not particularly large by fountain pen standards, although its angularity makes it look larger than it actually is.
Nib and performance (9/10): A smooth nail
This particular 600 has a stainless steel EF nib – in short, a nail, but a smooth one. I've had some occasional ink flow problems, but nothing unexpected in an EF nib and nothing that I would characterise as a show-stopper.
Filling system and maintenance (9/10): Standard cartridge/converter
The 600 is a cartridge/converter filler. My 600 was not supplied with a converter – and, because Rotring no longer makes fountain pens, the supply of original parts has already dried up. However, the 600 will accept both international (short) cartridges or Waterman long cartridges.
Due to how securely the cap is mounted, small ink spatters can often be found on the nib after uncapping.
Cost and value (9/10)
HK$600 (about US$77) as new-old stock from a pen shop in Hong Kong – not that cheap for a 600, but not terribly expensive for something this durable.
The Lava finish was the drawing point of this 600, and it has delivered in spades – it provides a grippy surface (even for sweaty hands) without being abrasive. Even without the Lava finish, the no-nonsense design and build quality would make this pen difficult to pass up.
Edited by ayhc, 22 November 2009 - 13:36.