First released in 1989, the Rotring 600 is an iconic family of writing instruments. The most popular of the set was the ballpoint pen, which was available in a number of variations. The pen was re-released in 2018 as the Rotring 600 ballpoint (a top-button click retractable) and the Rotring 800 ballpoint (twist retractable), though they were both known as the “Rotring 600” when originally sold.
Rotring 600 Ballpoint Models
The Rotring 600 ballpoint was originally sold in the following variants:
- Silver (click)
- Black (click)
- Silver with gold trim (twist)
- Black with gold trim (twist)
The gold models were generally referred to as the Rotring 600 Gold or the Rotring 600 KS.
Rotring 600 Background
True fans of the pen will also differentiate between the different generations of the original Rotring 600 models. With the ballpoint the largest differentiator within the original run of 600s is between the standard and Levenger models. The Levenger ones were made in Japan and are a clear predecessor to Levenger’s L-Tech line of pens and pencils.
The main feature you will hear about when investigating the Rotring 600 is the knurled grip. This is the case for a number of reasons, but primarily because Rotring followed up the 600 line with the Newton, which was more common and less desirable. The Newton look very much like the 600 but does not have the knurled grip.
The ballpoint version uses a Parker-style G2 refill. The body is made of coated brass.
The history of the Rotring 600 is not very well documented, at least outside of Rotring, but it was first released as a mechanical pencil in 1988. This design was based on the slightly older Rotring 500 pencil, which was released in 1985. The Rotring 500 was, and still is, a drafting pencil. It was never sold as a pen.
Future of the Rotring 600
In late 2019 the Rotring 600 pen and pencil were removed from Rotring’s US website. Unsharpen made inquiries to the company and were told that this not done in error and that the Rotring 600 would be discontinued in the United States. The representative recommended instead the Tikky or Rapid Pro.
Also in later 2019 we learned that red, blue, and green Rotring 600 pens would be released in Japan. These will not be special editions, but rather standard issue 600s. So while the pen may no longer be sold in the US it will certainly live on in other regions and be importable from them.
Interestingly, Rotring wasn’t the only company that sold the Rotring 600 ballpoint. Levenger, the mail order stationery catalog had a Levenger co-branded 600 pen for a time later in the original pen’s life.
There was also the Koh-I-Noor Rapidomatic 5645 which is the same pen as the black Rotring 600 but uses Koh-I-Noor branding. This was a continuation of an existing partnership where Koh-I-Noor had previously sold re-branded Rotring technical pens.
Rotring 600 Ballpoint (2018 Model)
The Rotring 600 ballpoint pen was re-released in 2018. This version was a close copy of the original with a small number of differences that was notable mainly to collectors of the original pens.
The major difference was in naming: the gold trim Rotring 600 from the ’80s and ’90s are now known as the Rotring 800.
Rotring 600 vs Rapid Pro
Rotring’s Rapid Pro ballpoint is quite reminiscent of the 600. And prior to 2018, the Rapid Pro was the only way to get a new Rotring 600-style design, so it became quite a popular option.
While the two pens are very similar the Rapid Pro has plastic components and is a less durable pen then the 600. The main point of failure of the Rapid Pro is the plastic section where the lower and upper parts (the grip and the body) screw together. The component is brass on the Rotring 600.
Read our full comparison of the Rapid Pro and 600.
Rotring 600 Ballpoint Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Barrel Color||Silver, Black|
|Body Diameter (mm)||9.0|
|Grip Color||Silver, Black|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||8.2|
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Capped? Retractable?||Retractable - Top Button|
|Length Capped / Retracted (cm)||13.7|
|Ink Color Shipped||Black|
|Writing Sizes||1.0 mm|