The Rotring 900 is family of pens and pencils that was sold in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was one of Rotring’s flagship pens at the time but it has not received the level of attention or the beloved status of the Rotring 600. The Rotring Altro was a cheaper, plastic version of the 900 but it wasn’t sold in all the same models.
Now, almost 30 years later, this is a cult pen with a small but dedicated following and relatively high prices on the used market.
The Rotring 900 ballpoint was sold in two varieties, the top button and the side-knock. The latter of the two is by far the more desirable, but they are both difficult to find. Interestingly, the two pens look almost identical when side-by-side so it’s a challenge to simply by a “Rotring 900 ballpoint” used without asking a few questions.
The top-click 900 uses a Parker-style G2 refill while the side-knock model uses a D1 pen refill. Both are good options, but most people prefer the Parker G2 as it has a larger capacity and more ink options.
The pens look the same but have different weights: the side-knock is a hefty 33.3 grams while the top-button is a considerable 40.3 grams.
Rotring 900 Ballpoint Review
These are cult-status pens, so any love of them — especially the side-knock — will be largely based on the history and the design, not necessarily the performance. They are wonderfully constructed and have a great weight to them with nearly all metal designs that the pens of today seem not to be able to mimic.
With that said, these pens don’t perform that great when writing. They are quite long, quite heavy, and both mechanisms have issues. Of course, the pens are nearly 30 years old so even if they are “new old stock” (NOS) they might now perform optimally. The top-knock pen has some friction issues with the metal-on-metal at the top of the pen and a standard Parker-style G2 refill from Rotring seems to fit with a little bit of rub.
The body-knock variant is wonderful and completely novel but hard to find. It’s also a fickle mechanism that will stop working if the slightest issue or misalignment arises. The specific unit we tested in the video seems to be missing a tiny spring from the top of the cone piece which does the body knocking. As a result the pen won’t retract the writing tip, except when it’s inverted. It still works so this is a minor issue, but it’s an annoying quirk when you’ve waiting months to track down the pen.
Overall, these are excellent collectors pen, but they are more about the design and the 1980s design aesthetic than they are actually writing.
Rotring 900 Ballpoint Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Barrel Color||Silver, Chrome|
|Body Diameter (mm)||9.5|
|Grip Color||Silver, Chrome|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||9.5|
|Country of Origin||Japan|
|Capped? Retractable?||Retractable - Side Knock, Retractable - Top Button|
|Length Capped / Retracted (cm)||15.0|