The Rotring 600 is a legendary pen and mechanical pencil that has been around since the late 1980s. It’s changed over the years but it remains one of the best drafting pencils sold today, as well as one of the most iconic writing devices ever sold.
The Rotring 600 ($16.75) is a brass drafting pencil that is sold in both black and silver finishes. The pen is known for its knurling and excellent build quality. It has a hexagonal body with a round knurled grip and additional knurling at the top, around the lead hardness indicator. The lead sleeve (the pipe) is not retractable but this feature is available on the Rotring 800 and 800+ pencils.
The Rotring 600 pencil has a nice weight to it and an excellent balance. It’s sometimes criticized for its thin grip, but this is generally more of an issue with the pen, which tends to be used for longer stretches of time continuously.
The Rotring 600 was originally made in West Germany but recent models — are technically re-released versions of the original — are made in Japan. In 1998 Rotring was acquired by Sanford, which was a major demarcation point in in the product’s life.
Rotring 600 vs Rotring 600G
If you get deep into the Rotring 600 history, you will start to see mentions of a “Rotring 600G.” This is actually shorthand for the Rotring 600 Gold, which was a variant of the original “knurled grip” Rotring mechanical pencils. The Gold version not only had a gold tip and ring at the top, but has a retractable pipe that was extended with a twisting action.
These pencils are true collectors items today but are no longer as coveted as they once were because Rotring released the Rotring 800 mechanical pencil, which is simply the re-released Rotring 600G. The new naming system of 600 and 800 is much simpler than having two very different Rotring 600s available for sale.
The 600G was sold in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm versions.
The main difference between the 600G and the Rotring 800 is that the 800’s internals have some plastic parts were the inside of the Rotring 600G was entirely made of metal. It’s hard to say if one is better than the other, but it’s a good way to tell if your Rotring has the original internals. The knurling has also changed over the years, with the older knurling usually being less precise and more “smudged” then that of the newer pencils.
Rotring 600 Drafting Pencil Information
|Street Price||Check Price|
|Pencil Models||0.5 mm, 0.7 mm|
|Barrel Color||Silver, Black|
|Body Diameter (mm)||9.1 mm|
|Grip Color||Silver, Black|
|Grip Diameter (mm)||8.1 mm|
|Lead Grades||4H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B|
|Capped or Retractable||No|
|Lead Advance Style||Top Button|
|Lead Size (Diameter)||0.5 mm, 0.7 mm|
|Body Length||14.1 cm|
|Lead Pipe Length||4.2 mm|