I was about five years old when the rOtring 600 arrived on the stationery scene, but I can’t remember a time before it. Our very first Pocket Size Review was a rOtring Newton fountain pen (the direct successor to the 600) and our eighth Pocket Size Review was a Levenger L Tech 3.0 (one of the many spiritual successors out there.) I could go on about how I still have my original 0.5mm 600 from the 90s, or how I grew up with a closet in the house filled with 600s of various models that were set aside to be given out as gifts, but to really get to the source, here’s what my father, Julian, had to say about the 600 model:
I first started using Rotring mechanical pencils in the 1990’s. As an Accountant I needed a writing instrument that would write clearly so I could put little numbers in little boxes. This is before MS Excel and all its predecessors.Prior to using Rotring I used Pentel mechanical pencils, like most accountants. These did the job pretty well. What Rotring brought was a pencil with weight and one that didn’t feel like it would break after a few days of heavy use. It was made of metal and not plastic. I originally used the Rotring 600 with .5mm leads. I eventually moved up to the .7mm leads as the .5mm were breaking too often as I pressed harder.
I’ve had and still use Rotring 600’s .5 and .7 mm. Rotring 800+ .7mm (retractable point and soft tip for using on a screen) and my latest the Rotring rapid pro 2mm. They all feel very good. Good heft and good writing. But the writing also depends on the lead. Don’t scrimp get good lead.
All of this to say, when I saw the announcement late last year that special colors of the 600 were coming in 2020, I knew right away that I’d be ordering them. Luckily, Amazon Japan was incredibly easy to work with, and shipped super fast. More on that later, but first how about I share the pictures that I know you’re here for. Click through the slideshow below, and join me underneath for further discussion of these pencils.
All three colors look great. We ordered all three as 0.7mm pencils, just because that’s what would ship the soonest, but they are also available in 0.5mm lead, or in ballpoint. I took some comparison shots compared to my aforementioned fountain pens and vintage 600 pencil, as well as the Silver 600 fountain pen I picked up at the Baltimore pen show this year so you can see them next to a full range of rOtring colorways and even one of Levenger’s (Levenger has put out the L Tech in a wide variety of colors over the years.)
Compared to the vintage pencil, the most obvious difference is that the new pencils have a hole in the top of their eraser caps. I’m not sure if this hole serves a particular purpose (maybe to alleviate choking hazard risks?), but my understanding is that this hole has been standard on 600 pencils for at least a few years now. Under the hood, the differences are a bit more clear, and I was actually unable to remove the front end from the mechanism on the new pencils even though I was able to on the vintage pencil, but the mechanism itself worked great on both.
As far as ordering, Amazon Japan was super easy to use but did require creation of a new “Amazon Japan account”; you can’t just use your existing account in the US (you can register the new account to the same email address, however.) There is a language selection option on the top bar of the webpage on a desktop, or in the side menu on mobile, that allows you to view the page in English. Additionally, while creating your account if the language selector doesn’t save your settings, I recommend using the Google Chrome browser, which can automatically translate the page to English for you. This was particularly instrument made for me in setting things up.
Once your account is set up, you’re ready to get searching. The page will do its best to translate your search terms to Japanese. Just make sure that you’re selecting items that will ship to your country. In my experience, shipping costs have been very low or even free. Once you’ve entered a shipping address, the site should give you a message to warn you if an item won’t ship to you. To help you out, here are some links to the specific models that we ordered. Our order was placed on March 4th and arrived March 10th, so that kind of shipping speed is hard to beat. If you’re looking for the 0.5mm pencil or the ballpoint, it is easy to find those navigating from the below links as well.
Overall, I am incredibly happy with these pencils. I think the metallic colors are great choices for this design. I’d love to see these become a permanent part of the rOtring line-up, but in case they aren’t, I’m glad to have gotten mine. And now I know how easy it will be to get one of the new 600 multipens slated for rerelease later this month…
Penquisition paid the full listed price for these pencils on Amazon Japan. The above post contains Amazon Japan Affiliate links.