One of my clearest early stationery memories is my father handing me a rOtring 600 and telling me it was magic. He told me that this special pen could write in any color, but you had to wish for it really hard when you pressed the button down. He demonstrated blue for me, and then asked me to pick a color, which of course I chose red, and was amazed when the color changed the next time he clicked the pen. Then he let me in on the secret; there were colored dots on the sides of that pen, and which ever side was facing up when you clicked, a gravity mechanism utilizing a small pendulum inside the barrel would cause that refill to be propelled forward instead of the others. I loved and coveted that pen, and when I heard that rOtring was rereleasing a 600 multipen I was overjoyed. Unfortunately, this rerelease lacks that old magic.
I should preface by saying this new pen is alright. It writes when you put it to paper, it takes standard D1 refills and standard 0.5 mm leads. It looks nice. If you’ve never owned a rOtring multipen and you just like the look of it, you probably won’t hate it. But the shelves of office supply stores everywhere are lined with pens that are “alright”. The long awaited rerelease of the rOtring 600 3 in 1 multipen deserves to be of an elevated status.
The pendulum-based gravity mechanism is gone here. In its place is a rotating mechanism where in turn each of the three internal refills will extend past the two others, in a sort of merry-go-round action. Due to the nature of this “carousel mechanism”, there is never a time when all three implements are truly retracted, but rather just a time when the one going out and the one coming in are both at the same length, and too short to extend past the end of the barrel. The barrel itself is completely hollow, and other than gripping the silver portion of the mechanism to allow the black portion to be turned free of it, serves no function.
As previously mentioned, the mechanism houses two D1 refills, and a proprietary mechanical pencil. The pencil doesn’t fit in a standard D1 slot, so leave your fantasies at the door of swapping in a different D1, or swapping this pencil into a different pen. I’ll get to how the pencil works in a moment, but don’t get too excited; that bit may reveal the biggest disappointment of all.
The standard pen refills that come in this multipen are nothing exciting. They write with a slightly thinner line than the ballpoint refills that come in the regular 600 ballpoint, but they are also slightly scratchier. The red is a little light for my taste, but is a fairly standard ballpoint red. The black is a bit light for my taste as well, but may simply owe this to being such a fine line. If you sold it to me as a blue black I might actually like it more, and spend some time staring in to it for a nuance that isn’t actually there.
And now for the biggest disappointment: the knock is a lie. This pen is ultimately a exercise in skeuomorphism, with the entire rear cylinder behind the clip being one solid piece of metal. When you depress the knock, the entire internal mechanism goes down. This works well enough for the pencil, which has a tip smaller than the opening in the barrel but a base thicker, so that depressing the base against the end of the barrel advances the lead. For the standard D1 refills, though, they just stick out, as demonstrated below. There is no removing the shell over the knock to reveal a tiny vestigial eraser here either, as it is all one solid piece. Bring your own eraser for this multipen, and prepare to be disappointed.
Maybe I’m being hard on this pen. The mechanism, while it’s no pendulum, works just fine, and the erasers on rotring pencils are so tiny that they are functionally useless. By removing the color markings on the sides, you are also free to swap in D1 refills of any color you prefer. Buying a vintage rOtring 600 Trio multipen would cost hundreds of dollars on eBay, and this one is only around $50 ~ $55 on Amazon Japan.
But the carousel mechanism replacing the pendulum, and the skewmorphic button on the back, those are changes I just can’t get past. Especially the false-knock; such a treasonous design. I still have hope that the relative explosion of rOtring 600 models in recent years will lead up to rereleases of the rollerball and fountain pen, but now, for the first time, I’m worried what state they might be rereleased in. This isn’t a matter of replacing the rOtring 600 with the rOtring Newton. It’s more like replacing a Parker Sonnet with a Parker 5th Tech.
The above review contain an Amazon Affiliate link that benefits us if you make purchases through it. The pen reviewed in this post was purchased by us at full price through Amazon Japan with no consideration paid by Amazon, rOtring, or any of their affiliates or parent companies.