Reissue of the rOtring 600 Ballpoint - Return of an Icon

If you’ve followed the blog for a few years, you’ll know that for a period I had somewhat of a rOtring obsession. (putting it mildly actually…) “New” rOtring products didn’t quite fit my fancy, but more of the “vintage” variety of the discontinued 600 series ballpoint, rollerball, fountain, and multipens. I couldn’t get enough of them.

My unreasonable collection at one point…

In a way, I have a sort of reverence for the rOtring 600 series. To me it is a line of products that stand out as truly unique and influential design pieces that really haven’t been evenly matched when an engineering/technical type of aesthetic is desired. And, I never get tired of them.

They certainly stand the test of time for me, and as we all saw on the secondary market, these pens rose in prominence and price. To get your hands on one of the now discontinued ballpoint pens would easily cost more than $100, and for fountain pens and rollerballs upwards of $200 or more.

The history of rOtring gets a little blurry over the years… sometimes things were produced in Germany, sometimes in Japan, with logo or no logo. Ultimately the company was acquired by Newell-Rubbermaid, the parent company of brands like PaperMate and this is when we saw a dramatic decline in the 600 series.

The odd thing is that they continued to produce the beloved 600 pencil series without pause, all while fans were anxious to get their hands on pens that were becoming rarer and rarer. Very strange.

Well, sometime within the past year I caught word that rOtring Japan had officially done a reissue of the 600 ballpoint and I knew I needed to get my hands on some. Initially these were somewhat tough to get your hands on, but now they are starting to hit more mainstream buying sites (you can even get them on Amazon Prime in the US) which I’m so pleased about.

How does the new pen compare to the original?

I can honestly say they did a stellar job in the reissue and I’ve been carrying the new ones just as much as the old (since I’m also not afraid now to beat them up!).

In comparison to the original there are some definite variances, but nothing to me that would make a true fan outcry in anger as they didn’t skimp in producing a great pen.

Like the original, the entire pen is made of brass which gives it a sturdy heft. This is one of my favorite things about this pen is just how solid it feels. It is what I’d consider a thin pen by comparison to others, but its weight gives it a substantial feeling while writing.

On the new they kept the proportions exactly, but the subtle differences I noticed were that the edges of the hex are just slightly rounder than the originals and the knurling is a smaller, tighter pattern. If you weren’t looking at them side by side, someone probably wouldn’t notice.

One major difference is the removal of the spinning color indicator sleeve that sits right below the knock on the original models. While this adds interest to the pen, it was one of those features that I’d say the majority of people wouldn’t really use too often and I don’t consider it a tremendous loss. I DO appreciate that they removed it so that vintage collectors can still tell what is new and what is original by a quick glance.

600 vs 800 Models

In the past there was only the “600” that had two variations: the simpler, fixed pipe model with a click knock and the fancier “gold” versions with a fully retractable tip and twist mechanism.

Today, we refer to the “gold” models as the 800 series and these have been available in pencil form also even up through modern issue.

In addition to the re-releasing of the 600 ballpoint, rOtring Japan also sprung to recreate the 800 model which is pretty fantastic. More so than the original “600s”, the retractable gold versions are more rare and can fetch close to $300 or $400, out of reach for most fans. Luckily, I scored my originals in some auctions that let them go for a fair price, but I was excited to see that these were done too.

The 800 series is slightly larger (just slightly..) and is bit more front heavy due to the thicker, polished brass fixture on the end, but doesn’t outweigh the 600 by much, just 0.1 or 0.2 oz. It feels different in the hand though.

Being a bit more involved and fancier, the 800s do fetch a premium over the 600 that may not be worth it to everyone. I’m really glad they opted for these so that people that have had a desire to get one for a long time can now get their hands on them.

Like the 600, I find the 800s match up in quality to the originals nicely and fans won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve been hoping to get your hands on an original rOtring 600 ballpoint but couldn’t stomach the $140 to get one in the past off eBay, do yourself a favor and go buy one of these new models. I’m confident you’ll get the same enjoyment out of it as you would a vintage one.

Tactile Turn Pencil - Quick Look!

Will Hodges of Tactile Turn has become somewhat of a household name around the machined pen community. He's been at making metal pens and goods now approaching his 7th year (maybe longer...) and he did a quick Kickstarter campaign for a pencil version to match his Slider and Glider bolt-action pens.

The reason I'm giving this pencil what I'm considering a "quick look" is since his Kickstarter was a short run and is ending on the 30th, but I still wanted to share some thoughts on it.

If you're familiar with his previous campaign for the Slider and Glider pens, the pencil takes the same shape and design and adds in a mechanical pencil feature. Where previously there was a curving bolt-action mechanism, the pencil replaces it with the same knob but now in a smaller, "clicker" motion.

The internal mechanism Will chose to use is a Schmidt Feinminen-System which is a durable "over-the-counter" part that has been also used in a few other products over the last few years. It has a sturdy click and the main feature I like about it is that it actually screws into the grip section of the pencil. This makes sure there is little movement while writing, and also makes the part easily replaceable if something ever goes wrong (like dropping it...).

Also a feature is that this would allow folks to swap mechanisms of various line widths in and out of the same pencil barrel if they so chose. 

Replacing the lead in the mechanism is a bit different than many pencils. Instead of popping out the eraser and dropping the lead into the barrel cavity, you have to unscrew the barrel sections, pull off the mechanism cap, drop in the new lead, and then reassemble the pencil. This isn't a super taxing exercise by any means, but the variation outside of the norm felt noteworthy.

One final note about the mechanism is that the tip is non-retractable. This particular pencil tip doesn't have the usual lead pipe that protrudes out, but what is left exposed is the conical metal tip. Will sent me both 0.7 and 0.5mm versions of the pencil and I've found that the 0.5 is more prone to lead breakage (due to being thinner I'm sure) which may occur more so due to the lack of said pipe. The 0.7mm has been a champ with very little unexpected breakage while writing.

If you dropped the pencil tip onto a hard surface it is definitely bound to get damaged. Also, if putting the pencil in a shirt pocket there may be some added wear that may occur from the tip poking at the fabric.

The clip on the pencils match those of the Sliders and Gliders which are stiff sprung steel. These things aren't going anywhere.

Will also sent me two versions to check out, a titanium and black anodized aluminum, and both look great. The barrels have the signature Tactile Turn "grooves" along the barrel which adds an interesting texture and grip across the whole pencil. 

From a comfort level while clicking to extend the lead, for me personally I'd probably give it a 6/10. This really is the only area that isn't the most comfortable part of the experience. The knob on the pencils are pretty short which requires you to click the top of it down with an area of your thumb that may not do a lot of clicking. It isn't a painful experience or anything, just takes some getting used to.

I've found the aluminum to be a bit smoother than the titanium, but Will let me know that he's worked out how to polish up the inside of the titanium better to allow for less drag while clicking.

The titanium (1.4 oz) certainly has slightly more noticeable heft, but only outweighs the aluminum by 0.4 oz which isn't much. If you were on the fence between the two due to weight, I'd say either one would satisfy.   

The erasers are replaceable, but not entirely sure how readily available they are from places like Amazon, but they'll be available if you ever need them from Tactile Turn.

Lastly, I feel like the Kickstarter price point on these pencils is pretty great. The aluminum version can be had for $49 and the titanium for $69 which seems like a great value. If you love Will's other products, I'd say these are a great option to add to the collection.

The Kickstarter is ending on the 30th, so check out the campaign if interested, and special thanks to Will for sending these over to check out.

Caran d'Ache Ecridor Ballpoint - Retro Palladium Edition

In the history of The Clicky Post there are pen brands that I've not reviewed very much and Caran d'Ache is certainly one of them. I tried the 849 model a few years back and the standard model just wasn't quite for me as it had some features that just weren't my preference (although there are die-hard 849 fans that adore them).

But, I'm always down for another go to see if things change for me.

Pen Chalet offered to send me one of the more "fancy" models of the 849 barrel design called the Ecridor series, so special thanks to them for providing it for review.

I have to say, at first glance this pen IS certainly fancy. Each of the Ecridor series pens are either gold or palladium coated which certainly scales them up when compared to the simpler models. The other models are probably more fun, but the Ecridor models seem to certainly make a statement. This one is of the palladium variety which gives the pen a shiny mirror finish on all the smooth surfaces. The mirror finish also makes it prone to fingerprints, but it sure looks sharp.  

The version I received is called Retro and has an elegant cross-hatch pattern etched along the facets of the barrel. The other variations have what I'd consider more dramatic designs, but this one suits me well. In the lineup it would be the one I would pick every time. All of the designs have a very Art Deco sort of appeal which I also like very much. Classic.

The pen is what I'd consider on the slimmer side as from point to point on the hexagon barrel the width is just around 1 cm. Although, if you compare it to another popular hexagonal barreled pen like the rOtring 600 you'll find they are about the same size. The rOtring 600 is one of my all time favorite pen barrels, so I really can't complain too much about the size can I?...

Where the rOtring has the sharper, more abrupt corners, the Caran d'Ache facets gently curve into each other which definitely gives it a softer feel and appearance. 

In weight and heft of the Ecridor seems much more substantial than the original 849 I reviewed in the past (which I no longer have to compare to unfortunately). I recall it being very light, but this version weighs it at almost an ounce which, for a pen its size, is considerable. Actually, it is just enough weight for it to feel sturdy in the hand, but not unnaturally heavy. It is a good weight. 

In my original review I wasn't the biggest fan of the click mechanism due to how it felt, and admittedly this one about the same for me. Functionally I have no qualms about it, but in feel it just isn't quite as satisfying.

It has a very smooth action and is extremely quiet (aside from some slight metallic rubbing sounds of the parts moving around) which I'm sure many people would appreciate. Probably the fidgeter in me wants something with a little more snap, but if you are more the silent click type, this and the standard 849 just might be your match made in heaven.

To remove the refill you unscrew the knock mechanism which is made of brass and some plastic (wish this was all metal).

On the knock is also the only branding found on the pen which has been etched around the circumference as well as the hexagon "logo" etched on the very end. These appear laser etched which is ok, but from a design standpoint I probably would have preferred a deeper engraving or stamping on the parts considering the pen's price point. 

One thing I really appreciate quite a bit is how far the writing tip extends. This is an extremely subtle thing, but I appreciate that in comparison to many pens it may appear too short. To me it is really the perfect amount. Usually with ballpoint pens you can see a small amount (or large sometimes...yikes) of the flat cylinder side of the writing tip, but on the Ecridor it is hidden with exactness. Since the pen has a sloping angle towards the tip, the fact that the refill is only showing the conical section doesn't let the flat side of the refill distract from the overall design. 

That observation probably puts me somewhere in the crazy zone of impractical thinking, but I can't imagine that design was by accident. To the original engineer(s) of this design, I tip my hat to you. If no one else gave a darn about that, just know that I certainly did. Bravo.

The ink included with the pen is the Caran d'Ache Goliath ballpoint refill in medium, and while I originally remember not loving it I don't mind it so much now. I go in phases at times where I want only rollerball or gel pens which are dark and smooth, and ballpoints are just not that way at times. This refill has been considerably smooth and comfortable. 

I was aware that Parker style refills do fit in the 849 barrels so I decided to swap in an EasyFlow 9000. While it did technically fit and operate, it was obvious that there are slight tolerances that exposed that the pen wasn't designed for it. Things like the knock not catching every time and the tip extending a little further than normal. I decided to swap the Goliath back in.

From a style standpoint, I think the Ecridor has a lot going for it. The hexagonal barrel gives it a unique look that, while overall somewhat simple, stands out for sure. It is a classy pen and has a shape that isn't shared by many models.

This is definitely a luxury type item with a retail price of $170 (street price about 20% lower), but not uncommon when you move into pens with precious metals involved.

If you like the 849 and are potentially looking for a step up, the Ecridor lineup is likely to not disappoint. Special thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending it along to review.