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.
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.