rOtring 600 Fountain Pen Review

My first rOtring product was a silver rOtring 600 series 3 rollerball.  I've had it for quite some time - over 10 years, I think - and I love it.  Ever since I picked it up I've had an obsession with the 600s but haven't found myself in a position to buy any more.

This past Christmas, though, was a surprise.  My girlfriend found me a rOtring 600 series 2 fountain pen and, pairing it with a few bottles of Noodler's Ink, put together an exceptional gift.

I'll be sticking to my review template which is available here.

Materials:  2

There's a good reason why the rOtring 600 has a cult-like following.  It's incredibly well-constructed and exudes quality.  Upon picking up the pen, one immediately realizes the quality of the build.

The body and cap are machines from brass and are chrome plated in a silver satin-tone finish.  The nib is constructed of steel.

Brass is the preeminent material for pen construction, or so it would seem.  It has a great weight to it, resists corrosion, and is incredibly robust.

Fit of Parts:  2

As mentioned, the build of the 600 line is impeccable.  The body sections screw together tightly without any play or wiggle.

The fit between the section and the barrel is as perfect as it can be.  There is no wiggle whatsoever between these parts.  I can say from experiece that the fit here does not loosen over time; my 600 rollerball has not noticeably loosened in the decade I've owned it.
Mechanism:  2

The 600 uses a simple snap-on design; two "snaps" on the body of the pen interface with the cap.  The pen cannot be capped without properly aligning the sides.  When capped, there is no noticeable play between the cap and the body of the pen.  Also, the cap cannot rotate while it is on.

When posted, the cap is secured by an o-ring; it can wiggle slightly if prompted, but it feels quite secure.  I haven't noticed it when writing thus far.  It's certainly not a wiggle worthy of condemnation.
Line:  2

Currently, I'm using Noodler's Blue-Black ink.  It's new to me, so I'm relatively unfamiliar with its performance in other pens.

The pen lays down a smooth, skip-free line.  This is the first fountain pen I've owned with an EF nib.  Until now I've had a drawer full of F nibs and a head full of EF dreams; for ages I turned my LAMY Safari upside-down to achieve a thinner line (who knows what kind of damage I did to that poor nib).  I have heard some people complain about scratchiness or other such problems with EF nibs.  I'm happy to say that I haven't encountered any such things with this particular pen.

I'm also pleased to report that the Noodler's Blue-Black ink has managed to tackle Moleskine paper without feathering, as I (and others, I believe) have experienced with other inks.  This is certainly a pleasant surprise as I wasn't planning on purchasing a new notebook any time soon.  The ink does appear to take a bit longer to dry on Moleskine paper than compared to others (20 lb. copy paper, for example); being right-handed, this doesn't bother me too much.

Writing Comfort:  2

The rOtring 600 series 2 is quite comfortable to write with.  The grip section, as aforementioned, is smooth (as compared to the rOtring 600 series 1 which featured a knurled grip) and slightly tapered toward the nib.

When the cap is not posted the balance of the pen sits approximately 3 inches from the nib (when the reservoir is full).  When the cap is posted to the top of the pen the balance point shifts to approximately 4 inches from the nib; on my hand, the balance point rests on the web between my thumb and index finger.  This is a very comfortable balance point, in my opinion, as it allows me to manipulate the nib as if it were almost weightless.

In the long-term the pen retains its comfort.  Over the past two weeks I have spent many consecutive hours writing notes and have not encountered any discomfort.

Design Concept:  2

If it hasn't been evident, I adore the design of this pen.  It's a perfect marriage of form and function; it seems as if every aspect of the pen has a purpose.

The pen measures 5.5 inches when capped; 5 inches when uncapped; and 6.75 inches when the cap is posted.  It features a hexagonal barrel which is the iconic feature of the rOtring 600 line.  The grip portion of the pen is smooth and slightly tapered toward the nib.  Just before the terminus of the grip there is a small raised ridge.

The nib is simple, particularly when compared to other fountain pens.  It's about as streamlined as I've seen (discounting hooded nibs, of course).
The underlying design philosophy (as I understand it) epitomizes the minimalistic teachings of the German Bauhaus school.  Conceived and founded in the early 20th century, the Bauhaus school focused on the unification of crafts, art, and technology.  The ultimate goal of such design was to create a "purely organic [product], boldly emanating its inner laws, free of untruths and ornamentation."  The philosophy embraced the machine culture of the period and attempted to reduce designs to their most basic essentials; this required the excision of sentimental choices and visual distractions.

I would have to say that the rOtring 600 line is an embodiment of the Bauhaus teachings.  The pen is uncompromisingly simple, it has been stripped down to its constituent parts with nothing more.

Markings and Insignia:  2

This pen is clean.  When capped, the only visible markings are those of the rOtring logo on the pocket clip and a small, laser-engraved "Germany" on the portion of the pocket clip attaching to the cap.  rOtring's signature red ring adorns the top of the cap while the black cap-retention o-ring is seated at the end of the barrel.  Uncapped, the nib has a small rOtring logo on the left side and the size designation (EF) on the right.

There is nothing on the pen that shouldn't be there; the logos are crisp and the signature "red ring" is unobtrusive and marries well with the design of the pen.  The design of the pen really speaks for itself; rOtring did not have to include any flashy trademark branding to identify this pen as one of theirs.

Carry Method: 2

The pocket clip is very well designed.  It offers enough space for thicker fabrics (denim hasn't been a problem) but remains streamlined outside the pocket (it hasn't caught on anything in the weeks I've been carrying it).  It sits low in the pocket but protrudes just enough to get a good purchase on it for retrieval.

Carry Durability: 2

The pen is bomb-proof in a pocket.  I haven't found any problems with the carry of this pen.  While it has only been a couple weeks of daily carry with this particular pen I can say positively that it hasn't given me any trouble

One concern articulated by some has been that of, "won't that thing leak in your pocket?"  While I strongly doubt I'll ever abuse this pen to a point of such catastrophic failure, here are a few observations.  The pen is designed for "tip-up" carry, meaning that the nib of the pen is situated at the top of the pocket - this is true of nearly all "capped" pens.  As such, there isn't the opportunity for the pen to be placed into the pocket while "open" as there is with click-type pens.  Arguably, the pen body could uncap itself while in your pocket and, assuming you have deep enough pockets, could become fully uncapped thereby exposing the nib and, through the capillary action of the fabric of your pants, empty a sizable quantity of ink.  I don't fret over that possibility, however, because the capping mechanism is quite strong.  Moreover, assuming catastrophic failure of the capping mechanism were to occur the body of the pen would have to drop over 1.5 inches before the nib could contact fabric.  In my analysis, it's simply not within the realm of possibilities to be overwhelmingly concerned about.  I would be more concerned with a "cheaper" pen cracking or otherwise failing in my pocket.

Carry Comfort:  2

It's a hefty pen but it's not cumbersome.  It sits nicely against the rear of my left front pocket and stays put.

Total:  20/20

Conclusions and Parting Thoughts:

While my wallet didn't feel this one, it's an expensive pen.  My girlfriend says she paid $150, buying from this seller through eBay.  It's also available here for $215.

It's quite the investment but it can survive a lifetime (this thread here has a great photo of an incredibly beat-up rOtring 600 series 1 fountain pen and it's (apparently) still going strong).

Part of me is tempted to knock a point off for the sheer "WOW" factor of the price point on these pens but, after consideration, I'm not willing to.  The saying I've run into before is, "Buy once, cry once."  I truly think that sentiment resonates here; if you're willing to spend the money, you'll get everything and more out of this pen.

While I have a nagging feeling that assessing a perfect score for my first review could give the wrong impression, this pen is nothing short of exceptional.  I have not found any flaws.  In the event that I encounter a glaring defect I'll be sure to pass it along.

The rOtring 600 is the pen to have if you're interested in EDCing a fountain pen.  Moreover, it epitomizes great industrial design.  This isn't an accessory for a desk; it's not something to keep in a pretty case with a bunch of vintage pens and old leather-bound books; it's a pen to use.  Anything less would be a waste.

1 comment:

  1. I believe that this is actually a Rotring 600 Newton. To me this is a good thing because I have two, and have been searching for NIBS for almost 2 years. I finally came across a webpage http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/248966-rotring-600-visual-guide/

    At the end of the post is a picture of the newton, same as in this article, which is a bit different. The good news is you can purchase NIBs (Called Springs) from Ebay.de . I just purchased a F and OM. Shipping to U.S including NIB total for 1 is around 17 U.S dollars. I purchased mine from this store

    I hope this helps some people looking for new Rotring 600 nibs.