Knurly: the Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

The Rotring 600 is a cult classic, a metal mechanical drafting pencil with legions of fans. The pencil (and a product line that includes a fountain pen) doesn’t seek to appeal to everyone, and focuses on a technical look rendered in heavyweight brass.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

With a hexagonal body and round knurled grip, the pencils have a very solid, sturdy look and feel, with an engineering aesthetic.

The Rotring company was acquired in 1998, and is now but a brand in the Newell Rubbermaid conglomerate. Rotring once made staples of drafting and design, starting with the Tintenkuli, a needle-nosed fountain pen that we would today call a technical pen.

The official Rotring site shows the company’s historic highlights. There are so many that the 600 line doesn’t even get a mention!

The 600 series may arguably be most famous for the fountain pen – yet mechanical pencil users also delight in this drafting pencil.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

There seem to be a few varieties around. The oldest versions have the body marked “rotring 600 / [lead diameter]”. Later versions are marked with just the lead diameter. There are also variants with a gold sleeve, and the non-drafting Newton 600 series. I am not aware of a complete taxonomy – if you know of one, please share.

Today, the 600 series pencils seem to be marketed only in Japan. I am not sure of the status of the other writing implements.

More than one source says Parker (itself also now a Newell Rubbermaid brand) is the manufacturer.

I have two 0.7mm pencils, one recently purchased (2008) from Japan, and one from about 2000 from a US vendor. They have some minor differences.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

The packaging has certainly shrunk over time – the new pencil has a small cardboard box and Japanese language instructions. The older packaging has a cardboard box containing a plastic display, and instructions in English and French. Both boxes mention the same Hamburg address.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

Internally, the newer pencil has a metal casing around the lead tube. On a scale, it outweighs the older pencil 22.7 to 21.7 grams. That’s the only difference of note that I could find.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

A more subtle variation that may interest some, is that the older pencil’s clip is marked “Japan”.

Rotring 600 mechanical pencil

So what’s so special? It isn’t the the only metal pencil, or the heaviest, or the most extremely technical in appearance. Comparing it side by side with some other well regarded pencils, what I notice is that it is the slimmest – at a similar weight to larger pencils, it keeps traditional proportions. It is definitely the most dense and solid feeling pencil, and subjectively seems to be the best made. There is nothing wrong with the products from Staedtler and Ohto, and I may prefer their round shape. But they just don’t have the Rotring’s solid feel. I’ve picked up several thin lead drafting style pencils over the last couple of years (probably due to certain online influences :-), and I’m thinking the money would have been better spent on higher quality, though fewer, pencils such as the Rotring 600.


If you’re curious about the thin lead drafting style of mechanical pencil, you could do far worse than trying a classic such as the Rotring 600.

63 Replies to “Knurly: the Rotring 600 mechanical pencil”

  1. I have 2 Rotring fountain pens which I love, smooth writing flow combined with a sturdiness that would probably survive being run over by a truck.

  2. I’ve got two of these and they’re the most comfortable mechanical pencil I’ve used. I was nervous that the knurled grip would be a problem, but it provides a great grip and isn’t uncomfortable at all.

  3. Me and a friend of mine had from those pencils when we were in high school. Mine was silverish, his was black. But the last part of both of the pencils (the really thin and 3-4 mm long pipe where the lead comes out) broke when the pencils fell down from the table to the floor.
    My friend found a guy to repair them, but the pencils only survived until the next fall-down.
    I guess the reason why they broke so easily was the pencils heavy weight. When it falls down, it automatically points it “nose” down and that slim part cannot handle such a big impact.
    I still keep the pen and like the look and feel of it but I think the producers should have make that part a bit more stable and strong. When I insist to write with it I still can but I have to get a reaaly long portion of lead outside and therefore it (the lead) can break so easily without the support of the “pipe”.

  4. Hmmm, this article had tempted me to consider getting the 0.5 mm Rotring 600 MP for $75 for my collection. Yet can’t hardly justify the purchase when my mechanical pencil needs are met so splendidly by the many fine Japanese mechanical pencils I already own. Knowing its design flaw of having such a weak point at lead sleeve makes it easier to let the “temptation” pass.

  5. Alberto, unless you are buying a vintage version, $75 is too much. The Rotring 600 is 2,000 Yen ($US21) plus shipping at, and I also see it for $US33.50 including shipping at Andrey’s Pencils on eBay.

    Though I don’t focus on them here, I do have a good range of drafting style mechanical pencils, and the Rotrings exceed in being solid and compact – the Ohto Super Promecha (the right-most pencil in the last photo) has many merits – but the grip diameter is double that of the Rotring.

    I’m not sure that other pencils better survive drops – and I don’t want to be the tester :-)

    While I’ve heard it suggested that all these knurled grip MPs are the same – my personal finding is that most, including the excellent Staedtler 925 95, while having many merits, offer something different, and the Rotring stands alone in being a traditional pencil dimension with mainly metal parts. This isn’t to say one is better than the other – but I think Rotring (whatever that moniker means in 2009) is offering something unique here.

  6. Appreciate the tips and info though I’m going to hold off ordering from Bundoki for the time being. I’m afraid that once I start ordering from them, I would not be able to stop myself. Ooooh, they have the Rotring 600 in 2 mm leadholder format too. Nah! gotta be strong and resist further temptation.

  7. Hi guys,

    It took me sometime to find some site speaking about Rotring 600 pens. I am Rotring collector and i had a 600 Trio Black (bought 7y ago). The thing is i broke the pen 2 months ago and since then i’ve been searching for a similar one in old stores (probably they could have it in stock since the pen is not produced or sold in Europe any more and Rotring has sold trio/pencil pens business to Parker). Then, i tried ebay…and voil?…there were lots of 600s trios (black and lava) to be sold.

    I am not a fan of Ebay but it looked like it deserved a try since i got used only to write with my old 600. I’ve bought one from a English seller but i have lots of doubts since my old one did not have Japan on the clipper, the new has. The older one seems more heavier than the new one. And regarding how they both look like, i have to say the old one, seems to be brighter (and no it has nothing to do with use, it’s rather the coating of both pens that is different). The pen’s components are quite similar apart from the differences i mentioned above. If you have more details about the pens and the differences found, please e-mail me at as i will be interested in: (a) knowing if my new pen is a complete forgery; (b) if the pen is produced by another manufacturer under Rotring label or (c)other reason that i was not able to figure out until now


  8. I think there is new production of Rotring 600s in Japan (or elsewhere), since there is a steady and non-expensive supply on ebay… Maybe someone knows more about this?

    I had a d?j?-vu with Rotring 600 some days ago. I was aware of the Koh-I-Noor clones (Rapidomatic 5640, but they are more rare than the Rotring itselves..), but I saw a “MBS Tomato 2.0mm” on ebay. It looks pretty much like a Rotring 600 (except the tip)…

  9. You can find Rotring 600 “clones” at I bought some awhile ago and while they are not exact copies they certainly follow the spirit of the 600 design.

    (Though I wish the ballpoints used pilot or zebra refills!)

  10. I have an old Rotring 600 mechanical pencil that needs repair. Does anyone know a place that repairs these in the US?

  11. wes, rather than focusing on the Rotring’ 600s scratch-resistance, I would worry about the objects that come in contact with the pencil. ;-)

    Also, I mention contacting Sanford on August 4th. No reply yet.

  12. Hi

    Thank you for the information here.

    I bought the Rotring M 600, old style mechanical pencil from the

    And I also found the Woerther Brand is similar with the Rotring 600 design.
    Maybe the German design ideas acknowledge on hexagonal shape which is convenient for holding.

    About the e-bay, the prices of the old style Rotring 600 series Fountain Pen and Ball Point Pen are very high. The old style mechanical Rotring 600 series pencils are not cheap this moment.

    In the Taiwan, the shops seldom sells the Rotring 600 series pen, ball point pen and mechanical pencils.

    Wish you can find the pen that fits your need.

    Best Regards


  13. | And I also found the Woerther Brand is similar with the Rotring 600 design.

    I would like to see the Wörther Spiral-Pencil:
    Looks for me like a funny reference to the Rotring design on the screen, but I am not sure if I like it in reality, too… It is too expensive for me just to order one.

  14. I have had the same pencil for about 14 years. Someone left it behind when they moved on to another job so I started using it. I have dropped it several time and the tip has been bent but it has never broke. The knurled grip is not rough enough to be uncomfortable.

    I was out of the office and now I can’t find it. Either I misplaced it or someone “borrowed” it. I am going crazy. I am addicted to it. If mine doesn’t show up soon I will be paying whatever one cost to replace it. It is the best pencil I have ever used.

    These should alway be manufactured. The only thing that I would ever even consider being changed about them is the tip.

  15. Hi Philip,

    Some shop can buy the tips only for spare parts.

    You can find it in the e-bay or the above Japan Stationary Company.

    If I had more money, I would like to buy the Woerther Brand, too.


  16. Do you find the shops who sell the old style Rotring M 600 ball point pen and fountain pen?

    Not too many…

    on the e-bay, only the mogomerry(??) sell at a high price…

    Where can I get a reasonable price to buy the Rotring M 600 ball point pen and fountain pen?

    Thank you for your reply in advanced.


    Why I like the Rotring M 600 series writing instruments?

    I think that its heavy also steady weight and knurled grip are benefical writing assistance to me.

    Best Regards


  17. Hi Jay,

    I’m already not sure what the “M” refers to! For ballpoints and (especially) fountain pens, there are many markets other than eBay – often with much better pricing. Look around for mailing lists, forums, and websites devoted to fountain pens.

  18. Hi

    mogomerry is a seller in the E-bay, selling the pen…

    I will check the forum or website according to your instruction.

    Best Regards


  19. Rotring is now shipping an upgraded version of the 600 that has a retractable tip, which is called the Rotring 800. The entire tip of the pencil retracts with a twist, so that the pencil won’t poke holes in your shirt pocket, and also to protect the tip in case you drop the pencil.

    I’m thinking about purchasing one from Andrey’s ebay store. The best price I’ve seen is $75.

    There is very little information about this pencil on the Web, from what I have seen.

    Has anyone here ever seen this pencil?


  20. Hi,

    I’ve bought 2 rotring 800 0.5mm from Andrey’s ebay store: one in black and one in silver.
    Both of them work perfectly. I use one for my daily work (black) and the other one as a replacement one.
    I used to have a rotring 507 in my youth and I’ve been looking for years in local stores to find an other one until I had the idea to check on eBay.
    The 800 serie is great, it rally looks like 1st generation of 600 the clip doesn’t have Japan engraved and the body is marked “rotring 800 / 0,5mm“. think it is the ultimate rotring leadholder.
    Buy it with confidence, it really worth the cost.

  21. I just bough 600 pencil from andre’s store in ebay. I will have it next days!
    I hope that the grip will not brake sto easy!!


  22. To the Rotring fan,

    I have an authentic Rotring Trio pen, series 600. I hardly used it because I prefer the Rotring series 700 fountain pen. The trio has blue and red ballpoint and a 0.7 mm mechanical pen. It comes with a box. I’m willing to sell it for $85. If interested, please reply with a phone # and I’ll be in touch. Thanks

  23. Leaving a personal phone number on a public website is probably even less sensible than paying $85 for a used mechanical pencil. That’s all I’ll say.

  24. So where can I get these pencils that won’t make me go through ebay. Also why isn’t this pencil and the Staedtler 925 85 and 95 series pencils available in the US?

  25. Hey, I’ve been looking for a new .5 mechanical pencil, and have been looking at a new “old” rotring 600, ( ) (also, this seems a bit cheap compared to the others on Ebay… does this seem like a legitimate old style 600?) or the STAEDTLER 925 25 ( ) but then I heard you guys talking about the 925 85 and 95 and saw them ebay… So basically, which of these do you guys think would be best as a general pencil?

  26. Hi Elliot, that “old style” term in another usage refers to pencils with the full “rotring 600 / 0.5mm” imprint, which were made by Rotring before amalgamation by Sanford. Those are the ones you see selling for one to two hundred dollars.

  27. Rotring 600 series listing
    If you go on the Fountain Pen Network website (the most amazing pen website for miles around) and do a search for “Rotring 600” you will see a PDF listing put together by me which lists the Rotring 600 fountain pens, pencils, balloints, rollerballs etc which I have seen (ebay, catalogues, my collection, other websites etc).
    The listing was updated a few days ago so you may find it useful.
    If you want me to send you a PDF copy please email me (not at home at the moment),

  28. 4 of us were playing UNO, I was to keep score so I got out my favourite pencil. Silver Rotring 600 0.5 My wife took over scoring and said that she did not like the look of the pencil. Later she was remarking on how quick and easy it was to pick up and use, and later still I had to reclaim the pencil from her handbag. Have since bought her one so I get to keep mine. (Privately I am considering hers to be a spare ;-)

  29. I am a new collector and i’m looking to learn WHY the Rotring 600 series was designed hexagonally. I have found so many great reviews as to the features, benefits, and its brilliance (Knurly, your review is outstanding), but not able to find info. on what INSPIRED the design. Was this pen designed after Caran d’Ache from Switzerland.

    If anyone has some thought, would love to hear from you


  30. Been doin some research after purchasing a 600 Rotring mech pencil, mmmmm bit late after purchase, these web sites can really put a dampener on ya excitement. genuine/fake.
    Paid $129.00 AUS on ebay , has JAPAN on clipper, internal plastic lead holder, believe it to be series 2/3, found all this out after purchase, also saw another on ebay after for $30.00 doesnt say ‘ROTRING’ though, tell ya what i would have paid $200.00 for that one 2 cause the mech pen is a thing of beauty, will be competing with the old fella for the right hand, PEOPLE its a tool not a ‘SNAP ON SPANNER’ but a thing of refined human craft to professional and i know now i can get imitation tips from Japan if I ever drop it.

  31. I’m a long time pen fan. I bought the set of Rotring 600 many years ago: 5mm pencil, pen (carry it all the time) and the fountain pen (rarely used, except as a back-up defensive weapon!).

    Just today, working at a client (engineering company) a Swiss engineer had a twist mechanism (i.e., Cross Pen style mechanism) that looked like a clone of my Rotring ball point. Upon further inquiry, he gifted it to me. It’s NOT a Rotring but a very close clone/forgery. I’ll try to get a photo uploaded soon. The only moving part is the twist mechanism, which is the same diameter as the pen body. It’s where the traditional push mechanism would be. It’s a tad wider than the actual Rotring but well made. The entire pen body appears to be one single machined/turned piece, not a separate upper and lower which screw together in the actual Rotring.
    Hope this is helpful.
    P.S. I also love the Lamy products, because of their spring-actuated retainer clips.

  32. I have owned one of these some years ago and, yes it was very cool. Incredible to pay so much for a pencil, but it is a miniature piece of engineering: just beautiful. It is quite a feat to own one of these for more than, say 6 months, because not only is there the usual risk of losing it, there’s always someone somewhere who thinks its quite alright to just put it in their pocket: after all, its just a pencil right? No, I’m looking forward to the arrival of my new 600 from Japan :-)

  33. I have the original Series 1 600 – nice pencil but like most knurled grip (or any other grip) pencils the grip area is way too short. Because of the sharp sides where the barrel meets the grip area – and I grip it half on the grip area and half on the barrel it is much too uncomfortable for drawing/sketching. The only MP that gets this right with a long grip area is the Pilot S10. Aesthetically not as pleasing to the eye as the 600 because of the long grip area but more practical in use – particularly for sketching/drawing. But for stealth looks nothing beats the 600 although I also have the 500 with knulred grip and plastic barrel and in 0.3mm a real beauty and more pleasantly weighted than a 600. I also have the Series 1 600 ballpoint which has rarely been used, it has a sloppy push button and doesn’t come close to my Parker Jotters.

  34. I purchased a 600 series pencil in black over ten years ago, and have loved it. I guess it’s not the “old style”; it says only “0.5” in red, on the barrel. The hexagonal shape (per Eventure’s question above) was inspired by wooden pencils, no doubt… It is heavy, I suppose, but it feels correct in the hand as the delivery system to a graphite line.
    I’m surprised that the knurled grip is considered an issue. It’s very comfortable, and provides enough traction to manipulate the pencil perfectly while writing.
    The issue with the long point is well taken, except that a fine tool requires extra care. I’ve dropped mine a few times (and no, it doesn’t always land on the tip…), and have had to re-straighten the tip manually twice.

    I’m also a user of the tool, not a finicky collector; the black finish shows wear down to the brass, and the finish is somewhat worn from the knurled handle. It’s the single most comfortable pencil I’ve used, and it’s replaced my pens for everyday writing. (Graphite last long enough on paper for most of our genius needs, I would suggest.)

    It doesn’t feel to the hand like a plastic toy pencil. If you find one on eBay for a reasonable price, and have ever tried one, or been intrigued with these descriptions, I would suggest that you won’t be disappointed.

    It’s a shame that such a classic design is not in continuous production.

  35. I have two 600 series pencils, 0.7 mm, and I believe they are the finest writing implements I have ever used, bar none. The weight and general balance are excellent, and the knurled grip is just right for control of the pencil without discomfort. I use mine all day long.

    I have noticed that I have far fewer lead breakages with the Rotrings. I have also noticed that the quality of lead has a significant impact on the frequency of breakage. Pentel brand leads seem to do very well, but the cheap, generic leads that my copmany buys break quite often.

    There seems to be an inexhaustable supply of new 600 pencils on eBay, which seems odd for a model that si supposed to be out of production.

  36. Hi all,
    I came across this forum searching for some background on my original 600 (Japan pre-Newton series) as I’m putting it up on a local Dutch online bidding site.
    The pencil does say “Rotring 600 / 0.7 mm” in red on the side, has a black finish and in mint condition. Haven’t used it in the last 10 years anyhow, just found it back on the attic amongst my college stuff.

    It seems that people on this site might be more interested and passionate about it that the regular John so hence this post. It is advertized (in Dutch) at

    Feel free to check it out, let me know via email if you are interested. International shipping is possible.

    take care, Erwin

  37. I have a black Rotring 600 mechanical pencil which my grandson took to bits, and I now cannot reassemble to get the lead feed working.
    As far as I know I have all the parts. Does anyone have an exploded diagram of the mechanism so I can get this treasured pencil working again?

  38. Hi dear all rOtring 600 serious fan,

    In the Taipei city, there is a customer who bought two “trays” of rOtring 600 series old style fountain pen.

    It is no good…I personally feel.

    Good pen should let every one who love it to own one. Not to stock it then sell it some years later in a high price.

    But this phenomenon shows that the rOtring company can still have the old rOtring fountain pen stock in their warehouse.

    after recent struggle in finding the rOtring 600 series, fountain pen, mechanical pencil, ball point pen, I almost collect them all besides the rolling ball pen.

    I dislike the rolling ball pen.

    My conclusion is :

    If you like the old style rOtring serious pen, you can still try to source and survey the dealer or distributor around your city.

    Maybe you can find those pen still stay at the glass table waiting to sell.
    Or ask those owner to see whether they can import some and resell to the fans or not.

    Still have the chance to own the rOtring 600 series pen…if you source them dilligently enough.

  39. Today, I visit a Pen shop in the Taipei City center, which is translated Pen Shop.
    According to the boss said,
    the M600 old style seems to produce in German.

    If you have the connection in the German, you can take a try to ask whether they can find the M 600 old styles for your or not.

    But Taiwan is a small place, They dislike to sell so small quantity to Taiwan.

    I do not know whether it is true or not.

    Just to be your reference……

    Best Regards


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