Rotring 600

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Rotring 600
Also called: 600
Manufacturer: Rotring
Pen Type: Fountain Pen



Mechanical Pencil

First released: 1989
Discontinued: Still available
Made in : Germany, Japan
Rotring 600 and 500 pens

The Rotring 600 was first released in 1989.[1] Its design can be traced back to the preceding Rotring 500 series, which debut in 1985 with burgundy plastic barrels and metal knurled grips. The Rotring 500 is contemporary with the almost identical Rapidomatic series by Koh-I-Noor USA, which was bought over by Rotring in 1985. The Rapidomatic series of 'fine lead mechanical pencils' was a refinement from Koh-I-Noor's Select-O-Matic II 2.0mm leadholder, which is itself a refinement of the company's Select-O-Matic 5617 (1955–1984), which featured a hexagonal metal body, knurled grip and patented lead hardness indictor in the push button. The first version of the Rotring 500 did not have a 'red ring' around its lead indicator knob.

Rotring describes the 600 as their "entry into the upscale writing instrument market"[1], "designed with a hexagonal barrel to prevent it from rolling on the architects drawing table. It is machined out of one piece of brass on a lathe, providing it with ample weight to ensure that the architect need not apply extra pressure when creating"[1].

The Rotring 600 was originally made in Germany before production moved to Japan.

From left to right: 2nd Gen Rollerball, 2nd Gen 18k Gold Nib, 1st Gen Steel Nib.

Red Ring[edit]

A late 1988 catalog lists the first version of Rotring 600 only in 0.5mm lead diameter. It was offered in silver or black color and featured a 'thin' red ring around the lead indicator knob. The familiar 'thick' red ring was only introduced in 1990.


The early Rotring 600 pencils used to have a coarser knurling grip with the same pattern as the lead indicator.[2]. At that time Rotring also released a similar Koh-I-Noor branded pen which shared the coarser knurling. One explanation for the transition to the later, finer knurling might be a desire to appeal Japanese tastes [2]. The current (2018) knurling on the grip is the same as the one found on the early 600 ballpoint [2].

Mechanical Pencil Version[edit]

Over the years the mechanical pencil version of the Rotring 600 has been available in the following lead diameters [3]

  • 0,3 mm / 0,35 mm (the current 2018 version is labelled '0,35 mm' and is not available in all countries)
  • 0,5 mm
  • 0,7 mm
  • 0,9 mm / 1,0 (discontinued) According to JetPens 0,9 mm and 1,0 mm leads are interchangeable [4]
  • 2,0 mm (not available in all countries)

Fountain Pen Version[edit]

Different Generations[edit]

Rotring 600 fountain pen caps from different generations.

Over the years there have been different generations of the fountain pen version.

1st Generation[edit]

There is no printing on the cap or body. This generation features deep knurling, bevel above red ring 50% of height. This generation was only available with a steel nib. Unlike later generations the nib indicator has no "L" setting.[5].

2nd Generation[edit]

Rotring 600 is printed on the cap. The knurling is not as deep as the previous generation. Bevel above red ring 30% to 70% straight. Rollerball and Gold nib versions were available. [5]

3nd Generation[edit]

Rotring 600 is printed on the cap. A different colour was used for the print (RAL 3001). Features deep knurling. Bevel above red ring 50% of height, cap is slightly bigger then 1st and 2nd generation. Rollerball and Gold versions were available. 2nd or 3rd generation fountain pens without printing were initially sold via the Rotring branch that sold promotional items to be printed with the promoting company's logo.[5]

4th Generation[edit]

USA only, imported by Levenger, produced to Levenger's specifications in Japan. Not much information is available about this generation. The 4th Generation Second Wave has Levenger printed on the side. Additional silver holding lugs protrude from the grip.[5] A similar pen is still available from Levenger as a ballpoint pen, rollerball and fountain pen, as part of their L-Tech series. [6].

Ballpoint Pen Version[edit]

The Rotring 600 was also sold as a ballpoint pen, in either black or silver (matching trim) or with gold trim.[7]

In 2018 the ballpoint was re-released as the Rotring 600 (knock) and Rotring 800 (twist).

References and Notes[edit]