Rotring makes my favorite mechanical pencils, and it’s not a close call. From the sturdy, industrial design and the clean color scheme, Rotring writing instruments are well-built and great looking. If you invest in a set, they should last you a lifetime (or at least close to it), and if you pair your Rotring pencil with a Lamy 2000 pen, you’ll have completed your industrial/minimalist writing kit.
The Rotring 600 receives most of the attention in the stationery blogosphere, but lately I’ve been looking for a mechanical pencil that was slightly more portable - namely one with a retractable pipe that I could carry in a pocket without risking bending the tip or stabbing myself in the leg. I finally decided to splurge a bit and picked up Rotring’s “deluxe” offering, the Rotring 800.
If you’re a hardcore fan of the Rotring 600, the more expensive 800 doesn’t break much new ground. More or less everything in my previous review of the Rotring 600 from a few years back still holds true. The approximately 50% price premium is driven by size and additional engineering. While the 800 does add some length and width to the writing experience, making the 800 slightly more balanced for longer writing sessions, the main difference is the retractable “pipe”, and on the Rotring 800+, a stylus tip that you can use on touchscreens when the tip is retracted. (I don’t use capacitative touch styli, so I passed on the latter.) The retractable mechanism on the Rotring 800 feels solid and works well, as you’d expect, and the pencil’s grip features the same exceptionally soft knurling as on the Rotring 600.
Takeaways and Where to Buy
A good mechanical pencil has its place in your writing kit, especially if you write small and annotate lots of books and documents, not to mention if you draft or draw. Mechanical pencil lead doesn’t ghost or smear nearly as much as standard graphite, so I like to use it when I’m making notes in books that I plan to go back through later. Though I own a handful of mechanical pencils, my Rotrings are the ones that get the most use, simply because I consider them to be that much better than anything else out there.
The big question is not whether the Rotring 800 is worth the money - $65 is more than a fair price for this pencil - it’s whether the Rotring 800 justifies a $33 premium over the Rotring 600. As with everything in stationery, it depends on how you plan to use the pencil. I sometimes find the standard Rotring 600 mechanical pencil slightly too small (really, too narrow) for longer writing sessions, and as I mentioned above, portability is an issue. While it’s true that the Rotring 600 offers substantially the same writing experience as the 800 for only $32, that says more about the extreme value of the Rotring 600 than anything else. Overall, I believe I prefer the balance of the slightly larger and longer Rotring 800, and the ability to retract the pipe for a more portable carry option.
Despite Rotring having discontinued its coveted fountain pens, the mechanical pencils are still relatively easy to find. Most retailers, such as our site sponsor Pen Chalet, stock both the Rotring 600 and Rotring 800, along with the Rapid Pro, for those of you who may prefer something with a wider grip and more rounded corners. Through July 4, you can use the coupon code “FREEDOM” to get an extra 10% off your Pen Chalet order at checkout!
Disclaimer: I purchased the pencil featured in this review from site sponsor Pen Chalet using affiliate credit. This post contains affiliate links.