Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rotring Freeway Fountain Pen

Most of us know Rotring as the manufacturers of technical pens and mechanical pencils, mostly used by draughtsman and designers. The German company are indeed the makers of the finest such drawing and sketching instruments since 1928. I remember owning a 0.5mm technical pen during my cartooning days way back in the Sixties.

While looking around for a sturdier replacement for the Camlin clutch pencil, which I had got addicted to from my school days, I ran into the familiar Rotring logo on a clutch pencil. Needless to say, I grabbed it straight away and this has been on my desk since then, except when it is in my pocket or bag.

I also have the famous Rotring Tikky mechanical pencil. Mine is a bright yellow with the mandatory red ring and takes 0.5 mm lead.

I however prefer the Clutch pencils to the mechanical version. Firstly, it allows me any width from needlepoint to 2mm or even more if I can use it sideways! Secondly, it is stronger than the 0.5 or the 0.7 mm lead, which tend to break off under pressure. They also demand to be extended in small precise increments and at frequent intervals.

Compared to classic wooden pencils, the clutch pencil helps me do my small thing to save trees and also makes carrying sharpeners unnecessary. Another gripe I have about wooden pencils is that as the length shortens due to sharpening, the balance changes affecting my output. The shorter they get, the more difficult for me to use.

I had not seriously considered buying a Rotring fountain pen though I was aware of their existence.  The other day, my wife dropped me at Ansal Plaza Mall in New Delhi and went off to meet her doctor. I was left with two hours to kill. After finishing my small little errands at the Mall I had to loiter there for more than an hour. That is when I spotted this small little Stationary shop, T-zone. Mr. Tiwari the shop owner is knowledgeable about pens and himself is a dedicated fountain pen user. He has a decent collection of fountain pens on display. I later discovered he had many more tucked away in boxes.

I was attracted to the Rotring pen more by its unusual colour and finish. The pen has a matte finish Burgandy Red Aluminium body with brushed steel trimmings. A very handsome pen indeed.

You hold the pen in your hand and immediately it speaks to you. At least it did to me and asked me to buy it. Who am I to resist such an invitation. Of course the fact that it cost me only INR 500 (under US $ 10, compared to the ebay price of $29.97!) helped.

The Aluminium body and cap are heavy giving a feel of solid and expensive pen. The section and nib are stainless steel, in shining contrast with the rest of the pen’s matte finish. The only choice of nib was ‘F’ in this colour. Another thing you notice is the top of the nib is plain devoid of any writing to accentuate the shining steel effect. The word Rotring is printed unobtrusively in fine letters on the left hand side and the letter f on the right hand. Very clever indeed!

Pen comes with one Standard International short cartridge filled with blue ink. The cartridge does not have any marking on it to identify the manufacturer. The colour of the ink is a deep blue, probably looking a shade lighter due to the fine nib.

The design of the clip is also different from the run-of-the-mill under $20 pens. It grips the fabric of the shirt pocket quite nicely without too much of pressure, just enough to hold it firmly.

 As for the writing, it is a glider. As smooth as it can be. The ink flow is decent for a fine nib, not too wet but never dry. I have tried with the ink that came with it, but will soon refill the cart with my favourite test ink, the Waterman Florida Blue. BTW, waterman who makes such well crafted fine pens and arguably the best ink in the world should pay more attention to the quality of the package in which the ink is sold. To my mind, Waterman ink bottle cover is one of the cheapest looking, flimsiest and badly printed covers of all Inks including the really cheap Indian counterparts.

And would I buy it again? As of today, Rotring has stopped production of this line of pens. This pen should be a good addition to one’s collection, not merely for the quality of wrting, but also from a collector’s point of view. The Rotring 600, another model discontinued an year or two back commands premium price on ebay!


  1. Sir,
    Is there any way i can get the contact no of the shop. i would like to buy the rotring FP. I am a huge fan of Rotring. Please help. My mail id is

  2. Nice review. Can make out a fountain pen lover!

  3. Nice review. Can make out a fountain pen lover!