|Tikky automatic||X||First seen in 1988 catalog, plastic body|
|Tikky metallic LS||X||Has a red rOtring above the grip|
|Tikky automatic LS (visual update)||X||Updated the name and replaced the red rOtring with a red ring and “automatic LS”|
|rOtring altro||?||Needs research|
|rOtring 400||X||Visually matches the box image with “automatic LS” below a red ring and internal mechanism is new|
|rOtring 400 (visual update)||?||Updated to say “rOtring 400” above the red ring|
rOtring first introduced their line of Tikky automatics in 1988 when they released both the all plastic Tikky automatic and the presumably more expensive all metal Tikky metallic LS.
The first Tikky metallic LS version is only available in silver with a red rOtring logo on it, where the plastic version came in multiple colors and has just the red ring. The 1988 German catalog refers to it as the Tikky metallic LS with a short description of the automatic function, saying “with special pressure mechanism” and nothing about the “LS” feature. The tip is a drafting style lead pipe. Model number is 502 190.
Images: Tikky metallic LS - does this box go with the pencil?
A few years later they update the name from Tikky metallic LS to Tikky automatic LS. Visually, they updated the LS to have a red ring and added “automatic LS” in silver below it. The 1990 catalog actually describes the lead pipe retraction feature: “the “LS” locking system prevents undesired lead feed (when carrying in a pocket, for example)”. However in reality, it’s not very pocket safe or practical because it still has ~2mm of lead pipe sticking out when locked.
For some reason, they also added weight to the pencil by placing a thick metal pipe over the plastic lead tube. I’m not sure the amount of rattling you end up with is worth the weight gain. The only way I could make it quiet was to tape the metal tube in place.
Images: Tikky automatic LS
As was fairly common at the time, rOtring chose to utilize another company’s automatic mechanism instead of developing their own. For the Tikky LS, they used the same mechanism as in the Uni A-Tech, Zebra and Niji X-10. I’m not certain of this mechanism’s source/history.
Images: Automatic Mechanism Internals
In 1992 rOtring changed things up and released the “feather-light” 400 series, which later became the Esprit line in 1996. Included in the new line, was the rOtring 400 automatic and it was available in either graphite or matte silver. It features a more writing style cone tip, similar to the alpha-matic, and it is also fully retractable. Model number is 502 191.
There are two body variants, and I’m not sure when they diverged:
One has automatic LS and then a red ring above it and 0.5 embedded in the cap - this is likely an early version, as it’s what actually matches the image on the retail box.
The other more common version has a red ring above the grip and above that “r0tring 400” in silver text and 0.5 near the clip
With the 400 automatic, rOtring chose to use the Kotobuki automatic mechanism, which is the same as in the Niji GRIP700, Platinum Hayaai II and the rOtring altro. Twitter user Hsi-Chi even found the patent for the mechanism (pdf).
Images: Kotobuki Automatic Mechanism
Need more research.
As with a lot of historical mechanical pencil information, there is often no definitive source of truth, instead being pieced together by collectors. The information above could very well be wrong in some areas, so if you know something different, please speak up, or hopefully edit the page.