Reference: rOtring automatics *DRAFT*


Reference: rOtring automatics

Release Timeline

Model/Feature 1988 1990 1992 1994 Notes
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

Tikky automatic / Tikky metallic LS / Tikky automatic LS

1988 – Initial release

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.

Sources: Paper and Digital Tikky history, 1988 catalog, Leadholder 1988 catalog, rOtring Museum

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?

Sources: Shade Space

1990 – Second release

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.

Source: Paper and Digital Tikky history, 1990 catalog page

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

Sources: Elton on eBay

Automatic Mechanism

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

Sources: Kelvin Pang (@drifand), Hsi-Chi (@altis0510), Shade Space

rOtring 400 automatic

1992 – Initial Release

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.

Sources: rOtring website, rOtring Museum’s history page

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

Images: rOtring 400 automatic

Automatic Mechanism

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

Sources: Hsi-Chi (@altis0510)

rOtring altro

19xx – Initial Release

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.


My best guess for the Altro was a debut in 89. This is based on the PDFs I could find… same time as the 900 series.