It’s been quite a while since Palomino brought out their Blackwing 602 (which I’ll call the 602) to go with their regular Blackwing (I’ll refer to it as the PBW). The history of these two models has been well documented, but the very short version is that Palomino decided to remake the famous Blackwing 602 pencils that were last made in the late 1990’s, since the trademark had expired. It makes for a little confusion when discussing these pencils, since there are two pencils that can be called the Blackwing 602. Just to be clear, I’ve never even seen an original Blackwing 602. I’ve only used the Palomino remakes.
I’ve had a chance to try them both. They’re both good. I started with the PBW first, then I’d ordered the 602’s thinking they’d be the right choice over the regulars, but now I actually find myself using them about equally.
The paint jobs on both are about the same. Different color, but the the quality of the paint is about equal. The 602’s paint seems a smidge thicker, perhaps a little smoother, but I’m comparing a few samples of each, not whole batches. Earlier reviews of the 602 talk about the lettering being only on the surface, and very easy to rub off. The lettering on my 602’s is stamped in just like on the be PBW’s. I consider them of equal quality, cosmetically speaking. Both are attractive and distinctive, although I think I prefer the look of the 602.
The graphite is a different matter. The PBW is significantly softer than the 602. It writes on a smooth paper very easily with a light touch, but on paper with any tooth it dulls within words. The 602 is harder, and behaves that way. I find the 602 about the same as a Tombow 3B, where the PBW is softer than a 4B. The 602 isn’t much better on the rough stuff, but it’s a big improvement on smooth paper. Where a PBW doesn’t always last for a meeting’s worth of note taking, the 602 can, while retaining a pretty dark line with light pressure. On the Atlas Bond I use as desk paper, both pencils are a bit soft. On the paper in my Leuchtturm1917 notebook the 602 is the choice for taking notes in meetings, and the PBW is nice when I want a richer line. The PBW is more fun to write with but needs sharpening very often.
I ended up with both because I got the PBW first and found it too soft for business use. If I’d gotten the 602 first I’m not sure I’d have gone after the PBW. I’ve also read more than a few opinions that the 602 is more like the real original Blackwing 602.