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The History and Heritage of Montblanc


Synonymous with excellence in craftsmanship and design, Montblanc has been pushing the boundaries of innovation ever since the Maison first revolutionised the art of writing in 1906.

Inspired by the mechanical innovations he witnessed during his travels to America, German technician August Eberstein teamed up with Hamburg merchant Alfred Nehemias and entrepreneur Claus Johannes Voss to bring his pioneering idea to life. Together, they produced a line of writing instruments with non-leaking technology that would change the course of writing history forever, thus laying the foundations for Montblanc, the internationally renowned luxury Maison. Originally trading as the “Simplo Filler Pen Co”, the newly founded Maison created an early premium-quality writing instrument, with a sliding barrel filler named "Rouge et Noir" around 1909, followed by 10 different safety pens between 1911 and 1916.


Following changes to the team, in 1910 the “Montblanc” name was adopted for the growing company, inspired by the highest mountain in Europe that would come to symbolise the founders’ vision of excellence and their pursuit of performance, innovation and the finest craftsmanship. The six-point white star, representing the six snow-covered glaciers of the majestic mountain, would become the company’s emblem, and has been featured on every Montblanc writing instrument ever since.

A passion for innovation and the pursuit of excellence have been driving forces for Montblanc as it extended its approach to craftsmanship beyond writing instruments to other areas. This balance of form and function is epitomised in the Meisterstück, a masterpiece of precision craftsmanship. First introduced in 1924 and hailed as an icon of style and design, the fountain pen’s nib was engraved with the number “4810” from 1930 onwards, another reference to the Mont Blanc and its height, underscoring the Maison’s drive to achieve new heights with every one of its product innovations. Montblanc The commitment, dedication and detailed work that goes into crafting every piece ensures Montblanc delivers timeless designs – lifelong companions that can be passed on from one generation to the next. With 900 people in Hamburg creating the product, the ethos is very much machines assisting people rather than the other way around.

A strong tradition of employing women from the outset came about after an early observation found that women were better at creating and grinding nibs by hand. Every nib continues to be ground and tested this way and today, 90% of the nib team are female. Nibs are always 14ct or 18ct solid gold and like a fine racehorse or a classic Rolls Royce, nibs, whether oblique for right-handed people or EF, F or M for left handed people, take around 6 weeks to wear in.


But what about the writing instruments themselves? Well we can’t talk about Montblanc without mentioning the Meisterstück Classique which uses a cartridge/piston converter or indeed the Meisterstück LeGrand which is a piston-filled pen, using bottled ink. Then the latest version of the StarWalker features a blue cap end and dome representing the moon landing, whilst the Rouge et Noir Serpent Marble features a 1920s inspired serpent clip giving it an overall vintage feel. Never a company to let history and tradition hold them back, Montblanc partnered with Marc Newson for the Montblanc M. Marc is the creator of many iconic products and has worked on designs for Alessi, Louis Vuitton and Smeg. He worked directly with Jony Ive at Apple, were he led the design of the Apple Watch. Like Sir Jony, his designs are often beautifully simple, and rooted in a strong understanding of the materials they are made from.

The Montblanc M shows this simplicity in its understated but modern lines, while a magnetic cap adds simplicity to the use of the pen too. The cap snaps itself into place perfectly, and hidden magnets also hold it in place on the back when writing with the cap posted.

29 October 2020


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