Montblanc, Master Of All Trades

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Montblanc, Master Of All Trades

Words by MR PORTER team

22 May 2023

With its distinctive six-pointed star emblem – inspired by the six glaciers that snake down from the summit of Mont Blanc, the Alpine peak from which it takes its name – Montblanc is one of the most recognisable names in luxury. It’s the go-to brand for men on the move, offering a broad selection of sleek, sophisticated luggage and, more recently, timepieces. Since the turn of the millennium, the brand has been establishing itself as a serious watchmaker, having invested in a first-rate facility in the Jura Mountains in 1997, followed by the acquisition of the historic Minerva factory in 2006. But it wasn’t with first-class luggage or mechanical watches that Montblanc first launched to international prominence; it was as a purveyor of some of the world’s finest pens. Or writing instruments, as the brand prefers them to be known.

Montblanc’s story began in 1906 with German engineer Mr August Eberstein, who designed an anti-leak technology for fountain pens, and Messrs Alfred Nehemias and Claus Johannes Voss, the two Hamburg-based businessmen he partnered with to bring his product to market. The brand’s most famous product, the Meisterstück fountain pen, made its debut in 1924 and has been a favourite of royalty, presidents and captains of industry ever since, while the extraordinary range of special editions and ornately bejewelled one-off models crafted in the brand’s atelier have become highly sought after collectors’ items.

All of which makes Montblanc rather a tricky brand to categorise. Is it a watchmaker? A penmaker? A luxury travel brand? Or is it all the above? Uniting the breadth of its product range, however, is a rock-solid identity built on the one thing that all Montblanc products have in common: a serious commitment to craftsmanship.

To show you what we mean, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite pieces.

Boasting very nearly a century of history, the Meisterstück is without question the world’s most iconic writing instrument. A cigar-shaped fountain pen, it has been wielded by world leaders and inked countless treaties, convention pacts and trade deals over the years. Note the six-pointed star emblem on the cap and the number “4810” on the nib – a reference to Mont Blanc’s altitude in metres.

Montblanc has been a player in the luxury watch game since the late 1990s, but its 2006 acquisition of the legendary Minerva facility in Switzerland’s Vallée des Joux gave it a whole lot of watchmaking heritage to play with. The 1858 range is directly inspired by classic Minerva watches from the 1920s (Minerva was originally founded as H&C Robert in Villeret, Switzerland, in 1858) and this one, a limited edition in bronze, is a particular favourite of ours, the metal choice lending it a rugged, old-school tool watch feel.

You can tell a lot about Montblanc’s dedication to well-made objects by where it chooses to base its production. Its writing instruments are crafted in Hamburg, as they have been for more than a century; its watches are assembled in Switzerland’s Jura Mountains, the global centre of fine watchmaking; and its leather goods are made in – where else? – Italy. This monogram-embossed briefcase is as refined and durable as you’d expect from Montblanc.

With its eye-catching finish mimicking the appearance of carbon fibre, and its M LOCK 4810 clasp taking design cues from mountaineering equipment, this pale grey leather backpack from Montblanc’s Extreme 3.0 range offers a contemporary alternative to the classically minimal Meisterstück collection.

Montblanc’s iconic star emblem almost looks like it was designed especially for cufflinks, so it’s no surprise to learn that the brand does a brisk trade in them. These ones – in white enamel and black stainless steel – are a particular favourite, offering a subtle show of style when seen peeking out from the sleeve of your suit.

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