This is Worth the Hype, where Cool Material’s writers and editors put popular products to the test to see if they are, in fact, worth the hype.
I’m always talking about fountain pens. I know, I know, but hear me out. If you have a good pen, everything seems to fall into place. From my own experience, the almost primitive scratching of pen to paper somehow makes what you’re writing worth the little extra effort and, somehow, makes what you’re writing more memorable.
I’m not monogamous when it comes to pens. You could say I’m polyamorous, in fact. I have one-night stands with Bics. I’ll have a passionate, but fleeting, affair with a Pilot. I’ve been known to have more than one May-to-December romance with a Kaweco in my day. But, if I were to settle down, it’d be with a Montblanc.
Montblanc: The History of a Gentleman’s Pen
Even for those uninitiated into the world of inky nibs and inkier fingers, the name Montblanc is synonymous with class. The simple designs of the Meisterstück collection, which feature broad appeal and clean lines, are tucked in many desks, briefcases, and sports jackets around the world. And with a name that translates from German to “masterpiece,” it seems Montblanc knows these pens are worth the price, which, depending on the fountain pen you choose, is often closer to $1,000 or more than it is to $100.
While the Montblanc brand has grown to include leather goods, jewelry, and a fragrance collection, the roots of the company stand firmly in the writing utensil market. This has been so for more than a century.
Founded in Berlin in 1906, Montblanc was originally a far simpler operation. Germans Alfred Nehemias and August Eberstein, a banker and engineer, respectively, created uncomplicated fountain pens. Those got the attention of three gentleman (Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and Claus Johannes Voss) who took over the business and steered it into the luxury market, where it has been comfortably situated since 1909.
It was in this year that the company began to produce its first luxury fountain pens. An early slogan for the company was “Manufacturers of high-class gold and fountain pens.” The brand, it seems, has never been a humble one. As Montblanc began to solidify itself within the luxury space, the first fountain pen under this new tutelage was launched. It became a bestseller.
By the 1920s, the brand had reached international status — no small feat for a pen company in an era before the internet and Mad Men style advertising. To accommodate the new markets and a discerning customer base, the Meisterstück was born.
A pen with weight, girth, and a gold nib, this pen defined the brand and has been a perennial bucket list pen for many collectors and pen enthusiasts alike. It doesn’t hurt that JFK was fond of the pen and King Charles III seems to be as well (even, sadly, when it leaks).
Commitment to Quality
When you buy a luxury product, pen or otherwise, you’re presumably buying something of quality. For Montblanc, that assumption is very much true.
Known for their 100-step process, nearly every single part of the pen has a person’s hands in its creation. Even while other brands have moved facilities overseas or relied more on automation, Montblanc has been steadfast in its approach to manufacturing. Slow and steady, as they say, wins the race.
This is especially impressive when one looks at the nib itself. Thirty-five steps are used to create each nib, which is tuned by hand, examined under a magnifying glass, and written by a trained tech to ensure every nib meets the standard.
Why the Meisterstück?
A quick look at the Montblanc store and you’ll see a wide variety of options outside of the Meisterstück line. These constitute a variety of collector’s editions that are more suited for museums than everyday use. I mean, the Pirelli pen alone retails for $35,500 right now.
If you want a pen you can write with and not have to mortgage your house to do so, then a Meisterstück is already a better option than many Montblancs out there. Notwithstanding the price being a better value than some in the Montblanc line-up, the pen is just plain complementary for so many situations.
I’m partial to a simple black pen with gold accents, and the resin of a Meisterstück has a polish to it that’s remarkably resistant to smudges. The gold nib under the cap is a nice touch, visually, but also plays a key role in the overall performance of the pen itself. A gold nib glides across the page and is often described as “buttery.”
Performance and beauty aside, one buys a Montblanc for the name and brand recognition associated with it. That small white snowcap emblem at the top of the pen’s cap, tucked into one’s pocket, is as much a statement about the owner of the pen as owning a Mercedes or a pair of Gucci loafers.
Specs: Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Fountain Pen
- Gold nib
- 145.8mm length
- Personalized options
- Gold nib
- Individual serial number
- Nib range from: Extra-Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, Double-Broad, and Oblique Medium