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Founded by the stationer Claus-Johannes Voss, the banker Alfred Nehemias and the engineer August Eberstein in 1906, the company began as the Simplo Filler Pen company producing up-market pens in the Schanzen district of Hamburg. Their first model was the Rouge et Noir in 1909 followed in 1910 by the pen that was later to give the company its new name, Montblanc. The Meisterstück name (English: “Masterpiece”, the name used for export) was used for the first time in 1924, for the top lines of fountain pens. Today, the Montblanc brand is on other goods besides pens, including watches, jewellery, fragrances, leather goods and eyewear.
The company was acquired by Dunhill in 1977, following which lower price pens were dropped and the brand was used on a wide range of luxury goods other than pens.
Today Montblanc forms part of the Richemont group. Its sister companies include luxury brands Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, and Baume et Mercier. Montblanc is owned, through Richemont, by the South African Rupert Family.
Montblanc 146 (top) and 149 fountain pens
A trademark identified with Montblanc is the white stylised six-pointed star with rounded edges, representative of the Mont Blanc snowcap from above, the symbol being adopted in 1913. The number “4810,” the mountain’s height in metres, is also a commonly recurring theme.
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In January 2014, Hugh Jackman was announced as MontBlanc’s Global Brand Ambassador, outside of US.
Product range and customer service
Special and limited editions
Next to various Limited Editions like the Patron of the Art Series with only a few hundred of them being produced around the world, there are some Limited Editions produced from editions of 4810 to those in tens of thousands.
The Patron of the Art (POA) Series are found in editions of 888. These models are intricately adorned in diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones into precious metals typically in 18K gold. A signature mark on these include a Mother of Pearl Montblanc Star adorning the cap.
Although cheaper, the Montblanc Writers Edition has been profitable. These pens are launched each year, commemorating the life and work of a particular writer, with their signature engraved into the cap of the edition. Usually, a symbol of their most distinguished work is engraved onto the nibs, of the fountain pen versions. Montblanc use “aged resin” in the caps of the pens in this series, to give the Montblanc star an ‘off-white’ or ‘cream coloured’ appearance, thereby ensuring a contrast in colour when next to models from their regular production line-up.
Apart from a serial number the Limited Edition pieces carry a distinct number placing it within the release of the edition, i.e. 1/888 would be the first pen produced of an edition of 888 pens. In 2009 the Signature for Good limited edition was released. Montblanc donates parts of its proceeds to UNICEF. They claim to guarantee a minimum of US $1.5 million worldwide within one year.
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Customer service and repairs
Montblanc will not sell customers or dealers replacement parts without the company performing the repair. When a pen is damaged, it is accepted at any Montblanc boutique where it will be forwarded to their service centre for evaluation. A quote for the repair will be provided to the customer if the pen is out of warranty. If the estimate is accepted, the repair is completed and Montblanc will provide a one year repair warranty on the work that was done.
The Nib Exchange service by Montblanc operates as follows. Newly purchased pens can have their nibs exchanged free of charge within the first six weeks; however, the exchange of older and already worked-in nibs will incur a service fee. All Special and Limited Edition pens need to be returned to the Hamburg manufacture, for strict control of the Limited Edition nibs. Montblanc provides a two-year warranty on all of its products.
At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie 2015 trade show in Geneva, the company announced e-Strap, which adds smartwatch-like features (e.g. a small electronic display, positioned on the underside of the wrist) to a traditional watch.
Montblanc makes several models of pens, with the Meisterstück (fountain pen) representing the cornerstone model. Each model is slightly different, however models created after 1990 have a serial number located on the ring at the top of the clip. Under the clip is usually the words “Made in Germany” and often “Pix”. Moreover, the barrel of the pen will reveal a reddish hue under strong lighting. If the pen in question does not have these attributes then it is possibly a fake.