Montblanc, synonymous with exquisite writing culture for the past 100 years, follows lasting values such as quality and traditional craftsmanship. Its uncompromising demands on shape, style, materials and workmanship are reflected in all its products.
The start of the “modern” new century had a stimulating effect on inventors and craftsmen. Ingenuity and imagination helped the fountain pen to make its technical and commercial breakthrough as a writing instrument. It was a Hamburg banker, Alfred Nehemias, and a Berlin engineer, August Eberstein, together who recognised the signs of time and decided to produce simplicissimus pens. After a short period of time Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and later Claus Johannes Voss took over the business and thus laid the foundation for the future internationally successful company Montblanc
“Manufacturers of high-class gold and fountain pens” – Montblanc started its history by making this confident claim for itself. For the time being, the partners took the name “Simplo Filler Pen Co.”. “Simplo” referred to either the idea of the simplicissimus pen or the word “simple,” which described new pen design, including a “build-in” ink-well. After the Hamburg businessman Claus Johannes Voss joined the company, the “Simplo Filler Pen Co.” was established with its headquarter situated in the “Industriepalast” on Caffamacherreihe in Hamburg and received entry into the commercial register.
The safety fountain pen “Rouge et Noir” appeared on the market. The name “Montblanc” was established; and rumour has it that it took place during a card game when a relative of one of the partners drew an inspired analogy between the pen, which had become the pinnacle of writing instruments, and the Mont Blanc, the most majestic and highest peak in the Alps.
The name “Montblanc“ was registered as a trademark and henceforth used for all writing instruments produced by the company. Furthermore the technically improved fountain pen “Montblanc“ was introduced. The white tip on the pen cap was the forerunner of what would become the world famous white star. Paris and London became the venues of Simplo‘s first representatives abroad.
The Montblanc star emblem became the brand logo and trademark. All writing instruments produced by the “Simplo Filler Pen Co. “ ever since would include the unmistakable rounded star. The shape would represent the snow-covered peak of the Mont Blanc – the highest European mountain, symbolising the brand’s commitment to the highest quality and finest European craftsmanship.
It was the year of the launch of the legendary “Meisterstück” and the beginning of its successful career as the world’s most celebrated writing instrument of all time. The “Meisterstück 149” fountain pen soon became the ultimate symbol for writing culture and the style icon for perfect timeless design.
At the end of the nineteen-twenties, Montblanc quickly expanded to become a well known name in more than 60 countries. Impressive advertising campaigns, like fitting cars with an oversize fountain pen, as well as the first advertising planes taking the Montblanc name into the “third dimension”, attracted tremendous attention. Montblanc also established its first leather goods workshop producing luxury small leather items near Offenbach, a town renowned for its leather craftsmanship.
For the first time, the heart of the Montblanc “Meisterstück” – its nib – was engraved with the number “4810.” This represents the height of the mountain Mont Blanc, and acts as a sign of supreme quality, and “4810” would find a place on all “Meisterstück” nibs from this time forth.
The company was officially given the name that had already become a brand all over the world: “Montblanc Simplo GmbH.”
By issuing a “lifetime guarantee” for the “Meisterstück,” Montblanc demonstrated that it always paid off for the customer to opt for the very best. Montblanc expanded its product range by taking over a producer of leather goods in Offenbach, Germany. High quality leather products such as pen pouches, notebooks and writing cases were produced under the name Montblanc from then on
The Montblanc facilities destroyed during the Second World War were quickly rebuilt. During this time, Montblanc fountain pens were being produced in Denmark, and representative offices had begun to be re-established abroad.
The legendary “Meisterstück 149” was launched and began its successful career as the world’s most celebrated writing instrument of all time. The “Meisterstück 149” fountain pen soon became the ultimate symbol for writing culture and a style icon for perfect, timeless design.
Montblanc launched the “60 Line,” representing a new style of design and developing into the first major success in the post-war period, alongside the traditional “Meisterstück” series.
”May I help you, Mr. Adenauer?” – John F. Kennedy helped the German chancellor Konrad Adenauer out of a predicament by offering him the use of his “Meisterstück 149” fountain pen.
This famous claim “Montblanc – The Art of Writing” was launched and became a model for many brands in the luxury field. The fountain pen – an ideal writing instrument – started to experience a renaissance in the Eighties. The “Meisterstück Solitaire Collection,” the precious metal version of the Meisterstück, was introduced. Numerous international sponsorship initiatives in the areas of literature, ballet and music marked the beginning of Montblanc’s world-wide commitment to art and culture.
Montblanc moved into new, purpose-built headquarters in Hamburg, integrating design, production and administration, as well as the Montblanc Museum.
Montblanc opened its first boutique in Hong Kong. After initial developments in Asia, the first shops in Europe opened in Paris and London marking the beginning of the expansion of the international Montblanc boutique network, which today consists of more than 350 boutiques in more than 70 countries.
Montblanc established the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award to honour outstanding patrons of the arts. The first Patron of Art Limited Edition pen “Lorenzo di Medici” and the Limited Writers Edition “Hemingway” were launched – the first of the annual editions that are coveted by collectors worldwide. There was expansion of the Meisterstück range, introducing the product line “New Dimensions” – including small luxury leather goods, handmade paper and desk accessories.
The Dunhill Holding Company, which had bought a major stake of Montblanc in the eighties, was acquired by the Vendôme Luxury Group S.A. in Luxembourg and combined all luxury good companies. It would later become the Richemont Group, the second largest luxury group in the world, including Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Vacheron Constantin, Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC amongst others.
The Meisterstück Solitaire Royal, painstakingly set by hand with 4,810 diamonds, became the world’s most expensive fountain pen.
Montblanc became the founding sponsor of the Philharmonia of Nations, under the direction of conductor Professor Justus Frantz.
Montblanc successfully entered the men’s jewelry field with the “Meisterstück Jewelry Collection” – precious accessories for men, completing the “Meisterstück” writing instrument range.
Montblanc Montre S.A. was established in Le Locle – the heart of the Swiss watch industry – to maintain the brand’s philosophy of master craftsmanship and to satisfy the high quality expectations made on Meisterstück watches. Montblanc attracted great attention and recognition among top international jewelers when it participated in the Salon International de Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the leading watch fair in Geneva and presented the masterly handcrafted Meisterstück watch for the very first time. Furthermore, the third size of writing instruments – the pocket-sized mini “Meisterstück Hommage à Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart” – was introduced to the market.
“Bohéme” – Montblanc’s first major new collection of writing instruments since “Meisterstück” – was launched, devoted to passionate enjoyment of the best in life. The “Meisterstück Sports” watch collection came to full, active life with the release of seven precious, robust and ruggedly functional timepieces. The concept of the “Donation Pen” continued with “Yehudi Menuhin” – the new donation pen in cooperation with the Philharnonie of the Nations.
Foundation of the Montblanc Cutting Edge Art Collection, comprising works by internationally renowned contemporary artists, each asked to interpret the world-famous Montblanc emblem individually and artistically, and displayed in the administration and production buildings of Montblanc’s headquarters in Hamburg, the leather manufacture in Florence and the watch manufactures in both Le Locle and Villeret.
Montblanc presented “StarWalker” – the new generation of writing instruments for younger enthusiasts drawn by the appeal of purist, aesthetic design.
To fight the worldwide issue of illiteracy and to emphasize the importance of the written word Montblanc, in cooperation with UNICEF, asked 149 celebrities such as Mikhail Gorbatchev, Bianca Jagger, Nadja Auermann and Luciano Pavarotti to write a personal statement beginning with, “I like to write because…” with a “Montblanc Meisterstück 149” fountain pen. The statements, as well as the fountain pens with the celebrity’s engraved signature, were then auctioned off with all proceeds going directly to UNICEF.
To celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary, Montblanc launched exclusive Anniversary Editions throughout the year, featuring the Montblanc Diamond. After eight years of research and development to achieve maximum brilliance, Montblanc was the first brand worldwide to possess its own patented diamond cut derived from its logo.
Montblanc’s watchmaking expertise was further enhanced by the creation of the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie at Villeret, Switzerland, perpetuating the rich tradition of Minerva, a small manufacture famed for its exceptional handmade movements, founded in 1858.
At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Montblanc unveiled the MB R100 caliber, the first movement manufactured entirely in its own workshops. Integrating the new movement, the Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph paid tribute to the inventor of the chronograph, Nicolas Rieussec.
In 2009 Montblanc reinforced its commitment to UNICEF with the launch of its global “Signature for Good” initiative. In this regard, Montblanc developed a unique collection of writing instruments, jewellery and accessories to help raise funds to support UNICEF in their work to provide a quality education to all children. For every piece in the Signature for Good collection sold in the US from June 1, 2009 until May 31, 2010, Montblanc donated 10% of the retail price to support UNICEF’s education programs, guaranteeing a minimum of US $1.5 million worldwide from this and other programs.
In 2010 Montblanc set new standards in watchmaking by unveiling the Metamorphosis – the first development of the Montblanc Villeret, founded by Montblanc as a dedication to safeguarding traditional Swiss watchmaking. By its revolutionary design and function the Metamorphosis watch transforms itself from one watch face to the other in a way that no watch has ever done before. It is a highly complex process with new and innovative mechanisms involving 50 individual components that move technically synchronously.
The Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique, with its caliber MB65.63, became the world’s first wristwatch to feature a tourbillon with two cylindrical balance springs, achieved by miniaturizing the escapement and transplanting it into a tourbillon, along with a cylindrical hairspring.
Montblanc celebrated 20 years of the Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award and hosted the World Premiere Opening of the biggest Montblanc boutique in Sanlitun, Beijing. With 1,800m2 of floorspace and four stories, this innovative interactive concept store allows visitors to experience the whole world of Montblanc. Montblanc established its Pelletteria in Florence, the historic center of leather craftsmanship in Italy.
In its Villeret 1858 collection, Montblanc previewed the most complicated timepiece yet, the ExoTourbillon Rattrapante, combining a split-second chronograph and Montblanc’s patented four-minute ExoTourbillon. Montblanc continued its support for UNICEF’s education programs, focusing on the most vulnerable children, through the Schools for Africa and Asia initiatives, and programs in Latin America. Montblanc built on the success of the first “Signature for Good” initiative launched in 2009 and pledged to raise at least $1.5 million in 2013. It exceeded its goal by raising more than $5 million. The Power of Words project was launched in association with the Mandela Foundation and the Tribeca Film Institute in April 2013. In a partnership with the Times Square Alliance, a short film featuring Mandela’s words and directed by Nabil Elderkin was projected in New York’s iconic Times Square every night, shortly before midnight.
Montblanc celebrated the 90th anniversary of the iconic Meisterstück with a special edition collection of writing instruments featuring a unique 90 Years design, and a collection of Meisterstück Heritage timepieces. Montblanc Extreme – a collection of leather goods using innovative high-performance leather to achieve new heights in durability and performance – was launched in Florence. Montblanc embraced the digital world with the creation of the e-StarWalker and Pix, two custom mobile-ready styluses, digital writing devices for use with Samsung’s Galaxy Note.
Montblanc appointed Charlotte Casiraghi, equestrian champion, writer and producer, as its global brand ambassador during the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. Montblanc introduced the TimeWalker Urban Speed e-Strap, combining a TimeWalker timepiece with a highly functional e-Strap with an integrated-technology device offering an activity tracker, smart notifications, remote controls and Find-Me functions.