The Montblanc Saga

When three men came together at the beginning of the last century, it was usually to talk about current affairs or just to exchange ideas. In the spirit of the turn of the century, many ideas were put forward in such circles and almost as many were discarded. When the Hamburg stationer Claus-Johannes Vob, the engineer August Eberstein and the salesman Alfred Nehemias met to exchange their ideas in the year 1906, nobody imagined that it would mark the birth of Montblanc.

100 years history

The Watch Quote™ - June 14th, 2006

Eberstein and Nehemias had got to know the newly invented but still primitive fountain-pen in the USA and England. Vob realised the potential of a fountain-pen with its own ink container that was independent of an ink-well and so could be used anywhere.

The three entrepreneurs then founded what we would now call a “Joint Venture”: the pooling of different talents and financial resources with the aim of undertaking a commercial risk.

The three visionaries founded a factory in the “Schanzen” district of Hamburg for exclusive fountain-pens of the highest quality and in small numbers: the “Simplo Filler Pen Company“. In 1909, after almost 3 years of development, they launched the first fountain-pen series, “Rouge et Noir“, made of black ebonite with a red cap head and inspired by the famous novel of the same name by Stendhal.

Although the French name meant nothing for most German customers, the fountain-pen acquired the affectionate nickname of “Little Red Riding-Hood” and was a great success as the advertisements then claimed, “a fountain-pen that does not make blots”. One year later, the technically improved “Montblanc” fountain-pen started its successful career: the black fountain-pen with the white star on the cap does not leak at all when closed!

The dark massif with its snow-covered peaks and six icy glaciers inspired this unique product. And with this name there was no more scope in marketing terms for nicknames. As a symbol of highest quality, the name “Montblanc“ still stands today for the highest European craftsmanship. The potential of this name was recognised 100 years ago and the Montblanc “Star“ (in fact the 6 glaciers on the summit), the symbol of the snow-covered summit of Europe’s highest mountain, was registered as a trademark. The Montblanc fountain-pen was so successful that the Simplo Fillerpen Company became Montblanc Simplo GmbH.

A Legend is Born

It was not long after its foundation that “Montblanc” started its successful career around the world. After branches in Berlin, Leipzig, Breslau, Hanover and Bremen, the first European Montblanc outlets appeared in Paris, London and Barcelona. The range of products was also continuously extended. As well as fountain-pens, the shops offered writing paper, ink and mechanical pencils with the white star.

The global breakthrough came in 1924 with the “Meisterstück“ the birth of a legend. The number 4810 adorns the nib of each Meisterstück and symbolises the height of the eponymous mountain in the Savoy Alps. Eleven years later, in the year 1935, the company made a promise to its customers, who were hit by inflation and so reluctant to spend their money: a lifelong guarantee.

A sign that it was absolutely convinced of the quality of this perfect writing instrument. The pen, with its timeless and fascinating design, revolutionised in the course of the century not only the entire writing- instrument industry. The coveted cult object gained a permanent place in the New York Museum of Modern Art and plays a significant role in the most important signatures in politics, business and culture.

The Montblanc Family

The head of the family is still the famous black Meisterstück 149. The legend of the utility culture of the 20th century has found its climax since 1983 in the Meisterstück Solitaire Collection: the precious- metal version of the Meisterstück in solid gold, sterling silver or gold-plated silver.

In 1974, Roger Moore used the Solid Gold 149 fountain-pen in the James Bond Film “The man with the golden colt” to shoot the bad guy Christopher Lee. But the supreme pen is the Meisterstück Solitaire Royal for approx. US$ 125,000, decorated with 4,810 Pavé diamonds (each one individually cut with 35 facets). In addition to the Meisterstück writing-instrument lines, Montblanc has been producing since 1992 Limited Editions, which are dedicated to famous arts patrons, writers or musicians. Since only 4,810 pieces are made of each Edition, they rapidly become coveted articles for collectors.

In the meantime, a whole universe of luxury goods has gathered beneath the Montblanc star: elegant, handmade leather accessories, the leather factory has existed since 1935, fashionable eyewear, accessories, high-class silver jewellery and exclusive Swiss watches. They are produced by Montblanc’s own watch company Montblanc Montre S.A. in Le Locle, the cradle of finest global watchmaking in the Swiss Jura.

100 Years Chronicle

1906: Claus Johannes Voss, a Hamburg stationary trader along with Alfred Nehemias, a Hamburg banker, and a Berlin engineer named August Eberstein, decide to produce fountain pens: With this “Joint Venture” the cornerstone for the future company Montblanc was already placed in 1906.

1908: The company’s first high quality pen “Rouge et Noir” is launched under the company name “SIMPLO Filler Pen Co. GmbH”.

1909: Launch of the technically improved fountain pen “Montblanc”. The name "Montblanc“ is registered as a trademark and the name is used for all writing instruments produced by the company.

1924: Montblanc creates the “Meisterstück” Writing Instrument family (German for “masterpiece”). Launch of the legendary Montblanc Meisterstück 149 fountain pen.

1929: All Meisterstück fountain pens from this point on bear the engraving “4,810” the height of the Mont Blanc mountain in metres as measured at that time.

1977: Alfred Dunhill Ltd. in London becomes the majority partner of Montblanc. In 1985, the later Dunhill Holding PLC will take over the remaining partners’ shares.

1983: Introduction of the Meisterstück Solitaire Collection, the precious metal version of the Meisterstück in solid gold, sterling-silver, or gilded silver.

1987: Numerous international sponsorship initiatives in the areas of literature, ballet, and music mark the beginning of Montblanc’s worldwide commitment to culture: In London, Prince Charles awards the Best First Time Sponsor to Montblanc for supporting the exhibition “Comic Iconoclas”.

1992: The „Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award“ is established, the only award worldwide honouring Patrons of Art in 10 countries. Since this year, a Limited Edition has been regularly dedicated to a great patron of the arts and culture as well as an internationally renowned author of literature. Acquisition of the Karl Seeger Lederwarenfabrik GmbH in Offenbach, now called Montblanc Leather GmbH.

1994: The “Solitaire Royal” a fountain pen covered with 4,810 brilliant diamonds, enters the Guinness Book of records as the most expensive fountain pen in the world.

1995: Founding of the Montblanc Kulturstiftung (Montblanc Cultural Foundation) based in Germany. Montblanc becomes founding sponsor of the Philharmonia of the Nations.

1997: Inauguration of the Montblanc Montre S. A. in Le Locle/Switzerland. Introduction of the masterly handcrafted Meisterstück Watch. Collection premiere presentation at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) in Geneva, Switzerland. Launch of Montblanc’s first eyewear collection

1998: Opening of the Montblanc Academy and first exhibition of art works at the Montblanc Gallery in Hamburg.

1999: First vernissage of the Montblanc Staircase Gallery at the Montblanc Headquarters in Hamburg. The world’s first Montblanc Flagship Boutique opened in New York with Staircase Gallery and “Studio privé”.

2002: Montblanc starts its sponsorship of the Young Directors Projects at the Salzburg festival. Opening of Montblanc’s latest Flagship Boutique on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

2003: : Montblanc launches StarWalker, a new generation of writing instruments, and the watch collection TimeWalker.

2004: Montblanc is the founding partner of the Women’s World Awards under the patronage of Mikhail Gorbachev. The awards in different categories were given, among others, to international personalities like Whitney Houston, Vivienne Westwood, Waris Dirie and Bianca Jagger. Launch of the project “Sign Up for the Right to Write” against illiteracy in cooperation with UNICEF. One year later, the worldwide campaign has generated earnings of US $ 846,675.00 for UNICEF.

2005: Launch of the first part of the Montblanc Jewellery Collection for women and limited edition of “Greta Garbo” Pen.

2006: Launch of Starwatch.

From Daytona
to the Cosmograph Daytona

a lot
very much indeed
not at all

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