The name Montblanc has been synonymous with the culture of writing for more than a 100 years. It is hard to know, if in 1906, when Hamburg banker, Alfred Nehemias and Berlin engineer August Eberstein, started producing simplicissimus pens, that one day their company would also be synonymous with Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, in the Swiss Alps, but indeed it is.
In 1924, Montblanc saw the launch of the Miesterstuck fountain pen and also began its reign as the most celebrated and sought after writing instrument for those who know and desire extreme quality. To mark these achievements in quality, in 1926, for the first time, the heart of the Miesterstuck fountain pen’s nib, was engraved with the number “4810” representing the height of Mont Blanc, and would remain a fixture on Miesterstuck nibs to this day.
After a short period of time, the company was taken over by Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and later Claus Johannes. They named the company Simplo Filler Pen Company and laid the foundation for this internationally successful company. In 1909 the fountain pen Rouge et Noir hit the market and the very same year the name Montblanc was established. Legend has it the name was coined by a relative of one of the partners during a card game when he drew the analogy of their pens being the pinnacle of writing instruments and Mont Blanc being the most majestic peak in Europe. MontBlanc white star logo represents the snow covered peak of Montblanc.
Montblanc felt so strongly about their products quality that in 1935, that they instituted a lifetime guarantee, further bolstering their reputation as top dog, as far as luxury writing instruments is concerned. Through the years Montblanc has seen many crucial moments in history, one of the most notable being John F. Kennedy’s famous line “May I help you Mr. Adenauer?” helping German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer out of a jam in 1963 by letting him use his “Meisterstuck 149” fountain pen.
So, with that kind of history concerning quality and craftsmanship, when in 1997 it came time for Montblanc to venture into the world of high horology, those ideals were already the corner stone of the brand, even before one second had ticked forward on a Montblanc watch. Setting up Montblanc Montres S.A., in LeLocle, in the Swiss Jura Mountains, considered by many to be the birthplace of watch making, and garnering an incredible amount of attention and recognition from top international participants at SIHH in Geneva, upon presenting the Miesterstuck watch for the first time, afforded the brand respect right out of the gate, even though one intrepid journalist asked” where do you put the ink in?” He has since retracted that question many times in his mind.
The dials of the first Montblanc watches represented the same black hue as the fountain pen and the type face hearkened back to Montblanc beginnings. It was all topped off with the white star logo which is a fixture on all Montblanc Watches. Taking cues from the Miesterstuck pen helped to still skepticism that this was more than a mere novelty. Future watches would also take prompts from pen models including the Time Walker collection which is aligned with the Star Walker series of pens.
The success of the Miesterstuck watch, led by master watchmaker Thierry Pellaton, Montblanc’s creative mind at the time, set Montblanc Watches on the path to Haute Horlogerie, and less than a decade later in 2006, Montblanc Watches was a full-fledged manufacture. Further bolstering their reputation to come, was the acquisition of Minerva, a small manufacture known for its exceptional handmade movements since its inception in 1858. Incidentally, that same year, 1997, Montblanc introduced their third size of writing instruments with the mini “Miesterstuck”, a homage to Mozart.
Fast forward to 2008, again at SIHH, Montblanc introduced the MB R100 caliber, their first movement made entirely in-house, to an adoring crowd. The Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph was chosen to showcase the movement in a tribute to the inventor of the first marketed chronograph. A quick footnote, Montblanc has a meticulous 500-hour testing process on all Rieussec chronographs as, both hand-wind, and automatic movements, have no second hand, which precludes them from COSC testing. Knowing it was too soon to try and live on their laurels, Montblanc excited the watch world once again in 2011 with the presentation of the Villeret Metamorphosis.
Through a highly complex process involving 50 different components moving synchronously, the metamorphosis transforms from one watch face to the other, something that before has never been accomplished. 2013 saw the introduction of Montblanc’s most complicated timepiece as of yet, in the ExoTourbillon Rattrapante offering a split-second chronograph and Montblanc’s patented four-minute ExoTourbillon. Montblanc saw the coming of smart watches as did everyone and in 2015 responded with the Time Walker UrbanSpeed e-Strap, which combines a TimeWalker watch and an e-strap offering an activity tracker, remote controls and find me function. In 2017 Montblanc was the first brand in the Richemont Group to release a full version smartwatch, the Mont Blanc Summit.
Another source of pride for Montblanc is their TimeWalker Chronograph 1000. Minerva lay the groundwork about a century back when they introduced a 1/100 of a second stopwatch. Montblanc took the technology ten times further. The MB M66.26 has two barrels, one for timekeeping and the other for the chronograph. Coming in with a price tag of nearly $160,00, it is a serious timepiece for Montblanc aficionados.
Montblanc did not forget the ladies and their growing desire for more than pretty diamonds and a reliable quartz movement, by offering a comprehensive line integrating precious metals, jewels and complications rivaling many top offerings today. A great example is the A stunning combination of high horology, feminine elegance, and precious white gold cases, it is limited to 88 pieces and is a testimony to great watchmaking. Besides the grand complication which comes complete with central hours and minutes as well as four sub dials for date, the day of the week, month, leap year and moon phase, the dial is made of aventurine, a dark blue mineral alluding to a night sky. 60 diamonds adorn the bezel, a diamond adorns the straps 18k buckle and star shaped diamond is affixed the crown at 3 o’clock. Tested under the rigorous standards of the Montblanc Laboratory Test 500 it makes a statement about Montblanc’s long-range life goals.
So, whether you choose from the 1858 collection, the Star Classique for the ladies, to the Summit Smartwatch, to the time honored TimeWalker series, Montblanc’s commitment to quality, luxury products, shines through for such a young player in the watch game.