Peak performance: Montblanc

Montblanc’s iconic Meisterstück is 100 years old and still going strong

Style 28 May 2024

Montblanc pens have been a signature of luxury for decades

Montblanc pens have been a signature of luxury for decades

They say the pen is mightier than the sword. But is it mightier than the watch?

When it comes to menswear, unless you are a fashionista then chances are your choices for making an impact are largely restricted to accessories. If your daily dressing routine is limited to comparing shirts, jackets and trousers in the traditional mould, you’ll know that the fun you can have comes down to shoes, socks, eyewear, bags and, of course, watches. Timepieces have arguably dominated as the discerning man’s signature accessory over the past few years.

A Montblanc poster

But to this list we should add the pen. There’s less cause to pull one out these days now that chequebooks have gone the way of the dodo, but that adds to the mystique of a man who carries a statement pen – or if subtlety isn’t your thing, clip one into your top jacket or shirt pocket. Kingpin among pens is Montblanc’s Meisterstück, which is 100 years old this year. The distinctive, streamlined writing instruments that bear this name – German for “masterpiece” – have become design icons. Mostly in black with gold detailing, including the cap’s three gold rings, and with a gold two-tone nib engraved with the number 4810 (the vertical-metre height of the mountain from which the company takes its name), the Meisterstück is not only something that makes its mark, but also an accessory that demonstrates its owner’s good taste and recognition of quality.

‘At the peak of the digital age, the Meisterstück continues to be considered a symbol of culture, creativity and connection. It is, above all, synonymous with the power of handwriting,’ says Alessandra Elia, Montblanc’s director of writing culture.

Meisterstück The Origin Collection Doué Classique Fountain Pen M in green, £1,395
Meisterstück The Origin Collection Doué Classique Fountain Pen M in green, £1,395

The first Meisterstück launched in 1924, a black pen with the number 4810 engraved on the cap, displayed on the packaging and, from 1930, also engraved on the nib. But it wasn’t until 1952’s model 149 that the cigar shape we now know so well arrived. Since then, that form has been developed and applied to ballpoints, rollerballs and even mechanical pencils, as well as various iterations of fountain pen. The other distinctive and perhaps most instantly recognisable motif of the pen and the brand is the white star that sits on the top of the cap, symbolising the snow- covered peak of the mountain of Mont Blanc.

So well-known has the Meisterstück become that Montblanc has now used it as inspiration for a collection of leather goods. Leather pieces have been made by the firm since 1926, but the leather Meisterstück Collection is more recent (launched in 2022), the brainchild of Montblanc artistic director Marco Tomasetta. He has conceived bags, card holders, wallets, portfolios, key fobs and pen and key holders in shiny coloured leather and has incorporated nib shapes for zip pulls and detailing. He’s also developed in-ear headphones in black resin with a white star decoration.

Vintage Montblanc poster

‘The aim was to bring the design of the Meisterstück Collection even closer to Montblanc’s iconic symbol of timeless luxury – the Meisterstück writing instrument,’ says Tomasetta. ‘By mirroring some of its distinguishing features, like the nib itself as well as the colour and shine of the pen’s precious resin with its smooth sensual touch, we have created pieces that truly stand out.’

Meisterstück The Origin Collection Solitaire LeGrand fountain pen M in coral, £2,300
Meisterstück The Origin Collection Solitaire LeGrand fountain pen M in coral, £2,300

Now, on the occasion of this famous writing instrument’s centenary, Montblanc has created a special Origin Collection of fountain pens that pay homage to the Meisterstück’s hundred-year voyage. All bear the numbers 100, 1924 and 2024 on their nibs. Three models are in coloured resin – black, blue or green – with caps that are decorated with a finish that suggests liquid ink; and three have caps bearing a gold- or platinum- coated pattern taken from a design found in Montblanc’s archives, that was never put into production (these pens are in blue, green and a bright coral).

‘With this special collection, we are inviting writing enthusiasts and lovers of Montblanc writing culture to come on a journey with us,’ explains Elia. ‘To discover, or rediscover through a new lens the design attributes that have become defining features of the beloved Meisterstück.’