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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Montblanc Meisterstück Turns 90

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection 149 fountain pen with guilloche engravings coated with black lacquer, mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, red gold-plated fittings and gold nib engraved with a “90.”

The Meisterstück is almost certainly the best known and most sought after writing instrument in the world. It is used by statesmen and dignitaries; writers and artists. It is the pen used to mark historical moments as it serves as a symbol of personal success and aspiration. 

It is also the identity of Montblanc. The company sells luxury timepieces, leather goods and men’s and women’s jewelry. However, even in this day and age of digitalized communications, writing instruments make up 40 percent of global sales, with the most significant chunk of those sales attributed to the Meisterstück, says Jerome Lambert, CEO of the German luxury brand.

It is the signature of the maison in terms of style, in terms of reputation, in terms of positioning in the market,” he says. “It plays an iconic role. It is a product that is the statement for the whole company.”

Actor Edward Norton and Montblanc CEO Jerome Lambert in attendenace at the 90th year anniversary celebration of the Meisterstück.  Photo credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Montblanc

This year the Meisterstück (which translates as “masterstroke”) turns 90 and the Hamburg-based luxury brand is celebrating this milestone. It began this January by introducing the Meisterstück Heritage Collection of timepieces. It continued in early April with the release of the Meisterstück Collection of leather goods, men’s jewelry and, of course, writing instruments, designed for the 90th anniversary. 

The company also held a star-studded international gathering in New York that included actors Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson and Penn Badgely. The April 3 event at Guastavino’s featured an exhibition of writing instruments for the past 90 years, the chance to have a personal message written by world-renowned calligrapher, Nicolas Ouchenir, and duplicates of documents written by famous authors, artists and scholars using the Meisterstück.

Model Chanel Iman at Montblanc's Meisterstuck celebration. Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Gala Magazine.

Earlier in the day, Lambert used a little self-effacing humor to explain why he chose New York as the place to hold the event.

“New York has a great ability to reinvent itself,” he said. "The city is the place to be for old guys like us and for the generation to come.” 

Writing Instruments
The 90th anniversary Meisterstück Collection of writing instruments will only be available this year. It includes fountain, rollerball and ballpoint pens in classic sizes with guilloche engravings coated with black lacquer, mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, red gold-plated fittings and gold nibs engraved with a “90.”

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection Skeleton Fountain Pen with ruthenium-plated cap and barrel topped by a quartz Montblanc emblem. The red gold nib has ruthenium-plated fittings and a “90” engraving.

In addition, there’s a skeleton fountain pen that pays tribute to Montblanc’s first skeleton pen created in 1999 for the Meisterstück 75th anniversary. The skeletonized, ruthenium-plated cap and barrel are topped by a quartz Montblanc emblem. The red gold nib has ruthenium-plated fittings and a “90” engraving.

Meisterstück 90 Years Collection Limited Edition 90 Fountain Pen. The cap ring is set with 90 diamonds, solid red gold attributes with guilloche engraving, a mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, and a gold nib with rhodium-plated inlay with the “90” years engraving. Limited to 90 pieces.

Finally, there’s the Limited Edition 90, a large fountain pen and a rollerball (each limited to 90 pieces), featuring a cap ring set with 90 diamonds, solid red gold attributes with guilloche engraving, a mother-of-pearl Montblanc emblem, and a gold nib with rhodium-plated inlay with the “90” years engraving.

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection
Lambert says the company is taking what is seen as a traditional product line and modernizing it by using the techniques at the Montblanc Pelletteria in Florence to make the leather softer and by redefining its uses. The pattern, however, is based on the historical jacquard pattern of Montblanc’s original 1924 logo.

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection Document Case

The range of products include a single gusset briefcase, document case, messenger bag, wallets and passport holders; and leather goods crafted for technical devices such as cases for smartphones and tablets that marry extra-slim design and refined details with protective synthetic moldings. 

Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection SmartPhone Case Samsung Galaxy S4

Men’s Jewelry and Accessories
A key holder with a black PVD finish and platinum accents is engraved with the Meisterstück on the rim, and an abstract interpretation of a nib. The same “Meisterstück” font and distinctive touch of color (red gold-coloured PVD finish) were added to the cufflink collection, complete with bar cufflinks in black onyx, a reference to the Meisterstück’s precious black resin. A matching leather bracelet is from Montblanc’s Pelletteria in Florence.

MB Meisterstück 90 Years Collection cufflinks bar

Lambert says the new products capture the “spirit” of the Meisterstück. 

In addition to the celebrations and new product there was some personnel news at Montblanc. Lambert confirmed my suspicions that Susie Otero is no longer managing director of jewelry for the brand. Lambert says living in Paris and working at the company’s headquarters in Hamburg was a strain for her. She now does public relations for Montblanc in France. She was in attendance in New York. 

Otero is best known for creating the Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco for Montblanc, which featured delicate, feminine pieces in the shape of flower petals using rose and white gold with touches of diamonds. 

Lambert says the position will not be filled. Instead, the creative responsibility for all Montblanc products is under a single person who has yet-to-be-named.

Montblanc representatives told me that a new collection of women’s jewelry and watches will be released in June. 

In addition, in February Mike Giannattasio, was named the new president and chief executive officer of Montblanc North America. He is credited with steering the luxury brand’s growth in the United States and Canada, first as the company’s vice president of wholesale then most recently as the vice president of retail. He joined Montblanc in 2004. He replaces former CEO Jan-Patrick Schmitz, who held the position since 2003.

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.

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