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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Montblanc and the Couple of the Year Awards

The winning couples: Christiane and Herbert Knaup (“Creative Couple”), Sabine Christiansen & Norbert Médus ("Couple of the Year"), Annemarie Warnkross and actor Wayne Carpendale (“TV Couple”), and Olympic Champion Maria Höfl-Riesch and husband Marcus Höfl (“Power Couple”). Photo credit: Montblanc

HAMBURG, Germany — It’s not often that you see someone in the news business get emotional over receiving a bit of recognition. But there she was, one of Germany’s best-known journalists, Sabine Christiansen, being reduced to tears on stage, sharing the limelight with her husband Norbert Médus, as she spoke in German about being named “Couple of the Year.”

That’s right, you read correctly. Each year couples in this northern port city are honored and given awards for having successful relationships. In addition to the “Couple of the Year,” three other couples received awards at the April 23 event in the categories of: “TV Couple,” “Power Couple” and “Creative Couple.”

Couple of the Year Award 2012, German television journalist, Sabine Christiansen, and and her husband, French entrepreneur, Norbert Medus with their Montblanc TimeWalker watches. Photo credit: Montblanc

The criteria for receiving an award is largely undefined or unknown to the public (believe me I asked). Outside of the top honor, the categories change each year, again for unspecified reasons. Being married is often a criterion, although it isn’t set in stone as you will soon learn, and being in the public eye is certainly a top consideration.

The awards event in its 10th receives a great deal of attention from the German media. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Montblanc along with Gala magazine, the largest celebrity publication in Germany, and the Hotel Louis C. Jacob, the romantic inn overlooking the Elbe River where the event was held, are sponsors of the event that celebrated its 10th anniversary. Despite its apparent vagueness, The Couple of the Year Awards has grown to become a very important part of the social calendar in Hamburg and increasingly well-known throughout Germany. It had all the trappings of big celebrity gala. Current and past winners stepped on a red carpet and were greeted by a large bank of photographers.

Past Couple of the Year winners, Sir Christopher Lee and his wife, Birgit "Gitte" Kroencke Lee. They have been married for 51 years. Photo credit: Montblanc

Among the best-known past winners in attendance were British actor Sir Christopher Lee and his wife, Birgit “Gitte” Kroencke Lee, who’ve been married 51 years; and American socialite, model and actress Olivia Palermo and German model, Johannes Huebl, who have been dating for about four years. Palermo and Huebl received the award last year for “International Couple.”

Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl, who have been dating for four years, received a Couple of the Year award last year for "International Couple." Photo credit: Montblanc

However, once inside the room where the awards were presented, it was a more intimate affair. In fact, you might say that minus the stage and awards presentation, it looked a bit like a wedding. But in many ways it’s better than a wedding because saying “I Do” is the easy part. Being successful at marriage or a relationship takes hard work and sacrifice. Add to that the demands of celebrity that most of these couples face and it becomes an even greater challenge and achievement.

German TV presenter Frauke Ludowig led the Couple of the Year presentation at the Hotel Louis C Jacob. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

“These are exactly the values for which Montblanc stands for,” said Lutz Bethge, Montblanc CEO.

Yours truly flanked by Lutz Bethge, Montblanc CEO, and his lovely wife Gaby. Photo credit: Montblanc

For example, Christiansen gave up her position hosting the most popular political talk show in Germany to move to Paris with her husband, Médus, an entrepreneur. As Couple of the Year, they received two Montblanc TimeWalker watches.

Montblanc presented the three other winning couples with jewelry from the Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco for the women and Montblance writing instruments for the men.

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