Montblanc International GmbH is a German manufacturer of writing instruments, watches and accessories, often identified by their "White Star" logo.
Founded by the stationer Claus-Johannes Voss, the banker Alfred Nehemias and the engineer August Eberstein in 1908, the company began as the Simplo Filler Pen company producing up-market pens in the Schanzen district of Hamburg. Their first model was the Rouge Et Noir in 1909 followed in 1910 by the pen that was later to give the company its new name, Montblanc. The first pen (a fountain pen) known as the Meisterstück (English: "Masterpiece," the name used for export) was produced in 1924. Today Montblanc brand is on other goods besides pens, including watches, jewel, fragrance, leather goods and eyewear.
The company was successful despite its founder, Eberstein, fleeing to the US to avoid prosecution for stealing company funds in 1909. In 1934 the company changed its name to Montblanc-Simplo GmbH, and introduced its first piston filler.
The company was acquired by Dunhill in 1977, following which lower price pens were dropped and the brand was used on a wide range of luxury goods other than pens.
Today Montblanc forms part of the Richemont group. Its sister companies include luxury brands Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, and Baume et Mercier. Montblanc is owned, through Richmont, by the South African Rupert Family.
A trademark identified with Montblanc is the white stylised six-pointed star with rounded edges, representative of the Mont Blanc snowcap from above, the symbol being adopted in 1913. The number "4810," the mountain's height in metres, is also a commonly recurring theme.
The star is also referred to as an edelweiss, an indigenous perennial that grows in the alpine forests and mountains of Europe. Less romantically, the star is also referred to as "the bird splat" by some fountain pen collectors.
Product range and customer service
Special and limited editions
Next to various Limited Editions like the Patron of the Art Series (e.g. Francois 1er) with only a few hundred of them being produced around the world, there are some Limited Editions produced from editions of 4810 (the height of Mont Blanc) to those in tens of thousands.
The Patron of the Art (POA) Series are found in editions of 888, increasing their appeal in Asian markets. These models are intricately adorned in diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones into precious metals typically in 18K gold. A signature mark on these include a Mother of Pearl Montblanc Star adorning the cap.
Although cheaper, the Montblanc Writers Edition has been profitable. These pens are launched each year, commemorating the life and work of a particular writer, with their signature engraved into the cap of the edition. Usually, a symbol of their most distinguished work is engraved onto the nibs, of the fountain pen versions. Montblanc use "aged resin" in the caps of the pens in this series, to give the Montblanc star an 'off-white' or 'cream coloured' appearance, thereby ensuring a contrast in colour when next to models from their regular production line-up.
Apart from a serial number the Limited Edition pieces carry a distinct number placing it within the release of the edition, i.e. 1/888 would be the first pen produced of an edition of 888 pens.
Editions include Patron of Art, Writers Edition, Special Theme Edition, Annual Edition, Donation series and America's Signatures for Freedom. The Donation series includes some limited Editions like the 2009 released Signature for Good limited edition. Montblanc donates parts of its proceeds to UNICEF. They claim to guarantee a minimum of US $1.5 million worldwide within one year.
Customer service and repairs
Montblanc will not sell customers or dealers replacement parts without the company performing the repair. When a pen is damaged, it is accepted at any Montblanc boutique where it will be forwarded to their service centre for evaluation. A quote for the repair will be provided to the customer if the pen is out of warranty. If the estimate is accepted, the repair is completed and Montblanc will provide a one year repair warranty on the work that was done.
All Montblanc boutiques have on-site technicians to service pens and perform simple repairs. Montblanc also offers a free engraving service to customers, and can usually be performed in their boutiques.
The Nib Exchange service by Montblanc operates as follows. Newly purchased pens, can have their nibs exchanged for free within the first six-weeks, however, the exchange of older and already worked-in nibs will incur a service fee. All Special and Limited Edition pens need to be returned to the Hamburg manufacture, for strict control of the Limited Edition nibs.
Montblanc provides a two-year warranty on all of their products.
Montblanc makes several model of pens, with the Meisterstück (fountain pen) representing the cornerstone model. Each model is slightly different, however models created after 1990 have a serial number located somewhere on the ring at the top of the clip. Under the clip is usually the words "Made in Germany" and often "Pix". Moreover, the barrel of the pen will reveal a reddish hue under strong lighting. If the pen in question does not have these attributes then it is quite possibly a fake. To date, however, there have been no reports of replica piston-filled Montblanc fountain pens. In most cases, comparison of a genuine pen next to a replica will reveal obvious irregularities.
Social engagement and cultural commitment is closely related to Montblanc’s brand philosophy. Montblanc does cherish and promote the culture of writing and the company seeks to take an active role in the international promotion of basic skills such as reading and writing. Over the years, the company has committed itself to support children without proper access to education; coping with the global problem of illiteracy. Montblanc has been supporting UNICEF since 2004, sharing the common goal to provide children with access to quality education.
Arts and culture
Following its tradition to support UNICEF, Montblanc has launched a new campaign in 2009 in cooperation with Signature International to the benefit of UNICEF. Montblanc hosted a charity gala in Hollywood on February 20, 2009, promoting its Charitable Photo Project. The initiative features 12 portraits, taken by photographer Roger Moenks, of the world’s most famous actresses, such as Eva Longoria, Helen Hunt, and Sienna Miller amongst others. Each of the participating actresses has been photographed as her favorite literary heroine, e.g. Eva Longoria as Scarlett from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.
In terms of popular culture, Lupe Fiasco mentions the German brand in his song "Gold Watch" from his Lupe Fiasco's The Cool album. Fiasco raps, "I like Montblanc pens and Moleskine paper."
In early 1906 Claus-Johannes Voss who was the stationer, together with the banker Alfred Nehemias and the engineer August Eberstein established a company that understood te needs of modern world, it was the beggining of the 20th century. Using their incredible sense of ingenuity and remarkable imagination they created the fountain pen. It was the technical and commercial breakthrough in the writing instrument’s market. These genrlemans started to produce fountain pens, placing the cornerstones for the future. Internationally successful company Montblanc was one of the first “Joint Venture” company. In the year 1913 the Montblanc star is born with new logo. Since that wonderful times, Montblanc labeled products was wearing the unmistakable well known rounded star that represents the snow-covered peak of the highest European mountain - Mont Blanc. It represents the brand’s confation to the incredible quality and perfect European craftsmanship, the watchmeking art. 1924 Mont Blanc released the legendary Meisterstück and the beginning of its successful career as the world’s most famous writing instrument. Till now the Mont Blanc pens are the most endowed in the world.
After World War II Mont Blanc has stood up on their knees. During war producing measurmants for army. In 1988 Montblanc has Integrated with the group Richemont. In 1997 Montblanc is taking great attention and is getting famous. All top international jewellers were amazed when Montblanc was present on the SIHH watch fair in Geneva for the very first time. In the year 2003 Montblanc launches the TimeWalker watch collection for cosmopolitan people. Timewalker symbolizes people who are dynamic and have a love for pure, simple but luxorious design. In 2006 the Montblanc company celebrates its 100th birthday and for this fantastic occasion designes a beautifuly crafted diamond with 43 facets, which was cut to the form of the Montblanc signet. For this glorious 100th Anniversary Montblanc releases the remerkable Star Chrono GMT Perpetual Calendar watch, which is finally touched with the real Montblanc Diamond in the crown. In 2007 Montblanc and the , founded in 1858, Swiss Watch Brand Minerva are joining their forces to build the “Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie”. The laboratory than works with new solutions in watchmaking technology. In April 2008 the Montblanc introduces the calibers MB R100 and MB R200 in Star Nicolas Rieussec chronograph, which was a grat success.