Montblanc

German luxury watch manufacturer

Montblanc is today revered for its luxury timepieces, but the brand started with a very different product - fountain pens. Founded in 1906 by Alfred Nehemias and August Eberstein, the small company produced basic "simplicissimus" pens in Germany. It was soon taken over by Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and later Claus Johannes Voss, and the company became known as the Simplo Filler Pen Co. in Hamburg. The Rouge et Noir was the first fountain pen to emerge in 1909. Rumor has it that the Montblanc name came about during a card game when an analogy was made between their pens and the Mont Blanc (highest peak in the Alps). In 1910, Montblanc was registered as a trademark and an improved "Montblanc" fountain pen was also introduced. A white tip on the pen cap was a prelude to the white star emblem that became the brand's permanent logo in 1913, representing the snowcap on the Mont Blanc. It wasn't until 1924 that the company would produce one its most iconic products, the Meisterstück fountain pen (translated to Masterpiece in English). The Meisterstück 149, first launched in 1952, remains one of the most celebrated writing instruments of all time. In 1997, the brand further diversified from luxury pens, leather goods and jewelry with the Montblanc Meisterstück watch, and became a full manfacture in Le Locle, Switzerland by 2007. In 2008, they introduced the first in-house movement, the MB R100 calibre. The company is now part of the Richemont Group with Nicolas Baretzki serving as CEO.

The first watches had a close association to the Meisterstück line of fountain pens with a black and gold palette (and star logo on the crown), but the portfolio soon grew with more diverse collections. With resources available via parent company Richemont and the acquisition of movement manufacturer Minerva, the in-house MB R100 calibre established Montblanc as a vertically integrated manufacture in 2008. The manual-wound calibre was fitted in the Star Nicolas Rieussec Monopusher Chronograph and an automatic MB R200 soon followed with a column wheel and second timezone. In 2011, a newly designed MB LL100 calibre was used in the Timewalker TwinFly chronograph, featuring a column wheel, flyback and double barrel for a 72-hour power reserve.

Notable developments include the Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique with in-house calibre MB65.63 that featured the world’s first tourbillon with two cylindrical balance springs. In 2013, the ExoTourbillon Rattrapante launched with a split seconds chronograph (two chronograph seconds hands to measure two concurrent events, like competing racehorses) and tourbillion that reduces the cage to a small rotating platform to eliminate mass and friction. The first Montblanc ExoTourbillion debuted in 2010. The ExoTourbillon Rattrapante is a monopusher chronograph with a second timezone indicator as well, and both pieces are impressive examples of haute horology from a relatively young watchmaker. Also in 2010, the Metamorphosis launched with an automaton-like function that transformed the dial to another watch entirely. It was the world’s first mechanical watch that comprised two different dials and corresponding functions (time and date dial transformed into a time and chronograph counter). The Metamorphosis II launched in 2014.

Current collections include the TimeWalker (racing inspired chronographs with a handful of three-handers), 1858 (vintage-inspired line based on early 20th century Minerva watches), 4810 (sporty collection named after the height of the Mont Blanc), Star, Tradition and Heritage (dress lines), Bohème (ladies line) and Summit (smartwatches based on Google’s Wear OS). This comprehensive collection, along with some of the most complex complications in the industry, prove that Montblanc’s design and engineering prowess exhibited with over a century of luxury fountain pens has translated to its successful expansion to haute horology.

History of Montblanc

1906
Company is founded by Alfred Nehemias and August Eberstein
1908
The brand becomes the Simplo Filler Pen Co. in Hamburg
1909
The safety fountain pen, Rouge et Noir, is introduced
1910
Montblanc is officially registered as a trademark, named after the Mont Blanc peak in the Alps
1913
The Montblanc star emblem is introduced and used for all Simplo Filler Pen Co. writing instruments
1924
The Meisterstück fountain pen launches, becoming the most celebrated writing instrument in the world
1926
The brand establishes a leather goods workshop in Offenbach
1929
The Meisterstück nib is engraved with 4810 for the first time - the height of the Mont Blanc peak
1934
The company officially becomes Montblanc Simplo GmbH
1935
Montblanc offers a lifetime guarantee on Meisterstück pens
1946
Montblanc fountain pens are produced in Denmark following the destruction of its German headquarters in World War II
1952
The legendary Meisterstück 149 launches and becomes the brands most iconic fountain pen
1955
The 60 Line launches as a new style of pen, sold alongside the traditional Meisterstück
1963
President John F. Kennedy passes his Meisterstück 149 to the German chancellor Konrad Adenauer during a televised meeting
1986
"Montblanc - The Art of Writing" becomes the new advertising slogan
1989
The company moves into a new headquarters in Hamburg that includes a museum
1990
Montblanc opens its first boutique in Hong Kong, with Paris and London to follow
1993
The Dunhill Holding Company, which held a major stake in Montblanc, is acquired by Vendôme Luxury Group S.A. (soon to become the Richemont Group)
1994
The Meisterstück Solitaire Royal with 4,810 diamonds becomes the world's most expensive fountain pen
1996
The company starts producing men's jewelry with the Meisterstück Jewelery Collection
1997
Montblanc Montre S.A. is established in Le Locle, Switzerland and the Meisterstück watch launches
2000
The Bohéme pen collection launches, the first major collection after the Meisterstück
2006
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Montblanc is the first brand to possess its own patented diamond cut derived from its logo
2007
Montblanc creates the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie at Villeret, Switzerland to manufacture movements
2008
The MB R100 calibre, Montblanc's first in-house movement, is presented at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva
2010
Montblanc launches the Metamorphosis watch, which can transform itself from one watch face to the other
2011
The Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique (with calibre MB65.63) becomes the world’s first wristwatch to feature a tourbillon with two cylindrical balance springs
2013
The ExoTourbillon Rattrapante launches, the brand's most complicated watch combining a split-second chronograph and patented four-minute ExoTourbillon
2014
Montblanc launches the Meisterstück Heritage timepieces to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Meisterstück
2017
Nicolas Baretzki becomes Montblanc's CEO, replacing Jérôme Lambert