Montblanc (Est. 1906) When Montblanc was established in 1906 and called, at that time, Simplo Filler Pen., Its first product (offered in 1909) was a writing instrument called, Rouge et Noir, that was a fountain pen made from hard black ebonite rubber with a red top to the cap. The pen was meant for the educated class.
“You will not make any blots with a Rouge et Noir fountain pen,” promised a girl in her best Sunday dress in an advertisement at the time. The Simplo Filler Pen Company expanded abroad very early opening its first offices in Paris, London and, a little later, in Barcelona.
The company’s founders included a Hamburg, Germany banker, Alfred Nehemias and a Berlin engineer, August Eberstein. They saw a need to produce simple fountain pens. Not long after the company’s original creation came to market, Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and later Claus Johannes Voss took over the business and laid the foundation for what would become an internationally successful company.
In 1910, the trade name, ‘Montblanc’ was officially registered and the first pens with that name were issued. In 1913, the symbol of a star with rounded outlines became the Montblanc Company’s logo. In these early years, the company also used the name, Meisterstück, meaning ‘Masterpiece,’ on exports. This name was first used in 1924 for the top lines of its fountain pens.
After nearly seventy years in business, Montblanc was acquired by Dunhill (1977) and, not long after, became a subsidiary of the Compagnie Financière Richemont (Richemont Group.) The latter consortium uses the Montblanc brand on a wide range of luxury goods other than pens. Its sister companies in the Richemont Group include the luxury brands Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Chloé, and Baume et Mercier. Montblanc is owned, through Richemont, by the South African Rupert Family.
Today, Montblanc has expanded its collection of luxury branded products to include watches, sunglasses, jewelry, belts, leather items, and of course, its popular writing instruments. Montblanc wrist watches are very popular among connoisseurs and collectors.
Montblanc manufactures its watches in the Switzerland area of Le Locle, in particular, in the town of Viller, situated at an altitude of 1,000 meter above sea level in the Jura Mountains. In 2006, the Richemont Group bought the small watch manufacturer, Fabrique d’Horlogerie Minerva, that was established in Viller in 1858.
That company that had designed and created its own watch movements was, after Richemont purchase, passed to Montblanc. The acquisition made it possible for Montblanc to enter the realm of Haute Horlogerie. Consequently, it revived the Minerva brand, one of the oldest in Switzerland.
At the factory, watch movements are processed and assembled by hand with only development and milling machines operated by computer. Until recently, the company produced about 250 watches per year.
Montblanc watches attract the attention of connoisseurs because Minerva’s initial concepts remain in place: every chronograph is developed by one watchmaker so every watch with the Montblanc logo, created by the Viller watchmakers is considered unique. At the Montblanc factory calibers are also produced with the help of modern industrialized methods.
In 1997, the Montblanc watch brand introduced a unique, hand-made Montblanc watch mechanism watch and called it, not surprisingly, Meisterstück. After the company participated in that year’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva (SIHH), the company joined the roster of the world’s leading watch brands.
In 2000, seven watches comprising the Meisterstück Sport Collection combined modern design, reliability and functionality. In 2003 the company presented a collection of TimeWalker watches.
In 2006, to commemorate the company’s 100th anniversary, Montblanc brought out limited editions of some of their watches encrusted with a unique Montblanc diamond in the shape of the company’s logo. Montblanc patented the cut of the diamond.
Only seven years after its launch, the Montblanc watch accounted 20% of the company’s sales securing a place among renowned watchmakers and, simultaneously, becoming an important partner for jewelers.
At the Geneva Salon SIHH, in 2008, Montblanc introduced the first movement produced by the company called the, caliber MB R100, and named the watch for Nicolas Rieussec, calling it the Star Nicolas Rieussec. Rieussec was a prominent figure in watchmaking and was the creator of the first chronograph.
The Star Nicolas Rieussec wrist watch was the first watch created with a movement created especially for Montblanc in its own laboratory. This wrist watch was equipped with two calibers: a manual wound MB R100 and an automatic MBR200.
The Montblanc watch brand has developed several lines of vintage watches including the Villeret 1858 collection. More than two hundred fifty watch movements were created for the Villeret 1858, but only one was housed in platinum case. Eight resided in a white gold case and fifty-eight in rose gold cases. These are considered collector’s items.
Montblanc ultimately created its own tourbillon, called the Grand Tourbillon Heures Mysterieuses wrist watch. This watch was also released in a limited edition: one watch with a platinum case, eight with rose gold cases, and another eight with white gold cases.
Montblanc also offers potential customers the ability to purchase a unique wrist watch and offers the creation of custom-made models. Montblanc collections of men’s and women’s wrist watches consist either of modern sport watches or of classical styles.
Montblanc collections include Nicolas Rieussec, Montblanc Star 4810, Montblanc Star, Montblanc Sport, Time Walker, Profil, Summit, Travel Clock, and Villeret 1858.
In January 2014, Hugh Jackman was announced as Montblanc’s Global Brand Ambassador.
In March 2017, the company introduced its first chronographs designed to measure time more precisely. Montblanc looked to its history and that of its in-house manufacture Minerva, to find inspiration in historical rally racing. Taking the much beloved Minerva Rally Timer as the base for an updated multifunctional wristwatch, Montblanc created the Montblanc TimeWalker Chronograph Rally Timer Counter in a limited Edition of one hundred.
In June 2017, Montblanc enhanced its collection of smartwatches. Its first entrant was in 2014, when it offered its “e-Strap” which offered connectivity to the “dumb” mechanical watch. In mobile tech, however, 2014 was an age ago, and the e-Strap is ancient history. Montblanc has now produced its first truly ‘connected’ watch: the Summit.
Costing £795, it forms an interesting counterpoint to Switzerland’s other major player in the market, TAG Heuer, which has already unveiled an upgraded version of its own smartwatch. Now a conventional mechanical timepiece can be both a smartwatch and haute horological statement piece.
Two Montblanc watch collections and a limited edition model were introduced at SIHH 2017. On these new editions, the Minerva name is used almost exclusively. The new models consist of limited edition pieces made entirely in Villeret including a vintage-inspired collection of watches using bronze watch cases (a first for Montblanc) and a collection of vintage-inspired motorsport watches.
Montblanc watches are available in 360 boutiques in more than 70 countries around the world.
The ever-increasing demand for Montblanc watches and their rising significance within the Montblanc product range have enhanced Montblanc’s reputation to more than a maker of sophisticated, high-quality writing instruments. From its classic pieces to its fine watch collections, Montblanc balances high touch with high technology.