Montblanc innovates to stay ahead of the game
By : | June 15, 2018

The brand’s newest collection, Meisterstück Le Petit Prince, is more than just a writing instrument. It is a tribute to imagination and a reflection of the Maison’s impeccable craftsmanship.

Interview with Montblanc’s CEO Nicolas Baretzki


Meisterstück Le Petit Prince, Montblanc’s newest collection which they have launched worldwide, draws from the story of the little prince, or Le Petit Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It has inspired generations of readers and over 200 million copies have been sold, worldwide. The little novella was published in 1943 and featured unforgettable characters, a whimsical plot and often-quoted musings on life, love and friendship.

Montblanc International’s Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Baretzki was in India last month to launch this beautiful collection that celebrates exquisite craftsmanship. In a face-to-face interview, he told me, “We all love stories. They fire our imagination. Montblanc’s limited edition pens are our tribute to our imagination. There are no limits to what we can imagine.” Baretzki says that the novel provided Montblanc’s teams with so many references to articulate, that they have created a series that will include three annual collections.

Montblanc International’s CEO, Nicolas Baretzki

Montblanc, pretty regularly, launches some amazing collections of luxury writing instruments, each a tribute to cutting-edge design. From pens that reflect its artisanal heritage to those from their core collection, their patrons have a lot to look forward to almost every year. A newly perfected engraving technique, Baretzki shares as an example, was used in the production of the Le Petit Prince.

For Meisterstück, the luxury giant took an audacious step and broke away from the convention to craft writing instruments in blue lacquer, a perfect shade of night time sky, as opposed to its emblematic black. Baretzki believes that the color allows the brand to add a bit of warmth and modernity to Meisterstück. The range of three pens—ballpoint, fountain and a rollerball pen—have elements of Le Petit Prince engraved on their surface. On the crown is a laser-engraved sentence from the book, to further emphasize the literary work that inspired it.

But the piece de resistance is the Precious Resin version, with a milled cap decorated with a tone-on-tone fox face pattern.


 Montblanc’s Manufactory

All of Montblanc’s exquisite products are handcrafted and built in their manufactory in Hamburg. The traditional craftsmanship and manufacturing techniques have been perfected over generations. The heritage of writing instruments finds fruition in the Artisan Studio, in which stand perfectly-tuned machines with which the Montblanc artisans create these sophisticated writing instruments.

Passionate master craftsmen spend years working on perfecting their art. At the heart of every pen lies the nib, or ‘the keynote’ as Bartezki will tell you. Montblanc nibs are painstakingly crafted of 18K gold and are very flexible. They are rolled, stamped and given their characteristic heart-shape and hole. The nib is delicately engraved with the brand’s trademark star and the number 4810—a pen’s height in metres. How many know that the Montblanc artisans use 35 stages to create one nib? This is the kind of detailing that goes into creating one Montblanc pen.

Innovating to stay ahead

 Innovation is hardwired into Montblanc’s DNA. The first leak-proof fountain pen, created in 1906, was also an innovation for the times. “We have been pushing the boundaries ever since, with materials and craftsmanship. In a first for the Maison, we partnered with designer Marc Newson for the Montblanc M collection, balancing biomorphic style with function. The writing instrument featured a platinum-plated clip with magnetic alignmentto, a white precious resin Montblanc emblem on the perfectly flat ‘plateau’ of the barrel,” adds Baretzki.

Montblanc works with artisans to capture a customer’s handwriting to create a bespoke nib, based on the nuances of their writing.  “Owning your own writing instrument that has been crafted specifically for your handwriting is very special. Montblanc’s Bespoke Nib Service is offered in our key flagship boutiques globally.”

Beyond the traditional writing instruments, Montblanc has extended the writing experience to cater to today’s digital world with their Augmented Paper. The device pairs the enjoyment of a natural Montblanc writing experience on real paper, with the efficiency of the digital world. With the press of just one button, written notes and sketches can be seamlessly transferred from paper to a mobile device, so that the content can be edited, shared with others and translated into digital text.

Global Strategy

Over the past few years, the luxury brand has repositioned the Maison in a more aggressive price segment. “We meet representatives of our biggest markets three times a year, across all product categories, and implement quick decisions not just about our writing instruments, but also our other growing categories, watchmaking and leather goods,” says Baretzki.

Globally, one of their growing categories are watches, priced anywhere between Euro 2,000 to 20,000 euros and above, for the complicated Villeret watches. Montblanc puts out about six collections, ranging from classic watches to the Heritage lines for men, Bohème for women and Star for a mixed clientele. Their focus is also on sports-oriented and professional watches, such as the TimeWalker and 1858 collections.

India is always on the radar

Montblanc is a pioneer in the luxury accessories segment in India. “We were the first luxury Maison to enter the country approximately 25 years ago. While the brand leads’ the luxury writing instrument market, we are seeing strong growth for our other categories, too. Thanks to the breadth of our timepiece collection, we are opening the category to both new and established watch-lovers,” he says.

The brand expects to open 15 boutiques in India by the end of the year. They just opened Montblanc’s second boutique in Chennai, in Palladium Mall. The new Neo² design concept offers an immersive retail environment, reflecting the brand’s constant quest for aesthetic innovations.

Baretzki says that the luxury leather category is the fastest growing category. “It has expanded from the smaller gifting items that were earlier popular to bigger accessories. There is a steady sale of timepieces.”

Underpinning the growth of all their categories is the fact that they have dedicated manufactures for each one, and are uncompromising in the excellence of their craft, the materials used, their design, and their functionality.  “Whether it is our leather pelletteria in Florence, our watch manufactures in Switzerland, or our writing instrument manufacture in Hamburg, our craftsmen are highly skilled, passionate about what they do, and ensure that quality remains consistent,” says the soft-spoken CEO.

Besides selling from the retail stores, the brand has also tied up with Tata CLiQ to reach out to customers in cities like Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh.

 Montblanc has the support of a strong collectors’ community in India, and one that continues to grow every year.  Montblanc writing instruments have always appealed to collectors globally, which is why they are considered good investments and hold their value over time. The fact that each writing instrument has its own story, told through carefully crafted design details, colours and materials, adds to their value.




Deepali Nandwani, former Editor in chief, Mediascope - NewBase Content, has spent 25 years in the world of journalism, and keenly tracks the global luxury industry.