Lux Feature: The Modern Montblanc

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
The past few years have seen a lot of changes for the luxury giant...

For years it’s been a fact that, if you’re after a more reserved, conservative approach to luxury, you look into Montblanc. Briefcases, sumptuous but unadorned, their famous Meisterstück, cloaked in black lacquer with the odd flash of precious metal - their designs have always been timeless, but therein lies a slight problem.

Timeless may equate to always appealing, but it also conversely ages the brand. A simple black briefcase may get the occasional nod of approval, but that’s about it. Respect and admiration yes, excitement less so. Then there’s the demographic. Nowadays there are plenty of 20-30 years olds able to afford luxury and they’re not the sort that would opt for sophistication over style. They want something that stands out from the rest as much for the way it looks as much as its quality.

Montblanc Starwalker Fountain Pen, £445


Buy online HERE.

As you can see, it’s easy to understand why a brand like Montblanc, one so intertwined with traditional, timeless luxury would want to modernise. That said, wanting to and managing it are two completely different things; I’m sure you can think of ‘brand reinventions’ that... haven’t gone to plan. For Montblanc however, that really doesn’t seem to be an issue. Not even close. A large part of that success can be placed firmly at the doorstep of Jérôme Lambert.

If you’ve not heard of Monsieur Lambert, you’ll know at least some of the brands he’s worked with (hopefully Jaeger-LeCoultre and A. Lange & Sohne both ring a bell). Needless to say, he’s had plenty of success stories and, in the past couple of years, he’s been applying his Midas touch to the modernisation of Montblanc.

Now, by modernisation I certainly don’t mean style over quality. Montblanc would not be Montblanc if a single compromise was made in that regard. This is a brand who, rather than commissioning pieces, buy entire facilities to make their own. In the ideal areas. With expert staff. No, compromise in not something Montblanc know of. It’s more about accessibility, both in the aforementioned aspects of style, but in price.

Montblanc Meisterstuck Selection Sfumato Tote Bag, £1,405


Buy online HERE.

Style first. In their leather goods, Montblanc has always been at a great price point for what they are. Go to many a leather specialist and you’ll find pieces of equal or poorer quality with a far heftier price tag. Regardless of whether you can afford them or not, you still want to know you’ve got what you paid for. But as I suggested earlier, they could be a little more inspiring.

Montblanc Extreme Rucksack, £555

Montblanc Extreme Rucksack

Buy online HERE.

Lambert’s reign has revolutionised Montblanc’s leather. Last year they created their ‘Extreme’, a performance-styled, urban-oriented and hardwearing material that was the antithesis of traditional. The woven bags, wallets and the like almost had the look of carbon fibre, yet with all the luxurious hallmarks the brand is synonymous with.

This year they went further, introducing ultra-soft versions and the stunning sfumato collection, leather painted using a renaissance technique visible in the Mona Lisa. These were released not only in a wider palette of colours than ever before – the blue is particularly stunning – but in more types of their creations. Go back a few years and the thought of Montblanc creating a backpack or men’s tote would have been laughable; now, they are some of the highlights of Montblanc’s collection.

I use the leather as the clearest example, but this slant towards more relevant, stylish pieces has been happening across the board. Sunglasses, accessories, fragrance, nothing has been ignored. There’s even been a much-needed overhaul to Montblanc’s women’s jewellery line. This year’s press look at the house’s latest collections was one revelation after another. What came as even more of a surprise was where Montblanc were touting not just style, but accessibility.

Montblanc Meisterstuck Soft Grain Document Case


Buy online HERE.

Haute Horology has never been accessible. It’s simply not feasible; the sheer skill and ingenuity that goes into tourbillons, perpetual calendars and minute repeaters necessitates that they be rarities. This often goes for things as simple as in-house movements and moon phases as well. But here Lambert has excelled.

Generally, a moon phase with an in-house movement in a beautifully classic case could easily be upwards of £10,000. There are many watch aficionados who wouldn’t even debate it. So surely Montblanc’s Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet is some kind of horological prestidigitation?  At just over £3,000, the calendar and moon phase seems almost impossible. Well, apparently it’s not.

Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie Quantième Complet, £3,315


Buy online HERE.

In just a few short years, Montblanc have created one of the finest value-for-money watch collections in the world. Classically-finished, irreproachably technical and simply beautiful, it’s an accomplishment Lambert should be very, very proud of. There are still a few collector’s pieces in there – mainly in the Villeret range – and some strikingly modern pieces (the TimeWalker can even come with a *gasp* e-strap), but at its core the collection is about making exquisite watches accessible.

Anyone that knows Montblanc will notice I’ve yet to mention their pens. Considering the brand was built on the legacy of the Meisterstück, I’ll admit that’s a little odd. Well the future holds some exciting developments for Montblanc’s pens as well - adding to their phenomenal range of collector’s limited editions, reiterations of the Meisterstück itself and creating new designs like the Blue Hour. 

Montblanc Timewalker Extreme Chronograph DLC


Buy online HERE.

There are a couple of developments however that are set to potentially change how you look at Montblanc’s pens. The first is the maison's premier pen collaboration, with none other than design legend Marc Newson. We can't say any more than that for now, but watch this space. The second is more technical. After their tablet collaboration with Samsung, Montblanc have gone one step further, creating the StarWalker Extreme ScreenWriter and accompanying app. I mean, you can't get more modernised than that.

Now, I know there are Montblanc devotees out there that would rather see the brand preserved in glass. ‘It doesn’t need to be changed!’ I hear you cry, ‘leave it how it is!’ Well, don’t fear; everything that made Montblanc the luxury powerhouse it is today is still there. The timeless creations oozing old-school sophistication are still wonderfully present. But today Montblanc is so much more which, let’s be honest, can only be a good thing.

To discover a range of Montblanc pieces available to buy online, CLICK HERE.


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