Montblanc: The New Black

Sam Kessler (Online Editor)
A subtle re-imagining of the quintessential pen maker's most famous masterwork

There’s something timeless about black. It evokes elegance across clothes, cars and countless objects. It’s also not the most interesting of hues; after all, while blue can conjure myriad images, black is just black. It’s simple, unchanging and all too expected – except, it seems, when in the hands of Montblanc.

Montblanc’s Meisterstuck has been the archetypal luxury pen since it was first introduced to the world in 1924. Between the exceptional reputation the house had already established for their instruments and the innate elegance of the pen itself, its success was all but guaranteed. Even today, mere mention of the Hamburg-based brand brings the sleek lines and deep, black lacquer of the Meisterstuck to mind.


This year Montblanc have been celebrating their 110th anniversary, a cause for more than a little celebration. Earlier in the year they did so with a re-release of the model that first made the Montblanc name, the Rouge et Noir. Now however it’s the turn of the Meisterstuck.

But how do you commemorate a piece so quintessential? How do you honour a pen which is still so iconic? The answer according to Montblanc is to reinterpret what made it a classic. The Meisterstuck Ultra Black Special Edition is both a reimagining and a faithful tribute to the original.

The first image that the name Meisterstuck evokes is the glossy black of Montblanc’s signature resin, yet the Ultra Black takes a dramatically different approach. The pens are still crafted from resin, yes, but sandblasted for a matte finish. It’s a far more contemporary look, which is somewhat ironic given that it imitates ebonite.


Ebonite was essentially a type of natural rubber originally patented by Charles Goodyear. Given that the Goodyear Welt is still a favourite of shoe makers, you can imagine the general use ebonite was put to, even if its name does suggest that it was intended to replace ebony wood. Either way, it was used in a good number of pens in the early 20th century – which made the gloss of the original Meisterstuck stand out all the more.

Therefore the Ultra Black edition is, in a way, a ‘what if?’ scenario. If the original designers decided to follow the trend of ebonite, this could well have been what the Meisterstuck would have been. While it might not have stood out quite as much however, this incarnation is something spectacular.

The overall silhouette of the pen hasn’t changed, thankfully. It’s slim without becoming too feminine, the perfect pen to fit in your palm as well as your pocket. The simple, refined lines bespeak elegance in its purist form.


Yet while there’s something luxurious about the glossy version, the matte black is much more… mysterious. It has a kind of deep lustre, one which works flawlessly with the darkling shining touches of ruthenium on the metalwork. That ruthenium coating is also on the nib, transforming the entire pen into a masterwork of subtlety.

It’s hard to express just what a difference a simple change of texture can create. The differences between the Ultra Black and the classic Meisterstuck are small on the face of things, a little alteration of resin and metal work. Yet the result is a dramatic reinterpretation of the classic, one which marries classical elegance and contemporary style above that of even the 1924 Meisterstuck itself.

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