USING A PEN in 2024 is a little like driving a manual transmission car. It’s no longer necessary unless you belong to a profession that absolutely requires it and technological innovations have meant that there are exceedingly more practical and efficient options out there. Yet, the romantic qualities of both physically transferring an idea from your mind to paper by scrawling the lines yourself and purposefully shifting gears and feeling an engine respond cannot be denied.

Perhaps not everyone appreciates these romantic aspects, but Montblanc certainly does. That’s why, 100 years since the Meisterstück fountain pen was first introduced, the writing instrument remains one of the most recognisable products the maison has ever made. And not only has the Meisterstück defined Montblanc’s illustrious past, it will continue to inspire its future.

You may have noticed we’ve flipped between calling the Meisterstück a pen and a ‘writing instrument’ so far. Allow us to explain why: Montblanc believes there’s a distinction between using any regular old pen and the refined pleasure of writing with a Meisterstück – its name translates to masterpiece for a reason. We’ll stick to writing instrument from now on.

The first Meisterstücks weren’t Meisterstücks at all. Originally, the Meisterstück was a mouthful known as the Simplizissiumus-Füllhalter – or more simply, Simplo. It was created in 1924, when Montblanc’s customers wanted a more specialised writing instrument for “Sunday use” that offered a more refined writing experience and was best savoured for only occasional use. Lucky for them, Montblanc’s master craftsmen were already designing one of a kind writing instruments for exactly that purpose. And thus, the Meisterstück – or Simplizissiumus-Füllhalter – was born.

A Meisterstück advertisement from 1950
A Meisterstück advertisement from 1936

The Meisterstück, as the writing instrument later became known, elevated penmanship to an art form. Right from the start, the number ‘4810’ – representing the height of the Mont Blanc mountain in meters – was prominently displayed on Meisterstück packaging and engraved on the cap and nib from 1930. Through a combination of innovative engineering and top-of-the-line materials, the Meisterstück became to writing what pillows are to sleeping. The writing instruments revolutionary design ensured that ink flows from reservoir to paper without even an ounce of pressure from the user, whose hand simply glides across the page in supreme comfort as a result.

Since its inception, the Meisterstück has proven to be the exemplar of its line, being adapted, reimagined and skeletonised in various forms. And while the necessity of using writing instruments of its ilk in day-to-day life may have shrunk in the modern world, the Meisterstück’s influence hasn’t waned.

From left to right, Meisterstücks from 1924, 1937, 1952 and 1960
The most recent model of the Meisterstück 149

As the Meisterstück reaches its centenary, it has retained its core design codes, but now it also lends its iconic style to other products in the Montblanc range. As part of the 100 years of Meisterstück campaign, Montblanc’s latest leather collection from Artistic Director Marco Tomasetta pays homage to the iconic writing instrument.

The capsule collection, officially called the Meisterstück collection, harnesses qualities of a Meisterstück like elevated design cues inspired by the art of writing, a deep British green colour scheme ripped from the Meisterstück archive, and a blurred sfumato effect reminiscent of a stained ink bottle. Fittingly, the collection includes a pen pouch.

The Meisterstück’s influence also extends beyond leather goods. Montblanc’s latest wearable technology, the MTB 03 headphones, feature a deep black lightweight resin similar to that of the Meisterstück, along with a white Montblanc emblem and a chrome ring, echoing the rings on the cap of the Meisterstück.

While the Meisterstück’s design is being applied elsewhere, the writing instrument itself hasn’t lost its place. Montblanc has tapped the 21st century’s most prominent auteur, the inimitable Wes Anderson, to direct a short film capturing the essence of the Meisterstück and the enduring appeal of a writing instrument.

Featuring Rupert Friend, Jason Schwartzmann and Anderson himself, the short film takes viewers on a journey to the summit of the Mont Blanc mountain, where the fictional headquarters of Montblanc are situated. Upon arriving at the peak, the trio of characters present a “fountain pen designed over 100 years ago for the adventurous traveller” and debate its qualities before setting out to write something of their own. Each take different paths, but the message is clear: there is value to be had in writing the old-fashioned way.

So, what’s the takeaway here? If there’s one thing 100 years of Meisterstück can teach us, it’s that like Montblanc, the Meisterstück will continue to be the polestar of craftsmanship, shaping design principles like an artist with a paintbrush would on a canvas – or perhaps more appropriately, a writer with a writing instrument.

Learn more about the 100 years of Meisterstück campaign here.


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