Chinese actor Jing Boran stars in Montblanc’s 100 Years of Meisterstück campaign.

FOR AS LONG as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. Okay, there was a brief period where I flirted with the idea of becoming a lawyer, but I think that was just my love of Legally Blonde talking. For the main part, it was a passion for words and stories that occupied my mind and guided my future. There seemed something so powerful and simple about it all: armed with just a pen, you really could change the world. And so I carried one with me wherever I went; part Jack Kerouac, part Carrie Bradshaw, I was on a mission to leave my mark. Some twenty years later, little has changed. Wherever I go, you’ll find a pen and paper close by. Whether a letter, an article like this one, or simply a to-do list, every idea begins with some lines scrawled in ink. After all, a blank document on the computer can feel daunting; a blank piece of paper is an opportunity. 

If there’s one brand who understands this it’s Montblanc. Founded in 1906, the German maison synonymous with fine craftsmanship and leather goods, has devoted itself to writers and writing, creating pens so beautiful they’re not even called pens anymore. Oh no, at Montblanc, they are ‘writing instruments’. Marketing speak? Maybe. But, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of holding and using one, you’ll know why. Substantial yet elegant, they’re things of beauty. And since the maison’s inception over 100 years ago, one has stood out above all others: the Meisterstück. If there’s a single object that defines the romantic, and urgent, importance of writing, it’s this one. And it all happened by accident. 

British actor Rupert Friend also stars in the campaign. Photography: courtesy of Montblanc

Created in 1924, customers had started to ask for instruments for special occasions, or ‘Sunday use’, only to find that the Montblanc craftsmen had already been making such pieces as personal passion projects. Recognising the demand, the Meisterstück, or ‘masterpiece’, was born. 2024 marks the icon’s 100 year anniversary, during which time it’s become the instrument of choice for writers, creatives – and filmmakers like Wes Anderson. 

Tapped by Montblanc to create a short film that captures the essence of the Meisterstück, the American filmmaker has reimagined the Montblanc universe through his own inimitable style. For chief marketing officer Vincent Montalescot, the decision to collaborate with Anderson was an easy one.

“The decision was made very quickly,” he tells me from a hotel suite overlooking the Hollywood Hills. “It was roughly two years ago when we spent some time with Marco Tomasetta, [Montblanc artistic director] and the team, to look at how we will celebrate the hundred-year anniversary, which is, of course, critical because you don’t have an opportunity like that every year. 

“What we do, and what we always do, is we look back, which means that we spend some time in the archives to really try to learn what happened in the past. Number one, the Meisterstück is featured in many movies, over the decades, from James Bond to the TV series The Crown. [In the past] we had some partnerships with film directors. One was Wim Wendors in 2011 and in 2020, we also had a great collaboration with Spike Lee. And we thought, ‘Okay, cinema will be the perfect stage to celebrate the icon.’ 

“And then the question was: the icon is black, white and gold – do we bring in something else? Colours were critical for Marco, which was one aspect. And the second aspect is that we love to spend time with our craftsmen, looking at how they do their job and all the attention to details. And then when we put the two together, you go straight to Wes, meaning that you get something extremely colourful and unique and with an attention to detail, which I believe is just spectacular.

“We are born from writing; there is this emotional connection and Wes loves to write… we could have done it with just actors, but we believe in going after people that are really embracing the writing factor in their day to day, which is the case of most filmmakers. That’s what makes it authentic.”

A still from Wes Anderson’s 100 Years of Meisterstück film. Photography: courtesy of Montblanc

The film, unveiled in Las Angeles last night, features Rupert Friend, Jason Shwartzman and Wes Anderson himself, having just reached the fictional Montblanc headquarters at the summit of Mont Blanc mountain. In Anderson’s unique and whimsical aesthetic, the trio discuss the history of the maison and the enduring role of the Meisterstück, before sitting down to write something of their own. For Friend, it’s his daily journaling, for Shartzman, a letter to his mum and for Anderson, naturally, it’s a crack at writing a historical novel based during the times of feudalism. A blending of worlds, filmmaking and craftsmanship, the film manages to avoid feeling clunky because of Anderson’s signature humour and Montblanc’s subtle branding. 

“For me, there are a couple of takeaways,” Montalescot says of the film. “The first one, [is that this] is an unexpected but perfect match between two universes. And when I said unexpected, I’m not sure that we expect Montblanc to be so colourful – even if we are. Because in fact if you go back to the heritage, colour was part of day one. And the second thing, you will see in the closing [scene] what Wes is in fact telling everyone: ‘let’s write’.”

To accompany the film, Montblanc have released two new capsule collections designed by Tomasetta. The first features a reinvention of the classic Montblanc 149 Bag, wallets, document cases and pen holders, all in an intriguing Sfumato Green that was retrieved from the depths of the archives, having been seen on a Meisterstück in the 1920s. It has the classic restrained elegance indicative of Montblanc, alongside some creative embellishments that celebrate the Meisterstück, like leather strapping that resemble a nib, and the colour gradient that makes the items appear as if dipped in ink. 

Photography: courtesy of Montblanc

“Meisterstück is an iconic element of our collection,” explains Tomasetta. “So for me the desire is to renovate and reinstate the fact that this icon is for the future. So if you think about a mastertook, it’s been the same for some time and has slowly become what it is today. I’m fascinated by the fact that these objects stay the same through the passing of time and they remain iconic. In my opinion we don’t have any desire to change it. You try to change things that are not perfect. Objects like this one, the Meisterstück, have a timeless life.”

The campaign was unveiled at a private estate deep in the Hollywood Hills. Friends of the brand Zinadine Zidane, Emma Roberts, Lucky Blue Smith, Callum Turner, Simu Liu and Australia’s Lincoln Younes, were in attendance as we went deep into the universe of Montblanc before a surprise performance by singer John Legend (yes, you heard that right). As the sun set on Los Angeles, Legend’s soulful ballads seemed a fitting end to the evening: one icon celebrating another.

But the journey, as Vincent Montalescot knows, doesn’t end here. Montblanc will continue pushing the boundaries of design and craftsmanship in search of objects that, like the Meisterstück, shape culture and stand the test of time. 

“What I believe is that when you crack something like that, it stays forever. My job is not just to celebrate a moment, but to ensure that we pass the baton. Meaning that our job, like the craftsmen, is to ensure that in 10 years, in 20 years, in 100 years, Montblanc will be there.” 

So, what about the rest of us? The precocious magazine editors, aspiring writers and creatives? How do we, too, ensure we create a legacy that lasts a hundred years or more. The answer is simple: pick up a pen – sorry, writing instrument – and leave your mark.

Shop the 100 Years of Meisterstück edit online now and in Montblanc boutiques nationwide.


The magic and mastery of Montblanc leather

With Explorer Platinum, Montblanc captures the spirit of adventure