Montblanc 1858 Icesea Automatic Grey Dial
New to 2023 Diver features a glacier-patterned dial inspired by the ice of the Mail de Grasse, one of the largest glaciers in the Mont Blanc Mountains. The caseback features a 3D engraving of an iceberg and a black scuba diver exploring the glacial lake below.
454,300 yen (tax included)
Originating in 1906, Montblanc is a pen company founded in Hamburg, Germany, by the founder of engineer August Eberstein, banker Alfred Nehemias, and stationery dealer Klaus Johannes Voss. The black resin body, gold trim and white star-shaped logo with six points inspired by a Montblanc mountain at the top of the cap originated in the Meisterstück released in 1924 and is now the de facto standard for fountain pens.
And the waves created by Montblanc pens are not limited to writing instruments, but also reach leather bags, fragrances and watches. We asked Nicolas Baretsky, CEO of Montblanc International, about the current state of Montblanc, which participated as a watch brand at a large booth at WATCHES AND WONDERS 2023.
Chief Executive Officer of Montblanc International. He holds a master’s degree in auditing and accounting from the HEC School of Management in Paris and has been involved in the watch industry since 1994. At Montblanc, he was appointed Executive Vice President of Sales in 2013 and has been in his current position since 2017.
“Autograph is a good medium name!”
When I introduced myself, Nikola Baretsky first bit into our media name.
If you want to unravel the word autograph, it is an autograph brush. The author entrusts the interpretation of this media name as a place to explore the handwriting and traces of the people who created things and services, and a place where the brushwork of the writers and photographers who talk about it is left behind.
“We think handwriting is very important because it distinguishes you from someone else. The Montblanchaus in Hamburg has a wall decorated with autographs of celebrities. The oldest is Voltaire’s signature from 1777.”
This time, WATCHES AND was also an Autograph wall of the WONDERS booth. Drawings inspired by the Alps are drawn, and many of them, if you look closely, are composed of the message “Everything begins with a daydream” by Reinhold Messner, an Italian mountaineer who became the first person in human history to fully summit all 14 8,000-meter peaks (without oxygen).
However, handwriting is now a classic and hobbyist, isn’t it? It’s a digital world, and I think the pandemic has intensified that trend.
“I feel that digital and analog don’t compete, and I think the pandemic made the world feel that more strongly.”
In the center of the Montblanc booth, which was crowded with many visitors every day, there was an object with a huge pen tip, and they were slowly drawing drawings. “4810” is a traditional number inscribed on the Meisterstück, named after the altitude of the Mont Blanc mountain, which he describes as “a symbol of the world’s best technical skills and craftsmanship”.
Does that mean Montblanc is doing well?
When I wake up in the morning, my phone alarm goes off and I check the news and emails on my phone. Isn’t it because we are surrounded by digital technology that we want something authentic? For example, our 100-year story, craftsmanship…”
Do you mean the good old stuff?
“No way! Montblanc’s DNA is innovation. Since we developed a functional fountain pen that does not leak ink, innovation has been our clear philosophy. Just as the same letters are expressed differently by different writers, even if they are the same fountain pen, each fountain pen has its own differences. It’s the same thing with watches. You’ve seen Montblanc Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva, haven’t you?”
Montblanc Unveiled Timekeeper Minerva Limited Edition 100
Chronograph watch without pusher. The bezel takes the place of the pusher. Limited to 100 bottles, it costs 5,858,600 yen (tax included). In addition, a lime gold case model limited to 28 pieces was also announced.
I see, a chronograph is a chronograph, but the expression is different.
“Not only Minerva, but also the Montblanc 1858 Ice Sea series, diver’s watches, but we are inspired by glaciers. I think diver’s watches like that are rare, right?”
Montblanc 1858 Icesea Automatic Date
The Montblanc 1858 Ice Sea series at the top of the page was also introduced in a boutique-only edition with a green glacier dial. Glaciers are sometimes inspired by the iron oxide incorporated into the ice to give them a deep emerald green. The bracelet has a black rubber strap in the photo and a double folding strap made of Stentes Steel with fine adjustment system, which is interchangeable.
498,300 yen (tax included)
What brand is Montblanc?
By the way, when I think of Montblanc, I have a strong image of writing instruments, but what kind of brand is Montblanc for your current customers? You entered the watch market in 1997, right? Do customers already recognize it as a watch brand?
“First of all, in Montblanc watchmaking, in addition to Le Locle’s workshop in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland, there is also the Villeret-based Minerva workshop, which boasts a history dating back to 1858, and continues to make watches in which the two manufactures come together. Naturally, there are people who touch the Montblanc brand from their watches. And, of course, there are people who know Montblanc from writing instruments, and leather products are also a popular product. That’s why we see Montblanc as a holistic luxury brand.”
So do you recognize that some people like a particular category of Montblanc, while others like Montblanc as a whole?
“It’s really varied, because according to customer data, for example, the age is over 80 years old for the top and a whopping 7 years old for the youngest. They vary in gender and nationality, and how they use Montblanc products. I can’t say that there is any particular tendency. That’s what I said when I said it’s a comprehensive brand.”
Why did this happen?
“First of all, the Montblanc brand is widely deployed around the world. Montblanc is already a familiar brand for many. We ship our products to about 140 countries around the world, and in China, for example, last year we shipped to about 340 cities, or 80% of the total. Thanks in part to e-commerce. In addition, in 2021, the appointment of Marco Tomasetta as Artistic Director takes the overall brand to the next level. The design, the beauty, the sophistication, of course, the history, technology, the collectibility of more than 100 years… There are many reasons to buy Montblanc!”
I learned about it when my father gave me a Montblanc fountain pen. I still use that fountain pen, but if you think about it, it was over 30 years ago…
“I also gave my child a Montblanc fountain pen, which is another Montblanc strength that should be cherished. Be proud of the Montblanc products you receive as a gift. Montblanc is that kind of brand.”
Montblanc is a performance
So, what do you think about the future of Montblanc?
“It depends on the direction the world moves, and although the current world may smell a bit of a smell, I’m a positive person. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks, and that we’re not prepared for them.”
Is there anything you’d like to do with Montblanc in the future? For example, try a new category?
“That’s a tough question for me, because Montblanc is now part of the Richemont Group. There is a role to play in the group, so I can’t afford to confide in secrets.”
So there are many things that mean?
“Well, yes… I think everything is performant. Performance means that if the situation goes down, Montblanc’s performance will also decline, but then it will decline slowly. When the whole situation is improving, it means climbing higher than the others.”
And so I continued my journey with Montblanc…
“Yes, Montblanc is also a travel brand. We make bags, but don’t forget that Montblanc is an adventurer and that Montblanc products are functional and worthy of choice for adventurers.”
Speaking of which, I now remember that the Montblanc backpack was functional and I wanted it!