Snake eyes: Montblanc celebrates 110 years with a seductive serpent motif
When Montblanc was first established in 1906, the vision of its three founders – merchant Alfred Nehemias, engineer August Eberstein and stationery trader Claus-Johannes Voss – was to create a writing instrument that would revolutionise the industry. What resulted was a pen armed with non-leaking technology, which they encountered during travels in America that henceforth left an indelible mark on the world.
This week, to celebrate its 110th anniversary, Montblanc returned to the origins of this technology to unveil a new celebratory collection in New York City. A sophisticated reimagining of some of the house’s first products, the collection ranges from writing instruments, leather goods, timepieces and men’s accessories. An undulating serpent, a seductive motif that first appeared in Montblanc’s archives around the 1920s, threads together the anniversary pieces with contemporary flair.
In pen-form, the house has introduced a special edition of the ‘Rouge et Noir’ – its first fountain pen from 1909 – albeit with a few tweaks. Three years in development, the revamped instrument boasts a more slender silhouette and contemporary piston technology for a more fluid writing experience. The new Heritage Collection shape is further enhanced by the placement of the art nouveau-style serpent, gently coiled around its cap to form the pen’s clip.
Available in three iterations – a smooth all-black resin, bright coral resin and a matte ebonite (a combination of hard rubber, sulphur and linseed oil) version in ode to the 1909 original – the Montblanc Heritage Collection 'Rouge et Noir' writing instruments are each completed by a two-tone gold nib engraved with the serpent’s head, so that the design can be enjoyed even when the pen’s cap has been removed.
Montblanc’s nods to its craftsmanship and innovation continue with a limited edition watch, featuring an in-house one-minute tourbillon, double cylindrical balance spring and a three-dimensional anthracite serpent that’s been engraved by hand into the bezel. Together with the floating hands, exposed mechanism and black rhodium-plated bridges and plates, this stunning timepiece is of the highest calibre – only three have been made.
Leather goods and men’s accessories round out the anniversary collection. Again embracing the serpent motif as well as the red and black colour pairing, the leather offering sees an assortment of all-black, soft grain leather accessories pair with coral-coloured luggage tags embossed with the serpent motif as a symbol of renewal and rebirth. While serpentine cufflinks, tie bars and a bracelet provide a subtler way of wearing Montblanc’s honorary 1110th anniversary mascot, the showpiece in this range is the 'Steamer' bag – a modern rendition of a nostalgic style of luggage that was de rigeur at the turn of the 20th century. Elegantly constructed, lined with suede and emblazoned with a red snake, the softly structured bag is a fine piece of kit, perfect for today’s stylish traveller.