The power of #9

Have you ever reflected on the fact, that 9 is the highest digit in our decimal number system. So in other words 9 stands for the maximum, the pinnacle of the simplest numerical system the humanity has ever conceived. For example, in the Chinese culture, 9 stands for longevity. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that many Manufacturer in several industries associates their top of range products to the number 9. Montblanc does not make an exception.

Longevity is one of human beings most yearned desires. We all want to live as long as possible, it’s just in our nature. And possibly stay as young and fresh as possible, right? In the world of writing instruments, there is one model that lasts for 68 years now. But every time I look at it and write with it, it seems as it would have been just launched. So reliable, so iconic, so handy… we’re talking about the Montblanc Meisterstück 149.

In another post earlier this year, we have compared the Meisterstück 149 to the Porsche 911 Turbo for it’s boldness and performance as well es for it’s understatement even though they represent the top of their respective model range. What makes this model so special and so much appreciated by it’s owner?

A little bit of history

As you maybe remember from our post about Montblanc’s heritage, the Meisterstück collection was launched back in 1924 and was named after a specific scheme of digits starting at 12x, 13x and later 14x. The 3rd digit was defining the different nib sizes, so the 149 represents the latest generation of Meisterstück (14x) with the largest nib (xx9). I fact the 149, launched officially in 1952 was replacing the 139, that was following the same logic of nomenclature. As you can see in the following image, the 139 was featuring a flat cap and a more edgy design. The 14x series, presented in 1949, launched the well known streamlined design that we all immediately recognise until today.

Immediately an icon

Even though the “cigar” shape was a novelty for Montblanc, the model immediately became an icon. One of the most famous images that retracts a Meisterstück 149 is certainly the one showing Chancellor Konrad Adenauer tender his pen over to President John F. Kennedy to sign the Golden Book of the city of Cologne during his visit in June 1963. One of the hundreds of occasions where politicians from all over the world have signed historical documents with a Montblanc 149. This wouldn’t be the case if the pen wouldn’t be an excellent performer. In fact, let’s analyse a bit more in depth some technical aspects of this pen and why they are relevant to us “simple” user and collectors.

Evolution instead of Revolution

First of all, the materials used for the 149 wasn’t always resin, like it is nowadays. From 1952 until ca. 1960 the 149 was made out of celluloid like all the other 14x models. From 1960 the celluloid has been replaced by a more practical and lasting resin, more precisely, what later would be marketed as precious resin is not unlikely to be some sort of plexiglass or Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA), also known as acrylic. As for every respected icon, the design has almost remained unchanged since 1952 and all the work has been done under the skin (see Rolex Submariner, Porsche 911 and so on).

As you can see from the images, the very first models of 149 feature a longer ink window than today. This was a typical characteristic of the Montblanc models of that era and has been changed quite early in the 1950’s already. In fact, the early models also feature 2 silver rings on the base of the cap. Those models are extremely rare and highly collectible since it’s almost impossible to find one in good condition and ideally as a full set.

Keep in mind as well, that the barrels produced until the very late 1960’s were significantly thinner and therefore tend to crack more easily than the later models, produced from the 1970’s on.

The 149 in everyday’s life

As a proud owner of all the regular Meisterstück 149 models, so platinum, yellow gold and rose gold finish, I can only say that the 149s are my companions since years now. Actually I bought my first 149 back in 2010, when I started a new job at the time and I was immediately impressed by it’s performance. I already had a decent collection at the time. This means, that I was using the pen from time to time also with breaks of several weeks. However, the 149 was writing always straight away. No need to warm it up, fill it again or anything similar. This is even more remarkable if you think, that I use a F nib, so the quantity of ink flowing is really minimal and could dry out very quickly. No problem for my trusty 149. This was the reason why, as soon as the other finishes were launched (until 2014 the 149 was available only with the yellow gold plated finish) I immediately contacted the retailer here in Zug and ordered exactly the same model in platinum and rose gold finish with a F nib. We are inseparable! Ask my wife if you don’t believe it *smile*.

I would like to conclude with a little curiosity about the Meisterstück collection that I have red during my studies about the Montblanc history, where I have found the flyer that you can see on the left. This flyer should be a sort of “Guide to the Perfect gift by Montblanc” and is dated 1949. Did you know that the Meisterstück has been named like this also because it was the only model featuring a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer? All the other models were not covered by such a warranty and were explicitly categorised by price range. Starting from the low range featuring the PIX pressure mechanism (today the PIX collection represents again the entry level model) up to the Meisterstück that was the flagship collection as the name suggests. Last curiosity, have you seen that on some export models from the 50’s, on the main ring on the cap, the name MEISTERSTÜCK is translated with MASTERPIECE?? If you find one of those, don’t hesitate to buy it immediately. They are incredibly rare. Happy hunting.
Image credits: montblanc.com, pensninks

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