(writing)culture

What’s So Special About Montblanc Nibs?

There is something instantly recognizable about a Montblanc pen. Whether it’s in the silhouette of the body or the snowcap emblem, a Montblanc remains the industry standard for subtle, but effective, branding. This has helped to make Montblanc a worldwide name, but it’s sustained the reputation it has today through a remarkable commitment to quality. Most importantly, one could argue, we see that in the nib.

Yes, the Meisterstück and its brethren have beautiful detailing and design elements on its own, but it’s the construction of the nib which makes, in my opinion, a Montblanc one worth investing in. Let me explain why.

First, as a European pen manufacturer, it’s getting rarer and rarer for nibs to be made in-house. No so for Montblanc, who has an entire department dedicated to just the nib. In fact, it’s this elevation of the pen from a component of the pen to a veritable selling point that makes the nib manufacturing that much more impressive. In a video with Surface Magazine, one gets to see a look behind the curtain at the amazing level of craftsmanship that goes into every single nib. In fact, Frank Derlien, the Head of the Nib Department at Montblanc, notes that it takes 35 steps for each nib – that’s a third of the entire manufacturing process of a Montblanc!

After each step in the process, a magnifying glass is used to ensure that it was a success and can graduate on. When all 35 steps are complete, the nibs are inserted into a Meisterstück and tested by hand, doing figure-eights and lines to ensure that the Montblanc nib works properly. But it’s especially intriguing what they’re looking for – not necessarily precision of design, but the correct sound, feel, and look of the lines when complete. The human element is integral to the process at every step of the way.

So what does make for a good writing experience with a Montblanc? Most notably, it’s the use of gold that makes for a pleasant handfeel which is most often described as “springy”. Couple that with the usual balance of the pen and a good ink for a soft, wet flow and you can witness for yourself how Montblanc has been at the forefront of the writing industry for over a century.

As Zaim Kamal, former Creative Director of Montblanc, put it: the pens themselves aren’t unique – the manufacturing process is fairly standardized. What makes it unique is that how we use the pens are each, individually, unique. This, in turn, makes a bond between pen and writer, which all culminates at the tip of a nib, where ink wells and it’s just waiting to get your ideas on paper

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