It’s hard to imagine a time when the now-ubiquitous rollerball and ballpoint pens were not around. But that was indeed the case before modern engineering brought first the ballpoint and later the rollerball pen, and with them the ease of a new cartridge-based ink supply. But there were many innovative strides along the way, offering writers something new and different and inventive.
One such innovation was the diminutive fountain pens from the 1920s, designed as an on-the-go alternative to full-sized pens. And Montblanc’s smallest pens from that era proved a boon. Thus the new Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Baby Special Edition is a reference to the past, but with a modern edge.
“Evoking the cosmopolitan flair of the 1920s, when travel took off on a grand scale with more people than ever before exploring the world by train, plane, ship and car, innovative conveniences such as Montblanc portable pens were de rigueur,” explains Alessandra Elia, Montblanc Managing Director Writing Culture. “By introducing a new interpretation of this historic writing instrument with all the modern advancements, Montblanc celebrates an even deeper passion for travel and mobility today.”
I first saw the pen several months ago in the hands of Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki, whom I was interviewing about another topic. It had all the right Montblanc cues, like exquisite polishing, extraordinary fittings and an impressive nib given the pen’s small size. It seemed a perfect pen for pocket or purse, and its cartridge filling system made it that much more approachable. Baretzki wasn’t sharing—either the pen or much info other than this very effective visual teaser! But I knew it was in the pipeline, and I knew it would be a success.
The Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Baby Special Edition is a mere 10 cm long, with a spirit inspired by its Rouge & Noir forbears. As a quick review, the original Montblanc Rouge et Noir (“Red and Black”), which takes its moniker from the eponymous novel by the French writer Stendahl, was crafted in black ebonite and fitted with a red-crowned cap (and a newfangled filling system). The name alone, makes pen collectors swoon, both for what it meant to the German brand in the early part of the 20th century and for what it means today as part of Montblanc’s extensive oeuvre.
This just-introduced interpretation is crowned with an ivory-colored Montblanc emblem surrounded by red-colored resin reminiscent of the red cap tops of the original Rouge et Noir pens. The collection is available in black lacquer with platinum-coated fittings as well as in ivory-colored lacquer with gold-coated fittings, both devoid of clips. The collection is equipped with a handcrafted 14-karat gold heritage nib engraved with the emblematic number “4810” (the altitude of the Mont Blanc summit), as well as a drawing of Mont Blanc taken from an early Montblanc logo. A ballpoint and rollerball are also part of the collection.
The new Montblanc Heritage Rouge et Noir Baby may be paired with a useful and attractive accessory, including a calfskin leather pouch with digital embossing of a mountain motif or a black or a coral-colored calfskin leather Meisterstück pouch.
Incidentally, Montblanc’s Heritage collection has done a great job, I think, of keeping the spirit of the Rouge et Noir alive. Various special edition models, all inspired by the past, have been introduced since the collection’s launch in 2016.