Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Tale of the lesser flagship of Montblanc : The Meisterstück 146

My holidays rarely match with others’ in the family. So, last afternoon, while I was staring at the chessboard to play yet another game, I thought of putting the board to a better use than just moving the pieces against myself. So, why not take three big nibs out of their temporary resting places and give them a try. In this fast-paced world, fountain pens have most certainly embarked the sail of luxury, consistent with properties of both time and money. These days, keyboards – physical, on-screen or speech-engine ones have taken over a Pen’s traditional space-time. Thankfully, notebooks and writing pads are still there to keep them alive, even if people have started to take notes in their tablets, phones or phablets. 

Not being a fan of very big pens, I usually go for the nearer to flagship models. They seem to be appealing from twin perspectives of economy & convenience. 



I came across a real Montblanc pretty much later in life, though used to love a pen called Camlin Premier during school days. It came with a 1-pen leather pouch, an additional screw-fit nib and it did have those striped ink windows. I say I loved it, but never wrote with it since it belonged to my dad and I was a small kid. Back in 1999-2000, it cost around USD 5.00 and it was a hefty price tag for a locally made fountain pen. Later I did realize that it was yet another MB 146 inspiration, when I went to a pen store in Calcutta. 

As most of you would know, Montblanc was started in 1906 a Hamburg banker, Alfred Nehemias, and a Berlin engineer, August Eberstein as Simplizissimus-Füllhalter which means Simplistic Fountain pens, after they learnt about fountain pens with ink tanks from the US. By 1908, three other people by the name of Wilhelm Dziambor, Christian Lausen and later Claus Johannes Voss had taken over the business and the company took the name “Simplo Filler Pen Co.” which referred to a fountain pen design with a built-in ink-tank. 

In 1909, a safety fountain pen made up of hard rubber called “Rouge et Noir” was launched, which actually means Red and Black. The pen consisted of a red cap and a black body, perhaps inspired from a card-game. You can also find a limited edition of the same. In 1910, the company became Mont Blanc, inspired by the highest peak of the Alps (4810 m) and a pen called Montblanc was introduced with a white tip (which would later evolve into a white star in 1913). In 1926, the Meisterstück was launched. By 1929, the nibs were engraved with 4810, the official height of Mont Blanc peak, as an allusion to supreme quality and craftsmanship. The flagship Meisterstück 149 was launched in 1952, evolving from celluloid & brass mechanism to resin & plastic mechanism over the years. For the Meisterstück 146, the ink windows were modified to striped version somewhere around the 1970s from clear blue window and the the two-tone nib was introduced in 1993-94.

As far as the model numbers XYZ (146) are concerned, MB did traditionally follow a naming convention, albeit in a rather loose manner
X or 1: Tier of pen,  1 - Top class or Meisterstück 2 - Medium range & 3 - Economy
Y or 4: 0 - Safety filler, 2 - Button Filler, 3/4 - Piston Filler
Z or 6: Nib size, 9 being the largest

MB eventually stopped production of all economy pens in 1992.

DESIGN (5/6)

The pen is made of glossy 'precious resin' (a custom variant of Polymethyl methacrylate aka PMMA) and is adorned plated rings and bands. Glistening golden with the subtle shine of black preserve a culture while adding a modern luxurious touch. This specific cigar shape was later copied around the world by many leading pen makers, over decades till date. The cigar shape was invented by Sheaffer Balance in 1928. The 146 also comes with platinum plated trims. The resin does feel substantial to hold, but it's also prone to scratches, if due care is not exercised. 

With a minimalist piece of design,  the clip does start with a tiny piece of elevated ramp. The cap bands and the rings follow the same equation till a ring separating the piston end concludes both dazzle and design. The clip is tension fit and carries a serial number and GERMANY along the ring. On its underside it may or may not carry the engraving of Pix, depending upon the year of manufacture. Montblanc included the trademark post 1997. There are a lot of Chinese fakes flooding both online and offline channels, which is why Montblanc has to come up with newer and innovative trademarks with every model. 

The cap unscrews with a single turn revealing a dazzling two tone nib along with a striped ink window. I like the ink-windows very much.

The cap does mention MONTBLANC - MEISTERSTÜCK etched across the broader of the concentric golden bands, in a cross-hatched font while two thinner bands above and below render  the differential aesthetics. The finial carries the white-star.


The piston is distinguished by a golden band and has an easy and a hassle-free mechanism. The piston end unscrews with less than three rotations and as the white piston head moves along the ink-windows, ink gushes into the barrel. A brass connector gives the necessary weight to the barrel.


The dazzling two-tone nib is tested by hand, and it comes in eight different widths including the common widths of EF, F, M & B. And this silvery rhodium finish provides both glitter and glamour. 

                         A golden decor runs along the shoulders of the nib and it converges across the outer tines onto an iridium tip, while the rhodium silvery finish diverges from the breather hole across the inside of the tines and over to the tail. 

A bounded layer of arabesques & curves segregates the rhodium and gold decors. Then, there is a dazzling white M logo resting inside the encircled star, above which rest the height of Mont Blanc peak, 4810 (m). This one is a fine nib and writes quite wet and smooth. The tail end specifies the composition (58.5% Au) of the gold-alloy used. Above it rest the specification 14K and brandname of MONTBLANC. There is no width specified on the nib itself, unlike others.
A standard black plastic feed with finely spaced fins (earlier ones had ebonite feeds) ensures a good ink buffer for the awesome wetness and prevents hard starts. By the way, I just love the ink windows.


It does give a comfortable feel to write with the pen without posting the cap. The overall capped length is around 14.2 cm. The pen can be used posted without any feeling of top-heaviness as the weight of the cap is less than a third of the total weight. The section has a comfortable grip of around 1.2 cm.
  • Uncapped Length ~ 12.4 cm
  • Posted Length ~ 15.6 cm
  • Nib Leverage ~ 2.4 cm
  • Overall Weight ~ 31 g (Cap Weight ~ 9 g)
Below are the pictures along with a Pelikan m805 and a Pilot Custom 823 for your reference.


This one defies both logic & gravity and the pen retails at more than USD 750. The price puts most of the fountain pen people off, while getting a pre-owned one from your uncles (well nothing like that! or buying it at a good discount) can save some money. You can also get hold of a MB boutique sales person selling off some older generation demo pens at a good discount. When it comes to the internet, one has to be careful regarding the abundance of fakes in the online marketplaces and the best fakes are costly and are quite difficult to identify without experience.
Value for money? I doubt.
Heritage Value? High.
You can probably pass on the pen to your next generation and they would still recognise it as a brand. Can I pass on the same emotional value with a say, Pilot Custom 845, outside of Japan? I doubt. This will probably need some internet searches, before one realizes the true value of the pen.

OVERALL (5.2/6)

The writing experience is amazing although I do find the pilot custom 823 and m805 being equally good when it comes to nibs of similar size and constituency.  There is a hint of spring and softness in the nib and an absence of any line variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes. The lines dry relatively quickly with a MB Toffee Brown ink taking around 25 seconds on MD Paper. And you get a nice shading too.

Comparatively, a custom 823 with a medium nib, draws a line, thinner than both 146 and m805 fine points and dries quickly. On a smooth MD paper with stock pelikan 4001 inks, it took more than 30 seconds to dry the dots put by the 146 (as well as the m805). 

Final Toffee Pose


Thank you for going through the review.
You can find some more pen and paraphernalia reviews here.

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