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  1. #121
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    But that's the thing.... What's the point of having a "status symbol" that doesn't have the quality to go with it? Makes no sense. Here's a pen that lacks quality, costs hundreds of dollars, but it's a status symbol. WTF?!
    Montblanc pens absolutely do not lack quality. I'd put them up against any other top tier pen manufacturer. It seems that within the pen collecting community a lot of people have sour grapes about the brand purely because they are expensive. I've heard a lot of ridiculous myths about Montblanc on pen forums, such as the notion that the 149 costs only $25 to manufacture (anyone can easily verify by weighing a nib that the raw material costs are higher than that). The shattering resin one is another one that's very popular and originates from a very small bad batch of material. Sure, you can still break their pens if you're rough with them, but that's true of any other pen as well. A lot of people seem to subject Montblanc to much higher scrutiny than any other brand.

    The comparison between Montblanc and Rolex is a very good one. Both make high quality items that have become publicly recognizable benchmarks, backed by strictly controlled supply and advertising. They both keep their value relatively well because of how well-known they are. And while both of them are well-made and safe choices, they face competition from less known brands that can offer similar features for a lot less. The issue is more with the market than the brand; most watches and pens are easy to find at a discount, but both Montblanc and Rolex are rarely discounted.

    As for the pen itself, I have a 149 that's served me very well over the years. There aren't really any other oversized piston filler pens out there with as rich of a history. I also own the Pelikan M1000 which is another favorite and a great value for the money, and my favorite nibs are made by Sailor. But there's something that makes me keep reaching for the 149. I think it's kind of hard to understand without owning one, but there's a certain gravitas to their pens.

    On a side note, I didn't realize OMAS was gone. Good riddance, their pens were absolute garbage. I owned an Arte Italiana from them that had the piston fall apart within a week. OMAS took 6 months to send me back another defective pen. Even without those issues, the design was terribly unbalanced, the machining was rough and unfinished in places, and the plating on the nib was all over the place. The cap didn't post because it was poorly designed and they cheaped out by putting a compact sized nib in an oversized body. I have no idea how they were able to charge as much as Montblanc for a product so poorly made.
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  2. #122
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Sorry, but I used to sell MB pens and can easily afford them. Price isn't the issue. And as for the shattered pens, it wasn't a bad batch. MB uses far less resin material in the construction of their pens than their competitors do. That's why they shatter if dropped on a hard surface. Take any MB pen, unscrew it. Do the same with that of any comparably priced competitor's resin pen. Now just shine a flashlight down the barrels and check the wall thickness. There is a definite difference.

    You have so many folks who come up with all sorts of fool-proof methods to tell the fakes from the real thing. Shop I used to work at, there were only two methods. One, where the serial number was "hidden." And the other one was to do the very same thing mentioned above, but with a known, genuine MB pen from the case. Even the best fakes used too much resin. The walls of the barrel were thicker. So ironically one of the best ways to tell the difference is that the fakes used more resin and were unintentionally more durable. They might crack if dropped but they didn't shatter.

    And I'm sorry but there's no comparison in terms of quality from an MB made today, compared to the ones made back when the company was a couple of decades old. It's clear that MB nowadays is simply trading on the reputation of their name. With the exception of their yearly Limited Editions which are made with quality and attention to detail, modern day MB pens are far from worth the asking price. Personally, I like their Star Walker line and will be adding one of those to my collection. But I'm realistic about what I'm getting.
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  3. #123
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    I have two Mont Blancs-a Model 22 from the 60s and a 146 from the early 90s(old enough to still say "W. Germany" on the cap).

    I like both of them. The 22 is an interesting looking pen that-aside from the star on top-doesn't scream "Mont Blanc" the way the way some of the better known models(146/149) do. It's a fine that's truly fine, and there's just enough springiness in the nib to make it interesting to write with. My biggest issue with it is that it's too small for me to use comfortably.

    The 146 is a very different writing pen. Of course, even though it's smaller than a 149, it still looks like one and is a generously sized pen. The nib is both good and pretty unremarkable-it's very smooth and wet, but is a "nail"-I suspect this is by design given the target audience for MB with this series pens. I've had someone look at it and tell me it's likely a fine, but it writes like a medium to my eye/feel. I honestly can't complain about it, and do use it all the time.

    I have two Pelikans-one a 205 and the other a 400. These are, of course, the same basic pen aside from the nib material and it's really too small for me, although I did get use to the size when I wrote all the time with the 205. That particular 205 had a terrible nib out of the box-it was very dry and rough. I inadvertently had it fall out of my pocket uncapped, and before spending $35 on a replacement I figured I'd give straightening it myself a try. The result was a nib that wrote just to my taste, was smooth, and best of all had enough spring in it that I could get some line variation out of it. Unfortunately, that pen is semi-retired because-after about 5 years of using it daily-it developed a nearly invisible crack in the barrel(small enough that I had to use the "wet finger" test to find it) that would cause it to leak and fill the cap up with ink any time it was capped. Pelikan wanted $80 to fix it, and considering that new old stock ones were going for about that on Ebay, I planned to just buy another and swap the nib over. That has yet to happen. BTW, I bought it as a fine, and it acts like one.

    My 405 is a more recent purchase. It's certainly a nice looking pen, but I have yet to fall in love with it. The nib is-again-marked fine-but it writes wider than the steel nib on my 205. It is also very firm. There's nothing really WRONG with the pen-I just don't use it.

    I have a love-hate relationship with Lamy. Their styling isn't to my taste. My 2000 needs to make another trip back because the section on it has broken for a second time...and even though they offer a lifetime warranty it's a bit irritating to have to send it back seemingly every couple of years. I love my Studio Palladium, which has a wonderfully smooth and wet 14K nib that-surprisingly enough-will even flex a bit.

    I have a bunch of pens that don't get the time they should, but that's just my thoughts. I'll continue to use my 146 daily for the forseeable future.
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  5. #124
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post
    Sorry, but I used to sell MB pens and can easily afford them. Price isn't the issue. And as for the shattered pens, it wasn't a bad batch. MB uses far less resin material in the construction of their pens than their competitors do. That's why they shatter if dropped on a hard surface. Take any MB pen, unscrew it. Do the same with that of any comparably priced competitor's resin pen. Now just shine a flashlight down the barrels and check the wall thickness. There is a definite difference.

    You have so many folks who come up with all sorts of fool-proof methods to tell the fakes from the real thing. Shop I used to work at, there were only two methods. One, where the serial number was "hidden." And the other one was to do the very same thing mentioned above, but with a known, genuine MB pen from the case. Even the best fakes used too much resin. The walls of the barrel were thicker. So ironically one of the best ways to tell the difference is that the fakes used more resin and were unintentionally more durable. They might crack if dropped but they didn't shatter.

    And I'm sorry but there's no comparison in terms of quality from an MB made today, compared to the ones made back when the company was a couple of decades old. It's clear that MB nowadays is simply trading on the reputation of their name. With the exception of their yearly Limited Editions which are made with quality and attention to detail, modern day MB pens are far from worth the asking price. Personally, I like their Star Walker line and will be adding one of those to my collection. But I'm realistic about what I'm getting.
    If you're judging the quality of a pen by its wall thickness, then I don't know what to tell you. I suppose Piagets are low quality because they have thin lugs as well? Also you're going to be sorely disappointed if you get an early Montblanc and expect it to handle more abuse than a modern one. Pens from that era were made of a brittle material called ebonite and had very thin walls to reduce their weight. Any high quality pen needs to be treated with care, and Montblanc's pens are no exception. Cared for properly they'll last a lifetime like any other pen.

    Just like with watches, different people will have different priorities with pens. Different brands choose to focus on different features. You can knock Montblanc for making pens that function poorly as prybars, but could also knock Pelikan for their generic nibs, or Lamy for the finicky grip section on the 2000, Sailor for the low capacity of their pistons, etc. They're all still great pens for other reasons. Point being, you might not like the design decisions Montblanc has made and their products might not fit your needs, but it's a real stretch to zero in on one design choice you don't like and claim that they're low quality.
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  6. #125
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsujigiri View Post
    If you're judging the quality of a pen by its wall thickness, then I don't know what to tell you. I suppose Piagets are low quality because they have thin lugs as well? Also you're going to be sorely disappointed if you get an early Montblanc and expect it to handle more abuse than a modern one. Pens from that era were made of a brittle material called ebonite and had very thin walls to reduce their weight. Any high quality pen needs to be treated with care, and Montblanc's pens are no exception. Cared for properly they'll last a lifetime like any other pen.

    Just like with watches, different people will have different priorities with pens. Different brands choose to focus on different features. You can knock Montblanc for making pens that function poorly as prybars, but could also knock Pelikan for their generic nibs, or Lamy for the finicky grip section on the 2000, Sailor for the low capacity of their pistons, etc. They're all still great pens for other reasons. Point being, you might not like the design decisions Montblanc has made and their products might not fit your needs, but it's a real stretch to zero in on one design choice you don't like and claim that they're low quality.
    Um, I think your Piaget comparison is apt because that's what Monocrom just said. MB "quality" is in the thinness and lightness of the barrel. I like my new Lamy 2000 better, though.
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  7. #126
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsujigiri View Post
    If you're judging the quality of a pen by its wall thickness, then I don't know what to tell you. I suppose Piagets are low quality because they have thin lugs as well? Also you're going to be sorely disappointed if you get an early Montblanc and expect it to handle more abuse than a modern one. Pens from that era were made of a brittle material called ebonite and had very thin walls to reduce their weight. Any high quality pen needs to be treated with care, and Montblanc's pens are no exception. Cared for properly they'll last a lifetime like any other pen.

    Just like with watches, different people will have different priorities with pens. Different brands choose to focus on different features. You can knock Montblanc for making pens that function poorly as prybars, but could also knock Pelikan for their generic nibs, or Lamy for the finicky grip section on the 2000, Sailor for the low capacity of their pistons, etc. They're all still great pens for other reasons. Point being, you might not like the design decisions Montblanc has made and their products might not fit your needs, but it's a real stretch to zero in on one design choice you don't like and claim that they're low quality.
    Well, I'll be happy to provide more details. Back when they were first called Colorado Pen Co., before switching to Paradise Pens, and later switching back to Colorado Pen Co; we typically had to deal with angry customers. On average about once every 2 or 3 weeks, same scenario. Irate customer, accidentally dropped their MB on the ground. It shattered. Not cracked, not scratched up. Shattered. We sold pens from MB's competing brands. Literally never had that issue. Except once.

    I worked in store #30 inside Roosevelt Field Mall. We were literally better off than every other brick & mortar CPC store in America for one reason.... There was an MB store literally upstairs from us. Whenever we sold an MB pen to a customer who came back mad as hell.... Yeah, we'd tell them we could process the return for them, how long the turn-around time would be, etc. Or, they go head upstairs and literally deal with MB directly. Guess which option the now no-longer-angry-at-us customers always chose.

    How common was the above? Happened enough times that the manager of the MB store stormed in and demanded to know why we were sending our angry customers upstairs to them! Our manager very calmly pointed out that they were MB customers who were not happy with what they had gotten from MB. He was informed that we would continue to send their customers upstairs to them each time this occurred. MB Boutique manager was not happy, but he knew he couldn't do anything about it.

    As far as what to say about the lack of wall thickness compared to literally every other pen brand out there, how about admitting the obvious; that MB makes fragile pens on purpose. Let's face it, they know this issue exists and has existed for many years now. And yes, I do know that certain pens require more care than others. But MBs are literally the only brand whose resin models literally shatter from even a short drop onto a hard surface. Cracking and scratching is what takes place from the competition.

    Let me give you a perfect example what the main issue is, and why it is so incredibly screwed up. Years ago, I was dating a young woman whose brother was a bit of a jerk. One day we were at an outdoor mall. Not your typical one though. This one catered to high-end customers. He was bragging about his MB Solitaire. What a great bargain it was. And how sad that I'd never be able to afford something like it. I didn't bother telling him about my Pelikan 800 at the time. He was nothing to me, and even she barely tolerated him for the sake of her parents. Later on, he drops it on the sidewalk. It did not shatter. he was freaking out regarding the scratch it now had.

    I told him not to get upset. After all, his was fake. He got angry and demanded to know why I said that. Two things. One, he's a jerk and I didn't care to spare his feelings. Though I didn't mention that. I told him that had it been the real thing, it would have shattered; instead. he was not happy. I pointed out that the outdoor mall had an MB boutique, and that I'd be happy to pay any and all repair costs on his MB pen if the boutique verified it was real. He agreed to this. Of course it wasn't real. Real ones shatter.

    There is something horrendously wrong when one of the ways you can tell the real thing from a fake is because.... the fakes are made better than the real thing. Now if pens from competing brands also shattered on contact with a hard surface, then okay; fair enough. It would be an across the board thing. But it's not. I saw numerous shattered MB pens while I worked there. Number of shattered pens I saw from literally every other company combined? One. As I recall, it was a Waterman that was purposely tossed due to its owner getting angry about something and taking it out on the pen.

    With the Star Walker I mentioned earlier, I know what I'm getting. But that is very different from a customer who spends hundreds of dollars, thinking he's getting quality he can rely on for decades. Then finding out the hard way that what they have clipped to the top of their shirt pocket is the status symbol equivalent of an egg.
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  8. #127
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    I am not really sure the fact that a pen shatters if you drop it is a sign of poor qualify.

    I have owned and used MB pens since the early 1990s, at least 25 years. I still have and still use those pens, although I have purchased more over the years. Other than servicing and flushing etc, and an annual brasso polish, they still work fine.

    I have managed not to ever drop one of them on the roadway.

    Perhaps if I were a delivery driver getting customers to sign for deliveries all day long at the side of a truck, I would use a Biro.
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    The one thing MB have going for them that you cannot replicate: Image.

    In the early 1990s I was working across Asia, managing the raising of capital via Eurobond issues. Large suns of money, hundreds of millions at a time. I had a very small part to play, and my “management” efforts involved managing the documentation.

    On acceptance of the deal, we had to get a series of signatures from the borrowers. Really purely symbolic.

    One day one of the team pulled out some expensive pen no one had ever heard of. Probably a pen that is lauded on this site.

    Afterwards he was told never to use it again. The only pen the Asian clients recognised was a MB. They thought anything else was cheap.

    I used to fly up via Singapore, and I was asked to pick up a handful of MB pens each time we concluded a deal. We would put them on the table for the signing. They would be used by the client, then they would usually put them in their jacket pocket, as another part of the bribe.

    If they were left on the table the secretaries would scramble to grab one.

    My first MB pens came this way.

    That image is worth a lot.
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  10. #129
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Monocrom View Post

    [...]

    With the Star Walker I mentioned earlier, I know what I'm getting. But that is very different from a customer who spends hundreds of dollars, thinking he's getting quality he can rely on for decades. Then finding out the hard way that what they have clipped to the top of their shirt pocket is the status symbol equivalent of an egg.
    I get what you're saying about the pens being more fragile when it comes to hard impacts, but you're missing the point. Everything in a design is a tradeoff; Montblanc uses a more scratch resistant resin and a lighter construction that comparable pens, on the assumption that people won't throw their pens around like darts. For people who take care of their things, that's a worthwhile tradeoff. I can understand why a Montblanc might not be the best choice for the careless or accident prone, but you've tried to apply that to a discussion about quality and it just doesn't work. Are you really going to say that a G shock is higher quality than a Patek because you can drop it? I would think someone on a watch board of all places would understand that. And MB does make quality pens that you can rely on for decades; plenty of people can attest to that. You just have to... you know, not do anything stupid with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainCustard View Post

    [...]

    That image is worth a lot.
    Really interesting story; living in the states I just assume that no one knows what a Montblanc is. Your experience seems to sum up why they're so loved and hated at the same time.

  11. #130
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    Re: Are Mont Blanc pens everything people say they are ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsujigiri View Post
    I get what you're saying about the pens being more fragile when it comes to hard impacts, but you're missing the point. Everything in a design is a tradeoff; Montblanc uses a more scratch resistant resin and a lighter construction that comparable pens, on the assumption that people won't throw their pens around like darts. For people who take care of their things, that's a worthwhile tradeoff. I can understand why a Montblanc might not be the best choice for the careless or accident prone, but you've tried to apply that to a discussion about quality and it just doesn't work. Are you really going to say that a G shock is higher quality than a Patek because you can drop it? I would think someone on a watch board of all places would understand that. And MB does make quality pens that you can rely on for decades; plenty of people can attest to that. You just have to... you know, not do anything stupid with it.
    Sorry for the late reply. Never got the notification of new posts in this topic. I can understand trade-offs. But there is no trade-off here. Using less/thinner resin in the construction of their pens, doesn't make them more scratch resistant. Not at all. A little bit lighter than the competition? Sure. But it's not as though you're walking around with mini lead pipes from the competition in your pocket. No, unfortunately this is a cost cutting measure from MB. Use less material, save more money.

    As far as the customers go, yes I agree with you that careless or clumsy customers would be better off buying more robust pens from different brands. But I had to deal with quite a few of these customers. The vast majority were corporate professionals. Intelligent, organized, far from clumsy or careless. Even an intelligent person can accidentally drop a pen they're holding in their hand. Have one slip out of a shirt pocket when they bend over. Normal everyday situations that can happen to anyone.

    I'm sorry but when a company makes very fragile objects, that is indeed very relevant to a discussion of quality. And that is exactly what MB has been doing since I started selling them back in the mid 1990s. It's unfortunate, but nothing has changed today. Well, no; hold on. Back then, MB did offer several models in 100% stainless steel. Especially their Solitaire line. And if we had a customer who was kind and friendly, wanted to buy an MB for say a son, daughter, niece, or nephew as a college graduation gift, we'd do our best to steer them towards the all-stainless steel models. Those never shattered. Worst thing was a very tiny poch mark if they fell. Unfortunately those all-S.S. models are no longer offered. And no, I'm not going to compare a Patek to a G-Shock. Nor would I compare an MB to a Platinum Preppy. I would compare one to a Pelikan 800 or 1000. And honestly, there's no comparison. We did sell a surprisingly large number of Pelikan pens. And I mean the higher-end ones. Number of horrendously angry customers who came in with their shattered 800s or 1000s = Literary zero. And I'm sure owners of such pens have accidentally dropped theirs' as well at some point in time.


    Really interesting story; living in the states I just assume that no one knows what a Montblanc is. Your experience seems to sum up why they're so loved and hated at the same time.
    Oh, credit where it's due. MBs marketing is beyond phenomenal. EVERYONE in America has heard of MB. Literally everyone. I'd even say forget about their gorgeous lines of watches. It's their marketing department that is easily their greatest asset.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity here and there. Not the other way around." ~ John Cleese.

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