There may be several reasons for the quality decline. Market conditions...18k nibs are required, and it's trickier to do a flexible 18k. Buyer changes...the market doesn't want flexible, they want reliable. Virtually ALL modern nibs are less interesting.
The comparison between MB and Rolex also relates to market share and market position. Both are perceived, to the casual observer, as THE top products, and the exemplar of Quality Product. Whether true or not. Whether better or worse than 50-60 years ago. That's a detail only relevant to the FPIS.
As for the fountain pen market in general I can say that their quality is good enough. They don't need to use a fancy telescopic filling system and their nibs are good enough.
While I never owned or used a MB fountain pen I have been using a MB LaGrand ballpoint for years. I wouldn’t say it’s the best but I’ve been very pleased with the writing quality as well as the fit and finish.
Last edited by Jade330i; February 4th, 2018 at 08:54.
--they're harder to write with...especially wet-noodle, very flexible nibs. Yes, I have a few.
--it is VERY hard to write *quickly* with a flexible nib.
--railroading is much more of a problem
--durability is an issue...excessive pressure can lead to a sprung nib. Longer term, flex nibs suffer a higher rate of cracking.
--PEOPLE DON'T WANT THEM. Not for the most part. They're a highly specialized segment...and absolutely separate from the business executive or management type, which is the MB target audience. If I want modern flex, I'll go Omas celluloids. I think they've got some true-flex nibs back into their lineup. If not, then I send it to Mottishaw. Or at a lower price point, Namiki Falcon (I have 4).
The big problem I have with MB is their restrictive distribution and *insanely* snobbish attitude. MSRP for a 149 is comparable to a Pelikan 1000, and I'm pretty sure they're very similar in size. LeGrand is comparable to a Pelikan 800. I *believe* they're similar size...could be wrong. The LeGrand might be closer to a 600. But MB pushes their elitist status, and actively opposes discounting. And THAT also means you won't see many titanium nibs, or flexible steel nibs. They can be done...likely better than a flexible gold one...but they have no cachet.
I've stopped suggesting anything European, tho, *unless* you're going for something like this:
The 800 Grand Place. The first version was 600-sized, in the Cities series. Got one. Gorgeous. Great writer too. But here...or a Nakaya urushi, or a maki-e...you are paying for the visual statement. If the intent is to focus on being a writer first, Europe does not offer anything to match Japan. LOVE my Pilot Custom Heritage 92's as writers. Love my Falcons as expressive writers. My Custom 912 for a larger pen.
If practicality is your aim then I don't think a fountain pen is ever the right choice because of the added maintenance the messier ink. There are very good flexible nibs that are easy to write with and reliable. The metal alloy used today for gold nibs is different than it was 70 years ago. I don't know if materials have changed or the process of forging, stamping, rolling has changed. I do have a flexible stainless steel nib 234 from Montblanc and it is definitely inferior to a gold nib. OMAS made ones during the same period and almost none of those have survived because of their poor quality. That said if you are going to have a rock hard gold nib there isn't much advantage over steel other than corrosion resistance.
Montblanc is a very good company and if I want a new pen I much rather buy a Montblanc than a Pelikan. I was traveling through Europe and bought a MB Solitaire 146 fountain pen for 50% at an airport in Poland. Then in Berlin I went to the MB boutique and asked them to swap the M nib for an OM nib and they were able to do it for me over night. No chance of that sort of service with a Pelikan.
I do like older Pelikan pens though.
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