Montblanc, along with Parker and Waterman, seems to be one of those fountain pen brands that even non-enthusiasts seem to know. Their pens can sometimes be quite gaudy, although their Meisterstück line has a certain classic feel to them. The Meisterstück 149 is the largest and most expensive pen in their non-limited edition model lineup. Does it stand up to the price it takes to own
The pens I will be reviewing today were purchased from a local seller and were manufactured in the 1980s. The pens are near identical except for the nibs.
Place of manufacture: Germany
Price: $935 (retail), $650-800 (street)
The Montblanc 149 has been produced since the late 1940s. Since the beginning, it has featured the classic cigar shape, a piston filler, and a big number 9 nib.
The barrel was initially made of celluloid, although, they later switched to a material they call “precious resin”, essentially a hard, secretly formulated plastic. The material does not scratch easily, although the scratches that do exist are quite obvious in contrast to the high polish surface.
The barrel is made from a single piece. Later varieties are made from two pieces. There is an ink window near the grip section. It is slightly tinted, with vertical stripes. The threads for the cap are cut at the height of the barrel.
In contrast to the black body, there is plenty of gold trim. On the cap, there is a band with the words “…”. The engraving (or perhaps stamping) The clip has the place of manufacture “GERMANY” stamped in it. On later models, a serial number was also added. The number can be helpful in dating a pen.
The nib material has also changed over the years, switching from 18 karat to 14 karat and then back to 18 karat gold, with different styles of plating over the years, ranging from dual tone to triple tone.
The feed is made from ebonite. Fins are cut on both sides, with a solid spine down the middle. This is the “split feed” variety . Later feeds were made from plastic.
The two stage piston was originally made of brass (the threads) and plastic, although in recent years, the entire assembly is now from plastic. The first few turns of the knob does not move the piston. This is to prevent one from accidentally discharging ink. Following the first few turns, the piston begins to go down. The reservoir has a very large capacity of 2ml.
A very nice timeline was created by “DKbRS” on The Fountain Pen Network. The thread can be found here. I used the guide to help me date my pens.
Fit and Finish
As with most Montblancs, the fit and finish of the pen is mostly near perfect. The nibs are hand-finished and it shows. The tines are not perfectly centered (although as I’ll mention later, this does not affect functionality in the least). The engravings are also nicely done, although they are not perfectly symmetrical.
The piston is very smooth. The tension twisting the knob is very smooth at every stage. When the knob is in its closed position, there is no gap between the knob and the body. When the piston is fully extended, there is a bit of give, which immediately springs back when you let go. I assume this is a indicator that the piston is fully extended and to help prevent accidentally snapping the piston.
The cap fits very well on the body. The threads fit very tightly, with no movement between the cap and body when closed. The engraving on the gold band around the cap is done very nicely and is consistent between pens.
Filling the pen is very easy with the piston filler. A plunge or two fills most, if not all of the reservoir. Flushing out ink, however, can be quite time-consuming. The large feed accommodating the large nib has the unfortunate ability of retaining ink remnants. Soaking the entire pen in water seems to help with the process, though.
The pen is a joy to write with. With such a large pen, the grip section is very comfortable and is at a nice balance point for the pen when un-posted. Due to its large size, the pen is probably best used un-posted. That being said, one probably wouldn’t want to risk scratching the pen by posting the pen anyways. There are some posting marks on the barrel of one of the pens. Not very deep, but noticeable to a careful eye.
The nib is surprisingly flexible and the pen is able to produce a multitude of line variations. The feed keeps up no matter how wide the tines are spread.
Flexing the nib does require more force than vintage pens. Although the pen is pre-owned, I don’t believe the pen was used much. Even so, the nib is tuned to be very smooth from the factory.
The clip is springy and holds a pen firm in a shirt pocket. It does not stretch much, though, and would not comfortably clip into a jean pocket without permanently bending out of shape.
The pen retails for $935, making it the most expensive pen from Montblanc’s regular lineup. That being said, I would have a hard time justifying buying the pen retail. Luckily, the pen is commonly found, new, from different retailers for a few hundred lower. Pre-owned, the pen can be found for $3-500, depending on the year that it is manufactured and the condition.
For me, the bottom line is that the pen is a manufactured, plastic-bodied pen. While there is some value in the nib, which is made in house, and the fact that it is hand-tuned, one could get a similar feeling from a pen made by on of Japan’s big three for much less.
All this being said, the Montblanc 149 is a very nice pen, with a very ugly price tag. Sure, it is big, gorgeous, and carries the allure of a brand like Montblanc. However, I would expect so much more from a pen at the price range. Therefore, these pens will soon no longer be in possession.