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Montblanc Herbert von Karajan LE Review

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13 replies to this topic

#1 wil



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Posted 30 April 2006 - 17:21

First Impressions:
I originally became interested in a Donation Series pen from Montblanc when I began looking for something a bit different than the traditional MeisterstŁck series. I liked what the Solti had to offer in photos but at the store, I was somewhat disappointed with the hardware on the clip and the cap band.

When my fiancť returned from her trip to Hong Kong, I was floored with surprise when I found the large Karajan box on my desk. The black presentation box is adorned with a picture on Karajan and his signature. Inside, slots were filled with a silk scarf, booklet and the writing instrument.

I expected the Karajan LE to be very similar to the 146. To my surprise, they are almost entirely different pens.

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From the Montblanc website:

With its black precious resin cap and faceted ivory-coloured ring representing a keyboard, the Donation Pen Herbert von Karajan recalls the early career of the musician, who first became famous as a brilliant pianist in Vienna.  The platinum-plated clip with its inlay in the shape of a conductorís baton is a tribute to Karajanís legacy as a conductor, and the hand-cut, artistically rhodium-plated 18-karat gold nib.

Poorly executed, the piano keys and conductor baton could have been a disaster. Subjectively, I think the combination is tasteful, subtle and classy and itís also a very welcomed change from the traditional MeisterstŁck gold band. The large matching off-white star is also reminiscent of the vintage days.

Continuing with the vintage theme, the Karajan has a flat top and a similar cut in the piston knob. Depending on preference, some may prefer this vintage flat top over the traditional Montblanc torpedo shape.

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The Karajan gives the impression that itís smaller than it actually is. However, when capped, it is a few millimeters longer than the 146. Posted, it is almost a centimeter longer.

For reasons that I have yet to figure out, the pen alone feels lighter than the 146. Not that the 146 isnít top heavy as well but the nib end of the Karjan feels unexpectedly light. Not that itís uncomfortable but this gives the Karajan a dramatically different writing experience.

When posted, the flattop ends of the Karajan also makes the cap not as secure as the torpedo shaped 146. The cap will stay posted but I am just not as confident and of course, unduly force is not recommended.

Possibly due to the missing gold band, capping the Karajan gives an entirely different experience, almost like a Duofold, an M600 or even an Optima.

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Nib Design / Performance
Writing experience is uncharacteristically close to an Optima given a lighter feel on the nib end. The Karajan possesses a much more utilitarian feel compared to the traditional heavy handiness of the 146.

The nib size is about 1-2 millimeters larger than the 146. This could be caused by the way how the nib is set in the feed. The two-tone nib is adorned with a tasteful criss-cross filled dove found on many other donation series pens.

The Karajan wrote flawlessly out of the box with no skips, hesitations, or hard starts. I really like the slight tooth to further distinguish the experience from the 146.

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Filling System
As expected with all Montblanc piston fillers, the action is smooth and reliable. Unlike the traditional MeisterstŁck series pens, the ink window is in a transparent blue colour.

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This was purchased in a small pen store in Central, Hong Kong for $2,450 HKD. Thatís about $350 CDN or $320 US. I believe the local Montblanc boutique is selling the Karajan for close to $600 CDN. At this discounted price, I think itís a phenomenal deal considering its differentiation, packaging, and the fact that itís a part of the donation series where Montblanc promises to make a donation to support arts and culture.

I am not sure if this is just a rumor but Iíve heard that molds used for the Karajan were been used to produce the Solti. I also notice that in the past 2 months, Worldlux has taken the Karajan off itís online catalogue. As they are slowly being snatched up, I wouldnít be surprised if Karajan may really become a true limited edition even though production runs could be some astronomical number.

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If the style is right for you, I heartily recommend the Montblanc Herbert von Karajan LE especially if you are in the market for a unique Montblanc writing instrument thatís a bit different than the traditional Meisterstruck series. On the other hand, much more pen can be had at this price range and many competing pens in the same market can be had for a much lower sticker price (ie: M800, Duofold, etc.).

The biggest surprise about the Karajan is that the distinct nib characteristics and balance offers a more utilitarian writing experience versus the traditional 146. I am really looking forward to putting the Karajan to good use over the next little while. Thanks for reading!

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Click here for other pen related pictures on my flick album.

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#2 Blade Runner

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 18:11

Beautiful pen and excellent review. :drool:
Are you a musician?
Congratulations on your engagement!

#3 DrPJM1


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Posted 30 April 2006 - 18:56

Thanks for your review.

Looking for interesting Sheaffer OS Balance pens

#4 wil



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Posted 01 May 2006 - 13:57

Thanks Jeen - I am learning the erhu (Chinese 2 string violin) and I try to play a bit of acoustic guitar.


#5 Celticshaman


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Posted 02 May 2006 - 14:23

I have held and played a bit with the Karajan pen and it is not too bad.A bit overpriced for me.I prefer the Chopin edition.As classical music is my life ,i keep a keen ear out for any of the music related pens.
Karajan is most certainly NOT one of my favorite musicians/conductors due to his past but i will say he had talent.But this pen was to commemorate his years of service to germany and the classical world.I cannot argue with that.

I have used the Mozart,Chopin and Bach editions of this series and find i liked the Chopin best.Mozart was a bit too small.Bach's colors too much for me.
I do like the color scheme on this pen though.

Best regards,


#6 Slush99



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Posted 02 May 2006 - 14:37

That is a beautiful pen. :D
Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost.

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#7 Sparky


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Posted 26 May 2006 - 03:59

You have a great looking pen. I have a MB 144, and I am looking for another purchase this year of an MB. I tend to like smaller FP's so I want to try a Mozart.

#8 ssmui


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Posted 26 May 2006 - 08:58

Congratualations ! Glad that you like your pen.

I was in transit the other day at Singapore's Changi airport and have seen the Karajan, it looks good with the keyboard band.

But I did not pay too much attention to that, I was looking more closely at the 146 silver pinstripe ( SGP$1535 = USD900) and was contemplating on the purchase, at the end walked away for fear of guilt ( house mortgage, car insurance etc) in splashing that stack of money :doh:

Oh well, maybe one day I will buy it when my financials are back in good health...

#9 Sparky


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Posted 27 May 2006 - 20:39

Beautiful pen!! Also where did you get the unobtrusive acrylic stand in your photos?

#10 wil



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Posted 27 May 2006 - 22:20

The stand is actually for my stylus in a Wacom tablet. ^_^

Quick update, it turns out that there is a small hairline crack on the piano keys. I sent it in to the service center here in Toronto and the pen came back in 2 days with a brand new cap.

I am still intriged by how different this pen behaves compared to the 146 every time.

#11 pendagogue


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Posted 17 October 2006 - 22:58

I have also liked the way the von Karajan writes, but after a few months of constantly guarding the cap from fallling off while writing, the cap fell off onto a marble floor. Needless to say, the cap margin lost a fairly substantial chip, and now the "keyboard ring" at the base of the cap is loose. I'm trying to keep my frustration down (I'm shipping my Meisterstuck 149 back in the same box for exactly the same issue--the cap refused to stay located on the pen while writing and is now broken at exact the same place.

The balance and weight are good for my hand on both of those pens, but I wish I could use them without feeling paranoid that I was going to need more repairs.

#12 PigRatAndGoat


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Posted 23 September 2007 - 23:32

It may be a little late seeing that the last post was in 2006, but I think your photography skills are amazing. Not to insult the other photography that I've seen on this forum, but the lighting and camera angles were beautiful.

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#13 sam


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Posted 24 September 2007 - 00:40

beautiful pen!
love that nib smile.gif
thx for the review.

#14 el3ssar



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Posted 17 June 2008 - 11:34

I'm sorry to resurrect this old thread, but this MB is really stunning puddle.gif (and it deserves to be seen by more people here, enjoy !)

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