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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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