Just over a year ago I purchased a brand new Montblanc 149 and almost to the day I bought another one. Why? Well, they are somewhat different. I will get my bias out of the way first. While the 149 is not my favourite pen of all time (I appreciate a bit of bling) I do recognise that it is possibly the most perfect pen ever made. It is quality without being overly blingy. The size and balance (to me anyway) is perfect, the nib; a thing of beauty. The filling system, great. The first Montblanc I bought was a medium nib but I had a little fight to get it adjusted so that it was wetter as a writer (it skipped and dried a bit). The second one is a fine nib. So, one being new and the other being from the late 60's, I thought I'd have a bit of a face off to see which is best. Below is a list of the differences and similarities with a conclusion at the end that hopefully some may find helpful. I'm no expert, so if there are inaccuracies in this, please do correct them. Number 1 is the first one I bought (the modern one) and number 2 is the recent purchase (the late 60's model).
1. Medium nib. Writes very wide for a medium, but I did have it adjusted for maximum wetness. It has a plastic feed with fins cut right across it. 18K gold with gold inner portion, then silver and then gold to the flanges. It is very firm but has a distinctive tooth that is very pleasing.
2. Fine nib. Writes nicely wet, but not overly so. It has a rounded ebonite feed that actually looks quite nice in comparison to the other, with fins either side. 14K gold with gold flanges only (maybe 'wings' is a better term than flange? Hopefully you know what I mean). The imprint on the nib seems more distinct and deeper to the eye on this one. It is soft and somewhat flexible. It's not quite a semi-flex but it is very pleasant to write with and provides nice line variation. It is very smooth and the distinctive 'toothless' is considerably less, although this may be more to do with age and use. The nib appears to be slightly wider (at the widest point), but sadly I lack the precision instrument to measure this, so it may be a trick of the eye.
Cap & Barrel.
1. The gold furniture is bright, the imprint on the cap band is crisp with the 'Pix'. The cap has the snow peak. There is a gold ring at the piston nob. There are six rings for the screw on cap. The ink window is slightly smoked in appearance and not always easy to see the ink inside. The point where the nib meets the barrel has a flat section of one piece with two rectangular holes opposite each other and a matt collar up onto the barrel.
2. The gold furniture is somewhat dulled, which is to be expected of an older pen and the imprint on the cap band seems a little less crisp (although this may be age and wear) and there is no 'Pix'. The snow peak, to the eye at least, seems to be a fraction larger. The gold ring at the piston nob, again to the eye only, seems a tiny hair thinner. There are six rings for the screw on cap but they are placed much closer together, therefore less noticeable under the fingers when writing and there is a fine line directly underneath them. There is a tiny touch of play to the cap and barrel, but again this could be age and wear, but it's not significant enough to worry about. The ink window is very bright and clear, seems a little fraction longer and the faceting is much easier to see. The ink inside is clearly visible. The point where the nib and feed meet the barrel appears to have a cut section parallel to the nib and feed (possibly made of two parts?) and there is no collar, but there is a ridge on the barrel at the end of the grip.
1. The piston mechanism is brass and feels sturdy and a small bit stiff. You can't really see the piston moving in the barrel through the ink window even when doing a flush to change inks. It adds a good bit of weight to the back of the pen, but not so much as to annoy me in any way.
2. The piston mechanism is black plastic and very smooth and easy to use. There is no stiffness and while it seems perfectly fine it does not feel as 'sturdy'. You can clearly see the piston coming down the barrel through the ink window. The weight is notably less due to the plastic piston and when posted, the balance of the pen is about as close to perfection as you could get in my book.
I love my modern 149, but the late 60's model (at least I think it is late 60's!) just tips it to the post. Aspects of it feel a little better. I much prefer the softer nib and find the appearance of the nib a bit more satisfying, especially with the nice looking ebonite feed. The line variation and spring make it more interesting to use. The weight of the older model is perfection to me. Both of these pens are great and I would have no problem recommending it, but if you were looking to get a 149, I think I would strongly advise looking for a good older model. It is possible to get one at a quarter of the price of a new one with a bit of patience and a thorough search through various channels and you would end up with a pen that is probably as close to perfect as one can get. Certainly if price is a concern - and it should be, for a new 149 is not an insignificant purchase - then the older model is the way to go. I prefer the fine nib and find that it is a true European fine. I hope that makes sense, but if not and by way of explanation; I find American 'fines' tend to be 'medium' and Asian 'fines' to be 'EF's'. The older 149 wins in my book.