Hello again! This is my review of the 90th Anniversary Edition limited release of the Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 with a medium nib. I this was the third pen I purchased as part of my birthday splurge, and is also the third Montblanc that I own (second 149). Conventionally, I would never dream of buying a 149 in-store, as Montblanc decrees that no lower price than their dictated one be displayed on their new products. However, I was wandering around my local shopping centre, and saw a 149 with a sale tag on it in the window of Ernest Jones. Due to the lack of a box and it being a display piece, the price listed was but 40% of the usual list price for the pen, so I simply couldn't resist!
As an aside, the images got butchered by the uploader somehow, so if you wish to see the intended images, I have a Flickr link at the end with the highest quality versions.
- Presentation and appearance
- Fit and finish
- Filling system
- Nib performance
- Closing thoughts and conclusion
Length capped - 144mm
Length uncapped - 130mm
Nib length - 28mm
Section length - 16mm
Section diameter lo - 13.3mm
Section diameter hi - 12.8mm
Presentation and Appearance
Having not come with the original box, I can't fully comment on this aspect of the pen (they gave me a standard 149 box for the pen to take it home). From what I have seen though, the 90th AE packaging is merely a standard 149 clamshell presentation box, but with a completely redone graphic set on the cardboard outer sleeve. Perhaps somewhat dissatisfying considering the price and significance of the pen, but it seems that sometimes 149s come with the large square box with an ink bottle, and others with the smaller-than-Pelikan's snap close box, so no comment there...
I am sure you have all seen a 149 image before, and the majority of you will likely have watched a video or read about them somewhere, so forgive me if you have read this before (you are free to skip if you feel as though it sounds like a less catchy marketing dossier).
In my opinion, and that of a great number of others, the 149 exudes 'presence', in that whilst it is not necessarily my largest pen (that goes to the OMAS Paragon) nor my most outwardly flashy pen (probably a title taken by the Homo Sapiens Crystal), but it is the one that you are aware is there, and more often than not the eye is drawn to. Whatever your opinion on the 149's appearance, whether you like it or loathe it, you will likely be hard-pressed to argue that it isn't a classic design, and at that, one which has remained so since its conception and will probably last long after this current peak in fountain pen interest we seem to have found ourselves in. There are three words that my friends and colleagues generally use to describe the pen; classy, elegant and stylish - even to the uninitiated this pen has an impact, moreso than others. Whilst I was not initially a huge fan of the 149 style, over the past year of owning my 149, then 146 Pt Line, and now this one, I have found myself increasingly appreciating the aesthetics and styling on the pen.
To me it just looks right!?
The 90th Anniversary Edition features a significantly different nib imprint to that of the usual 149 line. Instead of the bi-colour or tri-colour finish, the nib is wholly rose gold, and a large '90' dominates the surface, with the MB logo and 4810 being shifted down and up respectively to make way. The 90 is filled with tiny stipples, which really highlights the number, and works exceptionally well with the rest of the pen.
Something that I believe is a major feature of the Montblanc design is their attention to detail. The subtle hatching in the letters of the cap band. The precise spacing of the gold bands. The stippling within the 90 on the nib to accentuate it. All these little things combine to form a beautifully well executed package.
(My attempt at showing the difference between the standard yellow gold on the left and the anniversary rose gold on the right. Even in optimal conditions it is very difficult to fully capture)
The key highlight of the pen which really differentiates it from the main line of Montblanc is the rose gold trim. Now, I would like to take a moment to say that I firmly believe this to be the best application of rose gold I have seen. Period. It is subdued without being overly subtle. It is still identifiable as gold without being garish. Lately, companies across all industries have been using 'rose gold' in their lineups, Apple probably being the main offender here. In many cases, the finish is almost pink, for whatever reason, and the result is a colour that looks more like a random pink metal than gold at all. Here though, the difference is very slight.
The colour almost looks as though one has turned the shadows and exposure level down to 25% in a photo-editing suite. This has been the first pen where I feel the colour combination truly speaks to me, as opposed to just 'working well together'. I find myself toying with the pen in my hand and turning it around idly, admiring the 'muted' tones of the trim and its relationship with the main body. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say it is a work of art, I will say that it is about as close to perfection as I think I will find when it comes to matching two colours for impact, contrast and aesthetic appeal / draw.
Fit and Finish
As you might expect from a pen of this price range, the fit and finish is exemplary, with every edge and seam lining up perfectly and running flush against their respective face. The cap requires 1.5 rotations to be detached, and the threads are smooth with only marginal wiggle room. The piston knob sits fully flush with the barrel when totally done up, and is very easy to screw and unscrew, no hitches or sticking here! The only minor grip I have with the pen is that the snow cap on the finial is perhaps 20deg off from lining up with the clip, but this is something that isn't intended to fully line up (afaik), nor is it apparent enough to notice most of the time.
Overall, I have nothing to complain about here. My experience with Montblanc and German pen brands in general has always been one living up to the joke about Ze Germanz and their manufacturing standards. Although there are exceptions, I will go out on a limb and say that compared to many other countries, these exceptions are few and far between when compared to some other regions...who we all know and love...
Yeah, its another piston filler. For those of you who are returning to read my review having read my others (for which I am extremely grateful), you will be aware of my preference for pistons. I won't delve into that debate here, as countless others have covered it before. Suffice it to say, the 149's piston performs excellently; smooth, even and just 'the right' amount of resistance to ensure a pleasant operation.
The ink window lies a fraction of a millimetre beneath the cap band when it is capped, which is another nice touch in my opinion, and being clear is very easy to tell remaining ink level. I have always preferred the Montblanc implementation of an ink window outside of demonstrators, as I think that the 50% clear 50% obscured effect they have keeps it out of sight when you want it, and easy to gauge when you need it. I am sure some care more than others about this, and there are likely those of you who couldn't care less, but its the little thing ya know!
The 149 is famed for being a gigantic pen, whose size and power doth crush the will of lesser pens, Goliath himself wielded a 149 to reduce the armies of David to nothi- oh wait...yeah...nevermind. The 149 is large. Yes. Is it the largest? Not by a long shot. Length wise it is bested by the OMAS Paragon, Visconti Homo Sapiens, Sailor King of Pens, Custom 823 Demo, and many others I won't name. Girth wise, it is definitely up there, but again, probably not deserving of the belief that it is too big for a mortal to use comfortably for casual writing.
Personally, I love the size. I have a quadropod grip, which is likely the reason for my enjoyment of the pen's size, but even when I force a 3 finger grip, it is still definitely usable. The length is very comfortable and sits very nicely against the webbing of the hand. Regarding threads, a factor that I am forced to consider more and more after ultimately having to sell the M805 because of this, the threads are not at all sharp, so even if you hold the pen highly, you will probably find this a non-issue.
Balance wise, it is definitely biased toward the back end, though not at all uncomfortably, with the balance point being perhaps 2/3 of the way toward the piston end of the barrel. It feels as though you don't need to push with the pen, just guide it and it is capable of writing under its own weight. I never tend to post my pens, but you can definitely do it here, although should you wish to, you might find a shallow relaxed writing angle preferable due to the ungainly shift in weight introduced by the cap.
Overall, whilst not my definitive most comfortable pen to use, it is definitely a tied second favourite for comfort and balance, switching places with the Homo Sapiens depending on my mood and preference on that given day. Aaaas usual, the YMMV disclaimer holds true, and this pen more than most should really be tried out in a store before committing to the purchase if you can do this.
The nib is a very very nice 18k rose gold medium. Out of the box, the nib was pretty much exactly how it should be; tines aligned and converging at the tip without being too tight. I did flex the nib a teeny weeny bit at first to get the ink flowing just a tad more, but this was more a personal preference than a flaw. Someone mentioned once that Montblanc now polishes their nibs somewhat similarly to Aurora and Pilot; they are smooth, but with definite feedback. This nib is no exception. Being a medium I kind of expected a glass-like level of feedback -so basically none- but instead was given a pencil like experience. It is still smooth as silk with no hitches at all, but you feel every single change in direction and movement, something I am now strangely fond of.
The line it puts down is what I would call a perfect 5 in wetness, making it ideal for any writing paper I am likely to encounter in my daily life. Flow is stunning, an area only my Japanese pens have ever managed to be truly up there in (maybe my OMAS as well?) and I can put the pen to paper after any break for it to work immediately. I have every confidence in this pen performing every time I go to use it, just as it should be.
Closing Thoughts and Conclusion
If you have lasted this long throughout all my rambling, my thanks. I went in with the intention of reducing the words used, but here I found I simply could not to fully convey my opinion. With this pen I have found myself in the fortunate / unfortunate position of seemingly having found my end game in pens. I have recently been able to try a KoP, Aurora, M1000, Divina Elegance and some other flagship pens in a shop, but each time I tried them I knew instantly that they were not for me, or were immediately uncomfortable to use for one reason or another (though it pained me greatly for the Divina and Sailor especially...maybe in time...). I might find myself getting a CONID or something customised eventually after this point, but as far as I can see it, I can't really go up from here. Though my dream pen is a 149 Blue Hour Skeleton, this is something I likely will never be able to reasonably afford, and similarly, other pens I have interest in, or lust for also fall into this category. Thus, for the first time since starting my collection, I find myself utterly content with that which I have.
I paid £340 for this pen (I am pretty sure...), which is an absolute steal considering what I got; limited release of a flagship high end pen, months after it was discontinued. Would I have paid full price for it? No I would not, but if I had known how much pleasure it would bring me later down the line? Definitely yes. Is it worth the price? Again, for what I paid I think it is very difficult to argue that it wasn't, compared too the alternatives. Would it have been worth full price? Perhaps, but it depends on your ability to spend and whether you would value paying for the brand name as a significant portion of the price on top of a special edition.
In this price range, there are many alternative purchases; M800 special editions, Pelikan M1000 if you are lucky, Sailor KoP editions, Homo Sapiens, etc. Given that this is a limited release special edition pen, for a not insignificant anniversary of one of the most famous of the pen companies, contesting the value of this pen over another in the price I paid is challenging, especially considering potential resale value down the line. At full listed price, you get into the Nakaya and special KoP range, where the workmanship and artisan value of the final piece is often much higher than a Montblanc, once more we find ourselves considering the point of whether it is worth paying the extra for the Montblanc due to the streetcred it gets, or whether you would rather buy it second hand for closer to its actual comparative value.
With the unfortunate demise of my M805 and it passing on into the afterlife of another person's collection, after finally concluding that the discomfort in use just wasn't worth owning it, I found myself rotating less and less into my rotation. It got to the point where I was almost every day, for months, carrying this and the two other pens I have reviewed (HS Crystal and Paragon). I now operate two sets of 3 as my carries; my favourites, consisting of the aforementioned offenders, and my 'not-favourite-but-I-still-really-like' group, made of my Opera Elements, vintage Paragon, 146, L2k Stainless and M400 vintage tortoise. If I am not packing a bag, that trio is the set I will reach for each and every time no exception. Although it has taken a while, and many buys, sells and returns, I believe I have found my favourite three pens in these.
Higher quality link: https://flic.kr/s/aHskATRPeG
My Personal 'Grand Triad'