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The Great Grail Face-Off!

montblanc blue hour le petit prince se

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#1 Uncial

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 16:58

Granada; once the great province of the Nazrid dynasty which still houses the magnificent Alhambra palaces and the royal chapel and grave of the warrior queen Isabella and her side-kick, Ferdinand along with many other treasures, has, in a street covered with stone arches a small and unassuming Montblanc store which houses many treasures waiting to snare the unwary traveler. In forty degrees heat and after far, far too many coffees in a deli that had at least thirty pigs worth of cured hams hanging off the ceiling, I must surely have been suffering heat stroke when I drooled over a choice of two pens. The odd thing was, one wasn't originally on the menu, but became a surprising little addition. By the end of the summer of 2018 I had in my possession two pens ready for a great grail face-off! They were the Montblanc Blue Hour with a double broad nib and the Montblanc Petit Prince Special Edition with a fine nib. 

 

fpn_1542382106__mb1.jpg

 

There are very subtle differences to these pens which makes them an interesting comparison, and I don't mean by way of the obvious appearance. To my eye both are very beautifully made pens. At the time of purchase I had intended only to nab the Blue Hour, but the pretty sales lady batted her eyelids and kept showing me the Petit Prince SE and spoke in a lilting, llispy Spanish until all my defences crumbled before me. I'd seen pictures online of the Petit Prince SE and the yellow star on the clip really put me off it. On the normal edition, even in the flesh, it sits uncomfortably to my eye and detracts from the pen. On the SE, in the flesh, it works significantly better, but as they say - your mileage may vary. Seeing it in the flesh revealed it to be a very beautiful, yet also a kind of fun pen. I'll go through some of the comparisons. the technical specs and hopefully some manner of conclusion at the end.

 

Appearance

To the eye both pens appear to be the same model with different finishes. The Blue Hour has a faceted deep blue (ever so slightly green) colour. It's somewhat difficult to describe, but to the eye it gives the appearance of lots of little angled triangles under a resin lacquer that catch the light giving the pen a curious sparkling appearance of deep blue mixed with light blue in a regimented pattern. Oddly, side by side, the pattern on the Blue Hour gives it the appearance of being slightly fatter that the Petit Prince, but I think this is merely an optical illusion (having no way to measure this accurately). The Petit Prince has a really rich blue lacquer with engraved fox heads (from the book illustrations) running up the barrel and cap in gold outline. The blue is actually over a brushed metal and you can see this when you look very closely. the brushed metal creates a very vivid sheen in parallel lines which is almost impossible to photograph but it makes for a very attractive effect. Both pens have a white metal grip (which I haven't found to be slippery), piston nob and housing for the standard snow peak. It's a shame these pens don't sport the mother of pearl stars as they both deserve them. The yellow star on the clip of the Petit Prince is enameled in yellow and again, also from the original drawings. Montblanc must have paid an king's ransom for the rights.

 

Nibs

Both pens have nibs that are engraved. In the case of the Blue Hour the nib is monotone white metal over gold engraved with a diamond pattern. The Petit Prince is a gold dual toned nib to highlight the Little Prince standing beside the fox curled at his feet and all with stars around them. It's a very pretty nib. My nib preferences are at two extremes; extra-fine and fine and stubs and double broads. In this instance the Blue Hour has a double broad nib and the Petit Prince has a fine nib. I have no complaints about either. They are both perfectly smooth, perfect flow and while firm nibs they don't feel like nails - exactly what I've come to expect from Montblanc.

 

fpn_1542383177__mb2.jpg

 

Technical Specs

Both pens are piston fillers.

Both pens post securely and have screw caps and posting will not mark or scratch the piston nob.

Both caps have a double ring that looks like ceramic (I was told elsewhere that this is a Montblanc anti-forgery thing and it certainly seems to work as I haven't seen the usual fakes that appear out of the east of pens that have this) but is some kind of treated or sandblasted metal. The usual Montblanc engraving is on the cap rings

The two notable differences with the Petit Prince SE are the enameled star on the clip and the engraving at the top of the cap near the snow peak which reads, 'To me, you are the most precious thing in all the world', in French.....or some-such as my French isn't honestly up to much. It's a quote from the book.

Both pens have engraved nibs but the Petit Prince is dual toned.

Both are metal bodied pens. The Petit Prince SE weighs 68g (filled) and the Blue Hour weighs 64g (filled)

The Petit Prince is 5.75 inches capped, 6.25 inches posted and 5 inches unposted.

The Blue Hour is 5.75 inches capped, 6.45 inches posted and 5 inches unposted.

Both have quite long grips of around an inch, maybe a touch more. Pictures often given the impression of a somewhat severe step. In reality, it's a trick of the light as the very slight step is angled. It's where my fingers rest when I write with it and neither it nor the threads bother me. the threads aren't sharp.

 

fpn_1542386273__dsc_1254_2.jpg

 

The Great Grail Face-Off Conclusion!

It's hard to choose a favourite between two pens, one of which I knew I had to have the moment it was released and the other of which surprised me enough in the flesh to buy even though I disliked it from the online pictures. Both are very good to write with and both are pretty stunning to look at. The attention to detail is nothing short of remarkable and even though I would normally steer clear of heavy metal bodied pens, I've found writing with these over the last four months to be an absolute joy. So, in essence it comes down to very small nit-picky things that probably wouldn't bother a normal, sane individual, but I guess it must be done. Both pens stumble over two similar issues. the first relates to the white metal grip on both pens. It's a real finger print magnet and your finger prints become very easily visible when using it. If that kind of thing bothers you, I guess it might be a factor to consider - these aren't exactly cheap pens after all, so when you shell out so much, some expect perfection and a match to all their various whims and wishes. The second thing is related to it's piston mechanism. It works perfectly well and is remarkably smooth. It's so smooth and so easily turned you might think the pen hasn't filled. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but it's fooled me more than once. For some I guess it might be a minor irritation, so perhaps worth mentioning. 

 

For me, it comes down to one thing, which edges the Blue Hour out in front as the more satisfactory grail buy. I guess you could make an argument that the overall design of the Petit Prince SE is a little frivilous for such an expensive pen, but I'm kind of endeared by it and it still does have a classic element of design that steers it well away from the realms of expensive gee-gaw and gaudiness. The strange thing is that the extended length of the Blue Hour when posted along with the expunging of four grammes somewhere in the design makes the Blue Hour nudge into first place as the better writer. It feels like it has a much better balance, while the Petit Prince (posted) feels like the cap is just a tiny, tiny touch heavy. 

 

Just as I finish up, winter's brief blue hour has descended. Seems fitting.

 



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#2 farazqamar

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 19:18

Great comparison! I have the blue hour with a fine nib and it is a joy to write with. I have the petit prince holiday set en route to me but it is the precious resin version with rose gold trims.

#3 Honeybadgers

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Posted 16 November 2018 - 23:33

I don't know why I seem to just hate every non-standard pen MB makes. I will never, ever sell my standard black 149, but the most I could possibly accept as a change would be a different color or MAYBE a demonstrator, IMO. I have a similar thing with Sailor pens. I hate all their special edition colors.

 

Not knocking your purchase and the nib samples (particularly the double broad) look gorgeous, but the surface finishes on those pens look really "cheap" to me. Like Jinhao 750 cheap.


Edited by Honeybadgers, 16 November 2018 - 23:34.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)


#4 Uncial

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 11:20

Posted by Honeybadgers:

Not knocking your purchase and the nib samples (particularly the double broad) look gorgeous, but the surface finishes on those pens look really "cheap" to me. Like Jinhao 750 cheap.

 

I know you mean. I felt the JFK had a very strong Jinhao-ish look to it. When you see it in the flesh the quality of it becomes all too apparent and it has been greatly improved by the transfer to burgundy. On the two pens in question in the review, my photo's don't serve them well. There's a severe limit on uploading size here which makes it virtually impossible for me to load up any pictures of any reasonable quality. I have to take a phone pic and then edit it down and take out some of the sharpness and detail. I'm not even sure the pens are well served in their own company pics as the brightness and richness of the Petit Prince blue and the depth of the pattern and the subtlety of colours in the Blue Hour don't really come across well in picture form. Between these and a Jinhao, they are both metal bodied pens, but that's essentially where I think the comparison ends. Seen in the flesh it becomes apparent just how much attention to detail has been lavished. 

 

Of course, if your aesthetic leans you towards a lifetime membership of the Black Pen Club, then anything else is always going to be sacrilege. 



#5 Uncial

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 11:23

Great comparison! I have the blue hour with a fine nib and it is a joy to write with. I have the petit prince holiday set en route to me but it is the precious resin version with rose gold trims.

 

I think that version is better. The yellow star seemed to sit proud of the entire pen on the white metal version which I found quite distracting every time I looked at it. On the SE is muted and calmed down due to the design on the cap and barrel.



#6 Bobje

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 12:16

Nicely lit photography, Uncial, and a lovely purchase story.

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#7 AndyLogan

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Posted 17 November 2018 - 16:20

. I'm not even sure the pens are well served in their own company pics as the brightness and richness of the Petit Prince blue and the depth of the pattern and the subtlety of colours in the Blue Hour don't really come across well in picture form. Between these and a Jinhao, they are both metal bodied pens, but that's essentially where I think the comparison ends. Seen in the flesh it becomes apparent just how much attention to detail has been lavished. 

 

Of course, if your aesthetic leans you towards a lifetime membership of the Black Pen Club, then anything else is always going to be sacrilege. 

 

I have the Petite Prince (Holiday Set) that has the same nib as the SE, but disliked the metal section, hence the selection of my current pen, but the barrel on the SE is just lovely to look at, and I have to agree that the Blue Hour is just breathtaking in the flesh especially under strong light, I've been eyeing it every so often when I visit a store, but have yet to find a very good reason to make a purchase (Besides I'm enjoying the Le Petite Prince so I'm not inclined to get another blue coloured one).


"Storyteller, unfold thy words untold!"


#8 Toll

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 14:23

Thanks for the review; I have the Blue Hour FP and the Little Prince LeGrand FP. Both are wonderful pens; you have done well in buying both. I love the blue resin of the Little Prince and I appreciate the ink window as well. I am looking forward to the next pen(s) in the Little Prince series in 2019.

#9 Uncial

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Posted 19 November 2018 - 23:50

Neither of these have ink windows, which some people find off putting, but doesn't bother me.

#10 Tom Kellie

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Posted 21 November 2018 - 05:23

For me, it comes down to one thing, which edges the Blue Hour out in front as the more satisfactory grail buy. I guess you could make an argument that the overall design of the Petit Prince SE is a little frivilous for such an expensive pen, but I'm kind of endeared by it and it still does have a classic element of design that steers it well away from the realms of expensive gee-gaw and gaudiness.

 

~ Uncial:

 

Thank you for this comparison review with images.

 

I'm glad that you're pleased with both pens.

 

Tom K.



#11 Ghost Plane

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Posted 22 November 2018 - 02:35

I love hearing how people come to their conclusion and personal preferences.

#12 Michael R.

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 13:00

Now you‘re missing the third blue pen: the UNICEF Solitaire ;-) they look beautiful together.

So far I have the Petit Prince Solitaire and it is a very beautifully made pen! Your pictures are far better tha Montblanc‘s original pictures bit they even look better in real life.

Many thanks for your story and pictures.

I‘m surprised that the weight is different!

Also I‘m interested in adding a modern double broad nib to my collection in the future.

Cheers

Michael

#13 Tom Kellie

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Posted 29 December 2018 - 17:09

Also I‘m interested in adding a modern double broad nib to my collection in the future.

 

~ Michael R.:

 

Writing with a contemporary double broad is a great pleasure.

 

May 2019 bring a BB nib to your collection!

 

Tom K.



#14 archaon593

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 16:33

I recently "found" myself at the MB boutique in Rome.

 

Spent an hour admiring the Petit Prince Solitaire.

Stunning!

 

But I couldn't quite justify the 1500+ euros, even with Christmas, birthdays and all other holidays of next year....



#15 5Cavaliers

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 17:08

Outstanding comparison!  Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 

 

I confess that I have only one MB now.  You made an interesting comment regarding the nibs,

 

"They are both perfectly smooth, perfect flow and while firm nibs they don't feel like nails - exactly what I've come to expect from Montblanc."

 

My only MB is smooth, but writes like a nail and is rather dry.  I've made a few adjustments, but they haven't helped.  I confess this is an older MB 144 - not a piston filler but c/c filler - but it has been a bit disappointing.  The next time I go to a pen show, I will take it with me and see what a nibmeister can do. 


"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours.  When it is gone, it is gone.  Be wise, but enjoy!  - anonymous today

 

 

 


#16 Uncial

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Posted 03 January 2019 - 19:16

The smaller nibs feel much firmer. My 145 and Boheme nibs are both very firm with next to no softness at all. The softer nibs on smaller pens are (in terms of what I own) on the 1912 (a nib which has a really pleasing bounce but feels so delicate I wouldn't dare push it) and on the 100th Anniversary pen (a surprisingly brilliant nib for a cartridge filling pen but not as bouncy as the 1912). 



#17 Tom Kellie

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 13:07

The smaller nibs feel much firmer. My 145 and Boheme nibs are both very firm with next to no softness at all. The softer nibs on smaller pens are (in terms of what I own) on the 1912 (a nib which has a really pleasing bounce but feels so delicate I wouldn't dare push it) and on the 100th Anniversary pen (a surprisingly brilliant nib for a cartridge filling pen but not as bouncy as the 1912). 

 

 

~ Uncial:

 

Fascinating to know about the smaller nibs being firmer.

 

On the older Montblanc nibs from the 60s and 50s I haven't noticed that. 

 

The contemporary Classique nibs are, as you say, firm.

 

Tom K.



#18 Old_Inkyhand

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 13:42

Great pens, Uncial, congratulations! Even though the design is not right up my alley, I had the privilege to write with those pens and it was an amazing experience. 

 

I acquired one of my grail pens not so long ago and I'm not feeling very good about it. It was expensive (although the price wasn't bad for such a pen, especially given that I bought it from an authorised seller) and I am safekeeping it in pristine condition so that I could eventually sell it. I am aware that I probably won't sell it, and I use all of my other pens, but I just can't get myself to ink it. Maybe I'll do it in the future, when I'll be more financially stable. Now it seems to be an insanity. I'm glad I secured the pen, as I had been told that it was the last one at least in Europe, but I think our paths crossed at a wrong time.  :unsure:



#19 Ghost Plane

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 15:58

I recently "found" myself at the MB boutique in Rome.
 
Spent an hour admiring the Petit Prince Solitaire.
Stunning!
 
But I couldn't quite justify the 1500+ euros, even with Christmas, birthdays and all other holidays of next year....


There’ll be used ones out there at much lower prices. There always are. It’s a waiting game.

#20 archaon593

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 16:14

There’ll be used ones out there at much lower prices. There always are. It’s a waiting game.

 

Oh, I will put on my most patient hat







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