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What Makes The Montblanc 149 Special Other Than Its Size?

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#1 jvr

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 23:40

I dont want to start a war, but Im really interested what is different in the 149 compared to other luxury fountain pens.

Background: I have a Platinum Urushi, just received an ebonite Sailor King of Pen and also have an Aurora 88 and a Visconti Homo Sapiens. Ive a Pelikan M1000 on order. Im also not anti-Montblanc, as I own two of them.

With all these pens I found something unique that made them special and worth the markup, be it the material, finish and/or the writing experience before I decided to try it for myself. In any case, always something more intriguing than merely the size.

Reviews generally show its a great pen, but fail to show me why its anything special other than that its bigger than a 146, which I have.

So, is there something Im missing?
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#2 silverlifter

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 00:07

The obvious thing about the MB 149 is its, well, obviousness.

The brand is instantly recognisable to just about everyone, and carrying one instantly signifies "something" to those people.

Personally, I find that sort of ostentatious display of wealth offputting, so I sold mine. I still have three vintage MBs (the double digit models from the 60's).

To be clear, I'm not saying carrying one is an "ostentatious display of wealth", only that it is inevitable perceived by many, particularly non-fp people, that way.

Ulitmately, there are many better pens for the price, but none have the brand cachet that MB does amongst the general public.

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#3 Z-Tab

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 00:28

The 149's MSRP is totally in-line with comparable offerings from other companies, so it doesn't really need a "magic sauce" element to justify its existence. (Last time I looked, the Pelikan M1000 had a higher MSRP.)

 

I think what makes it REALLY special is the enormous second-hand market. There are constantly used 149s available at great prices, many of which were rarely/never used. Most days, I write with an early-1960s 149 with a tri-color 18c nib that I bought (in original packaging w/ no signs of use) for about $300. And that wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime lucky score, it's just the very low end of typical pricing. 



#4 OMASsimo

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 02:26

If you get a MB 149 you'll buy a well-made pen like dozens of other well-made pens in it's league. I don't think there is anything special about it except the aggressive marketing and brand recognition. If you need a pen to show off in meetings or with customers who have no clue about fountain pens, MB is first choice. That's one reason why I avoid MB. The other reason is that because of the hype they are overpriced in my opinion, especially the vintage ones which I'd always prefer. 



#5 salmasry

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 02:57

The 149's MSRP is totally in-line with comparable offerings from other companies, so it doesn't really need a "magic sauce" element to justify its existence. (Last time I looked, the Pelikan M1000 had a higher MSRP.)

 

I think what makes it REALLY special is the enormous second-hand market. There are constantly used 149s available at great prices, many of which were rarely/never used. Most days, I write with an early-1960s 149 with a tri-color 18c nib that I bought (in original packaging w/ no signs of use) for about $300. And that wasn't a once-in-a-lifetime lucky score, it's just the very low end of typical pricing. 

 

How can I get me one of them deals?    What are the factors that you use to reduce the risk when you buy used?



#6 salmasry

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 02:59

I dont want to start a war, but Im really interested what is different in the 149 compared to other luxury fountain pens.

Background: I have a Platinum Urushi, just received an ebonite Sailor King of Pen and also have an Aurora 88 and a Visconti Homo Sapiens. Ive a Pelikan M1000 on order. Im also not anti-Montblanc, as I own two of them.

With all these pens I found something unique that made them special and worth the markup, be it the material, finish and/or the writing experience before I decided to try it for myself. In any case, always something more intriguing than merely the size.

Reviews generally show its a great pen, but fail to show me why its anything special other than that its bigger than a 146, which I have.

So, is there something Im missing?

 

The nib size of the MB 149  is  as big as M 1000 if not bigger,  why would you think the M1000 has something special and the  MB 149 does not , they are very close in MSRP , nib size, nib material, ...etc.



#7 OMASsimo

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 03:06

 

The nib size of the MB 149  is  as big as M 1000 if not bigger,  why would you think the M1000 has something special and the  MB 149 does not , they are very close in MSRP , nib size, nib material, ...etc.

 

Do you need a pen for it's nib size or for writing?



#8 salmasry

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 03:25

 

Do you need a pen for it's nib size or for writing?

 

Perhaps I can   clarify things more for  you  :rolleyes:

 

The OP  has indicated that each expensive/marked up  pen he  has,   did exhibit  something special

The OP indicated  that  the  M1000 is in this  group

The OP then asked what is so special about the MB 149

I then replied that , there is no significant difference between the M1000 and the MB 149  wrt  being in this "special category", as they have similar price, nib size, ...etc

 

You then came and  asked me if I need a pen for the nib size?

 

Perhaps , and this is a remote chance, you missed  the point I was making to the OP?  

 

The only other rational I could find  for your  question, is that you have SOLID DATA , that  M1000  consistently betters the MB 149 in writing experience, do you have such data?

 

Good luck 


Edited by salmasry, 21 July 2019 - 03:57.


#9 Z-Tab

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 04:04

 

How can I get me one of them deals?    What are the factors that you use to reduce the risk when you buy used?

 

Just keep an eye on eBay. There always seem to be a variety of 149s between $350-450. The great deals tend to get scooped pretty quickly after they've been listed, so there's some luck involved if you're hoping to get a specific nib grade or era at a certain price. 

 

When buying used... look for good quality pictures. A clean nib, no cracks in the body, no chips in the cap, and a working piston are all it takes to give you a functional 149... Pens aren't that complicated mechanically, there's not much that can be hidden in a high resolution picture.

 

Another benefit the 149 has that many other pens lack is the availability of Montblanc's Service Center. The repair fee can be hefty, but there aren't many pens from 1970 that are still being serviced by their manufacturer (I wouldn't send them push-fit piston or celluloid models, since I think they replace everything with modern parts).

 

 

Montblanc has very conspicuous branding. I totally understand why people don't want to be associated with it. Using a fountain pen is itself a bit of a counterculture affectation, so there's a lot of fun to being "in the know" and having something that is more personally resonant.



#10 Thymen

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 06:47

People that are into fountain pens, recognize the brand immediately. People that are not, most times don't recognize it at all. In the past couple of years, I only met one person that also uses a fountain pen, at least in the office.

 

I take two Jinhao 159 with me to the office every day. People notice one of these, because it is the bright blue version, you can't miss it. The black one is not noticed at all. I am pretty sure if I took my 149, no-one would either notice or, when they did, even bother.

 

There are plenty ways to impress people without spending money. Once I saw a very expensive Italian sport-car in the parking lot of the office when I was leaving for home. So when I saw some co-workers coming into the lot, I whipped out the remote control from my 13 year old Volkswagen, pointed it at the sports-car and pushed the button vigorously. Did not work, so I loudly complained that these bloody Italian cars looked very nice, but that the electronics were rubbish. That from now on I would not use that damned car again for going to work....

 

After my coworkers left, I got into my old Volkswagen and went home. Now everybody thinks I own an expensive Italian sports-car, and it did not cost me a dime.....



#11 A Smug Dill

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 09:27

People that are into fountain pens, recognize the brand immediately. People that are not, most times don't recognize it at all. 

 

 

I beg to differ. Montblanc is in every bloody department store chain as well as specialty pen stores, and advertise in traditional media, as well as having its own brand name retail stores in major cities around the world, so its name and logo is highly recognisable to people who aren't fountain pen users. There are lots of people who use rollerball pens, for example, who may still see Montblanc as a luxury brand to which to aspire to owning and carrying.

 

Nakaya, or even Sailor, on the other hand is almost recognisable to nobody outside of the fountain pen hobbyist community, irrespective of the average price of a Nakaya pen or a Sailor KOP flagship. Even Montegrappa and Visconti are far less recognisable than Montblanc.


A discussion about objects, techniques and applications should not be a contest of personal values. Your values mean nothing to me and require naught from me, and I'll gladly assume my values equally mean nothing to you and do not impose on you in any way; my dissenting views do not oppress your personal views, when neither of us can claim to represent the majority position or consensus, or speak on behalf of the community of fountain pen hobbyists worldwide. Let's treat each other with due respect prescribed by some entity bigger than either of us without our input and just offer our sentimental opinions of no particular standing with anyone else, without trying to control the narrative, or demand moral support and/or solidarity from others as consumers and users.

#12 Karmachanic

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 09:32

 

I think what makes it REALLY special is the enormous second-hand market. There are constantly used 149s available at great prices, many of which were rarely/never used.

 

And that speaks volumes.


Edited by Karmachanic, 21 July 2019 - 12:48.

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#13 Uncial

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 11:55

I don't think it's particularly special or obvious to be honest. I think they made something that certain very high end fashion houses aspired to at one stage - a classic look that never goes out of style, and on that front I think they did it with the standard pen lineup. They are high quality working pens that are a real pleasure to use. Being classic and not overly flashy means they tend to be used as business gifts which I would suspect forms a large part of the second hand market. It's a pity in my view that they phased out the lower end ranges but I guess they see the M, Starwalkers and 144/5 as the more 'affordable' options. The M looks like a gimmick to me and the Starwalker always looks a bit too 80's for my taste. Recent Writer's Editions seem to be catering for the more European tastes; especially in Spain and Italy, but even when they are not to my taste I can't fault them on quality. 149's are never out of my rotation; between them and the Pilot 823 I think both come fairly close to perfection in terms of comfort in writing, shape and balance. If you want flashy bling Montblanc can provide that on some models, but few can beat the flashy bling - or the eye watering prices - of Dunhill, Montegrappa or Visconti............unless of course you're into pens studded with diamonds and sapphires, at which point I tend to think it ceases being an actual pen. 


Edited by Uncial, 21 July 2019 - 11:57.


#14 jvr

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 12:18

Thanks for all the responses. However, I still don’t see anything about the intrinsic value of the 149 as a pen that makes it valuable compared to other pens, other than size (combined with the Montblanc endcap).

The fact that there is a large second-hand market doesn’t make the pen itself any better. The fact that people are impressed with it, also says more about branding than the actual product.

For comparison: the Platinum Urushi, even though many unfavorably compare it to the similar Nakaya, offers the Urushi finish; the Visconti Homo Sapiens offers the lava in the body; the ebonite Sailor KoP offers the ebonite and the delicious nib; and the Pelikan M1000 apparently offers not only size (as all these examples do) but also a nib that’s unequalled in any other Pelikan. I haven’t seen anything like that about the 149. Its body materials can be found in other Montblancs and its nib isn’t a standout either.

Considering I hardly ever take my pens out of the house and in any case don’t need to impress anyone with my collection, I’m still wondering what’s special about the 149 that would make me want to have it other than that it’s a classic.
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#15 Uncial

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 12:34

Sounds like it's not for you. It is in essence a writer's pen. People who love them, love them because they are writers pens. Those who buy it for perceived prestige, value and the vain belief that it will make them somehow more desirable, richer or impressive tend to be very disappointed very quickly. 



#16 A Smug Dill

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 13:05

...unless of course you're into pens studded with diamonds and sapphires, at which point I tend to think it ceases being an actual pen.

 
If it writes, then I'd say it's a functional writing instrument and "an actual pen" by anyone's reckoning, even if 99% of the (say) $1000 asking price is arguably (but not objectively or authoritatively) attributable to the pen body's material, finish, artwork, adornments, etc. or even the pen's brand, and only 1% of it could have paid for the parts that allows the product to leave marks on the page with the user's choice of ink.
 

However, I still don’t see anything about the intrinsic value of the 149 as a pen that makes it valuable compared to other pens, other than size (combined with the Montblanc endocarp).

 
But what is the intrinsic value in any pen? Not its raw materials or any part you can isolate in a 'teardown', unless it can be repurposed (e.g. precious metals that can be extracted from it and has commodity value by weight). As a functional object, it only has value if someone has a use for it as an enabler in value-producing activity; and then, neither the Montblanc or the P*** Urushi has more value in that manner than a $1 Jinhao 992. The urushi on a pen's barrel has no intrinsic value, ebonite that has already been shaped into a pen barrel has no intrinsic value, and the nib has no intrinsic value except for maybe its gold content.

If you choose to place value on a nib because you think it's 'delicious', then that is subjective value you assign to it, not intrinsic such that everyone else must agree there is value in the object even if you're taken out of the picture.
 

I’m still wondering what’s special about the 149 that would make me want to have it other than that it’s a classic.


You want it or you don't. I personally don't like Montblanc, so I don't want it. However, I don't particularly want a Sailor ebonite King of Pen either, even though I consider myself a fan of Sailor and easily have thirty Sailor fountain pens in my household, any more than I want a pretty black-and-white acrylic Jinhao 51A. They're just toys and eye candy that I may want to have for complete whimsy; it's not like I need more fountain pens in order to be able to put words on paper.


A discussion about objects, techniques and applications should not be a contest of personal values. Your values mean nothing to me and require naught from me, and I'll gladly assume my values equally mean nothing to you and do not impose on you in any way; my dissenting views do not oppress your personal views, when neither of us can claim to represent the majority position or consensus, or speak on behalf of the community of fountain pen hobbyists worldwide. Let's treat each other with due respect prescribed by some entity bigger than either of us without our input and just offer our sentimental opinions of no particular standing with anyone else, without trying to control the narrative, or demand moral support and/or solidarity from others as consumers and users.

#17 Uncial

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 13:17

Posted by Dill:

If it writes, then I'd say it's a functional writing instrument and "an actual pen" by anyone's reckoning, even if 99% of the (say) $1000 asking price is arguably (but not objectively or authoritatively) attributable to the pen body's material, finish, artwork, adornments, etc. or even the pen's brand, and only 1% of it could have paid for the parts that allows the product to leave marks on the page with the user's choice of ink.

 

 

Yes, that's true. But there are a few I look at sometimes and wonder if it would actually be possible to write with it. I'm not sure if the Amazon Montegrappa Chaos reviews are still up to view, but some were quite amusing when it came to simple issues like lifting the pen off the desk. As far as Montblanc's gemstone coated pens go I'd be surprised if someone bought one of those for the nib and writing comfort rather than the jeweller's artistry - but you're right, it is technically still a pen.....I think.



#18 jvr

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 13:59

If it writes, then I'd say it's a functional writing instrument and "an actual pen" by anyone's reckoning, even if 99% of the (say) $1000 asking price is arguably (but not objectively or authoritatively) attributable to the pen body's material, finish, artwork, adornments, etc. or even the pen's brand, and only 1% of it could have paid for the parts that allows the product to leave marks on the page with the user's choice of ink.
 

 
But what is the intrinsic value in any pen? Not its raw materials or any part you can isolate in a 'teardown', unless it can be repurposed (e.g. precious metals that can be extracted from it and has commodity value by weight). As a functional object, it only has value if someone has a use for it as an enabler in value-producing activity; and then, neither the Montblanc or the P*** Urushi has more value in that manner than a $1 Jinhao 992. The urushi on a pen's barrel has no intrinsic value, ebonite that has already been shaped into a pen barrel has no intrinsic value, and the nib has no intrinsic value except for maybe its gold content.

If you choose to place value on a nib because you think it's 'delicious', then that is subjective value you assign to it, not intrinsic such that everyone else must agree there is value in the object even if you're taken out of the picture.
 


You want it or you don't. I personally don't like Montblanc, so I don't want it. However, I don't particularly want a Sailor ebonite King of Pen either, even though I consider myself a fan of Sailor and easily have thirty Sailor fountain pens in my household, any more than I want a pretty black-and-white acrylic Jinhao 51A. They're just toys and eye candy that I may want to have for complete whimsy; it's not like I need more fountain pens in order to be able to put words on paper.


True. I guess what I’m looking for is something that would make me want to try this pen and I can’t find it.

And the emphasis is on “me” and “try,” as in the end I don’t know which pens I’ll hold on to. There are few pens I have that I know for sure I won’t sell anytime soon.
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#19 Mech-for-i

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 14:05

Montblanc 149 ... now let's all be rational, what's so special about it .. no its nothing to do with the actual pen itself , yes its big and its got a large nib, its imposing when taken out of the pocket ( and this might or might not be a good idea ) but in the end its this imposing statue and the recognition of that white emblem that's making it special , that is its imposing an image of superiority over the ordinary ; though of course we who in the know know otherwise ... that same imposing posture can be done equally so with other means , say with a Visconti with all the glitter ; or a Dunhill, a S.T. Dupont, or a Cartier, all of which tie into the brand image, marketing and alike ....

 

As a pen is it really superior say against the like of Pelikan M1000 , or even many of its own peers ( say MB 146 ) ; my experience is no , its not always a better pen ; in fact many lesser ( price and prestige ) pen outperform it greatly as far as writing goes. my MB 114 ( now retired ) consistently out perform my MB 149 even though both are from same vintage, same Mfr, and even same series, and my Pelikan M250 outperform them both even though its the cheapest among them all

 

So when one ask what's so special about a Montblanc 149 , one must consciously decide if this branding / image / ego boosting / imposing impression of such is really special or not to the said individual, if it is , then yes its special, but if its not, then ... well .. decide for yourself then  



#20 A Smug Dill

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 14:13

And the emphasis is on “me” and “try,” as in the end I don’t know which pens I’ll hold on to. There are few pens I have that I know for sure I won’t sell anytime soon.

 

 

Fair enough. I cannot imagine selling any of my $3 Wing Sung 3008, $30 Sailor Lecoule or $300+ Pilot Capless Vanishing Point limited edition pens, even though I have multiple of each and several of them just sit there unlinked and unused most of the time, so it isn't the sort of question I ask myself or to which I could relate.


A discussion about objects, techniques and applications should not be a contest of personal values. Your values mean nothing to me and require naught from me, and I'll gladly assume my values equally mean nothing to you and do not impose on you in any way; my dissenting views do not oppress your personal views, when neither of us can claim to represent the majority position or consensus, or speak on behalf of the community of fountain pen hobbyists worldwide. Let's treat each other with due respect prescribed by some entity bigger than either of us without our input and just offer our sentimental opinions of no particular standing with anyone else, without trying to control the narrative, or demand moral support and/or solidarity from others as consumers and users.





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