Montblanc 100 Years Historical Fountain Pen
This review is of the Fountain Pen version of this pen. The Rollerball and Pencil versions are reviewed here by kaisede.
The 100 Years Historical Fountain Pen was released as a Special Edition in 2006 and only produced during that year. It was
designed and marketed as a replica of the original Simplo Rouge et Noire safety filler c.1908 -- Montblanc's first safety pen.
Unlike the later Montblanc safeties, this model used a sliding (rather than twist) mechanism, that covered and exposed the
nib like a sleeve. Photos of the original pen can be found on fountainpen.de.
Appearance and Design
The 100 Years Historical Pen is an unbearably sexy pen, especially if you are as in love with the early vintage dome-top
Montblancs as I am. It is a pretty good replica of the original MB safeties. The overall form, the domed endcap, the "bulb"
on the barrel, the shape of the section, the sliding sleeve, the "vintage proportions" (ie it's a small pen), and even the nib,
are decidedly reminiscent of the original.
What somewhat detracts from the vintage illusion, is the overkill of gold trim (a total of 5 gold bands, seemingly placed on
every part of the pen that could be fitted with one) and the strange clip, which I cannot place historically. The very early MB
safeties were either clipless, or fitted with slip-on/ wrap-around clips. The latter would have been a nice touch here -- for
instance, a more modest version of the clip on the Schiller LE. Also, if we are going to get technical here, the vintage
"MONT-BLANC" logo with the mountain in between that is imprinted on the side of the cap of the pen, was never used on
the early model sliding safeties; it did not come until later.
My intent is not to be pedantic here, and I am only making these observations because the booklet that came with the pen
describes it as as an "exact replica" of the original. That is clearly not the case even at the visual level. I would say that it is
more of an "homage" to the original.
Of course, the biggest discrepancy between the 100 Years Historical Pen and the original, is the filling mechanism. The
original Simplo filled via eyedropper directly into the barrel, through the opening created by the retraced nib. The 100
Years Historical Pen is... ahem... cartridge only. I know that many MB collectors did not buy this pen because of that aspect.
I was initially turned off by it as well, but aesthetics finally won over. What can I say, I had to have that sexy dome-top.
One thing that can be said in favour of the cartridge system, is that at least it is more convenient than a true ED safety.
I don't think that much else can be said, but there it is.
The pen fills via unscrewing the lower, bulbous part of the barrel. Inside is a rather scary looking black metal cage. The
cartridge is placed inside the cage loosely and the "bulb" is screwed back on. The motion of screwing in the bulb pushes the
cartridge forward and impales it onto the "nipple". I admit that this mechanism is kind of cool. However, it makes using even
the mini-converters that fit into other cartridge-only pens out of the question. If you want to use your favourite inks in this
pen, and your favourite ink does not come in international cartridges, the you will have to fill cartridges via syringe.
I have to admit that the retractable mechanism is fascinating, if only because it is like nothing I have ever tried before. I
am used to the traditional twist safeties, but this is an altogether different animal. The nib does not exactly retract. Rather,
it gets exposed and covered by the sleeve that slides in and out of the bulbous part of the barrel. The thin part of the barrel
(which includes the section slides) into the bulbous part to expose the nib. It slides out of the bulbous part to cover up the
nib. The pen can only be capped with the nib covered. In other words, the actual nib stays stationary, while a part of the
barrel slides over it like a sleeve.
The triple image at the very top of this review illustrates this: The sleeve moves up and down, but the total length of the
pen remains the same, regardless of what stage of exposure the nib is at.
Even though this is a fairly simple mechanism, I initially found it counter-intuitive to operate, because you have to make a
pulling-back motion with your fingers in order for the nib to appear, and a pulling forward motion in order for it to disappear.
So you really must get used to the idea that you are covering/uncovering, rather than retracting/ extracting.
However, now that I've got the hang of it, I find the system very easy -- and more convenient that traditional retractables
like the Boheme, because the nib can be exposed and covered while holding the pen in one hand. This is extremely
convenient when pausing between writing sentences: If I simply retract the nib, the pen can remain uncapped for quite
some time without drying out. I tried leaving it uncapped for just over 10 minutes, and the pen started right up without
problems. I have not yet tried leaving it for longer periods.
[this photo was taken by MDI]
The nib is one of the nicest aspects of this pen. It is 18K single tone yellow gold; small, but proportional to the size of the
pen. Instead of the usual MB nib decor, this one is imprinted at the base with a large snowcap outline enclosed in a circle.
Above this are the words "MONTBLANC/ 2006". And above this, is the best feature: a snowcap-shaped breather hole!
This little design detail completely "makes" the pen for me -- I just can't take my eyes off it.
My nib is a Medium. Even though I am an XXF nib user, I took what I could get, as there are not many of these pens
available. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the nib runs a little fine, so that the Medium, is more like what is
normally a MB Fine, if not EF. The nib was incredibly smooth out of the box and had no problems what so ever.
The 100 Years Historical Pen is quite small. It is 5.25" capped, 4.5" uncapped (nib exposed or not), and 6.25" posted.
It posts securely, and seems to be designed to be written with posted. Unposted it is too small for me to write with.
As shown on the image above, the 100 Years Pen is about the same size as the Greta Garbo, but considerably larger
that the Boheme. Below it is next to the Boheme again, with both of their nibs extracted.
And here it is next to my husband's MB Chopin and Pelikan M150: the 100 Year pen seems to fall right in the middle.
[this photo was taken by MDI]
The release of the 100 Years Pen set was accompanied by a special pouch, but alas I do not have one (...yet?). I have
housed my pen in a lovely, sleek Piquardo "Nikolai" case, along with my Greta Garbo. Here is a gratuitous shot of them
in the pouch together:
Cost and Value
The MSRP of this pen is in the mid $700's. Some MB boutiques and retailers still carry it, but most no longer have it.
Personally, I think that for a resin, cartridge-only pen, that price is insane, even for a special edition. I bought mine
on clearance from a European jewelry shop, thanks to the help of an FPN member. (Thank you!!)
The Montblanc 100 Years Historical Pen is a beautifully designed tribute to the earliest era of MB safety fillers. It is
mechanically fascinating, easy to operate after a brief acclimatisation period, and comfortable to use. The nib is not
only visually unique, but performs perfectly out of the box, and unlike most MB nibs, does not run wide. There is no way
around the cartridge-only filling system being a major minus for those preferring internal mechanisms, but the cool way
in which the system operates, makes up for this a bit. For a lover of the early safeties and a modern Montblanc collector,
this pen is a must: I encourage you to get it before it is no longer available at all. And those of you who have one, but
don't use it due to the cartridge system (you know who you are) -- I encourage you to give it a try.
Hope you enjoyed the review,
Edited by QM2, 26 January 2009 - 04:06.