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Luxury fillers and high-end watches
The Pilot Watch Magazine
11 March 2024

From expert in luxury writing instruments to respected watch manufacturer

The history of Montblanc begins at the beginning of the last century in Berlin, when the German engineer August Eberstein starts producing fountain pens in 1906 to sell them to stationers in Hamburg and Berlin. During a stay in America, Eberstein was already able to gain a wealth of experience in the production of writing instruments and to apply for various patents in this field. He was supported in the export of his products by the German merchant Alfred Nehemias, who had spent a long time in England.

In his search for further investors, Alfred Nehemias made contact with the Hamburg entrepreneur Johannes Voß, who was enthusiastic about the new writing instrument. Voß wanted to act as a silent partner for the time being and found another backer in his wealthy neighbor Max Koch. Finally, in 1907, the Simplo Filler Pen Co. Max Koch was founded and entered in the Hamburg Commercial Register at the beginning of 1908. The name Simplo was intended to emphasize the ease of use of the fountain pens produced.

A symbol of the highest quality and craftsmanship

The high functional quality of the writing instruments ensured such good sales figures that even companies established on the market such as Mars Staedtler and Faber-Castell had their fountain pens manufactured by Simplo. Under the management of Johannes Voß, the steadily growing company trades under its new name Montblanc for the first time in 1910. Later, the rounded white star that is still familiar today is registered as a trademark and adorns all of the writing instrument manufacturer’s products from 1914 onwards. The logo stylizes the snow-covered peak of Montblanc and is emblematic of the highest quality and craftsmanship. Montblanc’s headquarters, including its production facilities, are still located in Hamburg, although the company itself has been part of the Richemond Group, a Swiss luxury goods group, since 1993.

To bring a Montblanc watch to life requires knowledge acquired over centuries, decades of experience, years of development and hundreds of hours of dedicated work.


A new chapter in the company’s history begins

Montblanc opened the new chapter of its watchmaking history rather late, in 1997 to be precise, with the presentation of its first collection. At the start, the elegant timepieces reflect the aesthetics of Montblanc writing instruments, followed later by sportier examples, Bauhaus-style watches, chronometers with a wide variety of complications – including pilot watches, of course – and even smartwatches. An old villa in the Swiss industrial town of Le Locle is chosen as the production site. The special feature: The new production facility was built in 1906, the same year that Montblanc’s history begins in Berlin.

Montblanc and Minerva

In 2006, Montblanc’s parent company Richemond Group acquires the small fine Swiss watch manufactory Minerva, based in Villeret in the Bernese Jura, and incorporates it into the company as a subsidiary. The manufacture has its own hand-wound and chronograph calibers and produces particularly high-quality mechanical watches in the upper price segment. Minerva was founded in Villeret as early as 1858 and is still based there today. The watchmaker gained fame at the beginning of the last century through the production of particularly innovative and professional chronographs as well as through its outstanding hairsprings – essential for an absolutely precise movement. Since its incorporation into the new group of companies, the Institut Minerva de Recherche en Haute Horlogerie Minerva – as Minerva is now known – has been producing timepieces under the Montblanc flag. The luxury watches are developed with great attention to detail and are predominantly handcrafted. The selection ranges from exclusive entry-level models to high-end watches.

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A brand in permanent motion