Montblanc has opened a new 2,000 square-foot retail location at 717 Burrard Street. Writing instruments of course, but watches, fine jewellery, and leather accessories for men and women are also available.
President of Montblanc North America Jan-Patrick Schmitz was in Vancouver, and took some time to talk about the brand and its now significant presence in this city. “I’m very familiar with Vancouver. I can tell you, when I drove in today, it’s such a different and vibrant city. I mean it was a great town already, but boy did it change over the last 20 years. The energy here is amazing.” After opening two years ago in Montreal, Vancouver was on the Montblanc radar even more acutely. “Montblanc started over 100 years ago with writing instruments. We make the best writing instruments in the world; they are very artistic, crafted, beautiful products. They are really jewels that happen to write, and happen to measure time.”
While the company is steeped in tradition, they have adapted nicely to the tidal wave of technology. “It’s an interesting point about digital. What we sell is truly traditional, it’s 150 years old. And I believe a huge success story of Montblanc is that even in this high-tech, high-touch world we live in, as things become more and more digital, people look for things to slow down, to preserve the moment.”
In that spirit, Montblanc is partially about helping customers find the right pen; in 2011 the company introduced a bespoke nib service. “Every nib in a fountain pen is handmade, I mean our pen is handmade, but the tip on the top is hand ground. Our master craftsmen and craftswomen in Germany—we are a German-based company, we’ve never moved, and we still only produce our pens in Germany, watches in Switzerland, leather in Italy—actually craft the nib by the sound of the nib scratching. It’s very manual, they actually hear when the pen is perfect. It’s quite amazing actually. And prior to a year ago, if you ordered a made-to-order nib, you had to sit down with a craftsman or craftswoman, and that person would see you write. Now technology allows us to create a pad, like a tablet, where with a very special Montblanc pen you would write and it would record key characteristics of your handwriting–speed, angle, pressure—and out of it comes a report. This report goes to Hamburg, they can study and read the numbers. Now, our craftsmen are trained to not just to listen and look, but to read these numbers.” The result is a unique writing instrument, made to order, made specifically for each individual customer. It is worth a visit to the Montblanc boutique, to see for yourself.