Montblanc: A Classic Tale
In Bangkok for the official opening of an entirely refurbished boutique and the launch of a special edition of the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince writing instrument, MATTHIEU DUPONT, president of Montblanc Southeast Asia, makes time for a chat to françois o
it’s just hours before the official opening of Montblanc’s new, revamped boutique in Siam Paragon, and the events team is running around to get everything ready for the big night. It’s going to be a double celebration; apart from the big reveal of the new boutique, Montblanc will also be celebrating the launch of the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Special Edition, a writing instrument inspired by Antoine de Saint-exupéry’s muchloved poetic tale.
With design elements based on Saint-exupéry’s hand-drawn illustrations, the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Special Edition evokes the themes of one of the world’s most translated novels – the power of imagination, friendship and the transmission of ideas to others. With its simple message that real wealth comes from giving to others, the edition reinforces the legendary Meisterstück’s status as a powerful and meaningful gift that creates lasting bonds between generations.
Montblanc has been at the forefront of creating exceptional writing instruments since 1906. why does this segment remain so important to you as a brand?
As much as we use technology today, and as much as Montblanc has evolved into other product categories, writing instruments still remain a growing category and is an integral part of our DNA. It might not be the fastest growing segment, but it is still growing with a single digit, year on year. Actually, in Thailand the growth has been double (digits). By far the fastest growing category for us is large leather goods. Interestingly enough, within the writing instrument category, what is growing the fastest – also in Thailand – is the high artistry instruments over 20,000 euros (around 760,000 Baht). But we also see an acceleration in instruments above 20,000 euros. We see an appetite for writing instruments that are very high-level. Another interesting point, if you look at the worldwide demand for writing instruments over one million euros (around
38 million Baht), there’s simply not enough supply. These are exceptional works of art more than anything else, really.
Last night I had an interesting conversation with a client and asked him why he collects so many writing instruments. He told me, “There is a sense of freedom I have in writing, because I do not wish to be a slave to technology.”
do you think there is a noticeable trend to vintage and classic design elements? Yes, definitely. There’s something beautiful about vintage. We get many enquiries about previous Patron of Arts creations with people wanting to know where they can find it. There seems to be a return to classic, although we have always been maintaining the elements of craftsmanship, which is still very much the same. When it comes to collectible items, there are more and more enquiries about previous writing instruments we produced. With regard to this we need to be careful, as we don’t want to be stuck in the past. If you look at the face of Montblanc today to where it was 10 years ago, you see a much more modern brand – there’s more emphasis on leather goods and watches and not just that stereotypical association with writing instruments.
as an investment, how viable are writing instruments, compared to watches and jewellery?
If you look at your classic Meisterstück, they will continue to appreciate in value of course, but at the end of the day I wouldn’t say that this is an investment piece – I would say that it’s more of a lifetime companion. However, there are writing instruments from Montblanc out there for which there is a very high demand, like the Charlie Chaplin. When you look at the value today, it is much higher than when we initially launched it. There are some commemorative anniversary editions which are fetching much higher prices today, too. And if you look at examples of special editions we launched last year, these are much sought-after today. In most cases we can only anticipate that the market prices for these will increase in the future, as demand grows. It’s also down to our capacity to manufacture – they are beautiful pieces and limited editions.
storytelling and luxury goes hand in hand, and in this case you have reinterpreted the classic tale of “the little prince”. why do you think this book holds such allure?
We all grew up with “The Little Prince” and the values it represents. It is one of the most translated books in the world, with more than 300 versions. Whether you’re a child or an adult, you read it in a very different way. It’s a beautiful story that appeals to all ages, genders, nationalities, races – it goes beyond borders. And it’s that universal tale that we wanted to interpret. Montblanc is a lifetime companion. The Little Prince is about companionship, difficulties in life, relationships, friendship and love. And these are things that are very important for us at Montblanc, too.
for this latest collection, did you use any new Materials or special craftmanship techniques that we haven’t seen before? From a technical standpoint we also had to take a different view, because it’s a dark blue colour – not the traditional black of the Meisterstück. This dark blue colour, which resembles the sky, is very difficult to achieve. The treatment is quite different, with the metal finishing and the fox that’s engraved on it. It’s the first instalment of three, and will definitely become a collectors item.
you have Modernised the brand with a whole new retail environment. how do you Manage to strike a perfect balance between Montblanc’s dna while at the same time being contemporary and current?
For us, fashion is not timeless. Instead we focus on the timeless, such as sartorial elements, colours and finishes – and there’s definitely a strong element of modernity. In our retail environment there’s now a different zoning of products, it’s a whole different retail experience. When you enter the boutique, you are met with the big back walls with leather goods. It’s a very new concept that reflects our modern approach. It’s in line with how we move with the times.