Sunday, December 27, 2015

MONTBLANC MEISTERSTUCK 146 'LEGRAND' FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
I've never been a huge fan of Montblanc pens. A rather bold statement to start a review about a Montblanc pen with, but it's true. I know there are a lot of people out there that love their white-starred pens, and there's nothing wrong with that. But at the same time, I know that at least a part of those people love Montblanc just BECAUSE it has that white star logo. MB has always been a bit of a status symbol. If you want to show that you mean serious business, you need a Montblanc pen.

I don't necessarily have anything against that, in essence, it's the same as buying a Porsche, a Rolex, or a pair of designer shoes, just because it looks fancy. I'd buy a porsche too if I could. No, the real 'issue' here, is that Montblanc pens never gave me that WOW-feeling... If I see a Porsche driving by, I stare at it, and say 'wow, that's a nice car!'. If I buy a nice, good quality pair of shoes, I can positively feel the difference in comfort. But so far, every time I saw, or tried a Montblanc fountain pen, it didn't grab my attention, and it definitely never wowed me!
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
Yet, as a blogger, it's almost inevitable: at some point I had to review a Montblanc pen, and that time is now. I got a Montblanc Meisterstück 146 -also known as the 'LeGrand'- fountain pen on loan from the lovely people over at Penworld, so let's see if it can persuade me this time around...

I must say, straight out of the box, I wasn't thoroughly impressed. With the price in mind -roughly 600 EUR, give or take- I couldn't help but find the unboxing experience slightly underwhelming. The pen comes in a pretty standard black 'faux-leather' clamshell box, held in place with an -admittedly very soft- piece of fabric lining that cradles the pen. With the prestige and 'grandeur' associated with MB, I expected more, to say the least.Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
When comparing to two similarly priced recent purchases (Omas Paragon and Delta Dolcevita Oversize), I couldn't help but think the clamshell box didn't fit in. Packaging is only a small part, and some people don't care about boxes at all. But if you ask me, packaging reflects the amount of attention to detail, and pride of a brand. If you look at Omas' boxes, you'll see that they are proud of what they make, otherwise they wouldn't put that much effort into their packaging.

I missed that feeling here...

I hear some of you thinking: But couldn't it be that , instead of wasting time and money on packaging, MB focuses on the actual product instead,... Well don't get me wrong, it's a nice pen and in certain areas it has wonderful amount of detail put into it. But when looking into more detail, it still lacks in certain areas.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
For example, tolerances aren't perfect all the way around. The clip ring doesn't sit flush with the fineal (most likely due to the curvature of the cap at that point, but I'm sure they could've figured out a way to work around that by now). I also found a strange gap between the decorative ring and the piston knob, as if it wouldn't close all the way. Finally, there's also a noticeable bit of play when the cap is closed. On the positive side, the cap not being as tight, does mean that it doesn't marr up the barrel, in contrast to some other resin pens (such as Pelikans).

A positive aspect would be that the 'precious' resin (the MB way of saying plastic, basically just plain resin) is actually really durable. In my experience, it's nearly impossible to keep resin pens -especially black ones- from scuffing up. But the 146 still looks as new after a few weeks of use, which is already quite impressive. Overall, apart from the two or three small flaws I could find, it's a well-built pen, and it feels quite solid. But I can't say that it relfects what a 600 euro pen should look like, the build quality is good, but nothing out of the ordinairy.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
The Meisterstück range is probably one of the most universally known pens. It's a simple, cigar-shaped pen, with a taper at both ends. It has a simple clip, and a nicely engraved center band accompanied by two smaller gold-plated rings. Of course, the ever-so famous white six-pointed star is also present on the cap fineal, which gives a nice contrast to the piano black 'precious' resin and gold trims. I'd dare to say that the design of the Meisterstück is somewhat bland and boring. But really that's just because we've gotten used to it because it's such a timeless, classic design, copied by a lot of other brands.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
When uncapping the 146, you'll immediately notice the ink window. It's definitely one of the most functional ink windows I've seen in a long time. It lets in a lot of light, and it's actually large enough to see how much ink is left, in contrast to the Lamy 2000 for example, which has one of the most unusable ink windows.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
The section is relatively short for such a sizeable pen (I'll come back to the dimensions later), with remarkably similar dimensions to the Pelikan Souverän M800. The threads are somewhat noticeable, depending on wether or not the threads rest on your middle finger. The transition from section to threads seems to be slightly more pronounced than on the M800. I'd prefer the M800 for comfort, but it's a close call.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
Overall dimensions are pretty similar to the M800 as well, except that it's a bit longer, and less wide (or at least it feels less girthy due to the tapered shape). It's a sizeable pen, at 14.5cm long capped (5 11/16 Inch), and 12.6cm uncapped (just under 5 Inches). It posts at 16.2cm (6 5/16 Inches), which is still usable, but it's more than long enough to be comfortable unposted.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
L to R: Lamy 2000, MB 146, Pelikan M805, Delta Dolcevita OS.
Width is approximately 15mm (3/5 Inch) around the cap band, and 13mm around the widest part of the barrel. It looks deceivingly small in person, due to that tapered shape, but the numbers speak for themselves: this is not a small pen. One thing that really isn't at large as I expected, is the nib. It's just a little under #6 sized, but it just really looks undersized compared to the rest of the pen.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
The 14k gold, two-tone nib is something different, to say the least. It's a beautiful nib, easily one of the more intricately designed ones I've come across. The design gives it a bit of a vintage vibe, with very small and precise engravings and scrollwork. As for how it writes, I'll have to come back to my explanation of different nib styles: the MB is definitely part of the second category: the more balanced, fine-tuned nibs that are made to write at all times, instead of being overpolished to give the smoothest possible writing experience. The medium nib gives a noticeable amount of feedback , not scratchy, but there's definitely some drag on the page.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
I mentioned that I prefer smoother nibs in general, even if that means that it'll be a bit more finnicky. There's no denying, however, that a well-balanced nib like this also has its benefits: it just works! I've used a couple of nibs similar to this (Graf Von Faber-Castell, St.Dupont,...), and they all share the ability to not skip at all. You pick it up, it starts writing, simple. Maybe it's that reliability what people love about Montblanc pens? Anyway, it's definitely a good writer, with excellent moderate flow, and a nice true to size line width. Really the only issue I could find here, is that it might take some time to get used to the feedback when coming from something really smooth like a Pelikan.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review
But now comes the difficult question: Would you recommend the Montblanc Meisterstück 146? To be honest, I don't really know... There's something charming and attractive about these pens. And as a collector, I should at least own one, right? My only real gripe is that there are so many other options that offer 'more' pen for the buck. You could get a nice presentation, exotic design or amazing build quality (Where the MB doesn't really offer any of these three things).

I don't think I'd buy one right away, but I think I start to understand what is so attractive about Montblanc's offerings (apart from the white star prestige!): Reliability! As I mentioned earlier, I don't need a pen that writes flawlessly, I seek something a bit more exciting. If you do prefer a consistent writing experience over anything, and you want the attire of writing with a white star, then perhaps you might want to take a look at Montblanc's offerings. For a mere 600 EUR, you can get one. Peanuts, right?

Note: Penworld Supports this blog. I was able to get this pen on loan, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared here are completely my own! This review does not contain any affilate links.
Montblanc Meisterstück 146 LeGrand fountain pen review

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