Montblanc's Rouge et Noir pens, part of the Heritage collection, take us back in time to one of their first pens to ever hit the market,110 years ago in 1906! I'll admit I'm usually not much of a Montblanc person, but when they come up with something interesting, I just have to take a closer look... and the Rouge et Noir collection classifies as 'interesting' without a doubt!
In 1906, pens were still mostly manufactured from ebonite (hard rubber). The current re-issue is divided in three 'tiers', two special editions made from precious resin, and a limited edition in hard rubber. The two pens I received on loan from Penworld to review are the 'cheaper' precious resin models, although knowing Montblanc, you'll understand that 'cheap' isn't exactly the term I should use.
They are quite something though, regardless of the price. I most likely won't spend this kind of money on them, but it's a unique, eye-catching pen for sure.
Both the black and red version of the Rouge et Noir are completely identical when it comes to the general design, but the small details are what sets them apart. The skinny, not-all-too-long design is typical for vintage pens. The colorways are also based on vintage pens, the black resin version has a coral red cap finial with a slightly off-white Montblanc star emblem embedded in it. The Coral red version is entirely made out of coral red 'precious' resin. Both colorways have a very vintage look and feel to them, both because of the overall design, and the materials used. The coral red resin plays a pretty big role in the appearance of the pen, even on the black version.
The most prominent design feature is of course the snake clip wrapped around the top of the cap. It's a big part of the marketing around this pen, and with reason because it's the first thing you notice about the Rouge et Noir. It's quite a stand-out feature, but definitey in a good way. The metal clip has a weathered appearance (similar to aged silver, yet it's not a silver clip) which is achieved through specialised galvanising methods (according to the MB website).
The prize difference between the two versions shows in the little details, such as the clip and the nib. The changes are small (The coral has small green (gem)stones as eyes in the snake clip, two-tone nib design, white-filled montblanc logo on the cap), but they do succeed in giving the pen a more luxurious and 'finished' appearance, making the black version look somewhat like a half-finished afterthought. It's a considerable price increase, but if I'd buy one, I'd go for the coral red model without a doubt.
If you're looking for a larger pen, the Rouge et Noir will not be for you. In fact, most complaints I've seen so far are about the rather dissapointing size. As I mentioned in the beginning, vintage pens that are usually not as large as modern ones. In that regard, Montblanc did a good job recreating the vintage design.
|Not as much the length, but the narrow profile is something not everyone will appreciate.|
For todays standards however, a lot of people will be dissapointed to find a pen that measures in at just 13.7cm closed, and 12.5cm open, with a profile of 1cm width at the cap, and just 0.85cm around the section. The length is not the real issue though, it's actually fairly average, and more than decent enough to fit most hands. But the skinny profile, especially at the section where it's not much thicker than a woodcased pencil, might put some people off. Being a special edition pen, I think most people would expect something a bit larger. I'm more used to larger pens myself, and I have to say it took quite a bit of getting used to something this slender. It's definitely usable, but it felt like my grip was a bit more cramped than it would with a bigger pen.
To my surprise, both versions are actually piston fillers. Being so slender and relatively small, I can imagine the ink capacity won't be much to write home about, and there's no ink window to keep track of how much ink is left. So in this case I think I would've actually preferred a C/C filling system for practical reasons. It's also worth noting that the barrels are actually metal, with what I presume is a layer of laquer over it to match the color of the rest of the pen (however you can see a slight color difference between barrel and cap on the Coral version). This gives the pen a noticeable amount of heft when you pick it up. It's by no means heavy, but it definitely feels solid in the hand, despite the smaller size.
To make up for the size, Montblanc once again delivers with a beautiful nib design. With the grand theme obviously being the snake, the 14k gold nib features a minimalistic depiction of a snake head. Especially on the Coral red version, with the two-tone nib, this design stands out. It's easily one of the most beautiful nibs I've come across.
Apart from the nib, another feature that shows upon uncapping the pen, is the metal grip section. It has a brushed finish that actually doesn't feel slippery while writing, and the threads are at the front of the section, instead of at the transition from section to barrel, which makes it a rather comfortable pen to hold, despite the lack of girth.
The small nib is the same design as found on the previous Heritage fountain pen, the 1912 safety filler. The 1912 was praised for being a bit soft and bouncy, I didn't really experience that with this nib, but it's an excellent nib nevertheless. In fact, of the three Montblanc pens I've reviewed so far (Montblanc 146, Montblanc M and this one), this is easily the best one. Both the medium and fine nib I tried were responsive but smooth, and had a rich, consistent flow. One thing I've noticed with all the Montblancs I've used, is that their nib sizes vary quite wildly. For example: the fine on the Coral R&N ran quite noticeably wider than the medium on both the 146 and the black R&N, whilst the fine nib on the Montblanc M wrote almost identical compared to said medium nibs. Consistency in line width doesn't seem to be their strong suit (in my experience, that is), but other than that I can't say anything bad about the way their nibs perform.
The black model retails for 630 EUR, while the Coral comes in at 760 EUR. That's by no means cheap, but it's already a bit less compared to the Heritage 1912, and for a Montblanc special edition it's probably as low as it's going to get. Is it worth it? If you can get over the skinny profile, I think it could be.
Penworld Supports this blog. I received these pens 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.