I bought my Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 some 11 years ago. To be candid, the motivation behind the purchase had been vanity – plain and simple. Believing (erroneously) that I was an up-and-coming manager, a Montblanc, was to me, an item of necessity. After all, you weren’t quite accepted into the domain of Malaysian ‘manager-dom’ you didn’t have a Montblanc sticking out of your breast pocket. So I forked out my RM690 (mind you, this was in 1996) and took my Montblanc home, smugly assured that my transition into the world of ‘manager-dom’ was finally complete.
In other words, at that point in time, I saw the Montblanc not as a fine writing instrument per se, but more as a badge of honour.
Now that I no longer have any use for badges of honour of any kind, I have re-evaluated my estimation of the Montblanc. It no longer carries the mystique it once had, a mystique bestowed upon it by a highly effective marketing department. Its value to me now simply boils down to its performance as a writing instrument.
First of all, aesthetically, the Meisterstuck 149 is a strikingly beautiful instrument. To say that it is an icon would be an understatement. Its classic torpedo-shape, in most people’s minds, practically define what fine fountain pens should look like. It is not uncommon for someone who is presented with an equally stellar pen from another maker to declare either “That looks just like a Montblanc!” or “That doesn’t look like a Montblanc at all!” Either way, at least in the looks department, it is evident that most people measure other pens against the Meisterstuck.
Dimension and Aesthetics
And even within the stable of Montblanc pens, the Meisterstuck 149 is epitome of things Montblanc. Mention a Montblanc, the first image that pops into most people’s minds will be the Meisterstruck: Not the Boheme, not the Skywalker but the Meisterstuck.
Montblanc’s propaganda states that the body of the pen is made from something they call ‘precious plastic’. Just what this means exactly, escapes me. Personally, I have taken this to mean that it is made from a material that doesn’t lose its lustre and shine even after years of use. I have had my 149 for about 11 years and it still looks as it did when I first took it home. Over the years, it has not lost its shine even in the slightest. Pretty amazing, really.
The 149 is a BIG pen. At the risk of sounding sexist, the 149 is a man-sized pen. Capped, it measures 15 centimetres while posted it measures 16.5 centimetres. The barrel diameter of this pen stands at a whopping 1.4 centimetres. This, of course, is plenty big. So, unless you’re Andre the Giant (my age is showing here), this pen should be big enough for almost anyone. But if you have smallish hands (like me), the 149 may prove to be a handful. But if you subscribe to the thinking that bigger is better, the 149 is right up your alley.
Filling Mechanism and Nib Characteristics
The nib that originally came with my 149 was a medium. It was a two-tone, 18K gold affair that just takes your breath away. The feel of the nib is not at all rigid. However, it is not, strictly speaking, a flex nib either. The nib is reminiscent of nibs found in high-end Pelikans: a small amount of flex can be discerned and enjoyed when using the pen.
But since I subsequently discovered that I used the 149 almost exclusively for signing documents, I had it changed to a broad nib. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Montblanc didn’t charge me for this! It goes without saying that the nib wrote smoothly and faultlessly, producing beautiful bold, wet lines that transforms my signatures into something more visually palatable than what they would be otherwise.
The149 uses piston-type filling system. This provides for clean and simple in filling – just twist the end of the barrel. Regular readers will know that this is my favoured filling system. What else can I say?
When talking about the 149, I can’t help but feel like Jeremy Clarkson did when he reviewed the Peugeot 407 (or was it some other Peugeot?) This was what he had to say:
“BREAKDOWN IN STYLE!”
That about sums up my experience with the 149. Early on, for some unknown reason, the clip of my 149 got all tarnished and corroded. OK, Montblanc replaced it. But it took almost three weeks. Then, all sorts of other horrors developed. The biggest problem was the 149′s over-generous inkflow. I like bold, wet lines. But the inflow I got from the 149 got to the point of being ridiculous. The pen laid down such wet lines that the writing bled onto the next page. And this wasn’t entirely the paper’s fault. No matter what paper I wrote on (100 gram paper excepted), the problem persisted. Finally, after several years, I discovered Pelikan 4001 inks. This alleviated the problem and I was a happy camper for a while.
After that, the ruddy thing began other sorts of inflow problems, like suddenly going dry even though I had used it only a few hours ago. This can be rather embarrassing at meetings with clients. Everyone is eying your beautiful 149. You finally whip it out to write something only to find out the thing has gone on strike. Nothing is more ridiculous than having a very expensive pen that refuses to write. But I’ll admit that this is not quite as ridiculous as owning a Peugeot that won’t move.
Any other horrors? Well, there are two more, really. Sometimes, when it decides to write, I am often faced with a starting problem: no inkflow for the first few strokes. Call me obsessive compulsive if you must, but I find this problem utterly infuriating. Perhaps I wouldn’t mind so much if it were a Kilometrico. But this thing is a Montblanc!
The final straw came when it started leaking. So I have retired the 149 for now – at least, until I can find someone at the Montblanc boutique who will believe that I am a Montblanc owner and help me in getting the 149 repaired.