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I had a short haul flight and went over the duty free catalogue on Swiss Airlines. This section on Montblanc pens stuck out at me because of its wording. Each pen was described as being made of ‘black precious resin’. Click on the image if you want to see a larger version.
So what does black precious resin actually mean? One would presume some form of black shiny plastic, which doesn’t seem quite so precious. Now the use of plastic isn’t a bad thing in pen manufacture. For instance fellow German writing instrument manufacturers Pelikan and Kaweco both make writing instruments out of plastic, but they also don’t charge over 300 pounds for a ballpoint pen.
Plastic feels thoroughly modern. It defined the post-war world and accelerated further with globalisation. Black precious resin isn’t particularly rare in itself like ebony wood or precious metals.
What the black precious resin explanation misses is the real elements at the heart of Montblanc’s authenticity:
- History: Montblanc is actually over a century old as a firm
- Country brand: It’s pens are still made in Germany, so it can take advantage of the German country brand: precision manufacturing excellence and craftsmanship
- Craftsmanship: making a pen write smoothly is an art, too much ink and you will get splodges. A badly designed nib or ballpoint mechanism will scratch the paper, deliver the ink unevenly and even stain the writer
- Design: One of the reasons why Montblanc managed to upset A.T. Cross in the market for luxury pens because their pen design feels much better in the hand because of its fuller barrel size
But none of these factors are reflected in the description of the Montblanc pens featured in the duty-free catalogue, instead we get smoke-and-mirrors which engenders distrust and makes for an authenticity FAIL.