Today I am slightly on the luxury path because I want to introduce you to the Heritage Rouge et Noir line by Montblanc. Here I focus on the fountain pen(s) exclusively (and skipping e.g. the ball pens etc.). A friend of mine lent me the Coral and I contribute with the Tropic Brown which I purchased in Hamburg last summer. The collection is completed by a black coloured pen (which has no specific name – at least I didn’t found something on the MB-website related to this). I concentrate here on the models I have access to.
What makes these pens so special? Well, for me it their style in combination with one of the softest nibs I have ever seen. The last point, however, means not too much, since I have not so much experience with fountain pens and their nibs. Actually, I own a couple of fountain pens, but most of it are modern products (which is not necessarily bad but I am sure I lack the great writing experience of many vintage pens as well as many modern ones, though). The nib of both pens, as well as others of this collection, behaves the same in terms of softness and writing experience. The back of the nib is flat (not rounded like many other nibs known from MB or Pelikan etc.). Due to this, the nib bends a bit and makes the writing soft or springy (I am sorry, but I have no better words for it). But there is almost no flex, no spreading of the tines, that is. You obtain not more line variation by pressure than by any other more regular modern nib from MB. The point is, it doesn’t feel like a nail.
Both pens, the Coral and the Tropic Brown, showing a bit feedback while writing, they do not glide over the paper absolutely smoothly. But this might be also dependent upon paper or ink. Also the polishing of the nib has an influence on this.
The pen I lent (the Coral) is equipped with an oblique medium nib, the Tropic Brown carries an oblique broad nib. In internet shops as well as in the Montblanc Boutique the Heritage Collection you can choose between a fine nib or a medium nib, only. In case you prefer oblique nibs or broader (B, BB) you have to send it to Hamburg for a nib exchange. You can not take away a pen with a non-F or M nib directly, that is. The nib exchange can take 2 weeks plus shipping time. Anyway, the nib looks gorgeous! It is quite small (almost same size as the MB Meisterstück 144), shows the imprint of a snake (very similar to that of the Writers Edition Agatha Christie) and has a triangular breather hole. The overall design of the pen is skinny but elegant. Everything (nib, section, barrel, twisting turning knob) is well proportionated.
The Heritage Rouge et Noir line offers also a black pen. The main difference between the black one, the Coral and the Tropic Brown is the colour as well as little details on the cap, the clip, the nib, and the surface of the barrel. The cap of the black version, has an orange finial, a bit more simplified clip where the snake eyes lacking the gems. The nib is unicolour, rhodinated. The section is matted. This version is the cheapest of the three („cheap” has another meaning in the Montblanc universe, for sure …). The Coral, is unicolour – everything is in this orange tone. The nib is rhodinated, but the area of the snake imprint is gold coloured. The snake clip is „aged” with an artificial patina or taint. The eyes of the snake include green stones (very tiny little gems). The section is matted like the black version). The Tropic Brown has an orange finial which fits very good to the brown tone of the rest. The clip and the nib (as well as the shiny/polished section show an champaign gold tone. The nib is unicolour, the snake clip shows dark gems.
All three models have in common that the barrel and the section are of metal, whereas the cap and the twisting turning knob are of plastic. Here comes the first little draw back, since it turns out that there is a slight colour difference between the plastic parts and the metal part – at least in the Coral. The plastic knob and the cap are a little bit more pale than the barrel (metal). It is not a substantial difference, but it is visible under most light conditions (except if the light is switched off ;-).
A very nice feature is the vintage looking Montblanc logo on the cap. Also the very big but slightly beige coloured star/snow cap on the finial.
Two other objective flaws I have also to report: the threads for the cap (which are located very close to the nib at the section – usually they are located between section and barrel), is prone to collect dirt (ink remains). This is more valid for the Coral (with its matted section and threads) than for the Tropic Brown. Another not too positive thing is, both pens carry a very low amount of ink: 0,6ml that is. I find it a bit weak … In fountainpennetwork.com I found a thread where somebody was stating, these pens were no „real” piston-pens rather than converter pens (built in converter). It was demonstrated with pictures of a disassembled fountain pen. Well, ok this is something I do not care too much about. The low ink capacity bothers me more. A regular converter contains eventually up to 1ml of ink …
The pens are not postable at all and show no ink window. The plastic feed is the same as for the Meisterstück 144.
Here I want to show you some other fountain pens to compare the Heritage R&N with. In terms of size it is quite obvious that the R&N is a very skinny pen, on the section close to the threads it has a diameter of ca. 8mm, close to the transition to the barrel a bit less than 10mm. Due to its metal barrel and section it weighs 35g (with a bit ink) compared to a modern Meisterstück 146 with 27g (also with a bit ink). Actually the Heritage R&N Line has much in common with the Noblesse Line from Montblanc (late 70s to mid 90s). The length and the girth is comparable. Also, the nib performance (flat nib which bends up but not spreads so much).
In terms of nib grinding, the oblique nibs of the R&N behave as expected. But one has to consider, line widths can differ very much within the same nib grade (not only because of the obliqueness).
The pens come in a white sleeve covering a red-black paper-box. The pen case itself is the standard-case MB usually provides. The booklet is a bit more special. It holds the red-black (rouge et noir) colour scheme and contains some pretty illustrations (following the colour scheme). It says something about the history and the origin of the Heritage Collection. At the end there is the more or less usual part of maintanance and warranty. Quite nice, if you ask me …
Both of the pens are a joy to look at as well as a joy to write with. They are looking very special in terms of clip design and colour. Although they are very fancy they keep their elegance due to the slim and long shape. They are quite usable but on the heavy side. But if they would be much lighter it would be – at least for me – very difficult to hold them and to write with them over a longer period of time. But this is something one has to consider for themself.
- quite unpretentious but fancy design (at least for me) in terms of colour and colour combinations (eg. orange colour of the finial together with brown or the green gems together with the orange colour)
- very soft nib experience (at least for 2 of 2 pens)
- fantastic oblique grinding (for me, not for those who prefer a regular nibs)
- heavy – in terms that one holds something in hands which is not too light for its size
- low ink capacity
- no ink window
- colour inconsistancy (Coral)
- not postable (for people who not post no problem, but for those who do, it is)
- anything other than f or m not immediately purchasable rather than sending it for nib exchange
- very expensive