Montblanc has been giving Antoine de Saint-Exupery a lot of love in the past year with a Writer’s Edition release in 2017 and now this new Le Petit Prince collection. Is it worth picking up? I’ll answer that in my review, but first, some background of how this pen ended up in my hands.
Love at first sight…
From the moment I laid eyes on the Le Petit Prince in the e-shop of my pen store of choice, I knew that I would be purchasing one and did so almost immediately. This is likely different to how many others purchase their fountain pens.
Most people I’m sure apply some rationality or logic to their fountain pen purchases. After all we are talking about writing instruments that are most certainly a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’. Usually there are hours spent pouring over reviews, checking specifications, grainy photo’s from enthusiasts or tarted up marketing shots, um’ing and ah’ing over the price, all leading to the ‘live with’ or ‘live without it’ decision.
And some times in particular, along comes a pen which tells logic to shove off. The pen instantly connects with you and the evaluation of practicality, price and aesthetics all compute in a fraction of a second to match your heart rate. This was the case for me adding this stunning dark blue resin LeGrand to my online cart within a few minutes of seeing it for the first time. Now I hear what you are probably thinking when you read that – “But why? Isn”t it just a tarted up LeGrand?”. Well, yes and no. The main reasons for me were:
- It’s blue. It’s made of resin. It’s a LeGrand size Montblanc. As shallow as that seems, I’ve been waiting for a non-metal LeGrand sized blue pen for quite some time. Sure there have been variations of this concept, but none executed with a simple design in mind – more on that later.
- I have my own special connection with Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s work and in particular with the Little Prince. Most of us will have an emotional connection to different themed pens at some point, and quite frankly it’s difficult to explain. I see great interest from pen aficionados in Montblanc special editions like the Proust, Einstein and various Patron Of the Arts models, for very good reasons, and for me personally I can’t say I feel the same as they do. I do know however, that pulling out and using a pen that reminds you of something profound is only going to be a winner in that person’s mind. So for me, this made the purchase decision easy.
Purchase decision aside, let’s see what is different about this pen to the regular LeGrand fountain pen line and go through the features of the pen.
Full Name: Montblanc Meisterstuck Le Petit Prince & Fox LeGrand (Phew!)
Colour: Night blue
Materials: Resin barrel and cap, platinum trim, the clip has a yellow lacquered star
Nib Size & Material: Factory Extra Fine 14 karat 585 gold rhodium coated nib.
Filling Mechanism: Piston filler with ink window (yay!)
Measurements: 146mm capped, 126mm uncapped. Posts securely. Weighs 32 grams capped with a fill of ink.
Price: RRP $900USD – street price can be had for less
Available: Just released (April 2018), special edition so not being made forever.
This model is part of a broader release of the Le Petit Prince collection which includes Classique and LeGrand Solitaire fountain pens, ballpoints and rollerballs. There is also a special edition Le Petit Prince ink that is orange and a gorgeous (but 75 euro!) notebook.
- The resin – Let’s start with one of the best features of the pen here, the luscious dark blue resin. Montblanc describes it in the marketing materials as ‘night-blue’ resin and I feel this is both a great name and colour. The material ranges from a dark blue, hints of black and purple depending on the lighting. It is mysterious, beautiful and in keeping with the Little Prince theme beautifully
- The cap – The cap features what Montbalnc describes as ‘a delicate engraving of stylised fox heads’. I appreciate the foxes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but they have been drawn playfully in my opinion and don’t intrude the overall aesthetic of the pen too much. The engravings themselves are reasonably shallow though deep enough to get the tip of one’s fingernail in there. Thankfully, they are not filled engravings as I feel this would have totally wrecked the aesthetic
- The cap top engraving – A quote from the fox in French adorns the top of the cap closest to the Montblanc logo. It reads “To establish ties? … To me, you will be unique in all the world”. Again, very much in keeping with the theme.
- The clip – The clip is similar to the regular LeGrand except that it adorned with a small yellow lacquered star on the end. The star is stylized and resembles the illustrations. Montblanc describes it’s purpose on the pen as ‘a reminder of laughter in the stars’
- The piston turning knob – As separate to the regular line of LeGrand’s, the piston turning knob is made from metal and not resin (no idea if ‘platinum coated’ extends to this item). We see this feature on the solitaire versions of the LeGrand perhaps in fitting with its special edition status. This most definitely adds a small amount of weight and affects the balance of the pen.
- The nib – Featuring a most stunning engraving on this nib picturing the Little Prince and his friend the fox. A beautiful depiction of the characters that do justice to the illustrations. I had mine swapped to an Extra Fine size and it performs beautifully, more on that later.
Do all of those elements come together to form a beautiful writing instrument worthy of my instant purchase? Let’s find out…
What Makes It
Classic proportions and writing experience. There is no denying that the regular Montblanc LeGrand is going to suit the majority of fountain pen users for writing comfort. It is large but not oversized. Solidly constructed but not heavy. It uses a piston filler but is well balanced. In short, there is a lot worse you could do than a LeGrand for extended writing periods or short note taking. The Le Petit Prince alters this formula ever so slightly with the metal piston turning knob that adds a few grams to the weight but it retains all of the features you have come to know and love like a large ink capacity, sturdy clip and useable ink window. The cap and barrel of the Le Petit Prince are also ever so slightly longer than the regular LeGrand which may be a bonus or not depending on your hand size. I feel the details added to the Le Petit Prince do not detract from the regular LeGrand writing experience and unlike many other special editions, do not add aesthetically pleasing elements at the expense of comfort.
Details, they work. Earlier in the review I went through the laundry list of details and features this pen boasts to commemorate the theme. Does the pen try too hard? In my opinion, when viewed in the flesh, no. All of the design elements largely walk that fine line of too much versus too little, but all in all, I think Montblanc chose the right elements to showcase on the pen without going overboard. It is also immediately clear when viewing this pen that the quality and execution of these details are first class. No bad manufacturing tolerances or quality issues to speak of.
Beauty. I’ve already told the story of how it was love at first sight for me with this pen, so you know my opinion, however I think it is important to point out how well the overall aesthetic comes together. The choice of night-blue resin paired with crisp platinum trimmings and nib provides a soothing visual experience. When capped, the metal band in the cap top matched with the metal turning knob is balanced and gives the pen a more elegant style.
It has passion in spades. The Le Petit Prince LeGrand will have different meaning for you if you grew up with or have read the book. With the elements featured by this pen, you will likely feel a connection every time you reach for the Le Petit Prince. Whether it’s the colour of the night sky, a reminder that you are unique, the laughter in the stars or the playful fox engraving on the cap, I certainly felt the passion in this Montblanc and one could not say it is boring. If you’ve not done so, I do suggest you read the book before considering this pen.
What’s Not So Great
Metal piston turning knob. I mentioned earlier that the metal piston turning knob adds a little bit of weight the regular LeGrand and adjusts the balance a little bit. Whilst this adds arguably a beautiful aesthetic, some people may not like the impact to the writing experience. I personally have not struggled with this when the pen is inked, but there is no way around the fact that this feature has adds a little ‘top heaviness’ to the pen. Just as there are some who hate metal sections on fountain pens, I’m sure there are those who will find this to be a turn off.
Could use more restraint.There are a number of design elements that have been added to the Le Petit Prince to carry the theme with conviction. Some may find this a little too busy and desire a little more design restraint. I myself was dubious about the cap engravings after I purchased the pen as from some angles in the photo’s they appeared to be prominent. Upon receiving it I was pleasantly surprised that they blend in nicely to the resin colour. It’s personal preference of course, and with a special edition I suppose there is pressure to differentiate the pen from the regular LeGrand without going overboard, but at the same time including enough elements to encourage purchase. For example, who hasn’t been disappointed with a ‘new release’ or ‘limited edition’ fountain pen being just a new colour with a jacked up price (*cough* LAMY Black Amber)? I get that Montblanc can’t win either way in this space, so I sympathize with the fact they have put their best foot forward here.
There are more to come – $$$!!! OK, I might be being a little facetious with this one. The Le Petit Prince collection kicks off with this release, which as mentioned above is part of a broader range, however Montblanc has stated their will be two more releases centered around the Little Prince book. This ‘trilogy’ as Montblanc describes it will include The Aviator and The Planet. I am hoping these new releases include new resin colours and not just new cap engravings. An orange or dark red resin release would be my pen nirvana, and I will likely be picking up the other two resin LeGrands if this is the case. So why is this a negative? Well, because my wallet feels a little aggrieved in advance 😉
So will you fall in love with this pen? Is it worth picking up? Isn’t it just a tarted up LeGrand?
Whilst I can’t answer the first question, I can certainly answer the last two.
Montblanc have surprised us here with a stealthy release of another tribute to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s work. Some serious thought and creativity went into this pen and I think it does The Little Prince justice. It presents many references that stoke imagination, fun and creativity when you reach for it that is difficult to find in many other fountain pens. Those differences to the regular LeGrand are reasonably significant without being over the top, and the price difference to the regular LeGrand isn’t as bad as other special edition pens released in recent years across all brands.
If you’ve read (and liked) the book, love the way the pen looks, and can live with a little extra weight from the piston turning knob I would say the pen is worth picking up. If you aren’t convinced about the aesthetics, a trip to the Montblanc boutique is in order to suss things out. I can honestly say the pen presents better in real life than in the marketing photos, and that indeed is quite rare.
Attached are some photo’s of the pen including a size comparison and writing sample (ink is Montblanc Midnight Blue) to help you decide.
Like the review? Questions, thoughts, feedback, suggestions? Comment below.