This Just In: Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black on eagle standThe Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand was my second fountain pen day pen purchase although it didn’t arrive until the end of November. So it’s my newest fountain pen and my first Montblanc.

Despite being my favorite ink brand their pens have never interested me. Or, more accurately, the pens that did interest me were far more than I wanted to pay. The exception being either the 146 or 149 which are their classic pens. Years and years ago I bought into the view that Montblanc is an overpriced status symbol, but that changed. While fountain pen value and price is a topic for discussion I don’t view Montblanc differently than Visconti and other high-end pens.

I first viewed the Ultra Black at the Washington DC pen show in August and I liked the pen but it was more than I wanted to pay for one pen. Even back in August it was cheaper in Europe but still more than I want to pay. It stayed on my list but with Montblanc’s policy against advertising discounts it just kind of languished there and I didn’t anticipate a price drop.

Then fountain pen day came around and Appelboom was offering a 16% discount site-wide. I headed to the site to browse and started with Visconti but didn’t find anything. When I got to the Montblanc fountain pens I found them to be significantly cheaper than US prices, a bigger difference than Visconti and other brands. Add the exchange rate and FPD discount to that lower price and it was significantly less expensive. I pulled the trigger and bought one with a oblique medium nib.

Appelboom customer service was terrific. They handled the nib exchange to get me the oblique medium. This did add a couple weeks to the delivery time but saved me the hassle. I was kept informed of the progress. There wasn’t an added shipping charge and it was sent Fedex. Fedex got the pen on a Tuesday in Amsterdam and delivered it three days later on Friday, exactly three weeks after I ordered it. Not bad for free international shipping. There wasn’t any added customs charge. (I won’t claim it as fact since the official US Customs website isn’t easy to navigate, but some quick web research shows there’s no US customs duty on fountain pens valued under $800USD and this pen was well under that amount.)

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand packaging from AppelboomAppelboom’s attention to detail was impressive. The pen was in it’s regular box but was then wrapped in additional paper. It was plain black paper, but gift wrap type paper. Naturally the warranty card was filled out. The package also contained a postcard with a Montblanc pen image, a Appelboom branded notepad, a keychain, and best of all, a package of tasty Dutch cookies (well, the packaging was in Dutch so I assume the cookies were too, they tasted like ginger snaps).

The Montblanc packaging itself, while classy, was underwhelming. I expected something more substantial. The pen was in a clamshell box with a black exterior and a white interior. The box sat inside a larger cardboard sleeve which also held the instruction/warranty book. It’s not a complaint since packaging doesn’t improve a pen, just surprising.

Montblanc Ultra Black LeGrand in box

The pen itself seems well built. It feels solid and has a good fit and finish except for the cap threads. The threads are smooth until the very end where I have to give the cap and little extra twist to be sure it’s tight. It did come loose once when I didn’t give it this extra effort. I’ve had the pen less than a month so I can’t speak to durability. The matte black finish and ruthenium coating could be prone to wearing off or scratching, although there’s no signs of either so far.

It’s a matter of personal taste, but I do like the overall dark design of the pen, there’s a bit of contrast between the matte resin and the shiny ruthenium trim. It’s a little thing, and not unique to this pen, but I really love the look of the ink window, it’s not the standard sheet of clear plastic.

The first ink for this piston filler was obvious, Montblanc Bordeaux. Filling was easy and the piston movement was smooth. The oblique medium nib is a left oblique which fits the way I normally hold a pen, so there’s no adjustment needed. The nib is smooth and the ink flow has been problem free which I would expect from any Montblanc pen, but especially one that went in for a nib exchange.

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black oblique medium nibThe nib makes this a pen I’ll use for sit down writing sessions, not on-the-go note taking. I have found this nib a little less forgiving than some other pens with oblique nibs when it comes to paper and pen position. Like I said, the nib fits my natural pen grip, but if the paper isn’t perfectly flat on a solid surface it won’t make good contact and will skip. For example, if my notebook is open and I’m writing on the left side when it’s not able to lay perfectly flat there will be curve to the page or even a little cushion to the paper. I can’t really fault the pen for this, but it has resulted in occasions where picked another pen just to be safe.

Montblanc Meisterstück LeGrand Ultra Black in the handThe section seemed short to me at first but it’s the same size as my Pelikan M805, and many other pens. The rest of the pen is also about the same size as the M805. I’ve been using pens with longer sections lately and was acclimated to them. My fingers do touch the threads but they don’t bother me. The piston knob is metal but doesn’t adversely affect the balance for me. If I hadn’t held the pen at the DC show I would have been concerned with this, but the pen rests comfortably in my hand. I don’t post pens, but I did try this one posted. I did not like the balance when posted, it felt top heavy to me. But that’s the opinion of someone who posts very few of my pens and never ones of this size.

I’ve yet to clean the pen so I can’t comment on how hard or easy it is, although I don’t think cleaning a piston filler is ever easy. Nib removal is not an option, but that isn’t a concern to me since I dislike removing nibs just to clean a pen, even when it is possible. I’ll probably just refill it with Montblanc Bordeaux when It does go dry so it’ll be awhile before I have to deal with it.

It’s getting to be nearly a month with this pen. The nib does limit how often I use it since I find it more suitable to use it at a solid desk or table. This isn’t completely unexpected but the nib is a bit more finicky than I did expect. I often write on a lap desk (pictured in this post) and this is just unstable enough to take the pleasure out of using this pen. At a solid desk or table the Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand is a joy to use.

It’s still got that new pen glow, but I’d have to say I’m happy with my first Montblanc.

 

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