Armed with the artistry and labor of some of the finest maisons at Montblanc, the limited edition Hannibal Barca pen collection is by far the most gallant work of art ever produced by Montblanc. The German brand known for making indulgent writing instruments has exceeded expectations of luxury pen collectors with a phenomenally crafted limited edition collection inspired by the Punic military commander from Carthage, Hannibal Barca. He is considered one of the greatest military commanders of the ancient times alongside Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. Resonating with the preciseness of his strategic genius, the Hannibal collection displays several outstanding techniques from stone cutting and setting, to granulation lacquering and cutting-edge technologies like the use of ultraviolet laser in constructing the writing instruments.
Top of the high jewellery line of Hannibal collection or the Elephant pen collection is a revelry of diamonds and blue sapphires priced at a whopping €1.5 million. This elephant pen with diamonds could easily be one of the most expensive pens ever made!
Choosing a military commander as the inspiration was a curious choice from Montblanc. I spoke with Jens Henning Koch, Executive Vice President, Montblanc International to understand the attributes that inspired Montblanc to elect Hannibal as the Hero of the vision of this outstanding collection.
LuxuryVolt: Montblanc has created many special writing instruments inspired mostly by literary geniuses and art heroes like William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy and Leonardo Da Vinci. After such inspirations, choosing Hannibal Barca to be an inspiration might seem unorthodox to some. What stimulated your team to create such highly valued pen series inspired by a war General?
Jens Koch: Hannibal Barca is quite a stunning figure. Look at the European history, how much it is shaped and influenced by the Roman Empire. Hannibal was one, before Christ who bravely challenged the Roman Empire. In a bold invasion in Italy, he crossed with the elephants from the north. His way of aligning his forces strategically is something that is still referred to, even today, in the U.S. military academy.
When you read his quote it says, “I either find a way or I create one”. It shows that his way of thinking is still relevant today. When you think about business leaders and about the challenges we face in the world. So it’s not so much for his achievements on the battlefield but rather for being one of the biggest strategic thinkers. Also we have used representations of both the strong cultures; Roman and the Punic culture have been expressed well in the craftsmen’s work.
LuxuryVolt: What artistic techniques were used to build the beautiful work seen on the Hannibal Barca pens?
Jens Koch: We begin creating a new product by first deciding upon the story that we want to tell. We look at the different facets of the story. Then we look at what creative direction we want to take in terms of design and using different elements. We take different approaches like using the perfect diamond cuts for various parts of the pen. Using different cuts to shape the elephant’s head. The reflection of elephant’s head even in those pens without the diamonds, too, is simply stunning because of the architecture. It is very masculine and yet very refined and sophisticated.
The trunk of the elephant is used as a pocket clip. Great technicality was involved to craft this. It is a clip that is hard or soft enough to push and yet fits perfectly in the design. Different technology is used in cutting of olive wood used in the pen. Montblanc had also purchased more than 10,000-year-old Mammoth teeth and used in the pens.
LuxuryVolt: How does your research team zero in on an inspiration that becomes the champion of the mission for artisanal work at Montblanc?
Jens Koch: We think of figures and inspirations. Find out how relevant they are on a global scale. Even if the figures are not so well known then we think about how we can tell their story in a way that will be relevant today. The story should have depth, gravity and appeal for the buyers.
LuxuryVolt: Montblanc has made a mark in the luxury market for manufacturing some of the finest Swiss watches. As a well-established watch brand do you face any challenges to attract millennial generation to invest in watch collections?
Jens Koch: There are two different ways to look at it. Watch connoisseurs tend to think inside out. They think more about what are the complications and technicalities inside the watch. However, the younger collector or watch enthusiast while can still appreciate the technical complication; their way of thinking is preceded by the look of the watch on the outside and then they look at what is inside. The younger watch enthusiasts think about what they express about their personality when they wear a watch rather than communicating their knowledge of the watch. We have the Timewalker watch collection where we express the spirit of racing and the watches also cater to the buyer that is looking for a watch that speaks of his or her personality while offering a good movement, inside.
LuxuryVolt: How important is India as a market for Montblanc?
Jens Koch: India is a very important market. We recently signed AB de Villiers as a brand ambassador to target Indian customers. It is a market were we see high appreciation for our products. We will be using AB for our product lines from writing instruments to watches, smartwatches and leather collections. We will also be opening new boutiques in India, soon. The market in India is surely growing for Montblanc.
LuxuryVolt: The Prime minister of India, Narendra Modi has also often been seen using Montblanc pens..
Jens Koch: When you visit our head quarter in Hamburg, you see a variety of photos of world leaders who use Montblanc for signing treaties. Montblanc is a fine lifetime companion. When world leaders use our pens it is a symbol of sophistication and refinement and the gravity of what you sign with the pens.
LuxuryVolt: This year, Montblanc launched a smart watch in India. Soon after, Apple launched a new version of its smart watch that in addition to the most popular smart watch feature also has the ability to support 4g networks. With wearable technology advancing so quickly, what is the next big development that can be expected from Montblanc in the consumer technology segment?
Jens Koch: New technology is getting more and more important and we at Montblanc are embracing it. What we are doing is integrating the codes of fine watch making with technology. Like with Montblanc smartwatch, ‘The Summit’ was welcomed well in the market. For us it is important to express refinement in our products. We launched the Summit with a sapphire dome to prove that. This market is very dynamic and we observe it very closely to see how we are going to address it.