Mont Blanc: stick to pens?
August 11, 2011 1:19 PM   Subscribe

do you have a take on the quality/appeal of Mont Blanc for accessories like eyewear, wallets, etc? I seem to be running organically into recommendations for this brand as I find myself unable to afford the top makers in a category but I don't want to end up in a situation where I've gotten something that's neither reasonably priced nor extra-nice but ended up spending a chunk of money on no-man's land in between.
posted by the mad poster! to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: MB is controversial even (or perhaps especially) among fountain pen enthusiasts: a sample thread, which goes some way towards explicating its current brand identity.
posted by holgate at 1:47 PM on August 11, 2011

Best answer: Mont blanc does not make eyewear, wallets and the like. They license out production to other companies and then stick a logo & markup on top.

Montblanc eyewear for example is produced by the marcolin group, and there is no particular reason to think it is any better or worse quality than any of their other brands. Wether the fact that it has a montblanc logo on it is worth the extra $ that you will be paying is up to you.

Equally, you can buy products likely to be of far higher "quality", but without a brand name attached, for the same cost. (like one of these swaine adeney brigg wallets for example) but that might not be as stylish or contemporary as what you are looking for.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 1:52 PM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not a fan, though not a foe, having been in the store and fondled all their things a few times. It's actually fairly expensive for what it is, I don't particularly feel any desire to "identify" myself with the brand, and, while I feel everything is probably fairly well-made, though perhaps not as well-made as the pens, that's also true about a number of medium- to high-end purveyors that I'm more interested in. And yes: as is pointed out, almost all of this is brand licensing. Much of their licensed products I don't see as being that attractive or luxurious: I just see them as being branded. (And I don't find the overall brand, as expressed, that alluring.) But that's personal. I think you should just rub all up on it and see what you think.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:55 PM on August 11, 2011

Best answer: Montblanc eyewear for example is produced by the marcolin group, and there is no particular reason to think it is any better or worse quality than any of their other brands.

In fairness, Marcolin's sunglasses seem to be better/nicer than those from the main competing sunglasses conglomerate, Luxottica.

My take on things is that you should buy products from companies who specialize in making those products. Buy shoes from companies that make shoes and wallets from companies that specialize in wallets/leather. Wallets from companies like Bosca and Coach won't be cheap, but the price premium will be embedded in the product rather than the brand.

The problem with Mont Blanc or any other "lifestyle brand" is that you're paying for "product + brand." There are plenty of high quality designer brands where the price you're paying is much closer to just "product."
posted by deanc at 1:58 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: that's good info holgate and Fine Product. yeah I have my heart set on these Cartier frames but if there are wallet-maker recommendations I'll happily take them.

on preview: RJ Reynolds: yeah I did look at their wallets today which is what left me with the "eh.." reaction. I can afford a $375 Mont Blanc wallet where I can't afford a $1k+ Hermes wallet but then my mind is like... you don't just go for the best thing you can afford you have to index it to how worthwhile you find the purchase so it might be better to get something cheaper for now
posted by the mad poster! at 1:59 PM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: .. or get something from somewhere with good craftsmanship that's not highly expensive. Actually my current wallet is from a smaller leather-focused brand and I think it cost about the $100-200 range and I just asked them if they could repair it and they said yes! I like this idea of getting stuff once and repairing it instead of throwing it out for a new one when it comes apart in stitching, smudges, replacing the outer covering etc., just a new relationship you have with these items when you deal with companies like this
posted by the mad poster! at 2:06 PM on August 11, 2011

Best answer: I'll second deanc's comment on seeking out specialists in their field. In the domain of fountain pens, the standard comparison over the past 30 years has been between MB and Pelikan: Pelikan may have adopted 'lifestyle brand' marketing, but it essentially remains a maker of pens and stationery.

Diffusion isn't always a warning sign -- compare the history of Dunhill, another Richemont subsidiary -- but if the core line isn't properly looked after, it raises red flags for everything else.
posted by holgate at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: thanks for the responses. So I guess the consensus is: unless you like an item in particular, skip Mont Blanc accessories.
posted by the mad poster! at 4:34 PM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: definitely, I didn't even look at the watches (I've become a beginner watch head this year so I already knew :) I have a Raymond Weil now I'm scheming on a Cartier, JLC or IWC with a midway stop on Longines or Maurice Lacroix
posted by the mad poster! at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2011

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