Paying tribute to China’s Great Wall, Montblanc’s latest addition to its High Artistry writing instrument collection pushes the boundaries of technical excellence and creative design.
They don’t make them like they used to. It’s a phrase we like to throw around – increasingly as we age – but when it comes to the Great Wall of China, there’s little doubt. As spectacular as it was impenetrable, the world’s longest wall has become a globally-recognised symbol of strength and resilience.
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Paying homage to its epic construction, Montblanc has created the Montblanc High Artistry, A Tribute to the Great Wall, a collection of five supreme writing instruments that explore the exquisite craftsmanship of ancient and innovative métiers d’art, and the beauty and refinement of rare materials.
In fact, the origins of the Great Wall – which is actually a system of walls from various dynasties – go back more than 2,200 years and each of the five different writing instruments in the collection takes its design inspiration from cultural themes associated with the wall’s long history, brought to life through various forms of ancient craftsmanship including goldsmithing, hand engraving, lacquering, enamelling, embroidery, precious stone setting, and metal skeleton sculpture.
The Montblanc High Artistry A Tribute to the Great Wall Limited Edition 1 Imperial (above) is a magnificent fountain pen that evokes a dramatic vision of the Great Wall twisting like a massive stone dragon over a vast landscape. Inspired by traditional Ming dynasty artwork, the dragon metaphor comes to life on the Au750 solid yellow gold cap and barrel in a pavé of sapphires, rubies, tourmaline and diamonds ranging in colour from yellow and red to shades of blue and turquoise.
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As a homage to the traditional royal instrument used in Chinese rituals and court music, a hand-crafted miniature music box that plays music inspired by the sound of chime bells has been masterfully placed within the cone of the writing instrument and is decorated with pavé-set blue sapphires. Finally, a 4.69ct brilliant cut diamond crowns the edition set in the skeletonised and hand-engraved Au 750 solid gold cap top, symbolising a dragon’s claws holding the diamond, while a Chinese guardian lion is depicted in a 3D hand engraving on the solid yellow gold movable clip.
The Montblanc High Artistry A Tribute to the Great Wall Limited Edition 5 Imperial captures the beauty and craftsmanship of the Ming dynasty, a period that gave rise to many traditional artworks associated today with high Chinese culture. An expression of this tradition, enamel cloisonné, and champlevé techniques have been used to achieve the colourful decorations on the cap and barrel of the writing instrument, evoking elaborate Ming enamel painted vases, while a skeletonized and hand-engraved cap top inspired by imperial hat jewellery from the era opens to reveal a precious approx. 1.8-carat brilliant-cut diamond.
As a special feature of the edition, the cone contains a calligraphy brush made of squirrel hair stabilised with translucent lacquer. This part can be exchanged with a real brush so that the writing instrument can be repurposed as a Chinese calligraphy brush.
The Montblanc High Artistry A Tribute to The Great Wall Limited Edition 10 is dedicated to the materials of the ancient Silk Road, the trade on which was protected by the extension of the wall by the Han dynasty. The barrel of this fountain pen highlights the craft of silk embroidery, with delicately handcrafted gold stitching embroidered onto the barrel depicting the Great Wall, and mother-of-pearl, another material transported along the Silk Route, adorning the cap as plates held by solid gold pins in a design that echoes Han dynasty royal burial shrouds.
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While the cap is crowned with a Montblanc interpretation of an inkpot, as traditionally used by calligraphers, the upper part of the cone is set with black sapphires and diamonds, and the cone is remodelled as a calligraphy brush, made of goat and synthetic hair, stabilized with translucent lacquer. The Au 750 solid champagne-tone gold clip with a wood inlay is lasered with Chinese symbols reminiscent of the narrow bamboo strips that scribes used to write or draw on, while the fine engraving on the precious Kalahari jasper revolving barrel ring is dedicated to the tale of Lady Meng.
Taking inspiration from the armour of the warriors who defended the wall from nomadic raiders from the north, the Montblanc High Artistry A Tribute to the Great Wall Limited Edition 88 features a cap and barrel in Au 750 solid white gold.
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The rough surface of the edition is reminiscent of the typical rough surfaces of the bronze artwork crafted during the Qin dynasty, while the importance of calligraphy is highlighted by the overall shape of the writing instrument, the cone hand-lacquered to mirror the appearance of the calligraphy brush hair, as well as the cap crowned with the interpretation of an inkpot.
Finally, the Montblanc High Artistry A Tribute to The Great Wall Limited Edition Meisterstück Skeleton LE333 is presented with an Au750 solid yellow gold skeleton which overlays a Meisterstück 149 fountain pen, decorated with nine dragon motifs. The first-ever High Artistry Meisterstück Skeleton and limited to 333 pieces, the edition incorporates the symbolic colours red and yellow in a multilayer effect created by a deep-red translucent lacquer.
The handcrafted Au750 solid yellow gold nib bears an engraving of a tower inspired by the famous signal towers of the Great Wall, while the Montblanc emblem in mother-of-pearl crowns the cap top.
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