Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge & Noir Montblanc Heritage Collection Rouge & Noir

Interview with Montblanc Executive Vice President Jens Henning Koch

Montblanc celebrates its 110th anniversary with one eye on the future and one eye on its heritage.

by 04 May 2016

Abuzz with worldwide events and launching novelties for its 110th anniversary, Montblanc pays tribute to its first-ever Best Safety Fountain Pen in 1906 with the new Rouge & Noir collection. A great example of how the maison blends its past and present, red and black make a striking colour combination, while the serpent pen clip recalls a 1920s motif. Two precious resin and lacquer versions - in black and coral - have been created for a distinctively Montblanc writing instrument that will without doubt become a collectable piece. We meet Montblanc Executive Vice President International Mr. Jens Henning Koch in Milan for a chat.

Montblanc Executive Vice-president International Jens Henning Koch

Where does Italy stand amongst Montblanc's international markets?
Italy is one of the most prominent luxury markets as there is a long history of appreciation for luxury, which is an interesting challenge for us. We founded our writing instrument manufacture in Hamburg; the one for watches in Switzerland, and our pelleteria in Florence. To be present in the Italian market, which has the sophistication and appreciation of craftsmanship, is important for us. 
Montblanc Meisterstuck Soft Grain small accessoiresSmall leathergoods from Montblanc Meisterstück Soft Grain Collection
Why is it a challenge for Montblanc to be in the Italian luxury market?
The luxury market has been growing over the years, resulting in many maisons. We have to demonstrate what's special about us, and constantly come up with stunning novelties. But this is also what we love, driven by the passion for craftsmanship and pioneering spirit that is inherent in Montblanc.
Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique limited edition
 Montblanc Villeret Tourbillon Bi-Cylindrique 110th anniversary limited edition
Are you concerned that the different Montblanc's manufacture locations could take attention away from the brand image?
Montblanc has always been known as an international brand. We are present in each category as a pure player - our self-owned leathergoods factory in Florence is an example - we develop and create our collections in line with our core values.
Celebrating the 110th anniversary collections, how did you begin creating the collections?
We asked ourselves why Montblanc has had such a long history of success. We realised that Montblanc has always had a pioneering spirit from day one, and the new Rouge et Noir collection is a great example of this. Our pre-founders, upon coming back from the US, were inspired to create the perfect writing instrument. So we turned the original design into a very strong expression, recounting the brand's heritage, created with today's latest technology. Our ambassador Hugh Jackson put it best when he said, "Montblanc has one eye in the future and one in its heritage."
Montblanc Heritage Collection, Rouge & Noir, Special Edition Coral
Montblanc Heritage Collection, Rouge & Noir, Special Edition Coral 
How do you manage both sides of your identity: on one hand, a traditional one with 110 years of history; on the other, an avant-garde company who works with Hollywood stars?
It's actually one side. For us, it's about extracting relevance and creating new interpretations. Of course you could just re-create your history like a documentary, but what really inspires us is to create our own perspective today. We work years ahead looking into the future, aligning our many ideas to create communications for new launches, constantly exchanging ideas internally and externally. 
We don't create something out of the blue. Everything is based on substance. In our boutiques, we highlight special pieces. Limited editions, for example, of our writing instruments, have a unique corner for collectors. Customers can also have pieces personalised or created for them at our manufactures.
Montblanc Ultimate Serpent solid red gold cufflinksMontblanc Heritage Rouge & Noir Limited Edition solid red gold cufflinks 
How do you like Milan?
I was wondering at the airport when I arrived, how do I capture Milan in a single picture? Milan is cool, easy-going yet with a clear vision of what it wants to achieve. I wish I can take a piece of this unique atmosphere back to Hamburg with me!