Montblanc Takes A Voyage Around The World In 80 Days By Land, Sea, And Air With Pens And A Smartwatch
by Nancy Olson
As the world gradually reopens for travel, Montblanc’s newly introduced Around the World in 80 Days accessories collection seems that much more meaningful. Not only is it a notable assemblage of pens, leather, accessories, and a limited series Summit Lite smartwatch, it is also symbolic of a sense of adventure that has been acutely missing from our lives during the past several months.
Londoner Phileas Fogg understands adventure, and his fantastical journey chronicled in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days is the inspiration for the collection. In this bestselling novel from 1872, Verne tells the story of Fogg’s epic trip around the world by boat, train and foot, and its theme is as much about human nature as it is about travel.
Montblanc Around the World in 80 Days: pens
The writing instruments are offered in three writing modes (fountain pen, rollerball, and ballpoint), and various details on the pens, which include LeGrand, Classique, Doue and Solitaire editions, acknowledge Verne’s novel in their design. For example, a steamboat – the primary means of transport for the novel’s characters on the first leg of their journey – is featured on the cap.
The 18-karat gold nib on the Solitaire fountain pen is engraved with a hot air balloon. As an interesting aside (at least to me, but I admit I’m a little geeky about these things), there was no hot air balloon in the novel, though the idea of using one is proposed.
It has nonetheless become part of the story’s mythology, no doubt in reference to Verne’s earlier work, Five Weeks in a Balloon – another tale of adventure.
The pens’ clips are decorated with the ace of spades in black lacquer, recalling the card game during which Fogg made the fateful wager that sets his trip in motion. A wave theme recurs throughout the pen collection, again referring to the boat travel that is central to the story.
Which brings me to the Montblanc Summit Lite smartwatch, here shown in the “80 Days” series with a blue dial and a blue calfskin strap, both of which are decorated with a wave pattern evoking the motif on the pens.
Montblanc Summit Lite: Around the World in 80 Days
Montblanc’s latest addition to its Summit lineup of “wearable tech” products, the Summit Lite smartwatch, made its debut in the U.S.A. in April 2021. In mid-May, the “80 Days” edition was introduced concurrent with the other accessories in this new collection.
The watch’s name derives from its lightweight 43 mm case made from recycled aluminum. And its high-performance look is enhanced by the 1.19-inch AMOLED display protected by damage-resistant Gorilla Glass. The technology and software are powered by Wear OS by Google, which is compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones.
“With the renewed focus on health, fitness, mindfulness, and wellbeing we are witnessing today, our goal was to create a smartwatch that had just the right tools to support its owner throughout the day in a way that was instinctive and effortless for today’s business lifestyle customer,” says Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki.
In addition to the range offered by Wear OS, Montblanc developed proprietary apps. These include Cardio Coach for fitness; Body Energy, which tracks mental and physical exertion to show the user’s current energy level; a sleep app that tracks length, quality and sleep phases, incorporating recommendations for improvement; and a stress app that racks physical and mental stress levels, offering advice at strategic junctures.
Montblanc’s New Tech
Tech is becoming an important pillar of Montblanc, augmenting the selection of the pens, watches, and leather products that preceded it.
“Montblanc has been in the tech space since 2014,” explains Sylvain Costof, president of Montblanc North America, “and we see this category as a vehicle to accelerate visibility and relevance to all categories of the brand. It’s been very well received since its inception, and you will continue to see both category development and expansion in this area.”
Montblanc’s partners include the aforementioned Google as well as Verizon and Qualcomm. The MB01 Smart Headphones are equipped with Google Assistant, and the Summit 2+ smartwatch (2018) runs on Wear OS and is Verizon LTE capable with select Android phones as Costoff explains.
“We work in close collaboration with our technology partners that have the expertise to innovate together with us at a fast pace,” affirms Montblanc’s Director New Technologies, Felix Obschonka. “Additionally, by creating an agile nucleus within the company, similar to a tech start-up, we can match the speed of technology.
“But what is always important for us is that our products do not rely solely on the technology, but on what we as Montblanc bring on top of that: the details and craftsmanship of fine watchmaking, a keen instinct for style and a rooting in our heritage.”
For more information, please visit www.montblanc.com/en-us/discover/campaign/around-the-world.
Quick Facts Montblanc Around the World in 80 Days Solitaire LeGrand Fountain Pen
Cap and barrel: blue translucent lacquer with a milled pattern; cartouche with steamboat on the cap
Nib: handcrafted 18-karat gold
Limitation: available throughout 2021
Montblanc Around the World in 80 Days Summit Lite Smartwatch
Case: 43 mm, recycled aluminum
Movement: Operative System Wear OS by Google; Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100
Limitation: available throughout 2021
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I managed to grab one of MB’s Heritage leather passport wallets, made from vegetable tanned Tuscan leather. It is a sumptuous hide which has sadly been discontinued in favour of the cheap, printed leather used by all “designer brands” which seems to come from one factory.
I remember having an “interesting” conversation with a MB sales rep about their £300 ballpoint pen. I took it apart and looked at three small pieces of injection moulded plastic.
“So… you want £300 for this?”
At least he had the decency to look embarrassed