Every year, through the artistry of the finest craftsmanship the Montblanc Signs & Symbols collection tells the stories of the signs that once originated in the world of myths and legends, and continue to retain all of their significance today in Eastern culture and beyond.
Released annually since 2015, and made up of the Legend of Zodiacs and A Journey Among Dragons collections, the writing instrument series pays homage to the zodiac sign of the year to come, through the beauty of precious stones and artisanship of fine hand engraving on its 925 sterling silver cap, each differing in design and meaning to honour the ancient symbols.
Legend has it that the Jade Emperor held for all the animals in his kingdom, promising the first 12 to cross the stream to be named the animals of the zodiac. The pig was the 12th and last animal to cross the stream during the race, because it took a break halfway through the crossing to relax and eat.
Said to be an animal associated with good fortune, success, wealth and resilience – defining characteristics said to be transferred to people born in those years (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 and 2019), the fourth edition to the Montblanc Legend of Zodiacs writing instruments celebrates the year of the pig with the Montblanc Legend of Zodiacs Pig Limited Edition 512.
Crafted from precious mother of pearl, the hand-engraved design on the silver cap is a detailed representation of the animal, contrasting the barrel and fittings made of champagne gold, and coated with fine engravings. The zodiac symbol is elegantly stamped on the Au750 solid gold nib, while the cone is set with a sparkling ruby, the birthstone of the pig. Bringing additional good fortune for the year ahead, the special limitation number of the writing instrument is a celebration of the lucky number 8, with 512 being the sum total of 8x8x8.
Besides that, as yellow and gold are considered lucky colours in the Chinese tradition, Montblanc has created a special golden ink for good fortune, whereas a refined notebook handcrafted in gold Saffiano leather completes the Legend of Zodiacs writing assortment.
Complementing the Montblanc Legend of Zodiacs Pig Limited Edition 512 writing instrument, is another that illustrates the numerous traits and great powers of the mystical East Asian dragon.
The Heavenly Dragon or “Tianlong” (天龍) that guards the celestial palaces of the gods and pull their chariots is considered the dragon of the Emperor, amongst the many dragons that have been crystallised in Asian culture. Besides its attributes of different animals – the head of a camel, the eyes of a demon, the horns of a stag, the ears of a cow, the neck of a snake, tiger feet, eagle talons and the scaly body of a fish, it was also depicted with five toes, instead of just three or four toes.
Crafted in Montblanc’s Artisan Atelier, the Montblanc Signs & Symbols “A Journey Among Dragons” Heavenly Dragon Limited Edition 88 writing instrument carries a cast sterling silver cap engraved by hand with an artistic representation of the dragon. The dragon motif is carried through to the silver barrel in white lacquer, decorated with an elegant dragon guilloche underneath.
At the base of the writing instrument, a blue lapis lazuli evokes the dragon’s role as the ruler of moving bodies of water, while the champagne gold fittings are a reference to gold coloured dragons that have special attributes such as wealth, wisdom, and kindness. Crowning the 88-piece limited edition, (in reference to the luck that comes from the number 8), the Montblanc emblem in mother-of-pearl is inlayed in black onyx and covered with a sapphire glass.
When it comes to the writing instruments from the Montblanc High Artistry Limited Editions series, the Maison pushes the boundaries of creativity and technical virtuosity to tell the stories of history’s great figures. Pairing the traditional expertise of the métiers d’arts nurtured for over 110 years with high precision technology and tools, Montblanc artisans transform fine materials into elaborate masterpieces that defy imagination.
This time around, the Montblanc High Artistry pays homage to the Emperor Kang Xi (1654-1722), the longest reigning emperor, and the second emperor in the Qing dynasty, whose reign brought long-term stability and prosperity after years of war and chaos. Considered one of China’s greatest emperors, Kang Xi was an accomplished military strategist and general, who was victorious over the powerful Three Lords who threatened his sovereignty, and the rebels of Inner and Outer Mongolia, and successfully submitted them to Qing rule.
Among the many achievements that shaped his cultural legacy, Kang Xi created the Mountain Resort in Chengde, a classic masterpiece of Chinese palace architecture, and one of the world’s largest royal gardens designed in the great imperial tradition; he repaired and extended the Grand Canal that linked the Yellow River and Yangtze River from Beijing to Hangzhou; and he commissioned the Kangxi Dictionary – an essential when it comes to the development of literature, poetry and culture during the Qing dynasty and beyond, which became the standard Chinese dictionary during the 18th and 19th centuries.
From stone cutting and setting to hand engraving and gold work, many techniques have been used to bring to life the fascinating world of Kang Xi. Part writing instrument part jewellery creation in colourful precious stones and gold, each Montblanc High Artistry Homage to Emperor Kangxi Limited Edition is a dazzling display of the Maison’s artistry.
The Montblanc High Artistry Homage to Emperor Kangxi Limited Edition 1 each depicts one of the most valued imperial symbols: the dragon.
The Imperial Dragon fountain pen features a majestic dragon made of individually cut white jade pieces and a line of brilliant cut diamonds, swirling around the prestigious pen in an artistic representation of the emperor’s supreme power in champagne gold.
The Royal Blue Dragon, on the other hand, is a masterpiece in blue and white gold inspired by the deep colour of one of the emperor’s garments. The pavé of blue sapphires on the cap and barrel contrast with the brilliant diamonds on the dragon encircling the fountain pen, as well as the white gold fittings. The armillary sphere mechanism in the cone of the writing instrument features a brilliant 5ct white diamond (Colour D, Flawless).
Mediator between heaven and earth, The Jade Dragon seems to float through the clouds, standing out in vibrant green jade against a scintillating pavé of white diamonds on the cap and barrel. A precious red 5,08ct ruby floats inside the axis mechanism in real gold, while the top of the cap is set with a pavé of diamonds.
This Montblanc High Artistry series follows through with the Montblanc High Artistry Homage to Emperor Kangxi Limited Edition 5, The Emperor, featuring cloisonné enamel that creates the effect of painted landscapes in tones of yellows, greens and sand punctuated with threads of gold – a homage to the many paintings of the landscapes and communities during the grand Southern inspection tour, commissioned by Kangxi during his trips across his vast empire.
The cap top features an original opening mechanism that reveals a miniature gold sundial, one of the instruments the emperor was fascinated with, when it was brought to him from Europe. The gold cone tube of the writing instrument is engraved by hand with a dragon, set with yellow diamonds, while the cone is set with a sparkling diamond (DFL, approx. 2ct). The barrel ring features a dragon, hand-carved in green Wyoming jade, whereas the rings and clip are embellished with a sprinkling of yellow diamonds to enhance the intensity of this homage to Kangxi’s legacy.
Complementing the ultra-limited editions are the Montblanc High Artistry Homage to Emperor Kangxi Limited Edition 10, The Calligrapher, and the Montblanc High Artistry Homage to Emperor Kangxi Limited Edition 89, The General.
First off, the former celebrates the ruler’s passion for literature and writing, with a poem carved on the black jade cap and barrel of the fountain pen. A reference to his favourite hunting animal, a tiger’s head in yellow sapphires and black rhodium coated gold adorns the writing instrument’s barrel.
A yellow sapphire shines at the base of the cone, and two yellow sapphires shine on the clip shaped like the ruyi, Kangxi would hold to represent his power. Secret inscriptions are engraved on the cap, which includes a work of calligraphy by Kangxi that pays tribute to a poem by Tao Yuanming, hidden under a white gold shield that can be opened.
The armour-inspired design of the latter fountain pen is a tribute to the imperial power and authority, especially during the Qing dynasty. The cap and barrel in Au750 yellow gold feature a special pattern reminiscent of the ceremonial suit of armour the emperor wore for parades, contrasting with the black PVD coated fittings of the fountain pen.
The birch used on the lower barrel is the wood traditionally associated with hunting bows in the Qing dynasty, with decorative lotus plants that symbolises longevity carefully lasered onto the thin birch wood, using ultraviolet technology to protect the surface of the precious wood. The barrel is further embellished with an archer’s ring made of a tiger’s eye, while the base of the cone features a yellow citrine cabochon.