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Apple’s Marc Newson Designs A Space-Age Fountain Pen

It even features the MagSafe of pens: a magnetic cap that automatically aligns with the Montblanc logo.

Now that he’s joined Apple, famed industrial designer Marc Newson seems like he’d be more likely to design an iPad stylus at this point than a pen. But there’s no rubber tip to be found on Marc Newson’s latest creation, the Montblanc M fountain pen; it looks designed to write a love letter to the flowing ink nibs that the computer age is leaving behind.

Fountain pens are to people who still write with their hands what Swiss-made mechanical watches are to people who still tell time without looking at their phones. They’re for customers who care about precision, craftsmanship, artistry, and luxury. Consequently, most high-end fountain pens have a throwback feel, as if they’d just been plucked from Jay Gatsby’s breast pocket.

When Newson set out to design the Montblanc M, he wanted it to be the Apple Watch of fountain pens: as much a tribute to the past as an evolutionary step forward. “There had to be a certain character, something about the pen to make it different, to appeal to a new audience,” says Newson. “Whilst respecting the DNA of the brand, I wanted to inject a sense of playfulness which I feel is important.”

Part of that sense of playfulness comes from the Montblanc M’s space age shape; it looks like the sort of fountain pen that an astronaut in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey might use. Created out of Montblanc’s signature precious black resin, the M was shaped using a diamond tool, which gives it its sleek, fluid lines.

Besides aesthetics, the major innovation of the Montblanc M is that it introduces something a little bit like the MagSafe of Fountain pens: a magnet that ensures when you snap the cap back over the nip, the clip will be perfectly in line with the Montblanc logo.

“It added a certain level of mechanical complexity to the manufacturing of the pen,” says Marc Newson. “But the end result is both intuitive and practical, giving it a certain playful character. There’s something quite magical about a magnet. Fundamentally, it is a force that you cannot see. It’s seductive, a kind of alchemy.”

The Montblanc M will be available starting September 1, for an Apple Watch-level price: $565. That might seem like a lot, but it’s a bargain for a high-quality pen that will last a lifetime, provided you don’t accidentally lose it first. There’s a cheaper rollerball or ballpoint version for $400.

About the author

John Brownlee is a design writer who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. You can email him at john.brownlee+fastco@gmail.com.

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