You learn something new every day. Sometimes it’s a little nugget of information that very few know about, in which case you feel rather pleased with yourself. On occasion, however, you make an acquaintance with a fact that is extremely widely known – and then you feel like a right numpty. The latter experience is something I underwent recently when I learnt, for the very first time, about a fascinating man called Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
He was a renowned French aviator, poet and writer, working as a commercial pilot before WWII, a reconnaissance pilot with the French Air Force during WWII and, after he migrated to the USA in 1940, he wrote three of his best-known novels, one of which was a children’s book called The Little Prince.
Now, this particular book isn’t exactly an under-the-radar title. It is available in 300 languages, sells more than 2 million copies a year, has sold over 140 million copies, is among the top four best-selling books *of all time*, has been adapted to film, TV, ballet, opera and live stage — and I had never heard of it.
Thankfully, there are plenty of people who have, including Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki, who was instrumental in the German luxury firm’s decision to design an edition of the Meisterstück writing instrument in honour of this extraordinary book, and its author. Baretzki is French, and his enthusiasm about the project comes as no surprise, given that The Little Prince was voted France’s finest book of the 20th century, and has probably been read by its entire population, every single year since it was first published.
To assuage my embarrassment somewhat, I quickly read the copy of The Little Prince that Montblanc had thoughtfully placed in my hotel room in New York, prior to the launch event. I was, to put it mildly, blown away, and I instantly realised why it’s a bonafide classic. Here was a socalled children’s book that spoke an unsentimental, endearing and universal language, giving a message of hope to both a child’s innocent and open mind as well an adult’s world-weary, cynical outlook. It told the story of the narrator, who crashlands in the Sahara desert (as SaintExupéry actually did) and finds a golden-haired boy, whom he calls “the little prince.” The boy has visited several planets, and engages in philosophical discussions with the narrator; along the way, he finds a fox, who teaches him the importance of meaningful relationships and the value of love and friendship. The book winds its way through several themes, but the principal takeaways are the power of our imagination, the importance of true friendship and the transmission of ideas and knowledge to the ones we love.
For the special edition Meisterstück, Montblanc decided to highlight these themes, adapting them to signify the brand’s own passion and values being passed on to a new and wider audience; the Meisterstück has always been a very popular gifting item, and is often passed down from one generation to another, carrying with it the stories, ideas and memories ingrained within it. At a glittering soiree at the very top of the One World Trade Center in New York City, with staggering nighttime views over the metropolis, Montblanc launched the special edition writing instruments and accessories to an audience that included Hugh Jackman, Rita Ora, Milla Jovovich, Chloe Sevigny, Montblanc creative director Zaim Kamal and many more.
Le Petit Prince Resin Le Grand
Le Petit Prince Solitaire Lacquer
The cap and barrel of the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Special Edition are made of a night-blue resin, which is a first for the brand. The milled cap is decorated with a fox-face pattern, and as a reminder of the laughter in the stars, a golden star adorns the clip of this edition. The 14K rhodium-plated nib is handcrafted, and a sentence from the book has been laser engraved into the crown of the instrument, which is available as a fountain pen, roller ball and ballpoint pen.
The Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Doué Classique Edition pairs the deep blue of the lacquer barrel with a platinum-coated cap, decorated with engravings of the fox pattern. The shiny surface of the platinum is repeated on the metal cone, cap and the pen clip, adorned with the yellow star – this is also available as a ballpoint, roller ball and fountain pen, with an 18K bi-colour nib embellished with the outline of the Little Prince and the fox.
The fox pattern covers both the cap and barrel of the Meisterstück Le Petit Prince Solitaire, engraved on the deep blue lacquer. Contrasting with the blue, the fittings are crafted from platinum-oated metal. Special ink and refills in a dark orange colour, reminiscent of the fox’s orange fur, are also available. A leather notebook completes the writing experience, bound in Saffiano leather, featuring a fox scenery print on its cover. Men’s accessories in the range include a pair of round stainless steel cufflinks with a deep blue lacquer and fox face design centre, a stainless steel and blue lacquer money clip and a men’s woven leather bracelet, with a stainless steel clasp decorated with a yellow star.