One of the most famous annual collections is Montblanc's Great Characters: a collection of limited editions that pays tribute to personalities who have left their mark on history. Their exclusive pieces depict politicians, artists, and scientists alike. Not only that, but each edition consists of several different pieces, together attempting to encompass the most representative aspects of each person.
Montblanc Great Characters
And finally, the 2023 tribute has been unveiled: Muhammad Ali. A three-time world champion, he was the greatest heavyweight boxer and a prominent American activist. The cap of this Special Edition emulates a punching bag, made of matte black resin, with a butterfly engraved on it to symbolize his famous fighting style, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Alongside it, the clip is inspired by a victory belt, inscribed with "ALI" and laurels.
Also on the cap, engraved on the resin, is the classic statement "I shook the world," which he made after defeating Sonny Liston against all odds. Just below, on the gold-plated ring, is engraved the boxer's victory pose, as well as the inscription "TKO-W-7 (Technical Knockout in the 7th (of 15) rounds)." The cap is crowned with Montblanc's emblem in white resin adorned with a number "1," representing his first title.
The body of the piece mimics both the shape and texture of the hand wraps boxers use. Beneath it, the cone is engraved with four lines representing the ropes of a boxing ring and inscriptions referring to some of his victories (at the 1960 Olympics in Rome and his first World Heavyweight Championship in Miami in 1964). To finish, the handcrafted 585 gold nib is engraved with a boxing glove, representing Ali. With all these details, Montblanc aims to encompass and pay tribute to one of the most influential figures of the 20th century in their 2023 edition.
But how did the collection start? Great Characters was launched in 2009, paying its first tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. A political and spiritual leader who advocated nonviolent resistance, seeking India's independence from the British Empire. To honor him, Montblanc presented the first Limited Edition, evoking his characteristic attire. Additionally, the handcrafted rhodium-plated gold nib bears the silhouette of Gandhi. The next edition was dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock: director and screenwriter, a master of the thriller genre. It features a silver clip in the shape of a knife, a reference to "Psycho," and a swirling effect on its surface, symbolizing the constant spiral in "Vertigo".
Two years later, the Albert Einstein Limited Edition, dedicated to the man who changed the way we understand physics with his Theory of Relativity, was handcrafted, with a white gold body covered by a delicate mesh, representing the curvature of spacetime. The Limited Edition of Leonardo Da Vinci, one year later, celebrates the most notable artist and inventor of the Italian Renaissance. It is a reference to Leonardo's studies on flight devices. An example of this is the drawing of the wing study found on the nib, as well as on the grip section. Finally, Montblanc's logo is hidden on the cap, visible through a mirror, a reference to da Vinci's own writing practice.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
After these editions, the Special Edition of 2015 was dedicated to John F. Kennedy. This is one of the most understated pieces in the collection, inspired by Kennedy's famous Ivy League style. Made of precious blue Navy resin, it precisely evokes his time in the United States Navy. His initials, JFK, are engraved on the platinum clip, and on the cap, three rings represent the three Kennedy brothers. The final detail not to be missed is engraved on the handcrafted nib, with the module that landed on the moon in 1969 for the first time and made history with the Apollo mission.
With the Andy Warhol edition, Montblanc pays homage to the Pop Art pioneer, who transformed the mundane into extraordinary and commercial art. The famous image engraved on the stainless steel cap refers to the artistic series "Campbell's Soup Cans," and the top of the cap maintains the shape of a can under Montblanc's logo.
The contrast between cobalt blue and orange stripes honors the color variations in his work, along with the quote "Art is what you get away with" engraved on the cap, a testament to his revolutionary style. Similarly, the clip, shaped like a squeegee, a tool used in screen printing, reflects his preferred technique. Finally, the "$" engraved on the artisan gold nib refers to another of his series: "Dollars".
The following year, Montblanc dedicated its edition to Miles Davis: an American jazz trumpeter and composer, an innovator and tireless artist. This piece has a unique silhouette, with trumpet valves on the clip and a conical shape reminiscent of the "Heim" mouthpiece that Miles Davis used to play. It is made of platinum-plated silver, with engraved references to the five main periods of Jazz that Davis helped create. On the body, there are several star-shaped diamonds, and the blue color of the cone evokes the album "Kind of Blue".