Montblanc’s Neo concept

Montblanc, the international leader in men’s luxury accessories, has reopened its flagship boutique in The Dubai Mall, showcasing the new Neo-concept boutique design currently being rolled out globally. We bring you an insider view of the boutique as Nicolas Baretzki, CEO, in an exclusive interview, expounds on the design elements, artistry, and positioning of the marque

The official opening event was attended by 150 VIP customers, media, and friends of the maison on October 11, and was hosted by Nicolas Baretzki, Chief Executive Officer of Montblanc International. The boutique’s relaxed, inviting ambience showcases an immersive space that allows customers to explore the Montblanc story on their own terms and discover the diversity of brand’s product offerings in areas dedicated to each category.

Also on display was a collection of limited edition and high artistry pieces, including the Montblanc TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph Limited Edition 100 timepiece, and the diamond-encrusted High Artistry Homage to Hannibal Barca Limited Edition writing instrument, limited to one piece worldwide.

The new boutique concept introduces a pure and uncluttered aesthetic, mixing black, white, and wood, and features three main design themes linked to the roots of the maison.

Can you tell us about the refurbished boutique and the new design elements that highlight the Montblanc heritage?

We have been discussing this since we introduced the new boutique concept two years ago, as we wanted to bring an exclusive look that is characteristic of very few of our boutiques worldwide. It has been a long process, but very exciting and we are very happy with the result. It transmits the essence of Montblanc and is very luxurious in a discreet manner, while exuding a welcoming atmosphere.

Montblanc has many different categories of products and it is very important that people can move from viewing one category to another seamlessly. Though the boutique has one main design concept that bridges all categories, it also links to each of our category lines.

What is the reason for the new design that has separate sections for each category?

We, as a brand, are complex enough to create simplicity when showcasing our products.  When our clients enter the Montblanc world, they can do it through the worlds of the writing instruments, watches, ladies’ jewellery, or the leather goods. It is also easier for us to showcase the different materials and functionalities of our products – you do not display a watch the same way you would display a leather product.

Yet, the boutique is not intimidating and though it has different   corners, we are still able to maintain the feel of intimacy. In the leather goods section, we have highlighted our personalisation services, while the writing instruments section has the Collectors’ Corner, which showcases amazing, exceptional pieces. We want each of our High Artistry Boutiques to exhibit some exceptional or very limited pieces that demonstrate the brand’s craftsmanship, expertise, heritage, and exceptional execution.

For instance, we have the diamond-encrusted High Artistry Homage to Hannibal Barca Limited Edition writing instrument, which is already sold, exhibited here. The whole piece is exceptional because of the story it tells. This is the full-diamond edition, a unique piece, which uses the best materials and best stones – the diamond that crowns the fountain pen is over 6 carats.

How much time did it take to create this pen, which is a beautiful work of art?

This pen was particularly difficult to create, especially the clip. Montblanc believes each part should have a function and purpose. So we had to ensure that the long trunk could also be leveraged as a functional clip. Every single stone had to be re-shaped to conform to the design of the beautiful elephant head. The 6 carat-diamond is of the best colour and clarity, and the pen is very heavy as it is fully made of gold.

Will Montblanc continue to bring out such unique or limited edition pieces, which are not only limited in number but are true works of art, such as the Hannibal and Ibn Sina?

Yes, we definitely will continue with this. We think it is very important to tell such stories when we bring out these exceptional pieces. We give our design team a brief saying that we want to do something about Hannibal and they spend two to three weeks to just research the character, study in-depth, get inspired, and only then decide which element of that story should be key for the design. The design is a major part of the process and once that is decided, then creating the design is also equally difficult; it is not a short-term project.

Can you tell us about Montblanc’s leather goods and its positioning today?

Our leather goods are not just about fashion; we believe that each of our products is a lifetime companion, and should be part of the different moments of our client’s lives and days. So we are expanding into the casual, weekend segment. Montblanc is very relevant when it comes to travelling and we are planning to expand in that segment. By developing the large leather goods, we aim to get our clients to buy for themselves instead of gifting our products to others. That is why we prefer to term ourselves as ‘lifestyle’, as leather is the best way of positioning.

Where do you see the future of watches for Montblanc, especially with regard to the constant improvements in quality and design since the introduction of the Heritage line?

At Montblanc we have two clear positionings – the regular collection and the exceptional pieces; a few years ago, we started to re-focus on the €2,000-5,000. This is the core collection where we have quality, small complications, and design, but with a very aggressive price positioning. We believe that this is a very legitimate territory for Montblanc and we will continue.

This category has two clear collections – the classical line that has the 4810 and the Heritage collection – which have small complications such as a moonphase or a chronograph, but with the right positioning. We also want to have differentiation, a watch with a character such as our recent Timewalker. There is room for Montblanc to grow in that segment.

We will continue to bring exceptional pieces with watches that are priced more than €20,000. We have dropped the segment in between, the €6,000-20,000; we have very little on offer, and this is a very crowded segment. We want to use the exceptional expertise and experience of our team for pieces such as the ExoTourbillon that has a patented movement, thus creating an interesting piece that still would fit into one of our collections, such as the TimeWalker. We will continue to innovate and come up with new exceptional movements.

What is the feedback for the Summit, and can we expect a female edition?

There has been a lot of positive feedback; our clients are enjoying the idea of wearing a watch with a beautiful case and design, and at the same time fully experiencing the digital benefits. We will be out of stock very soon, and this is making me more optimistic for the future. The technology right now does not permit the dimensions for a female line, but perhaps sometime soon we may be able to do that.

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