Montblanc pays tribute to the first ascent of Europe’s highest peak with a limited edition collection that takes craftsmanship to new heights
Rising out of the Alps to a height of 4,810 metres on the border between France and Italy, the Mont Blanc is the highest peak in Western Europe. An indomitable challenge to climbers since the dawn of civilization, its shining glaciers have always inspired awe and fascination. On 8 August 1786, an unlikely duo set off to conquer Mont Blanc. One was an ambitious young hunter and crystal collector, Jacques Balmat, and the other was Michel-Gabriel Paccard, an alpinist and physician with a passion for botany and minerals.
Just as the summit of the Mont Blanc was eventually conquered by two mountaineers, the Maison Montblanc was founded by three visionaries who took Europe’s highest mountain as the symbol of perfection against which they measured every achievement. Like the climbers who made their way from plateau to plateau into the snowy heights of the Mont Blanc massif, the maîtres d’art of the Montblanc Artisan Atelier have worked step by step, methodically setting and overcoming new challenges in craftsmanship to steadily achieve new heights of their art form.
To honour the courageous first ascent of the Mont Blanc summit and the ongoing pioneering spirit of the Maison, Montblanc has created the High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 333
The Au 750 solid gold rhodium-coated skeleton overlay adorning the cap and barrel of the Montblanc Limited Edition 333 traces the shape of the Mer de Glace glacier near Chamonix. Based on the legend that this glacier resembles a giant monster hugging the northern slope of Mont Blanc, the overlay’s engraving depicts a monster. Visible beneath the overlay that has specially been treated to create a frosted surface, the translucent glacial blue lacquer recalls the icy blue colour shades of a glacier. The Au 750 solid gold rhodium-coated cap top of the Montblanc Limited Edition 333 is crowned by the Montblanc emblem crafted out of granite originating from the mountain range where the Mont Blanc is located – the Alps. This symbol of both the Maison Montblanc and the summit of the highest mountain in Western Europe is embedded in polished black onyx.
In memory of the triumphant first ascent by Balmat and Paccard, the Au 750 solid gold rhodium-coated cap ring is engraved with the date ‘8 Août 1786’. The handcrafted Au 750 solid gold rhodium-coated nib is embossed with an edelweiss flower, once one of the most coveted flower of every alpinist. In token of the cultural history of the area, the cone of the edition is engraved with a traditional pattern from the Chamonix valley.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 86
In reference to the year of the first ascent of Mont Blanc, the Montblanc Edition 86 is limited to just 86 pieces. The forepart of the Au 750 solid yellow gold model is engraved with a depiction of the Mer de Glace glacier with an engraving envisioned as a monster from the ancient stories about the creatures that inhabited the mountain. The Au 750 solid yellow gold clip ring is engraved with the date of the triumphant ascent ‘8 Août 1786’. The alpinist’s essential tools, alpenstock and axe, are miniaturised in the clip.
Among the few belongings they carried with them would have probably been Balmat’s diary bound in durable leather, as it was usual to carry on expeditions at that time. Inspired by these ancient diaries, the barrel of the writing instrument is made of vegetable tanned leather embossed with an excerpt from Balmat’s handwritten account of that historic day in 1786. Mountaineering shoe rivets provide the inspiration for the decorations on the Au 750 solid yellow gold fittings.
A nod to wood carving, one of the most traditional and virtuosic artforms of the Alps, the walnut wood cap of the Montblanc Edition 86 is artfully carved with images of alpine ibex and chamois in their native habitat on the slopes of Mont Blanc. The handcrafted Au 750 solid yellow gold nib is embossed with a 3D relief depicting the edelweiss flower, requiring special artisanship to achieve. The edition is adorned with a granite cabochon set into the Au 750 solid yellow gold cone. The cap top features a smoky quartz that can be detached to reveal the Montblanc emblem made of mother-of-pearl. Embedded in polished black onyx, the white symbol of the Maison Montblanc is inspired by the highest mountain in Western Europe and associated with high standards in craftsmanship.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 10
In memory of the triumphant ascent, the cap of the Montblanc Limited Edition 10 is crafted from granite from the Mont Blanc itself, refined with a lacquered engraving of ‘JqB 1786’, the initials of Jacques Balmat and the year of the first ascent of Mont Blanc. Encircling this natural rock surface is an Au 750 solid white gold overlay with a 3-dimensional depiction of the Mont Blanc massif. Brilliant-cut diamonds set into the rock surface not only trace the historical route to the summit, but also represents Montblanc craftsmen continuously striving to take their craft to new heights. The date of that event, ‘8 Août 1786’, is engraved on the Au 750 solid yellow gold clip ring. The essential tools used by alpinists to explore the mountain landscapes, alpenstock and axe, are miniaturised in the clip.
The very era in which mountaineers first conquered the summit of Mont Blanc was also the golden age of the art of miniatures, when these tiny portraits adorned brooches, medallions and watches. After the first ascent of Mont Blanc, Balmat’s name was celebrated far and wide, and a medallion was created bearing his portrait in enamel with the alpenstock and axe crossed above a scenic view of Mont Blanc. This portrait is the inspiration behind the detailed hand-crafted micro painting on the cap of the Montblanc Limited Edition 10. The circular frame, crossed tools and mountain scene are hand engraved into yellow gold-coated solid Au 750 white gold.
In tribute to the crystalline beauty of the Alps, the cap top of the Montblanc Limited Edition 10 is crowned by a detachable rounded rock crystal with the shape of the Mont Blanc massif artfully worked out of the centre. The space created within the mountain massif is occupied by an unrefined chunk of Au 750 solid yellow gold as a reminder of Balmat’s search for gold in the mountain. Furthermore, the Au 750 solid yellow gold cone of this edition is set with a green aventurine, a mineral native to the Alps, covered by a sapphire glass.
The forepart of the Au 750 solid white gold model is engraved with the depiction of the Mer de Glace glacier decorated with the monster engraving inspired by ancient mountain stories. Below this icy creature, the Au 750 solid yellow gold barrel is hand-engraved with traditional ornamentation from the Chamonix area and set with brilliant-cut diamonds. The handcrafted Au 750 solid yellow gold nib is engraved with a 3D relief depicting the edelweiss flower.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 5
The Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 5 unites precious metals and gemstones with skilled marquetry work in a symphony of subtle tributes to the history of alpinism on the Mont Blanc massif. The majesty of the mountain itself winds around the cap in rare artisan marquetry work that echoes the natural beauty of the landscape using a colour palette of seventeen different shades and materials. The materials used to create artistic depth and dimension range from delicate parchment to shimmering mother-of-pearl, leathers and a selection of precious woods.
The fine woodwork on the barrel combines seven different types of wood in a pattern inspired by the Savoy rosette – a traditional decoration of the region – set with cognac-coloured tourmalines. The clip is a miniature replica of the two most essential tools used by the first climbers to reach the summit of Mont Blanc in 1786: the alpenstock and axe. In reference to the geological wonders of the Alps, the cap top is crowned with a smoky quartz that opens to reveal the treasure within: a skeletonised ‘Mont Blanc massif’ set with a diamond of approximately 2 ct. above an engraving of the Montblanc emblem. The clip ring is engraved with ‘8 Août 1786’ to mark the date of the historic first ascent.
The forepart of this Au 750 solid rose-tone gold writing jewel bears an engraving of the route taken by Balmat and Paccard set with brilliant-cut diamonds in a string of precious steps to the summit. The fittings are also made of Au 750 solid rose-tone gold, with fine rows of brilliant-cut diamonds adorning the rings. A malachite cabochon under sapphire glass is set into the end of the cone. The heart of this High Artistry Edition, the nib, is handcrafted from Au 750 solid rose-tone gold decorated with a three-dimensional edelweiss flower and a cognac-coloured sapphire. Just as rare as the blossom itself is the quality of the three-dimensional decoration, as the special technology used to create it is only used for exceptional high artistry collections.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 1
The Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 1 expresses the great vision of conquering the Mont Blanc massif in the delicate precision of a handcrafted miniature grisaille enamel painting encircling the Au 750 solid white gold cap. The enamelled icy mountain top scene displayed in masterful colour and detail, is framed by vibrant ribbons of alternating sapphires and diamonds. The lower part of the cap is densely bejewelled with diamonds in mixed settings and mixed cuts that artfully transition in a graduated effect from a crystalline base upwards into a light blue sapphire atmosphere.
At the top of the cap, a rounded rock crystal opens to reveal a skeletonised ‘Mont Blanc massif’ holding the high-value centre stone resting atop an engraved Montblanc emblem. The Swiss naturalist who offered a prize for the first successful expedition to the summit, Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, also invented the cyanometer to measure the intensity of the sky’s blue colour at varying altitudes. A special visualisation of this device, made of diamonds and blue lacquered colour fields, adorns the cap of the Mont Blanc Limited Edition 1.
The Au 750 solid white gold barrel is artistically set with diamonds in mixed cuts and mixed settings to evoke the reflective awe of the snowy and icy Mont Blanc peak in the sunshine. Further diamonds, as well as sapphires, adorn the Au 750 solid gold fittings and the cone, which culminates in an azurite cabochon encased in sapphire glass. A hand-engraved depiction of the Mont Blanc mountain, set with brilliant-cut diamonds, decorates the forepart, drawing the eye towards the handcrafted Au 750 solid white gold nib bearing a three-dimensional relief of the edelweiss flower and a diamond in its centre. Just as rare as the blossom itself is the quality of the three-dimensional decoration, with the special technology used to create it only used for exceptional high artistry collections.
Montblanc High Artistry The First Ascent of the Mont Blanc Limited Editions are available from May 2022 at Montblanc boutiques worldwide and online. For more information visit www.montblanc.com