NEW YORK — The space is bigger and the location could hardly be more prominent. Montblanc has opened on the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and 57th Street, spotlighting limited-edition gold and bejeweled writing instruments sold only at this location, and the brand’s more widely distributed collection of pens, watches, jewelry, fragrance and accessories.
Of its 200 boutiques in 70 countries, the 57th Street unit is Montblanc’s largest and considered the brand’s world flagship. “You can really discover our products in our new location,” said Marion Davidson, senior vice president of marketing. “It’s got space and air.”
It’s natural that Montblanc’s 2,500-square-foot unit, with 1,900 square feet and one level for selling, would be small compared with most luxury flagships. Pens don’t require the space that ready-to-wear does. Still, the new flagship exhibits Montblanc’s growing collection with gallery-like esteem. The fixturing is innovative, with 400 lights to brighten the products and a linear array of oak fixtures in the brand’s signature dark color. “Floating” showcases protrude gracefully off the walls, a “watch wall” of 54 slots frames a total of 70 models as if they were individual works of art, and nesting tables prop up window displays. The flagship was designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, of Paris.
Outside, Montblanc touts its flagship with double-sided vertical blade signs, and imposing 11-foot double doors and 11-foot-high windows. The windows are set back into the facade for a close look at products and for inviting passersby to look inside the store. A bank previously occupied the building, which is owned by LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton(ironically, since Montblanc is ownedby LVMH’s competitor, Compagnie Financiere Richemont).
From the $375 Boheme fountain pen styled for women with resin and gemstones to the $60,000 John Harrison limited-edition, with diamonds and sapphires, Montblanc offers a wide range.
Up front, there is the Meisterstuck 149 pen, priced at $475. It’s considered the hallmark of the collection, with its black resin barrel and cap with gold fittings.
Walking deeper into the store, there are four limited-edition Fireworks models, with white gold, a diamond on the clip, and rubies or sapphires around the cap, priced at $17,500.Along the watch wall in the rear, prices go from $695 for the large face Summit model, with quartz movement and a leather strap, to $20,000 for a solid gold limited-edition. Sport watches, which Montblanc counts as bestsellers, are priced from $1,100 to $2,250. There are also men’s belts, priced from $125 in leather to $695 in exotic skins, as well as leather bags, priced from $475 to $1,950.
For exacting customers, Montblanc installed magnifying glasses that slide across the display cases and a viewing room for personal service.
The flagship is a world of difference from the former Montblanc store, which was on Madison between 57th and 58th Streets and has just been closed. It was a mere 460 square feet in size and a shade darker, and had big display cabinets that overpowered the tight space. Davidson would not specify how much more volume the flagship would generate, other than saying it would be four or five times greater than the old store’s. Fifty percent of Montblanc’s sales comes from writing instruments and the other 50 percent is from watches, leather goods and accessories.
According to Norbert Platt, chief executive of the $350 million Montblanc International, the decision to open a larger store was based on the company’s product diversification during the past few years beyond its core offering of writing instruments. He said in a statement that the decision to base the flagship in New York “underlines our continued faith in the luxury market in the U.S. Reports indicate that our timing could not have been better,” referring to recent upswings in luxury spending.
Montblanc is celebrating the opening with an outdoor exhibit of giant shopping bags, 10-feet-high-by-7-feet-wide and 3-feet deep, at Rockefeller Center starting Oct. 30. The bags were designed by David LaChapelle, Gary Hume, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Sylvie Fleury, Anne & Patrick Poirer and Sam Taylor-Wood. The display will be incorporated into advertising promoting the flagship, and paper versions of the shopping bag sculptures will be given to those making purchases at Montblanc during the two-week promotion period.
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