Montblanc celebrates Apollo 11 lunar landing's 50th anniversary with new range of StarWalker pens

A key feature of each pen is a beguiling blue translucent dome under the Montblanc six-pointed star or snowcap logo, evoking the blue planet as it rises above the lunar horizon.
A key feature of each pen is a beguiling blue translucent dome under the Montblanc six-pointed star or snowcap logo, evoking the blue planet as it rises above the lunar horizon.PHOTO: MONTBLANC
(From left) Montblanc ambassador Hugh Jackman, former astronaut Leroy Chiao, Inglourious Basterds star Diane Kruger, Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki and Riverdale star Charles Melton.
(From left) Montblanc ambassador Hugh Jackman, former astronaut Leroy Chiao, Inglourious Basterds star Diane Kruger, Montblanc CEO Nicolas Baretzki and Riverdale star Charles Melton.PHOTO: MONTBLANC

HOUSTON, UNITED STATES - On a cool Tuesday night in Houston earlier this month, the Lone Star Flight Museum was transformed into a celestial party venue by Montblanc, the German purveyor of luxury writing instruments, watches and leather goods.

The action took place in a stunning pop-up blue planetarium with mesmerising cosmic views projected on the dome ceiling.

Within its cavernous interiors, Montblanc executives mingled with international journalists and a star-studded line-up of guests, including Hollywood celebrities Hugh Jackman, Diane Kruger and Charles Melton (from the television series Riverdale), model Winnie Harlow and astronaut Leroy Chiao, who went on four missions and spent 229 days in space.

The shindig, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, celebrated not just space exploration, but also Montblanc's re-imagined range of its popular StarWalker pens.

Montblanc's chief executive officer Nicolas Baretzki said: "This year marks the 50th anniversary of the landing on the moon. Like Leroy, most astronauts who had the opportunity to see Earth from space over the years share the same unique feeling - the majesty of our planet is difficult to describe."

"That's why we decided to take a unique perspective of space exploration by looking back at our planet from the vast expanse of space. The StarWalker line is about innovation, engineering and modernity. This product line, as well as this new campaign, reminds us to preserve and cherish our planet."

The result is a range of sleek writing instruments - with platinum, metal and black resin fittings - inspired by rockets, astronauts and the big unknown yonder that is space.

A key feature of each pen is a beguiling blue translucent dome under the Montblanc six-pointed star or snowcap logo, evoking the blue planet as it rises above the lunar horizon.

 

One of the highlights of the celebration at the museum was a panel discussion with Mr Chiao and Mr Baretzki, led by Jackman, who is a Montblanc ambassador.

The star of movies such as The Wolverine and The Greatest Showman started the ball rolling by talking about how, when he was a child, he would lie in the backyard of his home in Australia, look up to the skies and dream of one day going into space.

He then turned the microphone on Mr Chiao, who was eight years old when he watched Apollo 11 land on the moon.

The 58-year-old, who was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1990 and became an astronaut the following year, said that was when his space dreams started.

"I said: 'Wow. I want to be like those guys, up there a quarter of a million miles away and getting ready to take those first steps,'" said the former astronaut, whose parents are Taiwanese immigrants in the United States.

His first flight into space as a mission specialist aboard the STS-65 in 1994 is something he will never forget.

"The first time I looked back at Earth, I was overwhelmed by how bright the colours were. It was an emotional moment."

The experience has made him appreciate Earth and all its gifts more.

Asked what the most important qualities of being an astronaut are, he replied: "One of the most important ones is the ability to work well in a team. Even now, as we contemplate longer flights farther away from Earth, that becomes even more important."

Mr Chiao, who was the first American to vote in a presidential election while in space in 2004, added: "Also, as astronauts, you have to be a jack of all trades. You have to be able to learn a lot of different things, you know, the systems, how they interact, Russian systems, the Russian language.

"You have to learn about the experiments you're going to do... And (you have) to have that drive and perseverance."

Mr Baretzki said Montblanc decided to work with Mr Chiao on the new StarWalker range for several reasons.

"We like only genuine stories. We're not going to talk about something we have no clue about. We want the real guy, the one that knows. And (with his) four times in space, he knows a lot."

He added: "There was something else that we learnt afterwards. Leroy is not just an amazing astronaut, he is also a big Montblanc aficionado."

Nodding, Mr Chiao said he had two Montblanc pens, one of which was the classic Meisterstuck, when he was a chemical engineering undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Before I went to the space station, my wife surprised me with (another) Mesiterstuck as a gift."

At this point, Jackman jumped in with an anecdote.

"You know, I when I was 14, I failed a test because my writing was illegible. My father said: 'Why did you fail this?' I said: 'Well, Dad, if you bought me a Montblanc fountain pen, I would write a lot better.' You know what he did? He said: 'No.'"

As the brand ambassador, he has access to as many Montblanc pens as he wants. They are what he uses when he writes in a special journal given to him by his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness.

"When you put a beautiful Montblanc pen in your hand, you think about what you're saying and what you're writing. It gives you space."

The StarWalker line-up includes a Precious Resin edition in all-black with contrasting metal fittings, a Doué edition with a black resin barrel paired with a metal cap or forepart, and a sleek full Metal edition. Each edition is available as a fountain pen, ballpoint and fineliner pen. Prices range from $485 to $1,145.