Into the World of Montblanc with Karl Handke
As Karl Handke sat at the Montblanc jewellery salon in Mumbai, sipping his black tea, I noticed the beautiful pen lying on his black, leather-bound organiser. “It’s a UNICEF limited edition pen, which has a small diamond on the cap,” he later tells me, adding that a part of the proceeds from the sales of the pen were donated to UNICEF’s initiatives to fight illiteracy. But looking at the star, you could be sure that there was more than one reason for anyone to be proud of it. Handke, Montblanc’s President, Western Hemisphere, who’s been with the company for almost 28 years, was in India to launch the new Collection Princesse Grace de Monaco. The collection, which comprises watches, pens and jewellery, is a tribute to Grace Kelly. In his words, “She’s one of the best known style icons the world has seen.”
The Glittering Star
A highlight of the collection is the jewellery, which actually strengthens Montblanc’s foundation in fine jewellery. “We did start with men’s jewellery, by way of cufflinks, then there was silver jewellery for women, and now, since there’s a demand for fine jewellery, we’re
going further into the category,” Handke explains. “Of course, the design philosophy is rather different from what we usually do. It wouldn’t work well for the Montblanc logo to be on fine
jewellery, so we have a different line of inspiration to follow in that category—recognisable, yet subtle.” But all of that is a part of the brand’s evolution, a progression of the ‘concentric circle’ strategy, which Handke goes on to explain, having been an instrumental part of it.
Battling Fake Stars
Even in India, Montblanc is one of the most recognisable luxury brands, since it made its foray into the market much before trade laws were eased. An icon like that is definitely a target for duplication, which raises the pressing issue of counterfeit products. “It is very difficult for us, but things are changing, with the efforts of many. The Richemont Group is also investing a lot into fighting counterfeiting.”
(Read more in the July-August 2012 issue of Time 'n Style. On Stands Soon!)
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