Hannibal Barca, Punic general from Carthage, is considered one of the greatest commanders of antiquity, alongside Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great. He is sometimes referred to as “the father of strategy” because his military tactics were adopted by his great nemesis, Rome. Setting out from Carthaginian-dominated Spain with a small army, he fought his way over the Pyrenees and crossed the Alps with elephants and a full baggage train at the outbreak of the Second Punic War. In his first few years in Italy, he won three battles — at Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae.
This remarkable strategist is the inspiration for Montblanc’s latest high-artistry writing instrument, which is a magical combination of technical virtuosity and boundless creativity. Leaning on the skills and the métiers d’arts that Montblanc’s craftspeople are famous for, this new creation defies the imagination.
Limited to just one piece worldwide as a tribute to this fearless individual — and at a price of €1.5 million — the High Artistry Homage to Hannibal Barca Limited Edition 1 features a dazzling combination of white gold and diamonds contrasting with a full pavé of blue sapphires. The elephant trunk clip is one of the most sophisticated ever conceived by Montblanc, with the elephant head cap and its trunk individually cut and set by hand.
The white gold, representing the snow that Hannibal withstood, stands out against the deep blue of the sapphires — a nod to the blue of the Mediterranean — on the barrel, embellished with individual rows of carée cut diamonds. Celebrating his epic journey to victory, the forepart of the writing instrument is engraved with his route from Carthage to Rome while the solid gold nib features the Carthaginian deity Baal’Hammon and is adorned with two brilliant-cut diamonds. Crowning the fountain pen, a magnificent 6.03-carat brilliant-cut diamond is displayed on a stone-holding table set with diamonds, while a blue sapphire cabochon from Ceylon shines at the base of the cone.
“Although the world is getting more digital, our writing instrument business is growing. People may not write as much as before, but when they do, they want a nice pen to do it with,” says Montblanc executive vice-president of marketing Jens Henning Koch, who launched the instrument in Singapore recently. “We have been working on the Hannibal Barca project for three years, and it is something our collectors are very excited about.”
In your hand, the pen sits with a comforting weight and the barrel, pavé-set with sapphires, is perfectly smooth to the touch. The cap comes off smoothly, and your fingers easily glide along its body, tracing its elegant profile. It is breathtakingly beautiful, almost too extravagant to actually fill with ink and use to write with — a quandary sure to face the collector who eventually takes this masterpiece home.
“Collectors of writing instruments have a wide range of interests. For them, it is not just the technical aspects of the pen but the story that goes with it,” Koch says. “They are interested in the level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into each piece, and it is an example of a
product where a man can get involved in high jewellery, which is really what the Hannibal Barca piece is about. But even though it is a high jewellery piece, the styling remains quite masculine and is very much representative of the visual codes of the maison.”
Once the pen is sold, Koch will never be able to hold it in his hands again — it is bittersweet for him, as the demand for this writing instrument is a source of much pride. “Through high craftsmanship is how you express what you are capable of as a maison,” he says. “It is a growing field that is increasingly appreciated. It represents the core of the maison. This piece is emblematic of our personality as the premium creator of the world’s most precious writing instruments.”
The Hannibal Barca collection
Missed out on owning this unique piece of art? The complete Hannibal Barca collection includes several other limited edition writing instruments and accessories.