With this article I review an ink that is tragically no longer available from the majority of online shops and retailers across the country and across the world. Why review it? First, because none of my reviews serve as advertisements. I’m not trying to sell you something by writing about inks and pens or anything else I might write about on this website. These reviews are nothing more than a summary of my thoughts and experiences and the fulfilment of my duty to give back to a community that has given me so much. I believe that the vibrant online community of those who write by hand and collect fountain pens has a huge propensity for good. If I can do my own small part to move things along, then I will be happy with that.
These reviews, it could be said, are written as a sort of record. Brands change over time and with them, so do their products. In a world as archivally obsessed as fountain pens, these things ought to be recorded. I feel that a review that goes in depth with pictures offers a good snapshot of an ink in a given time and what an ink was like in 2019, for example, compared to many years later. The same thing might not be able to be said of this ink, because it's no longer made. It's not as if Montblanc Blue Hour's qualities will change from year to year because it was made only once. Montblanc produced a limited number of bottles a few years ago to match up and sell along with their Blue Hour Solitaire fountain pens. Once the run was complete, they stopped producing it and it’s unlikely that they will return to it in the future. My hope is that in reviewing this ink, I offer a unique glimpse into a part of the history of the Montblanc brand and a product that many people think might be one of the best inks that they have produced.
I’ve already written of my contempt for Montblanc’s latest pricing strategy for their fountain pen inks. I won’t go into depth, but essentially my main point of criticism is that they have been charging exorbitant prices without the relative quality and value to back them up. Only time will tell if the strategy is successful for the company, but in my mind, they have priced the average fountain pen user and collector right out of the market.
Montblanc Blue Hour ink was made and sold before the price hike that occurred seemingly only for Montblanc’s special edition inks. The bottles of special edition inks made now are sold in 50ml sizes, a considerable increase from this miniature 30ml bottle. Funnily enough though, one would think that the price would increase in correlation to the increase in quantity of ink that you get. Instead, it seems that they have more than doubled the price. In the end it's up to everyone to consider for themselves whether their new inks are worth it, but the way I see it, fewer people are now able to make that choice.
While reading through the Gourmet Pens blog by Azizah, I saw a fantastic review of this ink and I knew I had to try it out. I was not disappointed, and I have come to feel as though it is a small tragedy that Montblanc hasn't yet decided to add it to their regular lineup of inks. With Blue Hour, Montblanc has come up with an ink color that is thoroughly unique and worthy of attention from two different camps of fountain pen users; those who mainly write creatively, and those who use their pens in a professional setting.
The Ink's diversity lies in it's color, which is both visually interesting and serious enough to be used in a professional or academic setting. The color is thoroughly unique, almost to the extent that you really have to see it in person to believe it. Pictures alone do not do it justice. The ink is called "Blue Hour," but there's a lot more going on inside the bottle than just blue. On the page, tones of sea green, dark turquoise, grey, and of course blue fascinate the eyes but are still subtle enough not to distract from the words written. Where the ink pools up on the paper, a dark turquoise with a fascinating thin red sheen at the edges adds visual play to what might be an otherwise ubiquitous dark blue ink. For the pictures in this review, I am using a broad nib that lays down a wet line. In medium and fine nibs, the ink will appear lighter and will be a dusty blue. When the nib touches the paper and lays down it's wet line of ink, the ink itself looks to be a deep blue. It's only after the ink settles and dries on the paper that it's complexity can be fully admired.
The difficulty of finding an ink that functions properly in a work setting but also has enough interest so as you don't die from boredom is one that shouldn't be understated.
For many deep into the hobby, normal blues and blacks are fine once in a while and even enjoyable in certain circumstances. But, when you have to rely on them and only them day after day for all your writing at work or university, they can quickly become tedious. Blue Hour successfully bridges the divide. It offers a serious and respectable color, as well as complexity in spades to let those reading your writing that yes, you do use fountain pens.
What of the ink's performance? Surely if it excels in the color category then it must have faults in the area of performance. Amazingly, there is little to complain about in the area of how the ink behaves on the page, even on cheaper copy paper. If you wanted to be very picky then you could criticise the weak water resistance, but I'd wager for most people that's not a major requirement of an ink anyway. It flows on the wet side of medium, and slightly wetter than most of the inks in the normal Montblanc line.
With a couple of flushes of water, the ink cleans right out of any pen I have used it with. It's a refreshing quality to enjoy considering than many boutique ink makers who carry out a complex ink like this one produce inks that cling like crazy to the insides of pens and in some cases need up to 15 minutes of cleaning just to get it out of the pen.
If it were still sold in stores from Montblanc, I would not hesitate to make this ink my go to for everyday writing in all situations. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I would consider buying a gallon of it just to have on hand. I was lucky enough to buy three bottles of it when it first came out, and I am only halfway through the first one so far. When those bottles are used up, that's it for Montblanc Blue Hour unless they decide to reintroduce it later on. In sincerely hope that they do. Until then, I am on the search for a good substitute to switch to when I run out.