If you’re like me, and are known throughout your immediate and extended family as “the pen guy,” then you have a collection of ballpoint pens that people have given you over the years as gifts. Some or all of them may be monogrammed or personalized in some way, making them nearly impossible to pass on or sell (setting aside, for the moment, the difficulties in selling gifts that often have sentimental value).
Case in point: when I graduated from law school, I was given a Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique ballpoint, with the platinum trim. It’s a beautiful pen, if you’re into the Montblanc black and platinum/gold aesthetic. It’s engraved with my initials, fits nicely in my hand, and is extremely comfortable to write with. The only problem is that I hated the standard Montblanc ballpoint refill. I found that it skipped a lot and didn’t leave a dark enough line for my taste. Plus I found the refills obscenely expensive, costing $12 or more (unless you buy them in bulk, which I couldn't justify, seeing that I dislike the way they write).
Enter Monteverde. Many people may not know this, but Monteverde manufactures a line of “capless” gel refills that fit ballpoint pens from many manufacturers, including Montblanc. I’ve outfitted the Classique with the fine blue/black Monteverde refill, and I’ve also upgraded a Parker jotter using Monteverde's Parker-compatible gel refill. Both are great pens, and they now appear in my rotation on a weekly basis.
One word of caution: Monteverde’s quality control can be inconsistent. For example, I have a Waterman retractable ballpoint that I also wanted to convert into a gel pen. A couple years back, I purchased some of the “Waterman-compatible” gel refills and they simply didn’t fit, despite there being no visible difference from the standard Waterman refill. Apparently, the Monteverde refill had an ever-so-slightly larger diameter, so somebody must've gotten the measurements wrong at the factory. (The store I purchased them from ended up allowing me to exchange them for the standard Waterman ballpoint refill, which is actually pretty decent.) Amazon reviews are also mixed. There are complaints about the Monteverde refills being scratchy, drying up, leaking, and running out quickly, though I have to say that has not been my own experience. (Note: if you are used to writing with a ballpoint pen, gel refills WILL run out quickly if you write a lot. There was one complaint from someone who claimed that he wrote a full page by hand every day and was surprised that the gel pen ran out after a month. That’s par for the course, in my experience.) In general, take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt—my personal favorite was a one-star review because the refill “does not fit fake Montblanc pens.”
I have had nothing but good experiences with the Monteverde refills. I’ve gone through two of them, and each has lasted me a fairly long time when used for light note-taking. At $24 for a pack of 6, they are much less expensive than a standard Montblanc-branded refill. They also come in blue-black (my favorite) in addition to the standard black and royal blue.
If gel pens aren’t for you, Monteverde’s “softroll” ballpoint refills are also quite nice. I have the blue-black refill in my Maxmadco stainless steel retractable pen, and I’ve enjoyed it. The company even makes a Lamy-compatible refill.
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