Leica has long been known as one of the premiere camera manufacturers in the world, delivering fine German craftsmanship to a wide range of products. While they have dabbled in other areas, the iconic brand is now shifting its focus to timepieces. For the first time, Leica is unveiling a pair of watches that lean on the familiar designs we’ve seen from its other offerings. More below.
The two watches, dubbed L1 and L2, sport varying features and are expected to carry the usual hefty price tag associated with Leica products. Both have a beautiful minimalist design with sharp black dials and white hands. Of course, hints of red highlight both pieces in typical Leica fashion.
German designer Achim Heine is behind the visuals of both models. It’s clear that he stayed true to Leica’s roots with familiar design cues that fit right in with the brand’s other offerings. Both watches comes in at 41mm in diameter, which is slightly smaller than the larger Apple Watch. Cases are brushed in stainless steel, which is a unique look for watches these days. Sapphire crystal glass covers both the front and back, showcasing the manual movements found inside.
The L2 model has the most features, which include GMT functionality for tracking a second timezone thanks to hour markings on an inner rotating bezel. There’s also an indicator that details day and night. According to Leica, this project has been a long time coming.
“I am very happy that this long-term project can now be finally presented. I believe that together with our partners we have succeeded in developing a “Made in Germany” watch that is worthy of the name Leica and which represents the values of our premium brand extremely well,” says Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
Final pricing has yet to be announced on Leica’s upcoming watches, but prices are expected to be under €10,000 or $11,500 for the L1 model. The upgraded L2 is expected to cost more with its additional features.
ERNST LEITZ WERKSTÄTTEN: OPENING OF THE MANUFACTURE AND PRESENTATION OF THE LEICA WATCH
With the inauguration of the third phase of the Leitz-Park, the “Ernst Leitz Werkstätten” commences operations and establishes a completely new and exclusive product line in the Leica Camera AG portfolio: mechanically highly complex and sophisticated watches made in small series. The Ernst Leitz Werkstätten is housed on the latest phase of Leitz-Park and offers a fascinating insight into the elaborate production of “Made in Germany” watches through the manufacture’s viewing windows. Their premises include an assembly workshop, a consulting studio and a store.
Two models – the LEICA L1 and the LEICA L2 – will initially be available for the launch of the Leica Watch. Both variants draw their design inspiration from the creativity and precision, the hallmarks of the world-famous brand from Wetzlar. Both models were designed by Professor Achim Heine, who was overlooking the design of many Leica Camera products over the years and has extensive knowledge of the company’s design principles. The Leica signature look can be found in the countless design elements and features of the watches: the elegance of the hands and indexes, the shape of the finely-detailed stainless-steel case, the special fluting on the crown and the cambered shape of the glass that is reminiscent of a camera lens.
Both models are operated by a mechanical movement with manual winding, which has been newly developed and can be viewed through the glass case back made of robust sapphire crystal. For Leica, the “Made in Germany” aspect is particularly important, hence the collaboration with Lehmann Präzision GmbH. The development, design and a large proportion of the components come from the manufacture situated in Germanys’ Black Forest and help the watches to achieve a very distinct vertical range of manufacture.
Design and technology complement each other perfectly in Leica watches: both the front glass and the back-case-cover are made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with the front being anti-reflective on both sides, and each model has the patented push-piece crown with a corresponding status display on the dial. The combination with the zero setting of the second hand is another special feature – the crown is therefore not only aesthetically appealing, but also adds a useful function to the watches.
The design, which is reduced to the essentials and coupled with uncompromisingly high quality, make the LEICA L1 and LEICA L2 not only a functional instrument, but also a real statement piece.
Dr Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and majority shareholder of Leica Camera AG, about the Ernst Leitz Werkstätten: ‘I am very happy that this long-term project can now be finally presented. I believe that together with our partners we have succeeded in developing a “Made in Germany” watch that is worthy of the name Leica and which represents the values of our premium brand extremely well!’
Markus Lehmann, Managing Director of Lehmann Präzision GmbH, on the cooperation with Leica Camera: ‘We built precision machines for Leica years ago, independently of this project. It has of course been very interesting to work with Leica in two such different areas, although the watch project was and is a project very close to my heart. We knew in the run-up to this project that this cooperation will be fruitful, which helped to intensify our partnership significantly.’
The LEICA L1 and the LEICA L2 will be available in selected Leica Stores as well as at watch dealers worldwide from autumn 2018. The L2 model will also be available in a version with an 18 karat rose gold case. To mark the occasion of the Ernst Leitz Werkstätten commencing operation, limited special models of the two stainless steel versions with a red dial will be released.