Leica is a famous name in cameras, and now with the introduction of its design house and manufacturer, Ernst Leitz Werkstätten, the company is looking to branch out into other luxury goods, including watches.
The LEICA L1 and the LEICA L2 are the first Leica watches available from the Werkstätten. Both watches were designed by Professor Achim Heine, who has designed a number of Leica cameras and other Leica products. According to Leica, the watches draw their design inspiration from creativity and precision, the hallmarks of the world-famous brand from Wetzlar, Germany.
“I am very happy that this long-term project can now be finally presented,” says Dr Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and majority shareholder of Leica Camera. “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.”
The German-made manually-wound movement is manufactured by Lehmann Präzision, based in the Black Forest area of Germany, while finishing, casing and final assembly are done in the Werkstätten on the Leitz Park campus.
“We built precision machines for Leica years ago, independently of this project,” says Markus Lehmann, Managing Director of Lehmann Präzision GmbH. “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 collaboration will be fruitful, which helped to intensify our partnership significantly.”
The two models are the L1 and the L2, both housed in 41mm stainless steel cases. The L1 displays the time, date and running seconds, with a power reserve indicator (based on an early Leica light meter display) and the L2 is the same as the L1 with a GMT with date and day night indicator added. Interestingly, the GMT uses an inner rotating bezel to display the second time zone.
The Leica Look
I recently visited the impressive Leitz Park campus in Wetzlar (designed to resemble a roll of 35mm film, or a lens, depending on how you look at it) while doing a story on German-Made products and got a walk-through of historical and current Leica products. While I was there, the Leica representative kept talking about the “Leica look,” the way the camera reproduces images and the way Leica products are designed. The new watches are very Leica – black and white, focused on function and easy to read and use. Both the new watches use a push to set crown, which is interesting as it is different from watches already on the market
In the near future, Leica has promised a version of the L2 model in rose gold, and limited editions of both the L1 and L2 will be available with a red dial.
The opening of the Ernst Leitz Werkstätten heralds a move by Leica into other luxury products. Bravo for starting with two well-thought out watches.