When phrase first obtained out that Leica, esteemed makers of a number of the most beloved cameras on the earth, was debuting two new wristwatches, there have been admittedly combined reactions from each the horological and photographic communities. Most of the most devoted Leica fanatics have been skeptical concerning the model’s transfer into a totally totally different product class, and sentiment from some within the watch world (lots of whom are additionally Leica digital camera customers), was comparable. In any case, there had been Leica co-branded watch tasks up to now that hadn’t precisely been game-changing — was this going to be an identical case?
Having now noticed Leica’s operations in Germany first-hand and spent a while with each the watches and the staff that developed them (NOTE: our L1 evaluate mannequin featured a purple dial, however the watch additionally obtainable in black), we might be fairly assured of a number of issues, first amongst them being that this challenge concerned critical consideration, improvement and iteration from the ground-up, and that that is certainly not simply one other co-branded watch. Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board for Leica Digital camera AG, started the venture in 2012, talking with a number of German watch producers whose actions he thought-about for inclusion in a Leica digital camera. Ultimately, it was determined that none of those actions was passable, and Lehmann Präzision GmbH within the Black Forest area was chosen to supply a customized motion, which might be completed by Leica of their Ernst Leitz Workshops in Wetzlar.
Given the complexity of the actions and their performance, it ought to come as little shock that each the L1 and L2 watches shall be premium merchandise with worth factors over 10,000 EUR (each watches shall be obtainable late this winter or early subsequent spring, and be bought by way of the Leica LA retailer in restricted portions). And given these MSRPs, in fact, any potential shopper is probably going going to scrutinize the watches all of the extra rigorously earlier than making a purchase order, maybe even to the purpose of contemplating whether or not the event prices of utterly new actions (and their being handed on to the buyer) are well worth the worth of admission.
As Leica digital camera customers and collectors are such a devoted, loyal group, there appears no higher assortment of individuals whose opinions on the brand new watch are considerate, informative, and most significantly, insightful with regard as to if or not Leica has developed a product that really captures the essence of why individuals love the model a lot.
Bret Curry, Cinematographer
Bret Curry is a cinematographer based mostly in Los Angeles, California. His credit embrace tv exhibits for AMC and Nationwide Geographic and his work on function and brief movies has screened at festivals together with Sundance and SXSW.
“The merchandise of Ernst Leitz Wetzlar are all over the place on the earth of a cinematographer – from their movement image lenses and instruments to their nonetheless cameras – there’s not often a time through which The Pink Dot just isn’t inside eyesight. Amongst manufacturing crew the phrase Leica invokes a reverence that’s equaled solely by that of ARRI, Panavision and Kodak (corporations who’re of comparable age and have survived many modifications in panorama). The digital camera division particularly is full of women and men who’ve a definite obsession with bodily objects and their clever purposes, so it’s pure that one encounters a good variety of people on set focused on wristwatches.
The day the Leica L1 (and L2) have been introduced I used to be on the set of a present that was capturing with Leica Summicron-C lenses, and the place there have been a number of Leica nonetheless cameras floating about. Although there was a dearth of amature horologists round that day – there have been various these sufficient to take heed to me justify why Leica determined to make a watch, why it was so costly, and why I assumed it was truly a reasonably strong execution.
I feel the general restraint in design and the way a lot it displays the philosophy of the Leica digital camera and never the precise object is refreshing. There’s a sure mid-20th century timelessness to Leica’s merchandise that’s current right here. There’s additionally the appropriate proportion of Leica Pink represented by the sub-dial hand and that splendidly boxy and utilitarian Leica font. My new favourite complication (after spending a lot time with it on my Tudor North Flag) is the facility reserve, and I like its delicate implementation on the L1. Every little thing feels well-considered and applicable. If something, it feels a contact too reserved with the omission of the basic Leica signature, however that’s higher than the choice. The collaboration with Lehmann for a customized German-made motion is a pleasant contact as properly.
I solely have a number of complaints and needs for future variations. For a hard and fast bezel watch I might have beloved to see it max out at 40mm, ideally 39mm. I might additionally like to see a 3rd model with a dive bezel, a particularly useful gizmo on a movie set for a lot of duties together with maintaining your self trustworthy to the time estimates you give to producers. I additionally have a tendency to make use of my dive bezel when I’m capturing nonetheless photographs to maintain myself from spending an excessive amount of time at anybody location. I really like fixed-bezel sport watches just like the Explorer and North Flag and am glad the L1 exists, however to me a Leica watch actually must have some time-tracking complication. Lastly, I’m on the fence concerning the ruby crown. Leica merchandise, regardless of being typically represented as luxurious items, are literally well-valued instruments as a result of they really do ship superior high quality and efficiency. The present crown feels a bit too decorative for the spirit of Leica. Nevertheless, generously, the ruby might stand in for what’s known as The Leica Look, that ineffable high quality attributed to the pictures produced by the mixture of their cameras and lenses.
I like that this can be a restricted endeavor for Leica proper now and that they aren’t increasing too far past their core competencies or slapping their emblem on an inferior product. I can solely assume that given all of the elements the worth level is justified, however I definitely wouldn’t be towards the thought of them barely increasing the road to incorporate a dive watch and discovering a option to deliver the worth level down only a bit. To that time, Leica ought to take no matter classes they’ve discovered from the introduction of the Leica Q and apply them right here. To me the Q is the right digital camera, a distilled and refined model of the basic Leica M expertise at a worth level that has transformed many Canon, Nikon, and Fuji shooters to the model in a approach that the M-system has been too out of attain to do.”
Henry Phillips, Deputy Photograph Editor, Gear Patrol
Henry Phillips is the Deputy Photograph Editor at Gear Patrol. He’s fostered a love of Leica cameras ever since he was given his grandfather’s pristine screw-mount IIIG from 1959. An M6, and M9 and numerous press check cameras have come and gone. He lately made the marginally rash choice of promoting a full Nikon DSLR package to finance one thing with a pink dot on it. Q? M? We’ll simply should see.
“Let’s speak about intent. Particularly, the “why” of a product. One firm that’s pretty unimaginable at creating and cultivating this “why” is Leica. You may think that individuals who spend $10,000 on a digital camera that doesn’t have most of the options of a $2,000 digital camera would have hassle justifying it with out going into nebulous, ethereal descriptions about handfeel, heirloom, and heft. What they really do is speak about pretty concrete issues: precision optics, brief flange distance, rangefinder area of view, mild weight and compact measurement. These are tangible, measurable issues that differentiate the product! Positive, a Leica rangefinder can also be lovely and timeless and it ages in unimaginable methods, however there are distinct benefits that try and justify an eye-watering asking worth.
Do Leica’s two new watches have that? I’m unsure. The actions are for positive novel. Positive they’re not strictly in-house however Lehmann Präzision isn’t precisely a family identify. I recognize that they did one thing cool with the little micro-complication of the date- and time-setting mechanism once they in all probability didn’t need to — one will get the sense that early on in Leica’s watch renaissance the model identify and emblem will do a lot of the advertising for them. The upside of this type of over-complication is it appears indicative of a a lot deeper dedication to watchmaking and a willingness to truly make investments some cash in R&D.
On the design entrance, it appears a bit…immature. Not likely within the sense of being infantile or whimsical or something — that is German watchmaking we’re speaking about, in any case — however there’s lots happening and the path appears nonetheless within the improvement levels. Perhaps the simplest instance is that the GMT has three factors of interplay and every one has a totally totally different end. It seems like proof of excessive degree design considering — all three inputs have totally different features, why shouldn’t they’ve totally different finishes? — however not essentially a cohesive design language. One other: the ruby within the crown is an fascinating callback to the basic purple Leica dot, however why be so shy concerning the Leica connection? I’m positive no Leica watch purchaser would fault the corporate for swapping that purplish stone to a easy purple enamel filling. I assume it’s greatest summed up by this dichotomy of attachment to Leica cameras. On one hand, there are name backs — the ruby crown, energy reserves modeled after previous mild meters — however on the opposite, barely bigger, hand there isn’t actually a lot hyperlink previous these gadgets. If the dial stated something however Leica, you’d by no means make the connection. Is that a good factor? A nasty factor? I’m unsure. Will consumers be drawn to the watch due to or regardless of the Leica wordmark?
Usually although, and perhaps regardless of what my common debbie-downer-ism may lead you to consider, I’m truly fairly drawn to the black-dial variants of the L1 and L2. Stuff just like the typography, the polished case and the tech-y ness of the arms and hour indicators actually do it for me. I additionally actually like that they weren’t too valuable concerning the model’s heritage, that is undoubtedly a look ahead to the man who shoots a digital Leica, not the one waxing poetic about ‘the decisive second’ and the M3.
However is all that sufficient to create intent? On the finish of the day I’m unsure these first new timekeeping efforts current a robust sufficient argument. And the persuasive argument is what made Leica particular within the first place, proper? Let’s shove cinema movie right into a stills digital camera and let’s make it tiny utilizing optical high quality no one’s ever seen. That’s some critically revolutionary considering. The L1 and L2 trace at that sort of flip-the-script mentality however perhaps juuuust miss. The L1 begins north of $10,000 and to my thoughts in the mean time you is perhaps higher served by spending your cash on the exceptional new M10P and a Nomos Tangente. What’s thrilling although, is that my reply could also be completely totally different as soon as Leica will get a pair extra years of watchmaking beneath its belt and decides to actually make the leap.
Adam Marelli, Photographer
Adam Marelli is a photographer and artist who spent ten years apprenticing with a grasp builder engaged on high-end residential tasks and because the scholar of a Zen monk. He spent seven years learning in a monastery educating college students easy methods to keep the constructing in trade for his schooling, and has a singular strategy to images. He presently hosts worldwide images workshops in Europe and Asia for small teams all year long.
“When Leica develops a product, it takes time. A lot of the well-known Leica lenses and digital camera our bodies are years, even many years, in improvement earlier than they attain their iconic standing. Earlier than then, they’re typically ridiculed as clunky, costly toys for individuals who don’t know good worth. Which is why, once we contemplate Leica’s new efforts to develop a watch, we may be higher off by wanting on the timeline of improvement, fairly than the primary launch.
In 2006 Leica launched the M8 digital rangefinder digital camera. Equally hailed and hated, the digital camera began an evolution that led to the brand new Leica M10-P, probably the best digital rangefinder ever made. However seen from the buyer finish this course of took 12 years to refine. Nevertheless, with fixed dedication to the digital rangefinder ambition Leica ultimately nailed it. Creating a watch could be the identical factor.
If we contemplate the manufacturing overlap of mechanical cameras and mechanical watches, it truly makes extra sense for Leica to make a watch than it did for them to develop a digital digital camera. They have been by no means an electronics firm, however a maker of finely machined black metallic packing containers (usually referred to as cameras). To create a watch, Leica stated they needed to start out with the motion, which sounds apparent, however for a lot of new watch corporations it isn’t how they begin. Comparatively, many corporations purchase a ready-made motion and begin with the case, dial, bezel, arms, and crown. Why? As a result of for the buyer market, these are the eye-catching elements of a watch and far simpler to design than a motion.
Leica, in true Leica trend, picked the toughest a part of a watch first, the motion. It’s exactly because of this, that the watch will in all probability not understand its aesthetic potential for a number of iterations. But when a Leica watch have been to embody the Leica feel and appear, what does the corporate have of their design archives that we might sit up for seeing in a watch?
A Leica M digital camera, from an aesthetic perspective, is designed to age nicely… to grow to be a “wabi-sabi” piece of photographic gear. The unique black our bodies brassed over time. The black paint wore off with repeated dealing with to disclose the strong brass base plate. That is simply one thing that might be achieved in a watch conversion with a brass or bronze alloy case and a specialised DLC (“diamond-like carbon”) coating on the watch. The wear and tear on the watch might be as pure as on a digital camera as a result of a watch is dealt with each time it comes on/off of the wrist.
Whereas wanting on the watch, Leica has an already-established engraved font set. Whether or not it’s the Leica script on the highest plate of an M digital camera or the numbers engraved to the lens barrel, Leica has all the typography anybody would wish to create a line of legible watch dials with smart historical past.
In relation to the texture of a watch, the machining of a Leica M was labored out earlier than the times when rubbers and plastic have been widespread. If grip was wanted on a bit of metallic, it was deep knurling that carved texture into the digital camera dials. This once more might simply turn into the bezel or crown particulars on a watch.
Lastly, and probably probably the most difficult, can be for Leica to develop watch crystals that make the most of their lens know-how. Leica’s anti-reflective lens coatings are top-notch and must be for rending photographs. The calls for enormously exceed something that exists for watch crystals. Moreover, whereas many watch corporations go for flat crystals, Leica has the capability to fabricate each spherical and aspherical lens parts that curve out and in. Consider a theoretical domed crystal that has a convex level because it enters the bezel. The potential is unbelievable. The one query is can this train be allowed to evolve within the current financial local weather the place merchandise have to be on the spot successes? Can Leica take the strategy they began within the 1900s to develop a watch within the 2000s? Solely time will inform.”