[Tech & Gadgets]
Leica Camera AG – a brand renowned worldwide for its superior cameras and optics, departed from the norm and launched a completely new and exclusive product line – the Leica Watch, on 13 June 2018 in Wetzlar, Germany. While I’m used to seeing Leica collaborate with brands like Huawei and Panasonic (I have devices from both brands that use Leica technologies), it comes as a big surprise to me that Leica is adding watches to its portfolio, a departure from the norm. However, innovation is always key for brands to survive and thrive in this highly dynamic and competitive world.
The launch is in line with the inauguration of the third phase of the Leitz Park, the “Ernst Leitz Werkstätten” as it commences operations and produces the new mechanically highly complex and sophisticated watches made in small series. The Ernst Leitz Werkstätten is housed on the latest phase of Leitz Park in Wetzlar, Germany, and offers a fascinating insight into the elaborate production of “Made in Germany” watches through the manufacturer’s viewing windows on their premises which includes 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 Leica. 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 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 manufacturer situated in Germany’s Black Forest, and helps the watches achieve a very distinct vertical range of manufacture.
Design and technology are evident in the new 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 for the modern man.
Dr Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and majority shareholder of Leica Camera AG, about the Ernst Leitz Werkstätten shared, “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 enthused, “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.
I for one will be looking forward to seeing the new Leica watches at the Leica store in Avenue K, Kuala Lumpur soon!
Visuals courtesy of Leica Malaysia.