Gear: Leica Is Stepping Into The World Of Watches. Plus, Zagato-Designed M10s Are A Thing Now

Leica Is Stepping Into The World Of Watches. Plus, Zagato-Designed M10s Are A Thing Now

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
June 20, 2018
1 comments

L1/L2 photo credit to Hodinkee, M10 Zagato Edition photos courtesy of Leica

Leica has long been one of the top players in the industry of turning scenes of life into beautiful two-dimensional images, and the Wetzlar, Germany-based camera manufacturer recently announced that they’ll be stepping into the watch world now too. The logo has been officially licensed on a timepiece in the past for anniversary celebrations, but never have they built a watch from the ground up. Now they have two: the L1 and L2, named in keeping with Leica’s very minimalistic style. The L2 is very similar to the L1, but adds GMT functionality and day/night indicator (in case you can’t get to a window to check if the sun’s out). The watches are being made in unlimited quantity apparently, but in the first year only 400 will be produced. They are also offered in red, as pictured. There are some neat little homages to their camera history, like the ruby set in the crown reminiscent of the red dot logo.

The movements for both watches are made in Germany by Lehmann Präzision, so while they aren’t entirely built by Leica in this sense, they are very much “Made in Germany” as the face points out. The designs are the work of the industrial designer Achim Heine (also German, that’s kind of Leica’s thing isn’t it?), who has worked on camera projects with the company for the past few decades prior to his influences on the L1 and L2 watches.

Price? Well it’s Leica so don’t expect them to come cheap, but also, it’s Leica, so expect them to be very high quality items that fall well beyond the heirloom watermark. The L1, the cheaper of the two, will be priced around 10,000€, or roughly $10,600. They will go on sale later this year at Leica stores worldwide, and the brand says they have plans for more watches in the future.

Leica also recently announced a special edition of its venerable M10 digital camera, designed in collaboration with Italian design firm and coachbuilder Zagato. The camera is functionally the same as the standard M10—the Zagato version comes with a Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 lens attached, which features Zagato elements like the double-bubble inspired focus aid and of course the Zagato logotype circling the inner bezel. The lens features a pretty trick incorporated hood that retracts and extends without needing to be attached or removed. The camera body itself has a handful of unique elements as well, most noticeable of which is the typical Leica leather grip being replaced by groves in the frame, as well as the more ergonomic hand grip on the side of this camera; the standard M10 is flat across the front plane.

There are smaller details like the coloring of the logo and the shutter release, the “step” on the top deck, the shape of the strap lugs, the inclusion of engraved serial numbers, and certainly the material itself: the top deck, baseplate, outer casing, and control elements are all made of aluminum. It’s a sharp looking piece of camera kit, no doubt, but exclusivity—only 250 will be made—comes at a price, and a steep one. At roughly $21,000, the package is the same as the deposit on most homes. For reference, the standard M10 and the Summilux go for about half that and are mechanically identical. Still not cheap, but it’s all relative.

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Chris Cushing

You know, I was going to say something snarky. For a long time I’ve been a Leica detractor- I think they peaked with the M5. Since it was not well liked they’ve spent the next several decades trying to rekindle the magic of the M2 and M3… But having recently shot and reviewed the M-A for another site, I’ll concede that it’s pretty good magic. I loved shooting it. It’s a brilliant piece. The Zagato is a little too “bling” for me, but then I tend to prefer a more humble camera. I have a constantly-growing camera collection, but my… Read more »