Leica Brings Its Camera Expertise to Two Innovative New Watches

leica-brings-its-camera-expertise-to-two-innovative-new
watches

Can a 150-year-old camera company make a decent watch? It turns out the answer is yes, and the new L1 and L2 watches from renowned German camera manufacturer Leica are proof. The Leica L1 and L2, with their understated styling and mostly black color scheme, certainly look similar to Leica’s sleek cameras, but it’s what’s on the inside that really makes them stand out. Both watches are powered by a new, German-made mechanical movement—a testament to Leica’s long history of precision engineering.

Aesthetically, the Leica L1 and L2 watches utilize design hallmarks found across Leica’s lineup of cameras. That’s no surprise considering designer Achim Heine, who’s worked with Leica on its products and branding, conceptualized the exterior look of both timepieces.

Both feature 41mm stainless steel cases and matte black dials made of aluminum. The understated black look recalls the minimalist exteriors of Leica cameras, while details like the delicately pointed hands, rhodium- and diamond-plated indices, and unique knurling on the crown evoke precision and quality craftsmanship. Even the domed sapphire crystal over the dial is a nod to Leica’s cameras; it was chosen as a reference to the curved glass of a camera lens.

Equally impressive is how Leica managed to fit in a lot of functionality on a very uncluttered dial. Both watches feature a seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, a date window at 3 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator between 8 and 9 o’clock. The L2 gets even more: It comes with a 12-hour scale set around the bezel (for tracking a second time zone), and a day-night indicator. But even with all that info displayed, the dials looks pared-down and unfussy, and they’re very easy to read.

Leica L1 and Leica L2 watchesCourtesy Image

Yet even with those impressive aesthetics, the real highlight is what’s inside these watches: an entirely new mechanical movement. To produce it, Leica partnered with another German company it’s worked with in the past: Lehmann Präzision. That collaboration resulted in not just a new movement, but a patented new design for a push crown.

By pushing the crown in on the L1 or L2, you can stop the seconds sub-dial and reset it to zero; and by pushing it again, you can set the watch ticking once more (an indicator on the dial shows whether the crown is pushed in or out). It’s an innovative bit of engineering, and another nod to Leica’s existing product line.

“We wanted the crown to be pressed down like the release button of a camera,” Heine said in a press release. “This is an unusual detail that perfectly fits in with Leica.”

A lot of work went into creating this made-in-Germany movement, so Leica made sure you can get a good look at it. Both watches feature open case backs, with the watch’s inner machinery proudly on display. It’s covered by flat sapphire crystal.

Leica L2 case backCourtesy Image

The movement is manually wound and offers a 60-hour power reserve. Both watches are water resistant to 50 meters, so they’re safe from splashes and rain. The L1 and L2 have one other thing in common with Leica’s cameras—they’re expensive.

But for die-hard photographers or anyone who appreciates some clever engineering, these new timepieces make a compelling offering.

Both the L1 and L2 are now available for sale at the Leica store in Los Angeles and other Leica stores around the globe.

[Leica L1, $10,000; Leica L2, $14,000; leica-camera.com]

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