Leica Places Watches within the Image

Leica Puts Watches in the Picture

Leica Digicam has spent the previous few years understanding its horological street map.

The German firm, identified globally for its cameras, lenses and different optical devices, dabbled in watches occasionally throughout its 154-year historical past. Then it introduced its first in-house assortment in 2018, with the 2 fashions arriving in shops early final yr and a design variation launched in April.

Now, a group of seven timepieces is scheduled to roll out by the top of the yr.

“Like the cameras, the watches follow Das Wesentliche, this German expression that Leica follows that we translate to ‘the essential,’” stated Marcus Eilinger, co-managing director of Ernst Leitz Werkstätten, the Leica division that develops its watches. “It’s the idea of eliminating all distractions and looking to the core of something.” Named for Leica’s founder Ernst Leitz, the operation relies on the digital camera firm’s campus in Wetzlar, Germany, about an hour’s drive north of Frankfurt.

The watches had been designed by somebody acquainted with Leica: Achim Heine. A professor of experimental product design on the Berlin College of the Arts, Mr. Heine has labored on a number of Leica cameras, together with current variations of the M sequence, and he prolonged their aesthetic look to the watches.

The primary assortment featured the L1, a time-and-date mannequin ($10,000), and the L2, with a G.M.T. perform ($14,000); the 41-millimeter stainless-steel timepieces later had been renamed the ZM1 and ZM2. The ZM stands for Zeitmesser, the German phrase for timepiece.

Each fashions characteristic what Leica calls the primary patented push crown (historically, crowns are pulled out and twisted to set the time). And every one has a proprietary mechanical motion that requires handbook winding, made by the German watch elements producer Lehmann Präzision. Leica has a partnership with Lehmann, based mostly within the Black Forest in southwestern Germany, for the manufacturing and meeting of its watches.

The ZM Monochrom Version — all black, except Leica’s signature crimson dot on the crown — was launched this previous spring concurrently the M11 Monochrom, a digital camera that takes solely black-and-white pictures. “It is a way to have consumers think about a camera and link that thought to a watch,” stated Mike Giannattasio, president of Leica Digicam North America, a Leica subsidiary.

The ZM1 Monochrom ($11,500) and the ZM2 Monochrom ($15,500) have diamond-cut, sandblasted indexes and arms, plated in black rhodium, and a strap of black calf leather-based that the model stated was an identical to the black leather-based cowl of the M11 Monochrom digital camera.

Over time, Leica often licensed its identify to third-party producers who made timepieces. For instance, in 2014, the Swiss unbiased model Valbray created the EL1, a limited-edition titanium chronograph to rejoice 100 years of the 35-millimeter digital camera, produced by Leica.

The identical yr, Leica’s majority proprietor and chairman, Andreas Kaufmann, determined to “look for a sincere way to make watches,” Mr. Giannattasio stated.

Leica, which is privately owned, doesn’t disclose gross sales or revenues and wouldn’t specify the price of growing its motion. However the common worth of such a venture for well-established watch firms is greater than $2 million per motion, and Leica’s funding was seemingly bigger because it required scaling and infrastructure.

“I don’t know if it makes financial sense, but makes emotional sense,” Mr. Giannattasio stated, including, “We have a very clear plan and a passionate obsession.”

The end result was a watch that Jawad Ahsan, 44, chief govt of an actual property tech firm, stated had “engineering as impeccable as the seven Leica cameras I own.”

A resident of Paradise Valley, an Arizona city simply north of Scottsdale, Mr. Ahsan stated he “jumped at the opportunity to own the first Leica watch,” a ZM2 that was shipped to him in March 2022. Final week, he acquired off a ready checklist for a ZM2 Monochrom; each variations are at the moment offered out.

Daniel Blunschi, who’s co-managing director of Ernst Leitz Werkstätten alongside Mr. Eilinger, stated, “We started with extremely limited production first appealing to Leica customers.” And thus far, the 2 males stated, many of the watches have offered to Leica prospects.

However sooner or later, Mr. Blunschi continued, “in the marketing, we switch a little more to watch clubs.”

“The third approach will be more lifestyle,” he stated.

Leica’s subsequent assortment is to incorporate seven novelties, with a brand new complication, in addition to some metallic bracelet choices. And they’re going to “look completely different; a bit more modern, but not contemporary,” Mr. Blunschi stated. The corporate is also engaged on a 3rd motion that it hopes to introduce in 2025.

“We are a problem; we have too many ideas,” Mr. Blunschi stated. “Fortunately Leica is a culture as well as a product, and we are discovering watches are the same.”

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