Leica certainly never cease to surprise. On the evening of 13 June 2018, the company revealed a closely guarded secret – by introducing the Leica watches, L1 and L2, to the international industry press.
It took a total of six years for the initial idea of a Leica watch to culminate in the final product. This was largely due to the fact that, when the plan of adopting an existing watch movement did not bear fruit, Leica decided to develop a new movement from scratch. After all, the Leica brand is not only synonymous with optical excellence, but also stands for superior precision-mechanics (perhaps most famously embodied by its rangefinder system).
The exterior of the L1 and L2 was conceived by Achim Heine who had already designed several cameras and binoculars for Leica in the years from 1999 to 2008. While the Leica watch is very much intended to be viewed as a product in its own right, Heine skilfully incorporated visual elements of characteristic Leica camera designs; for example, the watch’s power reserve indicator was inspired by the Leicameter, the attachable exposure meter for the M3. A particularly noticeable parallel is the Leica watch’s patented push-piece crown, which when pressed down – just like the release button of a camera – adjusts the time.
The L1 and L2 are largely identical. However, the L2 can be set to an additional time zone via a dedicated GMT crown; the GMT values are displayed along the outer rim of the dial.
Most of the manufacturing process for the Leica watch takes place on the premises of Lehmann Präzision GmbH in Germany’s Black Forest region, while the finishing touches are carried out at Leitz Park III. Initially, the luxury watches will be produced in moderate numbers of less than 500 units, and sold in selected Leica Stores.