Camera Icon Leica Drops Manufacture L1 and L2 German-Made Watches

With a zero reset movement assembled on the camera icon’s manufacturing campus.

Watches
5,615 Hypes 1 Comments

Camera maker Leica has dropped two new watches featuring manually wound German manufacture movements that have spent years in development.

The iconic German camera company originally revealed their first L1 and L2 designs for time-only and dual time models with a novel push crown concept back in 2018.

But Leica didn’t take the easiest route and set out to use an original, manufacture movement with an original feature that would appeal not only to fans of Leica but also seasoned watch collectors, and as might be expected they ran into problems, not least of all a global pandemic.

According to the company, it spent the intervening years developing a “manufacture movement in Germany” and began “setting up our own dial production” before realising it had underestimated the amount of time needed to produce the watches “in an industrially orientated, handcrafted production.” Staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic only made matters worse.

Whatever the reasons behind the delays, it has been time well spent as the new 41.5mm watches are certainly more refined than those shown in 2018 and the extra work is immediately apparent in the finished product.

The dial coating – which is meant to reflect that used on Leica’s camera bodies – is more pronounced and apparent than that used on the previous design, while the red ceramic crown insert is a far more satisfying representation of Leica’s famous red dot logo than the ruby setting used before.

Leica developed its movement with Black Forest watchmaking and precision engineering firm, Lehmann Präzision GmbH, while finishing, assembly and casing operations are completed on Leica’s own Leitz Park campus.

The L1 is features central hour and minutes hands with a small seconds at the six o’clock position, a date window at the three o’clock, a novel power reserve at the nine o’clock represented by closing blades.

The L2 includes an inner rotating 12-hour GMT bezel adjusted by a second crown and supplemented by a day/night indicator.

Depressing the crown on both models stops the movement and resets the small seconds to zero allowing for exact time adjustment before a second press restarts the movement.

The watches were designed by Professor Achim Heine, a veteran Leica designer, who said: “Together with Markus Lehmann, we expanded and fine-tuned the idea of the push crown. In contrast to conventional designs – whereby the crown must be pulled out to stop the movement and adjust the time – we wanted the crown to be pressed down, like the release button of a camera. The moment you push the crown, the watch stops and the small second hand jumps to zero. Another click releases the movement again. This is an unusual detail that perfectly fits in with Leica.” 

The L1 and L2 watches are now available from selected Leica Stores, priced €9,500 and €13,500 respectively (approximately $10,800 USD and $15,400 USD).

Elsewhere in watches, HYPEBEAST looks at the potential for the blockchain in the watch industry.

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