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Leica's New Watches: Desperation Or Innovation?

Without Going Too Deep, We Look At Leica's New Foray Into Watchmaking

Yup, Leica watches. While you might be thinking to yourself, "what's coming of the world these days?", this is actually an interesting move where diversifying is concerned. Leica cameras already enjoy quite a niche market and now, their new watches look set to carve out their own heritage for the future. Still, makes one wonder if it is in fact a thrifty move to be joining an industry where the niche-r the brand gets, the more turbulent and challenging the path becomes. Is Leica Camera AG doing that bad that it needs to jump into luxury watchmaking? Or, is it a case of honestly expanding its brand reach and appeal? Let's take a look at the watches first, shall we?

The new Leica watches are called the L1 and L2 watches. So, good job to the Camera giants for being quite simple and straightforward with designations. Both variants draw their design inspiration from "creativity and precision", the hallmarks of the world-famous camera brand from Wetzlar, Hesse, Germany. This just means that like Leica's many minimalist cameras, these watches also carry that same simplistic look and fee. Both models were designed by Professor Achim Heine, the man behind the design of many Leica Camera products over the years. That's another thing done right, getting a person who knows the brand through and through.

This same Leica signature look can be found in the countless design elements and features of the watches namely on the hands and indexes, the shape of the detailed stainless-steel case, the special fluting on the crown and the cambered shape of the glass that throwsback to ye olde camera lens. Both models are operated by a mechanical movement with manual winding, which has been newly developed and can be viewed through the glass case back made of robust sapphire crystal. So really, there's not much innovation going on here, seeing as many other watchmakers are in different leagues ahead but for a debut, it's acceptable.

One smart move that has been done is the collaboration with Lehmann Pr├Ązision GmbH. The development, design and a large proportion of the components come from the manufacture situated in Germanys' Black Forest and help the watches to achieve its simplistic aim. Both the front glass and the back-case-cover are made of scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, with the front being anti-reflective on both sides, and each model has the patented push-piece crown with a corresponding status display on the dial. The striped-down design make the Leica L1 and L2 make it a bit difficult for this to work as a true statement piece. So, depending on who you ask, this is a debut watch series that must be developed beyond the copy-and-paste template currently.

All things considered though, these watches are coming from a brand that is typically German with its quality, durability and function, so there might be a lot more we can expect from these watches. Still, the L1 and L2 will only be available in selected Leica Stores (as well as at watch dealers worldwide) sometime in autumn 2018. The L2 model will also be available in a version with an 18 karat rose gold case (how else will it sell, no?) and theres already talk about limited special models of the two stainless steel versions to mark the occasion of the Ernst Leitz Werkst├Ątten commencing operation, an independent division of Leica Camera AG which recently got jump-started again. What do you think though; is this desperation or true innovation at work?