Dy­namic range

Robb Report (USA) - - Gallery -

You could be for­given for sus­pect­ing that a wrist­watch from the Ger­man cam­era man­u­fac­turer Le­ica is sim­ply a mar­ket­ing ploy. In fact, at the de­but of the in­au­gu­ral watch col­lec­tion from Ernst Leitz Werk­stät­ten (ernst-leitz -werk­staet­ten.com) at Le­ica’s head­quar­ters in Wet­zlar, Ger­many, su­per­vi­sory board chair An­dreas Kauf­mann made a point of show­ing off a se­lec­tion of past Le­ica-branded time­pieces built in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other com­pa­nies that ei­ther re­lied on gim­micks or missed the mark aes­thet­i­cally.

The new L1 and L2 wrist­watches, by con­trast, were cre­ated by the com­pany from the ground up. Work­ing with the Ger­man watch­maker Lehmann, Le­ica de­signed two orig­i­nal move­ments—a small-sec­onds for the L1 and a GMT for the L2—that are first con­structed and as­sem­bled by Lehmann and then fin­ished by the Werk­stät­ten team in Wet­zlar.

The watches’ styling was con­ceived by for­mer

Le­ica cam­era de­signer Achim Heine, who shaped the cases to be evoca­tive of a cam­era body, with the push-but­ton crown stand­ing in for the shut­ter but­ton. Thank­fully, de­sign ref­er­ences are sub­tle; even the brand’s sig­na­ture red-dot logo is nowhere to be found at first glance, though the round crown-po­si­tion in­di­ca­tor on the dial turns red when en­gaged.

Pro­duc­tion of the new watches will ini­tially be lim­ited, but plans are to ramp up to 2,500 pieces an­nu­ally. Fi­nal pric­ing is un­known, but the L1 is ex­pected to come in be­low $11,650, while the L2 will cost more. When asked if Le­ica is in the watch­mak­ing game for the long run, Kauf­mann ges­tures around the newly com­pleted, gleam­ing-white Werk­stät­ten fin­ish­ing room. “Of course,” he says. “We’ve in­vested too much al­ready not to be.” —JOHN LYON

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