Philippine Daily Inquirer

LEICACAMER­AAGCELEBRA­TES OPEN­ING OF ITS NEWLEITZPA­RK COMPLEXINW­ETZLAR

The new Le­ica L1 and L2 wrist­watches

- By Alvin Uy Wetzlar · Germany · Boris Johnson · Hesse · Glashutte · Leica Camera · Gie?en · Richard Wagner

Last June 15th, Le­ica Cam­era AG cel­e­brated the open­ing of its new Leitz-Park com­plex in Wet­zlar, Ger­many. In just two years af­ter they broke the first ground on the Schanzen­feld site in the City of Wet­zlar, this very unique com­plex has now been com­pleted that unites all the build­ings and struc­tures in the Le­ica cam­pus. The grey toned ce­ment fin­ish build­ings pro­vide a stark but taste­ful con­trast to the sur­round­ing lush land­scape and clas­sic ar­chi­tec­ture of the nearby res­i­den­tial area. The com­plex will be home to Le­ica’s spec­tac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture with cul­tural high­lights and the de­vel­op­ment of Le­ica’s pi­o­neer­ing tech­nolo­gies.

“My vi­sion for the next few years is to use this fa­cil­ity to tell more to in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers and cus­tomers about Le­ica and on the other hand, also to grow at cer­tain el­e­ments the prod­uct port­fo­lio in a di­rec­tion where Le­ica is seen as a high-end pre­mium lux­ury brand. The key part though, is al­ways the lenses and op­tics. With all the tech­nol­ogy be­hind our prod­ucts, we want Le­ica to be a brand that re­flects de­sign and the love of pho­tog­ra­phy,” said Dr. An­dreas Kauf­mann, Chair­man of the Su­per­vi­sory Board who was present dur­ing an in­ti­mate and ex­clu­sive round­table dis­cus­sion dur­ing the event.

Some 1,000 in­vited guests at­tended the for­mal open­ing and among the VIPs in­cluded Boris Rhein, Min­is­ter for Sci- ence and Art of the state of Hesse, Mar­tin Rößler, Vice Pres­i­dent of the Giessen Dis­trict, Wolf­gang Schus­ter, Dis­trict Ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Lahn-Dill re­gion and Man­fred Wag­ner, Mayor of the City of Wet­zlar and Matthias Harsch, Chair­man of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board of Le­ica Cam­era AG, who wel­comed the guests to the event.

Most large Ger­man cor­po­ra­tions op­er­ate on a two-tier sys­tem, hence a su­per­vi­sory board and an ex­ec­u­tive board. Dr. Kauf­mann, whose fam­ily in- vested in Le­ica over a decade ago is the vi­sion­ary be­hind the brand while the newly ap­pointed Harsch leads the ex­ec­u­tive board.

“The new Leitz-Park con­sti­tutes a lead­ing cen­ter of the op­ti­cal in­dus­try. Here,

Dr. An­dreas Kauf­mann is a very friendly sort. Wel­com­ing and friendly, he hap­pily chat­ted with ev­ery­one that was at the Leitz Park com­plex in Wet­zlar, Ger­many. But for the first day, in spite of hav­ing a very spe­cial and per­sonal cam­era with him at all times ("There are ben­e­fits to be­ing in charge of the com­pany," he said smil­ing), he was talk­ing about watches. This was be­cause Le­ica had just brought out to the world two pro­to­type mod­els of a new Haute Hor­logerie line of wrist­watches. True to Le­ica form and his­tory, their faces were clean and util­i­tar­ian while also be­ing clearly well-de­signed and well-made. Also true to Le­ica form, their in­ter­nals were as won­der­ful to look at as their ex­ter­nals. The dif­fer­ence? The watches had sapphire crystal backs al­low­ing you to see the move­ment and the fin­ish­ing. And while ev­ery­one was look­ing at the faces of the watch, the real en­thu­si­asts were go­ing over the back.

Le­ica went fully Ger­man for this new line of watches, with move­ments pro­duced in Black For­est by Lehmann Prazi­sion (in Schram­berg, which should al­ready be familiar to watch en­thu­si­asts) and dubbed the cal­i­bres L1 and L2. The com­pany kept their part­ner­ships in the neigh­bor­hood, and the fin­ish­ing of the move­ments makes that very clear. No sur­prise when you learn that they had help from peo­ple in an­other Ger­man watch­mak­ing town, Glashutte. Dr. Kauf­mann wanted to pro­duce some­thing unique, and he did. The com­bi­na­tion of move­ment de­sign and fin­ish­ing as seen through the sapphire crystal back shows de­tail com­bi­na­tions you don’t see to­gether else­where but which also do link to the iconic cam­era de­sign in a sub­tle way.

Now this lit­tle (lit­er­ally ta­ble-sized) global launch was not your nor­mal event. It was more like a chat about things to come. When we asked about how many dif­fer­ent pro­cesses were used for fin­ish­ing for ex­am­ple, the an­swer was we will have to check on that one, we are still kind of new to this. The early re­leased in­for­ma­tion didn’t even have the Le­ica red dial color listed. So this is all an on­go­ing project, and it is won­der­ful to see it progress. The L1 is a “sim­ple” two-hand with a sec­onds sub­dial and a date, but it isn’t ex­actly sim­ple. There is an aper­ture that shows power re­serve via a win­dow that ac­tu­ally has a clos­ing in­di­ca­tor that op­er­ates some­what like a lens aper­ture. There is a dot-shaped win­dow that is ei­ther white or red, which tells you if you are in time-telling or time-set­ting mode. You need this be­cause you don’t pull out the crown to set the time, you push it in just like the shut­ter but­ton of a cam­era. This push re­sets the sec­onds hand to zero. You click again when you’re done. There’s a sep­a­rate ded­i­cated push­but­ton at 2 o’clock to set the date. The L2 adds a crown that ro­tates a slim in­ter­nal bezel with mark­ers that al­low you to use it to in­di­cate a sec­ond time zone.

So all of this is dif­fer­ent but func­tional, unique but not in a way that just wastes time or en­ergy. Just like the cam­eras, the watches give you a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. They will be avail­able (rather tightly re­leased sim­ply be­cause pro­duc­tion will be small) in 41mm stain­less steel cases from very se­lected Le­ica bou­tiques, cer­tain Ger­man Jew­elry and watch shops and the new Le­ica bou­tique at the LeitzPark in Wet­zlar. The bou­tique is in the Ernst Leitz Werk­stat­ten, with is where the mar­riage of cal­i­bre and case will oc­cur. The build­ing is be­side the new Ernst Leitz ho­tel and the new Le­ica Mu­seum. So all this? Def­i­nitely worth a trip for the se­ri­ous fans.

And the watches? While these two mod­els will be avail­able to­wards the end of the year with ei­ther black or red dial and stain­less steel case, Dr, Kauf­mann was al­ready hap­pily chat­ting away at what’s al­ready in the works. Pre­cious me­tal def­i­nitely. And L3 is set to be a sound­ing watch, an alarm but not what you may ex­pect like a Vul­cain or such.

Le­ica’s foray into fine watch­mak­ing? They have suc­ceeded in bring­ing their unique­ness and en­thu­si­asm from the cam­eras onto the wrist, and they are clearly geared up for some se­ri­ous fu­ture work. While there have been at least four other watch lines branded with the Le­ica name, this lat­est de­vel­op­ment brings to­gether the work­man­ship, de­sign and in­no­va­tion--in a way that truly ex­presses what the com­pany is all about.

 ??  ?? The Leitz Park com­plex with the Ernst Leitz Ho­tel (left), the Le­ica Build­ing and Ernst Leitz Werk­stät­ten Build­ing at the back and Cine Wet­zlar Build­ing hous­ing the HQof Ernst Leitz Wet­zlar GmbH (right).
The Leitz Park com­plex with the Ernst Leitz Ho­tel (left), the Le­ica Build­ing and Ernst Leitz Werk­stät­ten Build­ing at the back and Cine Wet­zlar Build­ing hous­ing the HQof Ernst Leitz Wet­zlar GmbH (right).
 ??  ?? Le­ica Cam­era AG ex­ec­u­tives and VIP guests at the open­ing of the Leitz-Park in Wet­zlar
Le­ica Cam­era AG ex­ec­u­tives and VIP guests at the open­ing of the Leitz-Park in Wet­zlar
 ??  ?? Dr. An­dreas Kauf­mann shows off his per­sonal L1 Le­ica watch
Dr. An­dreas Kauf­mann shows off his per­sonal L1 Le­ica watch
 ??  ?? The early press in­for­ma­tion didn’t even have the Le­ica red dial color listed. So these are just pro­to­types.
The early press in­for­ma­tion didn’t even have the Le­ica red dial color listed. So these are just pro­to­types.
 ??  ?? The L2 watch adds a crown that ro­tates a slim in­ter­nal bezel with mark­ers that al­low you to use it to in­di­cate a sec­ond time zone.
The L2 watch adds a crown that ro­tates a slim in­ter­nal bezel with mark­ers that al­low you to use it to in­di­cate a sec­ond time zone.
 ??  ?? While ev­ery­one was look­ing at the faces of the watch, the real en­thu­si­asts were go­ing over the back to see the move­ment.
While ev­ery­one was look­ing at the faces of the watch, the real en­thu­si­asts were go­ing over the back to see the move­ment.
 ??  ?? The Le­ica L1 watch
The Le­ica L1 watch

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