New Leica watches cost more than their cameras

After four years of delay, Leica has finally launched L1 and L2 watches. There’s obviously some overlap between high-end mechanical watches and cameras, but it’s still an interesting step for the brand.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Wait, Leica makes watches?

Yeah. the marketing website calls the collection “the perfect combination of over 150 years of Leica brand culture, visionary design and unparalleled quality.” Leica first announced them in 2018, but it took them a while to get going.

And, to be fair, it feels like a somewhat natural product extension. Leica cameras and expensive watches are prized for their engineering and sold to the same (often wealthy) crowd. Additionally, the watches, designed by Professor Achim Heine who has worked on Leica products in the past, are inspired by real product design elements and company history.

The Leica L1 and L2

The L1 and L2 watches are almost identical, the only difference is that the latter has a GMT complication. Leica

Related: Leica’s M11 rangefinder adds a new 60-megapixel sensor

The Leica L1 and L2 are very similar watches, the only difference being that the L2 has a GMT complication (meaning it can display a second time zone on the same dial).

Both watches are mechanically wound with a 60 hour power reserve, small seconds dial and date window. They have a case diameter of 41mm, which is larger for this style of watch, but the lugs (where the strap attaches) are short, so it should be very wearable for most people.

The most unique selling point is that the watches feature a patented push-button crown with Leica’s red dot on it. While most watches have a pull-out crown, Leica’s trigger-inspired one is pushed in instead. This disengages the movement, changes a “mode dial” to red on the watch, sets the small seconds hand to zero, and allows you to change the time by turning the crown. A new pressure restarts the movement. (As a watch fan, this actually sounds incredibly satisfying.)

There are also other details inspired by the Leica camera: the sapphire crystal is domed like the front of a lens, the power reserve indicator closes like shutter blades, and the knurling, dual-layer anti-reflective coatings and the overall design are all clear. a nod to the history of Leica.

Are they good?

The new Leica L1 and L2 luxury watches
The new watches are priced similarly to other luxury watch brands, like Rolex. Leica

Leica has gone into overdrive on its two watches. It’s not just about putting a red dot on a beautiful hull with a commercially available mechanical movement inside.

The watches were designed from the start in collaboration with Lehmann Präzision GmbH, a precision engineering company from the Black Forest region. They can therefore truly be claimed as “Made in Germany” and a fitting representation of the Leica brand.

And while that certainly makes the Leica L1 and L2 interesting and unique, it does come with a few caveats.

First, the watches are expensive: $10,000 for the L1 and $14,000 for the L2, according to Leica Rumors. There is clearly a huge R&D bill that needs to be recouped on a limited number of timepieces.

Second, while Leica’s camera pedigree is second to none, its horological pedigree is non-existent. He clearly invested a lot of resources in this watch, but it remains to be seen how good it is and how committed the company remains to the whole project. For this price you can buy most models from Rolex, Omega, Grand Seiko and many other classic watch brands.

Finally, mechanical watches can last for decades if properly maintained. But a big part of that is access to parts. Unless Leica commits to supplying spare parts for its custom movements for the next 50 years, services will be expensive, if not impossible.

How to Buy a Leica Watch

Leica Watchmakers
These new watches are designed from the ground up and do not rely on off-the-shelf movements. Leica

The Leica L1 and L2 are available now in eight Leica stores worldwide:

  • Leica Shanghai Xintiandi store in China
  • Leica Store Raffles Hotel Arcade in Singapore
  • Leica Tokio Ginza store in Tokyo
  • Leica store in Los Angeles USA
  • Ernst Leitz Werkstätten Wetzlar store in Germany
  • Leica Store Wien in Austria
  • Leica Moskau GUM store in Russia
  • Leica Store Dubai Mall in the United Arab Emirates

According to Leica, the RRP is €9,500 for the L1 and €13,500 for the L2, but prices will obviously be in equivalent local currency, $10,000 and $14,000 in the US, for example.

(Although, for what it’s worth, I’d probably buy a German-made watch from Nomos Glashütte and with the savings, buy a Leica camera.)

About Robert L. Thomas

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