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Leica Watches - L1 & L2 - what do you think?

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(mods - feel free to move or merge. I couldn't find discussion on this elsehwere at time of writing and this seems like an appropriate forum for it).

 

I have been using Leica cameras of various types for a few years now - modern and vintage. I'm also a watch enthusiast - modern and vintage. I was surprised this morning when checking Hodinkee, an online watch magazine I follow, to see that Leica is to release two German-made watches this year - a time-date "L1" and a GMT "L2".

 

Well, good on Leica for giving this a go. I'm not against brand extension. Look at the success Montblanc has had with watches after being know as a pen and lethear goods brand. But the key there is that they positioned their watches in the mid-luxury market. 

 

Leica has been developing its technology and refining its camera products for decades - a century already in the case of the M. They are expensive products, but they are high quality, and - critically - one can argue (as we often do on this forum) that they are best in class, much like a Rolex Submariner or a Porsche 911. So I don't mind the Leica high prices for cameras and lenses so much. 

 

But I was a little surprised when I got to the end of the article and saw "Pricing not yet announced, but will start under €10,000 for the L1". Pricing near that level would position Leica's time-date watch above almost all brands except the super luxury haute horlogerie brands like Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet or A. Lange & Sohne. It would position them above Jaeger LeCoultre, Cartier, or even Glashütte Original for example. 

 

That might make sense if this was intended as a brief collaboration limited edition. (watchmaking partner is Lehmann Präzision). But quite a bit of design effort seems to have gone into these watches, so it would seem that this is intended as a new line for Leica. 

 

To be fair, it does state that pricing is not yet announced. I think somewhere around €4,000 - €6,000 might work for these pieces, but if it is somewhere close to 10k, I think it will flop (with the possible exception of a small number of Leica camera lovers who like the idea of a watch from the same marque).

 

Anyway, I was in my local Leica boutique today and asked to be contacted when the watches arrive so I can take a look in the metal. I am curious. Final price though is going to be a key. 

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If €10k turns out to be anywhere close to correct it will border on a cynically outrageous price for a new entrant without any horological history. 

 

IMHO of course, and no doubt there will be buyers out there.

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I'm not sure there is anything cynical about pricing a luxury watch at this price – it's not as if it is an essential purchase or that there aren't alternatives. I imagine Leica have done their sums and, based on the number of watches that they can make and the costs involved (development and material) plus the likely large profit margin that is the norm in this sector, €10,000 is the appropriate price.

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It's also possible that, without any "horological history", the watch needs to be €10,000+ for buyers to sit up and take notice. At €2,000 it might just be considered some kind of branding exercise.

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I like cameras from Leica and I like wrist watches from Patek, JaegerLeCoultre and some other brands. And yes, when fishing or doing some other sports, I use a quartz watch - in my case a radio controlled and supplied with energy by light from Citizen. This one does already its work for more than 4 years. But I do not like cameras from Patek, JaegerLeCoultre and some other watch producing companies ( I know Citizen has done it in the past) and I do not like watches from a company producing cameras - maybe excepted Gimmick ones - but even those not for me. And watches at high prices I would only buy from a well known watch company sold under their own brand. But all this are only my five cents ...

Edited by HeinzX

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I've got a nice little Leica Minilux badged quartz watch which came bundled with my very first Minilux in some sort of gift pack. My main watch is a bog standard Seiko analogue quartz that I bought in 1975. So I've got all bases covered haven't I?

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I will wait till they introduce the L2-P version in about two years, with a nice Leica script and real Vegan leatherette band. I hope it will supplied in a beautiful red presentation box and white Egyptian cotton gloves to wind the watch.

Edited by ynp

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I have to admit to being bit of a watch groupie. My collection is all titanium cased watches from the earliest I can find (a Veglia Borletti Chronograph from the 1960's) through to a modern Breitling B50 Cockpit. However, I don't understand the decision to market non-automatic watches. This limits the market to a very narrow segment of people who like manual wind watches or who can be bothered to wind them every day. The only manual wind watch I have is a 1920's Jaeger le Coultre dress hunter pocket watch, which I wear about twice a year. As they are steel cased, they would not be of interest to me either way but I would have thought automatic would have been a far smarter commercial decision. 

 

Wilson

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IHowever, I don't understand the decision to market non-automatic watches.

 

I'm not surprised they think they can market anything non-automatic to audience willing to pay $7k for the privilege to keep focusing manually with rangefinders.

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Nice looking watch. I want one but could never justify spending that much on an object I would only wear for a few hours a year. My business formal is an aloha shirt and casual is swim trunks these days. But if someone wanted to send one out for waterproof testing...

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I have to admit to being bit of a watch groupie. My collection is all titanium cased watches from the earliest I can find (a Veglia Borletti Chronograph from the 1960's) through to a modern Breitling B50 Cockpit. However, I don't understand the decision to market non-automatic watches. This limits the market to a very narrow segment of people who like manual wind watches or who can be bothered to wind them every day. The only manual wind watch I have is a 1920's Jaeger le Coultre dress hunter pocket watch, which I wear about twice a year. As they are steel cased, they would not be of interest to me either way but I would have thought automatic would have been a far smarter commercial decision. 

 

Wilson

 

The mechanical wristwatch market, somewhat like Leica cameras, has its divisions. Manual wind watches are not frowned upon, especially if they have interesting movements.

 

At the price point of the Leica watches, the engineering and provenance of the movement are more important than if it's automatic or manual wind.

 

Ernst

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If €10k turns out to be anywhere close to correct it will border on a cynically outrageous price for a new entrant without any horological history. 

 

IMHO of course, and no doubt there will be buyers out there.

 

L1 or L2?  Sorry, I don't see it. 

 

€10,000/$11,500USD will buy a nice Panerai.  Or a Breitling. 

 

Or a Rolex, even though some wristwatch connoisseurs view the brand with disdain for some reason.

Edited by Herr Barnack

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I read that latest FW update makes the clock in M240 quite accurate. I guess I will be sticking to M240 for time being since I spent close to $8k for a new one already. It is only 3 button clicks to know the current time. I can live with that.
 

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Absurd money. Quartz would be more accurate at 1/nth the cost. Day-night indicator looks ugly and distracting. I'd prefer a sweep second hand. A less dominating logo or no logo would also be good. 

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I don't ordinarily wear a watch. When I do, I wear an Apple Watch because it is integrated with my iPhone and computer, and does a lot more than just tell time. I don't need a discrete device just to know the time all that often... 

 

I do love timepieces, however. I'm not sure I'd prefer a Leica watch over any other high end timepiece bling. Why should I want a precision clockwork mechanism from a company whose primary reason for being is outstanding optics? 

 

That's what doesn't make sense to me.

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Would these watches be made for Leica by another manufacturer - would Leica actually be tooling up and making the watches themselves?

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The movements are made by another German manufacturer but finishing, casing and final assembly are carried out somewhere on the Leitz Park campus, according to this article

 

https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/leica-watch-l1-l2-introducing

Edited by stevelap

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I may well be wrong but my understanding is that the movements of most watch brands, even those of very high quality and price, are generally supplied by a very small number of manufacturers.  Perhaps someone could clarify this.

Edited by MarkP

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The great majority of Swiss watch movements are made by Omega-ETA-Valjoux, part of the Swatch empire. They have gradually absorbed most of the other makers like E.S.A. Gallet and Ronda are the other two movement makers of any size in Switzerland. In the far east, Seiko, Beijing Watch and Hangzhou are the major makers. There are many small makers in various countries who turn out movements in tiny numbers compared with the big guys. Movements are not expensive. One of the most commonly used the ETA 7750/28880 chronograph movement is used by most of the deluxe name makers with a few exceptions like Patek Philippe. It now only comes in the upper three of the four grades it used to come in with Standard grade now deleted. The grades are Elabouré, Top and Chronometre. A Chronometre grade ETA is sometimes supplied complete and sometimes as a kit of parts known as an ébauche so that watch manufacturers can make their own changes, which when I was going round the ETA factory, they claimed almost always reduced the quality of the time keeping, compared to one of their factory assembled movements. A chronometer grade 7750 movement only costs a few hundred Swiss francs, so the rest of the cost of an upmarket Swiss watch is down to the case and strap cost, marketing and publicity costs and most important - profit margin. Deluxe Swiss watches are almost certainly the highest profit margin items in the world. The ETA movements are made in a heavily robotised factory, with humans mainly doing machine adjustments, tooling replacements, checking and quality control. 

 

Wilson

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