What happens when a world-renowned camera maker creates a watch
By Mike Huynh
Leica is a name forged in the history books of photography – with a reputation for precision imaging tools dating back to its foundation as Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in 1869. So what happens when a legendary German camera maker applies its philosophy of fine engineering to an entirely new discipline?
The Leica ZM watch collection happens – marking the company’s first foray into the world of horology.
The luxury timepieces designated as ‘ZM 1’ and ‘ZM 2’ have been meticulously crafted to be unique both in aesthetics and functionality. Leica has paired unconventional solutions with classic timekeeping functions, featuring an in-house mechanical movement and patented push crown that solves a function used by all watch brands in a completely different way, while boldly increasing usability.
Precision timing made in Germany
The designs draw inspiration from previous Leica creations. For starters, the exterior was conceptualised by Professor Achim Heine – who has designed numerous Leica products – following Leica’s strict design code and aesthetic principles, rather than simply taking off-the-shelf parts.
Both models are powered by Leica’s own, newly-designed mechanical movement with manual winding. Like other luxury watches in this segment, the intricate movement is visible through the transparent caseback made of robust sapphire crystal. More importantly, the movement features visible bridge decorations that align with Leica’s signature style.
Made in Germany isn’t just restricted to looks either. Leica considered it extremely important to maintain the ‘Made in Germany’ designation for its first watch collection, which is why the company entered into a partnership with Lehmann Präzision. As a result, the movement and most of the watch components were developed and produced at the Lehmann manufacturer in Germany’s Black Forest, a world-renowned watchmaking region. These same rules apply to the latest duo.
A distinguishing feature of both Leica watches is the patented push crown and the related status indicator on the dial. The push crown’s ability to reset the small second hand to zero is also a unique feature and gives another practical purpose – reflecting Leica’s focus on functionality.
“Together with Achim Heine, we expanded and fine-tuned the idea of the push crown. In contrast to conventional designs – whereby the crown must be pulled out to stop the movement and adjust the time – we wanted the crown to be pressed down, like the release button of a camera. The moment you push down the crown, the watch stops and the small second hand jumps to zero. Another click releases the movement again. This is an unusual detail that perfectly fits in with Leica,” explains Markus Lehmann, Managing Director of Lehmann Präzision.
Mechanically, the watches feature a movement boasting a 60-hour power reserve all housed within a 41mm stainless steel case. The former drives the hours, minutes, small seconds and power reserve indicator which all present beautifully on the high-strength aluminium dial finished in chic black.
The watches are paired with either a black calf leather strap with matching stitching, red brand stitching, and red backlining; or matte black alligator leather with matching stitching, red brand stitching, and red backlining. Water resistance is rated at 50 metres.
For those who like to live life on the dark side, Leica has created something special.
Leica ZM 1 and ZM 2 Monochrom Edition
The newly launched Leica ZM Monochrom Edition builds on the excitement of the original ZM 1 and ZM 2 watches. The minimalist design of these watches removes all colour, with the exception of the Red Dot in order to let the exquisite craftsmanship speak for itself.
The fine satin finish of the stainless steel case and the bezel is coated entirely in black PVD, with bevelled edges that absorb light rather than reflect it. In this variant, the hands are now set in a black rhodium-plated finish.
For the true fans of Leica, the Monochrom Edition watch strap is made of thick, black calf leather with a strong grain, which is identical to the leather cover of the Leica M11 Monochrom. To support the slightly raw, powerful expression of the Monochrom watches, its strap is crafted using a cut-edge construction and hand-stitched, thick black thread.
Visit Leica now to secure the latest ZM 1 and ZM 2 watches.