Saturday, June 16, 2018

Shutter Buggy

Remember the Rolex SLR?  How about the Omega point and shoot?  Didn't thing so.

Every now and then, something comes across the old Tempus Fugit inbox that makes me and the Executive Publisher scratch our heads.  And well, gentle reader, this was one of them -

Courtesy of Leica
One is a time only model, the other is a GMT model.  

Courtesy of Leica

About all I can say is that this is a pretty goofy notion.  At a price point of (at least as I understand it) 9,900 Euro for the "base model", I am not sure that Leica didn't over-estimate the potential market for this.  

So let's get under the hood -

Courtesy of Leica
 And here is where things get, well, a bit hinky.

Courtesy of Leica
Now just how did Leica get the sudden skill to assemble what is a fairly sophisticated watch?  Well, just as in Switzerland they turned to a specialist, or perhaps two specialists (again, if I have understood the press info. and if the further digging I had to do was correctly linked).  Part one was Ernst Leitz who are, apparently,
Ernst Leitz Werkstätten who are a division of Leica, and design luxury products.  This, in turn, was somewhat farmed out to  Lehmann Präzision.  Never heard of them?  Well, me neither, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

The watches are, after everything is said and done, pretty basic in terms of their functionality.  The GMT function does not appear to be much more than a rotating internal bezel that is operated by an additional (rather bulky) crown.  The center crown is pretty self-explanatory (well, sort of, but more on that in a moment), and the push piece at 2 o'clock appears engages a date adjustment feature.  
For the crown, when you push it once, the dot near the center of the dial turns from white to red, which means that you can then set the watch without pulling out the crown.  Now in principle, it is sort of an interesting notion.  Interesting to the tune of work and expense that went into these two watches?  Eh...

Again, none of this was even remotely mentioned in the press release, and the first attempts to visit the relevant website led to a dead end.  Apparently word reached the folks in Germany because this morning not only was the site up and running, but those of us who did not get the "white glove" treatment reserved for other outlets who got advance copy  finally got let in on how things actually worked with these watches.  Granted, I only got this info. by going straight up on the Columbo tip ; )

So in their own words, here is the technological side of these watches, courstesy of Ernst Leitz, as told by their watch making partner, Markus Lehmann, of Lehmann Präzision  -

Normally, you have to slightly pull out the crown of a watch in order to adjust the watch hands. In other words, the crown has two positions: one for winding the watch, the other for setting the time; often, a quick-set mechanism for the date is also integrated. On the Leica watch, however, we have implemented a push-piece crown that has been coupled with a column wheel – not unlike on a chronograph. As soon as you push the crown, the small, circular status indicator on the dial turns from white to red, and you are able to set the time. The date, by contrast, is adjusted via a separate push-button. Integrating this mechanism into the construction of the movement proved to be a particularly challenging endeavour.

Now here's the part that maybe I am missing, essentially the folks in the design team felt that it would make much more sense to make a far more complex mechanism with more fiddly buttons and nobs to, essentially, do pretty much what any other movement on the planet already does without pulling out the crown.  Well, I guess it is a neat feature, but...

So the real question becomes, who is the customer for this?  

As anyone who regularly reads Tempus Fugit can attest, Leica is not providing photographic equipment or expertise.  Having said that, I would dearly love to have one and learn to shoot with it.  Unlike Playboy, you really do come here for the articles ; )

And from what I understand, Leica folks are a certain type of fan not unlike the extremely passionate Rolex collector who has memorized all of the serial numbers and can quote you chapter and verse.  And it might be, that for those hard-core Leicaistas that this is just the itch that they want to scratch.

My understanding is that this will be sold in Leica boutiques, and that makes sense, I guess.  But then again, apparently, they also plan to sell this in watch stores.  So stay tuned!

Here are the pertinents -




L1, L2*
Type of calibre
Manual winding
Hour, minute, small second, date window, power reserve indicator with closing wings,
operating status display, second time zone GMT*, day-night display*
28,800 A/h, 4 Hz
Power reserve
60 hours


Stainless steel, 18 karat rose gold*
41 mm
14 mm
Front glass
sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides, cambered, scratch-resistant coating
Transparent back cover
Sapphire crystal, screw-mounted
Patented crown allows hands to be set and seconds to be reset, separate date pusher, separate GMT crown*
50 meters (5 ATM)


Matt black
Appliqué around the small second


Embossed calfskin with slightly cambered shape and matching stitching
Stainless steel buckle with engraved Leica logo

*Model: LEICA L2

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