Leica’s new mechanical watch models, L1 and L2, now available in Dubai
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Leica’s new mechanical watch models, L1 and L2, now available in Dubai

Leica’s new mechanical watch models, L1 and L2, now available in Dubai

Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG, explains why the German brand has diversified into the watch business, the direction it is taking, and why it chose Dubai as one of only seven cities where the new collection is available

Leica watches

Leica has recently diversified into new products. Tell us more about your strategy and vision?
Leica was formerly a brand of a much bigger company named Ernst Leitz Wetzlar, and what we’re doing for over ten years now is adding products that are directly related to our core competencies: German craftmanship, German design, technology and quality.

What are some of the major highlights of the latest L1 and L2 timepieces and what were some of the biggest challenges in producing this collection?
The watches’ exterior was conceptualised by Professor Achim Heine, who has designed numerous Leica products in the past – giving him a profound understanding of the company’s aesthetic and functional principles.

As a result, the Leica L1 and Leica L2 contain subtle references to signature features from Leica’s rich history, specifically the domed watch glass that recalls the front element of a camera lens, the patented push crown reflects the release button of a camera and the red ceramic inlay on the patented push-crown which is a subtle homage to the Leica “red dot”.

Focusing on the essentials – “Das Wesentliche” – has been at the core of Leica’s brand culture for more than 150 years and this also applies to the Leica L1 and Leica L2.

We wanted to do certain things in watches which are a bit tricky to do, but with the help of our great team and our partners we were able to achieve things like the patented push-crown (extremely complicated to do), or finding a different way as to how the power reserve is done (actually influenced by a Leica accessory from the Fifties).

Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of the supervisory board of Leica Camera AG

Leica has a history within watchmaking – the Valbray EL1 chronograph limited edition from 2014, for example. What were some of the key learnings from those previous projects?
Our work with Valbray was an interesting test case. One key learning was that we have to execute our own designs, we can’t use existing designs. And the other key learning was that we have to develop our own movement along with our partners. This is the first watch collection that has carried the heart and soul of a Leica camera. The launch of the Leica L1 and L2 is now definitely a clear statement of the brand’s intention to establish itself in the new product segment. The commitment, the investments and the product strategy are all long-term.

Leica watches

Who is your main target audience for these watches?
Certainly, we want to reach the Leica loyalists who love the brand and have a high demand for functionality, design and craftsmanship. However, we also want to focus on customers who have an affinity with photography, know and appreciate the Leica brand. They are fascinated by mechanical complications, craftsmanship, precision, knowledge and design. The main target is that we can convince watch lovers worldwide that these are unique pieces in small scale production, and only a few stores around the world will sell them in the years to come.

Leica watches

Why did you choose the Dubai Mall store as one of only seven in the world to launch this unique watch collection?
Dubai is economically one of the most interesting places on earth, and Dubai Mall is one of the leading malls worldwide.

What are some of the business forecasts and plans you have this year?
The business forecast for our watches is to slowly ramp up production, and the plans for Leica are to show that we cover imaging from different sides, be it cameras, lenses, software or maybe even smartphones. We will open a few more stores worldwide – we just opened a partner store in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, and a company store in Copenhagen – which will show extremely interesting products in the years to come.

To learn more about the new Leica L1 and L2, click here

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