Leica is putting German-engineered wristwear on the map with its latest foray into luxury watchmaking. One of the most globally respected manufacturers of cameras, lenses and other optical instruments, Leica has dabbled in the watch business throughout its 154-year history, including a 2014 partnership with Valbray on a limited-edition chronograph. But it wasn’t until 2018 that it announced its first in-house collection.
Launched to market last year after four years of development, the ZM 1 and ZM 2 – short for “Zeitmesser”, the German term for something that measures and displays time – both beautifully combine unusual features with a refined silhouette, created by Leica camera designer Achim Heine, with a domed sapphire crystal to echo that of a camera lens. The models also feature a patented push-crown, inspired by the shutter-release button of a camera in both form and function. Rather than pulling the crown out to set the time, the wearer presses it in, which stops the movement and resets the small seconds hand to 0. Meanwhile, a small aperture goes from white to red to let you know the movement is off.
The new ZM Monochrom Edition draws on the design codes of the company’s M11 Monochrom, a camera that takes only black-and- white images. With this, Leica has dressed its two flagship models in all-black, apart from Leica’s signature red dot on the crown, in homage to the aesthetic of black-and-white photography. Both models deliver a unique blend of clean and functional design, arriving in a sturdy 41mm stainless- steel case that has been given a perfect black PVD coating. Similarly, the dial, crafted out of high-strength aluminium, has been plated in black rhodium and punctuated by black rhodium-plated, diamond-cut indices and hands, domed under curved sapphire crystal for a minimalist appeal. In addition to a discreet date window and power reserve display, the Leica ZM 2 has an extra feature as a GMT watch, which, together with a day/night indicator, allows the wearer to read two different time zones at once.
Beating at the core of these new models is an in-house mechanical movement that requires manual winding, developed and assembled by the German watch parts manufacturer Lehmann Präzision and produced in its factories in the Black Forest region. This partnership has allowed Leica to maintain the “Made in Germany” designation on the dial. Beyond its manufacturing showmanship, a watch strap crafted from grained calf leather – identical to the texture of the M11 Monochrom camera – lends a polished, consistent look.
Following the success of Leica’s ZM collection, the Monochrom Edition is available to purchase in up to 25 Leica stores worldwide. Whether you’re a budding photographer, an established lensman or just love to geek out on killer watches, this is one wrist flex you won’t want to miss out on.