Leica's new watches bring its famous red dot to your wrist (for a small fortune)

The front and side of the Leica L1 watch on a blue blackground
(Image credit: Leica)

Leica has finally launched the luxury watches that it started developing back in 2018 – and the L1 and L2 are typically high-end creations that carry the hallmarks of its cameras, for good and bad.

For both timepieces, Leica has taken the polar opposite approach to the Apple Watch. Neither offer any connectivity to its cameras or any digital components –instead, the L1 and L2 feature mechanical movements that were specifically developed for the watches.

One similarity with Apple, though, is Leica's desire to highlight its manufacturing process as a supposed symbol of excellence. The watches' movements were both made in partnership with Lehmann Präzision GmbH, from Germany's Black Forest region, and each watch face proudly displays a 'made in Germany' tagline. 

So do the L1 and L2 have any links to cameras like the new Leica M11? There are a few subtle nods to its photographic heritage. Both watches feature a domed watch glass, which Leica says "recalls the front elements of a camera lens". Naturally, you also get the brand's famous red dot on the watch's crown, which itself has an interesting feature.

Rather than pulling out this crown to adjust the time, you instead push it in (another slightly more tenuous link to camera shutter buttons). Once this crown is pushed in, the watch stops and you can adjust the time – with another click releasing the movement again. 

The main difference between the L1 and L2 watches is that the latter has a second GMT complication for showing a different time zone, plus a day/night indicator and a an alligator leather strap. Otherwise, they both feature sapphire crystal glass, 41mm cases and are water-resistant to 50m.

As you'd expect, both watches carry hefty price tags, with the Leica L1 costing $10,000 / €9,500.00 (around £8,000 / AU$15,150) and the Leica L2 going for $14,000 / €13,500 (around £11,370 / AU$21,520).

Strangely, they're also only available in very select stores – in the US, you'll need to go to the Leica Store Los Angeles to find one, while in Europe you'll only be able to get the watches in Leica's Vienna and Moscow stores, alongside Germany's Ernst Leitz Werkstätten Store.

Analysis: Challenging classic rivals will take time

The Leica L1 and L2 watches on a blue background

The Leica L1 (left) and Leica L2 (right) (Image credit: Leica)

Leica has never been shy about expanding beyond its camera comfort zone, but these adventures have brought mixed results. Some examples, like the recent Leica Leitz Phone 1, feel more like licensing cash-ins, but Leica's new watches look like more authentic siblings to its luxury cameras.

Leica may be new to watchmaking, but its cameras have historically been finely tuned, mechanical instruments with classic, considered designs. And, from what we've seen so far of the Leica L1 and L2, the watches carry some of that heritage without falling too far into kitschy nods to its photographic past.

The manually-wound Lehmann Präzision movements seem like a good fit for Leica's watches, while the timepieces themselves carry some of the same minimalist charm as cameras like the Leica M11.

That said, the prices of the L1 and L2 put them in direction competition with rivals that are steeped in watchmaking history, like Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin. Even luxury brands like Jaeger LeCoultre and Breitling are traditionally more affordable than the camera maker's new watches.

So while Leica enjoys being in a similar position to those rivals when it comes to making cameras, which is something it's been doing since 1925, it's attempt to gate crash the watch market may prove to be a similarly long haul.

Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.