Leica Puts Fancy Watches in Focus -- for $12,000 and Up

(Bloomberg) -- Leica, famous for sturdy analog cameras that are distinctly anachronistic in today’s digital age, is trying its hand at an equally retro product: high-end mechanical watches.

The made-in-Germany timepieces will give Swiss watches a run for their money with their price tags, at least -- they start at 9,900 euros ($12,000). Leica Camera AG is working with Lehmann Prazision GmbH, a precision-manufacturing company, and many of the components come from Germany’s Black Forest region, renowned for its cuckoo-clock industry.

Leica has been adapting to the decline of its traditional market by selling lenses for digital cameras and smartphones, as well as adding high-end digital versions of its iconic rangefinders. The watches were developed at the Ernst Leitz Werkstatten, a workshop for new products that’s named after the brand’s founder.

Two models will be available around the end of this year, with higher-end options including rose gold, Leica said in a statement. A limited edition with a red watch face, recalling the Leica logo, is also planned.

Leica isn’t the only German brand to try to relaunch itself as a watchmaker. Two decades ago, luxury penmaker Montblanc added a line of timepieces. Now that label is one of Swiss luxury-goods maker Richemont’s top watch brands.

The camera company has dabbled in watches from time to time, including a limited-edition Leica-labeled timepiece from Swiss brand Valbray in 2014.

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