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A Leica Watch?

Posted on 30 May 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

Valbray EL1 01

Well, not exactly.  Fans of Leica cameras now have another object to drool over, this one from a collaboration with a small boutique Swiss watchmaker, Valbray, the EL1.  Valbray has been making their Oculus Chronograph which uses a unique iris diaphragm to hide the chronograph functions from view when not in use.  There are several variations on the watch already in production, all in limited numbers, and all with variations on colors and materials.Valbray EL1 06

The EL1 Leica themed watch is in sanded titanium and named in honor of Ernst Leitz, one of the founders of Leica.  As with the rest of the line-up, rotating the bezel will cause the 16 bladed diaphragm to open or close, revealing (or hiding) the chronograph subdials beneath the blades.  This functions much like the diaphragm blades on a camera lens, opening and closing to modulate the amount of light that enters the lens.  I only have the one image of the actual El1, the watch on the right in the top image, but the remaining images give a good idea of the overall look, just with a different bezel.  Of course, if you want a different color, there are several options.

Valbray EL1 03

I think the watch actually looks its best with the blades open, or at least mainly open.  The big bezel and the bold colors really work well with the design of the underlying dial.  Ticking away under the dial is a in-house automatic movement with 25 jewels and a 44 hour power reserve.  The rotor is mounted on a ceramic ball bearing, which Valbray claims to increase the rotation reliability and the torque transmission.  The rotor’s arms are designed to absorb the radial shock, are hand finished, and the rotating mass has a “Côte de Genève” decoration.

Valbray EL1 04

The watch itself is 46mm and is water resistant to 5 ATM.  The Leica edition is limited to 100 pieces.  http://valbray.ch

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Valbray EL1
  • Price: $24,700
  • Who we think it might be for: A Leica fan on a Hasselblad budget.
  • Would I buy or recommend it just on the photos?:  Oh yeah.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Not a one.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch:  It is beautiful and cool.


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