Leica Teams Up with Watch Maker Valbray, Creates a Beautiful Timepiece


Leica recently decided to bring its photography heritage to the world of timekeeping by making an extremely limited edition watch.

Of course, Leica doesn’t know anything about the sublime art of watch making, and so the company reached out to independent Swiss watch maker Valbray, and commissioned the making of 100 pieces of the special edition “EL1 Chronograph” in celebration of Leica’s 100th anniversary.

Identical to the standard edition of the “EL1 Chronograph” mechanically and structurally, the differences between it and this Leica edition are hidden in the details. While the band and face color make a change in this limited run, what truly sets it apart from its comparatively bland counterpart is a unique “iris-style dial.”


Deemed the “Oculus diaphragm system,” this detailed feature uses 16 individual matte black blades that open and close when you turn the bezel. This mechanically-meticulous detail, which was obviously taken straight from the idea of an aperture opening and closing, transform the watch face from classic and complex, into modern and minimal, something Leica has been trying lately.

Beyond the aperture-esque styling of the iris diaphragm system, its bezel and the accompanying text along the inside bears a striking resemblance to the view you would have if you were looking at a lens head on, making it even more appealing to the photography crowd.


What initially seems like an unlikely partnership, is in fact a great collaboration between two companies with unwavering quality, design, production and functionality standards in their respective fields. And all of that, of course, comes at a price.

The Leica Valbray EL1 Chronograph timepiece will cost interested parties $24,700, and you’ll be able to pick one up at select Leica and Valbray stores, granted your wallet can take the hit.

(via Forbes)

  • Felipe

    Can Fuji partner up with a watchmaker and make a good looking camera-inspired watch without an astronomical price?

  • Zamfirescu Vladimir-Alexandru

    Nice idea. Worth 25k? Nope.
    NB: can start a career as a professional photographer with decent gear and backups with the money for one watch.

    But I suppose some people have more money than sense.

  • lizardo

    Beautiful? No, that thing is ugly as hell. Leica has become the Paris Hilton of photography: put together well, but way overpriced for what you actually get.

  • Mike

    Does it take medium format film?

  • Nathan Blaney

    I like the watches, but wouldn’t pay that price.

    Side note:

  • Peter Croft

    Ugh. Eye of the beholder. It does nothing for me. I won’t be buying one. As if I could get one … and as if I has $24,700 to waste. However, they will sell them all as fast as they make them, I’m sure.

  • Eden Wong

    I think it’s a neat design and looks great. Different strokes.

    I’m still amazed though at how many contributors here who completely miss the point. Your endless moaning and whining about the silly prices of stuff like this watch and the insanely priced special edition Leica M Monochrom with Nordic Foto Imports makes no sense at all…

    This is no more a watch than the Leica/Nordic Foto M Monochrom is a camera… It’s simply a fashion babble, that’s all. It exists only as an ornament, nothing more. There’s no reason for outrage just because you can’t afford one.

    Lighten up!

  • yopyop

    I really wonder why this kind of information gets published (other than in a watches related website). It’s something barely related to photography, it’s something that’s not part of the real world we’re leaving in, it’s only something that exists too allow very rich people to know what to do with their money.

    note : this is not a critic against Petapixel, neither it is a bitter comment :-)

  • Vin Weathermon

    It’s cool and wish I was a millionaire.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I’ll wait for the Swatch/Lomo collaboration.

  • Jake

    Saying that it’s not a bitter comment doesn’t make it sound any less bitter. And if you don’t think this is part of the real world, you need to read more about all the multi-millionaires and 1%-ers in this country who have earned enough money that they can afford this without really having to worry about the price tag.

  • NDT001

    More money than sense? Just more money that YOU. Obviously.

  • yopyop

    Jake you know exactly what I meant by speaking about “the real world”. Figurative meaning. And no, not bitter at all, I truly don’t care about watches.

  • aimeegoliver

    My Uncle Oliver
    recently got an awesome cream Mercedes GLK-Class Diesel by working parttime
    from the internet. find more information works77.ℂℴm

  • ietion

    only his uncle oliver can buy it..!

  • Jason Yuen

    Many would argue that spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on cameras and lenses is equally for “rich people to know what to do with their money”. There are many perspectives to all topics. Just learn to appreciate it all. Whether it’s an article on how to make shaped bokeh filters that cost a few cents to a $2000 telephoto lens, your disposable income should not affect your interest in a subject.

  • Jason Yuen

    Why is everyone fretting over the price? Is that all everyone sees in a particularly expensive product? I’m not saying I would ever buy one, but I deeply respect and appreciate the complexity of a chronograph. Mechanical bits moving in perfect synchrony designed and guided by no principle more precise than the concept of time itself should blow away anyone’s mind. The manufacturing tolerances are far beyond most other products that you can’t help but appreciate that such a product even exists.

  • Mike

    Today’s Lomo watch would feature crooked handles, display of random time and glass that distorts everything. Lomochronography.

  • Tobias W.

    Yeah, this is what Leica REALLY is about these days – luxury accessories as opposed to photography gear for actual photographers.

  • Jason Yuen

    Be fair. What company wouldn’t celebrate 100 year anniversary with a bit of a splurge? 100 watches for 25k each = 2.5 million is not a lot by any stretch of the imagination. You can bet these watches will appreciate in value given the significance of a century anniversary. It’s a great investment for anyone who can afford it.

  • Jake

    Sorry, but as someone who grew up in a well-off family and was surrounded by less fortunate friends in school, I’ve had it up to my ears in having people tell me that wealthy people and the cultures they live in are less “real” than the middle or lower classes’.

  • Tobias W.

    The watch is one thing. But it adds to the myriad of Hermes editions and other gimmick editions of cameras that will hit collector’s shelves rather than photographers’ hands. The marketing of the new “T” system is mostly focused on the hand crafting and polishing of the camera body rather than its photographic merits. Leica has ceased to be mainly a company about cameras, lenses and photography decades ago already and become a fashion supplier of expensive accessories for the rich and super-rich whose marketing feeds from its legacy gone by. A Leica “store” in Leica’s own language is often named as a Leica Boutique – the choice of geographic location for these boutiques supports the target group of buyers they are after.