I've been working in the Camera Retail industry for nearly a decade, namely for Camera West and Leica Store San Francisco. The Camera retail industry got me into watches, from seeing exciting pieces on clients' wrists to Sean Cranor talking about watches while working on vintage Leica cameras on his desk. The Cameras and Watches genres are fluid, and if there is anything I've learned to appreciate about watches, it probably stemmed from my love for cameras, specifically Leica cameras.
It's been a long-time goal now to visit and experience the Leica factory in Wetzlar, and this year for Leica's Celebration of Photography, I finally got to see behind the scenes at Leica. During my time there, I spent a reasonable amount of time talking camera and Leica nerdery with fellow photographers and enthusiasts, but one thing that stuck out with many of those I had the pleasure of spending time with was our shared passion for watches! Why not do a little series on the watches found at Wetzlar? So, without any further ado, let's go watch hunting in Wetzlar at Leica Camera's HQ and see what we find!
As a long-time TGN "The Grey Nato" fan and listener of the podcast, it was a pleasure running into James Stacy and talking photography, some photography projects he has in the works, and of course, watches. This beautiful Rolex Explore Ref. 16570 was an antiquated choice for James as he bounced around Europe for a bit before going home. While the special red-lettered Noctilux f1.2 is not Jame's lens, it was salvaged from the bar table in Wetzlar without any concern. Only these things happen at Leica in Wetzlar.
Tom Stevens owns and operates Leica Store in Manchester. While in the Leitz Cafe, we had a chance to chat about his incredible Leica Anastigmat he was carrying around the factory. While chatting, I couldn't help but notice his beautiful 1675 GMT on a well-weathered jubilee bracelet. A more fitting watch and camera combo do not exist.
Suppose you've been on Instagram for a hot minute. In that case, you will recognize the name "Van Styles" or now by his real name, Stephen Vanasco, the man behind the camera whose photography has had an incredible following for some time now and who is not only a Leica buff but also appreciates a modern submariner. Stephen's combo of Rolex Submariner 116610 and Leica CM was a "no fuss" combo worth sharing.
On my factory tour, getting a very much "behind the scenes" look at how all my favorite lenses and cameras come to life, I met a fellow by the name of Sven. Sven runs Leica's production and camera care. Yes, he makes the cool things we love to play with come to life. Sven's had a different watch on both times I met him. The First time with a Rado Captain cook and the second time with a limited edition Stowa diver in titanium (unfortunatly not pictured). Sven had an all-brass Leica M-P 240, and we shared common opinions on what Leica cameras and cool watches are to us.
Dennys Ilic, an LA-based photography and watch fanatic of massive proportion, chatted my ear off about many things, from the fake Migaus he plans to destroy to his complete Moon Swatch collection and love for the colorful Rolex Oyster Perpetuals. I had to capture his setup here with the Leica Q2, rings of power, and Rolex Sub 16610.
Nathan Kellum, Leica USA's product communication specialist, helped make the event happen for all the Leica family traveling from the US. Upon meeting up with him in Wetzlar, I noticed his Glycine Combat sub sitting on an appropriate red nato strap. Nathan is also holding the new Leica M6 and 35mm f1.4 Summilux Steel rim announced earlier that day.
Of course, this would not be complete with Sean Cranor's watch and camera combo, as well as mine. Sean is sporting a Long E dial 1675 GMT with a black Bezel and his Leica SL2-S.
My personal setup for this trip was my Leica M 246 Monochrom, one of the "Your Mark" editions we have at Leica Store SF and Camera West, designed with Black Paint and Horween leather. The watch I'm wearing is a new acquisition I got the day I left for this trip, my Fortis Aeromaster Professional in PVD. I couldn't be happier with this watch! (photo graciously supplied by Liam O'Donnell, a far more gifted photographer than myself.)
All photos were shot on the Leica SL2-S at near max ISO during terrible lighting conditions and with the Leica 24-90mm zoom.