Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/09/16

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Subject: Re: [Leica] wristwatches
Date: Sat, 16 Sep 2000 18:04:24 EDT

In a message dated 9/15/00 2:21:14 PM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< But my Seiko watch, in addition to its extremely accurate time keeping
 function, looks nice and is comfortable to wear (it's also an analog
 chronometer).  Why should I penalize myself and replace it with some
 mechanical dinosaur just because it keeps accurate time?  If someone has a
 fetish about that, they can just set the wrong time on it.   It can keep
 the wrong time very accurately as well!

You absolutely should not replace your watch or, for that matter, anything 
else you like, on the strength of anyone else's preferences (your spouse 
excluded, of course).
There are certain watches which are so well designed and crafted that they 
represent the pinnacle of a particular genre of industrial design and 
manufacture.  They are, in a genuine way, comparable to the Leica RF.  No 
one, not even in this group, would go so far as to suggest that an M Leica 
represents the most efficient means of producing a photograph, under all 
foreseeable circumstances.  
It does, however, best reflect the photographic values and serve the needs of 
those who use it with respect and use it well.  Moreover, the Leica M 
represents the culmination of a particular approach to the design and 
manufacture of photographic instruments.  We believe in it, and we support it 
by continuing to buy products we generally consider to be unnecessarily 
expensive, so that philosophy may survive in an increasingly crass commercial 
and industrial environment.  
Frankly, I find the precision and craftsmanship evident in the Leica 
satisfying.  It also, from a purely photographic standpoint, inspires 
confidence.  Finally, I respect the traditional values, ethics and dedication 
of the people involved in the design and production process, throughout the 
distinguished history of the Leica.  
The same applies, in parallel ways, with all devices which would not exist 
but through the ingenuity of the human species.  At their highest levels of 
design and execution, they become something more than mere tools for the 
performance of mundane tasks.  They become industrial artworks.  I believe 
the M3 is one of the most attractive industrial designs ever produced.  I 
would visit camera shops when I was 11 years old, just to look at them on the 
shelves, see the display mock-ups, naively hoping one of the salesmen would 
offer me a closer look.
There are also watch designs of particular distinction.  In places like 
Germany and Italy, and more recently in Asia, watch collecting is a very 
serious pursuit.  Not so in the US.  As a result, we have sold a great many, 
probably most, of our finest older wrist watches to such collectors.  In so 
doing, we have pretty much foreclosed any likelihood that wrist watch 
collecting will ever become much of a phenomenon in this country.  I hope we 
will have more foresight and respect for the intrinsic value of the breed  
than to do the same with our Leicas.

Joe Sobel