Tag Archives: luxus

It’s Good to be King

Sheik M6

Auction house Bonhams is hosting the Fine Leica Centenary Sale in Hong Kong this Saturday, November 29. The auction spans most of the brand’s history, including cameras from the early 1930s through 2014. There are 84 lots total. Two of these are Leica ephemera (an advertisement and a display sign), seven are lenses, and the remaining 75 are camera bodies, bodies with lenses, or self-contained cameras.

Included in the auction is one of a collection of 16 Leica M6 TTLs, (shown above), made for  Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani, the one-time owner of the world’s most expensive watch.  Sixteen Leica M6 Al-Thani cameras were made to be used as prizes for the winners of the annual Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani Photography Competition held in Qatar. This camera was won by Robert Fulton of Scotland for his image “Winter Trees,” which was the overall winner of the Al-Thani Grand Prix 2013. This camera is believed to be only the second example to have been offered at auction.

It is expected to fetch $40,000 to $57,000.


sheik 2

In addition, Bonhams is also auctioning a Luxus Leica, with gilt top and base plates and fittings, red faux snakeskin body covering and matching Elmar f/3.5 50mm lens, the camera that started the over-the-top Leica luxury edition craze some 90 years ago, proving that arguably tasteless collector editions have been part of Leica’s DNA since the beginning. It’s expected to fetch between $480,000 and $640,000, exclusive of Bonham’s 25% commission.

luxus 4 iqbWyWw_olMI

Hits: 286

Arguably “Tasteless” Leica Luxury Editions Go Way Back

As Leica has increasingly moved away from its historic origins as a working camera and been transformed into a luxury commodity, it has been criticized by purists for what many think a craven pandering to excess – witness the “Sultan of Brunei” Special Edition Leica of 1995.



The reality is somewhat different. As early as 1929, only 4 years removed from the introduction of the original Leica A, Leitz was offering “for a small extra fee” a dyed calf leather covering in place of the standard vulcanite. The discriminating Leicaphile had the choice of 4 different colors: green, blue, red or brown.  In the same year, Leitz also introduced the “Luxus Leica,” a standard Leica A plated in matte gold and covered with red lizard skin.

A rare calf-leather covered Leica A from 1930 – one of only three examples known to exist – sold for 120,000 Euros in 2011. Unlike the gold-plated Luxus, the calf-leather Leica A is understated, and in my opinion very beautiful.

Leica1 calf leather


In 1957, Leitz offered a gold plated M3 complete with gold meter and collapsible Summicron; in 1979, a 1000 unit run of gold M4-2’s were produced with gold accented Summilux; and in 1984 a 1000 unit run of gold R4’s.  All proof that tastelessness and wretched excess have co-existed since the beginning with leicaphilia.

Hits: 661