The LEICA M9-P Edition Hermès was one of the new cameras presented at C/O Berlin Leica Event on May 10. This is the third limited-edition done in collaboration with the Hermès since 2003.
While New York may have been ululating lately over Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie, Berlin liked the cool black T-shirt of Andreas Kaufmann, Chairman of the Leica Camera Supervisory Board juxtaposed with Hermès Executive Chairman Patrick Thomas’ suit, and obligatory Hermès tie.
“A hoodie, like a black turtleneck (or black T-shirt), appears casual…but it signifies the opposite of an Hermès tie, the favored accouterment of Wall Street. It signifies you are busy making things…” writes the New York Times.
And Leica has been very busy making things, including recently completed delivery of Otto Nemenz’s 25 sets of Summilux-C primes followed by ramped-up releases to mortals worldwide.
Meanwhile, back at the C/O evening, it should be noted that Andreas usually is seen with an Hermès tie, but the soaring 80-degree heat in Berlin made many in the audience wish they also had made a similar fashion choice. Mr. Thomas gently ribbed Mr. Kaufmann about how his manque de cravate was not the best thing for Hermès’s thriving business in the colorful accessory first introduced by Croatian mercenaries to Cardinal Richelieu’s guards in the 17th century.
Patrick Thomas need not worry. Limited edition Leicas historically have been incredibly good investments (and they take good pictures). A gold-plated M3 Camera was auctioned for 360,000 Euros at Westlich on May 12. The auction also saw the most expensive camera ever sold: a 1923 Leica O-Series that went for 2,160,000 Euros.
The Leica M9-P Edition Hermès was styled by the famous the car designer Walter de’Silva (Alfa Romeo, VW, Audi). The original M9 body was is nicely rounded. Gone is the dreaded hot-shoe. The story goes that Mr. de’Silva asked what why cameras needed a fixture for flash that emits unflattering front-light. Other refinements were made to the top deck, base plate, shutter speed dial, multifunction wheel and the shutter release.
The camera is covered in “Veau Swift Ocre” leather supplied by Hermès with matching strap. The Leica M9-P Edition Hermès is offered in a choice of two different sets, with either one or three lenses. The sets are available today, in a worldwide limited edition of 300.
In June 2012, the Leica M9-P Edition Hermès – Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas will be released in a limited edition of only 100 sets, in memory of Jean-Louis Dumas, the former president of Hermès. The camera in this set comes with three lenses: a Leica Summicron-M 28 mm f/ 2 ASPH., a Leica Noctilux-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH. and a Leica APO-Summicron-M 90 mm f/ 2 ASPH., all with a silver-anodized finish. This collection of photographic nirvana comes in a hand-finished Hermès camera bag. The camera bag is the first Leica camera bag ever to have been created by Hermès. As an homage to Jean-Louis Dumas, a Leica photographer, the set also includes a 290-page 2-volume book with 200 black-and-white images taken by Jean-Louis Dumas with his Leica M camera.
I asked Andreas Kaufmann about the fascination with rare Leicas and whether better pictures follow. He said, “When photographers care that much about their equipment, then surely they put equally great care into the pictures they take.”