July 3, 2012 AT 12:00 am

How a (hand-crafted, limited edition) Camera is Made

Here’s a video showing the assembly of the “Edition Hermès” version of Leica’s M9-P camera, via Core77.

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  1. FYI, the Leica M9-P ‘Edition Hermès – Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas’ is $50,000 (USD) for the camera body and three lenses. That is a $22,700 premium over buying the standard Leica M9-P and 28mm f2, 50mm f0.95 and 90mm f2 lenses, but you do get the Hermès camera bag and a photo book.

  2. While there’s definately a debate to be had about four-figure scarves, and very high five-figure cameras … I actually appreciate companies like Hermes and Leica. Hermes is one of the few luxury brands that still makes almost everything by hand and in their local market using highly skilled labour in an era where many of their competitors have automated everything and shipped it overseas. They have a large production center about 15 minutes away from where I live in Paris.

    From Wikipedia: “The company does not use assembly lines. Only one craftsperson, who may have been employed by the company for decades, makes a single handbag at a time, hand-stitching individual pieces with linen thread and using an awl. One bag might require 18 to 24 hours to produce”

    Similar situation for Leica. There’s something obscene about $50K cameras, I agree, but as a trend it’s still nice to see that know-how like this still exists.

  3. Ah. Thus the focus on the leatherwork rather than the mechanical and optics in the video.

    >> “One bag might require 18 to 24 hours to produce”
    I make that out to be a max of about $2000 in labor (CS/EE Salary with “decades of experience”), which makes a $3000 handbag not too unreasonable. But a $20k premium on top of a $30k camera? I’m not really finding that the thought of having the fabric finish hand-glued onto the box is that much of a selling point…

  4. WestfW:

    Honestly, most of these cameras are bought as trophies or purely as investments, in the same class as buying a $50K piece of art, or I can see it being a corporate retirement gift, etc. The crazy price tag is obviously also free advertising/marketing for Leica and Hermes. I’m sure some of those 300 people might actually use the camera, but my guess those folks are a very low single percent, and for the rest it’s an investment yielding better than inflation long term.

    It’s definately not worth the premium to me, but as I said … I’m still kind of glad to see that there’s room for this kind of skilled labour today, and I don’t remember ever hearing of Hermes or Leica having to install safety nets around their buildings to catch people throwing themselves out windows in despair. (Leica and Zeiss both actually have pretty interesting histories as well.)

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