A Leica prototype camera, which also happens to be the one and only of its kind in the world, is set to go under the hammer later this year in June. The camera in question is reportedly a final-stage prototype, claims a report by The Verge, although there is no information on whether it is a working prototype, or one for people to simply admire as a design marvel. It is an interesting amalgamation of cultures, since it bears the signature Leica design (which is already minimalist to begin with), and fuses it with the geometrical flow of design that both Jony Ive and Mark Newson have been famous for.
The Leica prototype camera, which has been put up for auction by the Leitz Photographica Auction, is said to be in “B+” condition. While this may have otherwise signified a product to be in acceptable condition, the make of this prototype makes the condition doubtful. The camera appears to feature a shiny aluminium finish, which is possibly more bling than what you may have expected of your camera. To the front, you can see the typical Leica rangefinder window, while to the top, there are two engraved dials that sit flush with the body, but have grooves to make sure that operating them still remain convenient — at least on paper.
Majority of the rear is taken up by the display, which you’d suspect is similar to the touchscreen unit of the Leica M10. Six symmetrical buttons are placed to the left of the display, and a lack of labelling on them has us suspecting that this is a non-working unit. Given Ive and Newson’s penchant for minimal but ergonomic design, one would be surprised to find them labelled in the software within the display without any hardware markings at all, as that qualifies as rather unintuitive. There are a total of four other buttons at the back — two to the right of the display and two more above them, all aligned to sit within the range of a photographer’s thumb.
The auction price for the Leica prototype designed by Ive and Newson begins at about Rs 85 lakh, but the Leitz Photographica listing suggests that this shiny piece of art may fetch as much as over Rs 2 crore, or EUR 250,000. This particular camera was produced during the making of the Leica M for (RED), which fetched a staggering $1.8 million (approx. Rs 13.2 crore) at a 2013 auction. Neither Ive and Newson would be surprised at the value this represents — while Ive is viewed as a pioneering figure in fluid consumer design, Newson’s Lockheed Lounge chair holds the tag of being the most expensive object by a living designer to have been auctioned yet at a sum of almost Rs 24 crore back in 2015.