What’s in a name? According to Japanese industry watcher, Nokishita, the upcoming Leica D-Lux successor will be called the D-Lux 7. I’ve expected this for some time, but it’s good to get confirmation. Unfortunately, the current D-Lux, like the Leica M, could sink into obscurity in the land of Tweeners Limbo, the result of an unfortunate and widely ridiculed marketing policy by Leica.
In retrospect, dropping the model numbering sequence in 2012 in favour of a one-M-fits-all was a mistake and, thankfully, one the factory recognised when it introduced the M10. In the four years of naming anarchy we had the Leica X rather than the X3, the D-Lux rather than the D-Lux 6 and a plethora of other netter Typs, Nice guys, but thoroughly confusing.
The Leica 911
When the history books come to be extended into the Teens, perhaps we will learn why Leica suddenly attempted to emulate Apple and other manufacturers in creating a series without qualification. Apple has its MacBooks and iPads without an explicit model succession. In most cases, it is necessary to consult the internal small-print to see if you have a “late 2017” or “early 2018” model. It’s a confusing mess. When you come to sell, it can be incredibly difficult to offer a proper explanation.
Porsche, of course, has made an art of the 911 nomenclature and this is probably the example Leica was most keen to emulate. The German car maker has retained the 911 brand for over 50 years despite a succession of Typ numbers which are mostly the preserve of the cognoscenti. But if you are buying a used 911, you’d better know your 996s from your 997s.
No doubt Leica hoped this would be the case with its cameras. The M or the X or the D-Lux and V-Lux would sail along on calm seas, year after year, decade after decade, while the buyer would (perhaps) not notice the model changes as they happened. An M is an M, as they hoped. But it was not to be. The M was soon called the M240, using its Typ number. It, in turn, spawned the M262, the M246 (Monochrom Mk.II) and others. Confusion reigned for four years and Leica fans struggled to cope.
Common sense returns
Thankfully, back at the Modellnummerabfolgeerfindungskontrollabteilung(1) in Wetzlar, common sense again prevails. The M10 is in the hands of users; the D-Lux 7 is in the bag and, without doubt, we will see an M11 in 2019 or 2020. The Leica buyer, the collector and the historians can again rest easy.
But what of those models launched in the interregnum? What happens to the D-Lux? Is it now to be known to historians as the D-Lux 6½? Or is the M(240), soon to be thought of as the M9½. Or maybe these inconvenient Typs will be quietly airbrushed out of history like some purged Soviet apparatchik.
I believe it could well have been more logical to baptise the link cameras posthumously, with the M240 renamed for the record books as the M10, and the D-Lux as the D-Lux 7. Leica could have unveiled its new M as the M11 and the new D-Lux as the D-Lux 8. The sequence would remain unbroken, and OCD sufferers among us would be appeased. A place for everything and everything in its place, that’s the best way. And it would have been easier to explain in the marque’s history books.
I will leave you with a thought…..
Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to do and buy
(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
(1) Model Number Invention and Checking Department, known internally as M10.