They’re not all from Switzerland: Roger Smith Series 2. Image Ian Skellern of Quill & Pad
So, contrary to tourbillons, minute repeaters, and chronographs, the automatic winding mechanism became mechanism non grata for ultra-fine watches. The spectacular finishing and extreme complexity of the movements and their complications could not be covered up by something else. Every rule has its exceptions, but it is remarkable how many high-end timepieces opt for manual winding over automatic winding and how many collectors prefer this for haute horlogerie.
Joshua Munchow, writing for the wonderful Quill & Pad Watch site, relates how purists of fine horology eschew the undoubted benefits of automatics in favour of manual winding.
The music stops here: Unfortunately, the M10-D isn’t a manual winder at all, despite the purposeful advance lever. But we can’t have everything (Image: Leica Camera AG)
What has this to do with cameras, you might ask? Well, to some extent this forms an analogy with the Leica M rangefinder. By rights the mechanical rangefinder it should have died off ten years ago; and it might well have done so if there had not been such an enthusiastic following among people with a shelf-full of manual-focus lenses. And a few bob to spare, it must be added.
Yet….. why buy a hobbled digital camera when you can lay your hands on a camera offering all the electronic aids you could wish for, and a control panel to satisfy a fighter pilot?
As most of us appreciate, there is a lot of fun in manual focus. And, if you are going to focus manually, I can make a strong argument for the supremacy of the mechanical split image over all the modern aids, such as focus peaking and magnification. Sure, both have their advantage. A modern EVF is helpful with “difficult” lenses such as the Noctilux or the 50mm Summilux, but, by and large, manual focus with an M camera is quick, efficient and precise. I am so wedded to the concept of centre-focus and recompose that I use it most times on digital cameras with electronic viewfinders. I just find it easier to select the subject, focus and then recompose the picture.
But we could go further. Surely, the M10-D is the epitome of purity in camera design. As a rangefinder experience it is impressive, with absolutely no electronic distractions.
Others (yes, David B) will disagree. Even I can disagree with myself when I have a Lumix G9 or, even, a D-Lux 7 in my hands. But perhaps Joshua’s commentary on the world of horological connoisseurs has a parallel in the photographic world.
As Joshua concludes:
The routine of winding a watch can be just as satisfying as walking your dog or sleeping in your own bed.
What’s your view? The M10-D is nothing if not controversial. Is it like walking your dog? Should it be regarded as the Leica connoisseur’s ideal camera? Discuss.