Leica Serial Numbers online
Stephen Gandy maintains a excellent www site with Leica serial numbers of cameras & lenses sorted into models and dates:
After this long page has loaded, do a search (or scroll down half way) to find the "Leica Serial Numbers" heading in red. There you will find 5 separate links to serial number pages. Eg., this is the particular link to the M & R SLR camera bodies S/N page:
While the following shows a list of the exact date of manufacture (to the month) for each batch of Ms (until 1999):
If you are just looking for lens serial numbers / date of manufacture, then you may find it faster to look at this page:
S/N are a guide only
Please note: you should always take these serial number lists to be only a rough guide to the year of manufacture, especially for cameras and lenses made after 1993. As noted by Jerry Pfile in May 2002:
[…] Leica does not make production in "blocks" of bodies or lenses. Rather they allocate blocks of serial numbers to certain items e.g. the M7. As an example they may have allocated a block of 10,000 serial numbers for the first M7s. At the same time they may have allocated the next 3,000 numbers to R8s. But they may be producing both the R8 and the M7 at the same time. Whichever body runs out of serial numbers first just gets a new allocation of serial numbers and production may or may not continue based on demand.
The practical effect is that the next body out the door is not necessarily one serial number higher than the next as multiple items are produced at the same time. Sometimes blocks allocated to one item are not used wholly for that item and instances of an entirely different item than the block was initially allocated to are discovered.
The system works the same way with lenses although the lack of any serial number/time of production sequence is even more pronounced due to the greater number of individual lens types.
As an example of this I have a 100mm Macro APO-Elmarit R with a serial number which, according the # lists, predates the first actual year of production!
Years of manufacture
If you are wondering about how many years each model was made, the have a look at the following threads at the Leica Forum at greenspun.com:
- <Greenspun.com: #006wqm> - M models, years of manufacture
- <Greenspun.com: #006wrM> - R models (ditto)
For the record, the M6 (and its variants) were the longest camera in production at seventeen years, while the R6(.2) is the longest life-span R at thirteen years.