A Visual Profile on Leica M6 Year of the Rooster Special Edition rangefinder camera model, 1993 -MIR Image Library


LEICA AG doesn't just produce photographic equipment. Its core businesses mainly is focusing on 3 major sections in design and manufacturing various photographic, laboratory and field observation (Micro system/Geo system) equipment. With current headquarters currently located in SOLMS, Germany as well as a second location in Portugal. LEICA products are sold all over the globe. Despite had its listing through an Initial public offering (IPO) of Leica Camera AG in Frankfurt/Main in 1996, other than US and a few selective countries in EU, Leica AG still has not been too aggressively in opening direct marketing offices in other major regional sales areas and prefers to adopt a normal path that major oriental labels used to practice a few decades ago. So, basically although Leica products are sold throughout the world - but only through authorized dealers.

For those who are a little observant in this area, there was a change in tactical global strategies by of the major brands from Japan, for an instance, Canon and Nikon etc. where each of them were preferred to sell directly by "removing" the middlemen in the business. One good example was the Hong Kong based
Shriro International with who used to act as Nikon's sole distributor in the Asia Pacific region for the last few decades, had its difficult relation since Nikon was opening many direct Nikon offices in various countries in the same region. Today, minus the NIKON association, Shriro International is still doing the same business, representing other established brands such Hasselblad, Imacon, Pentax, Carl Zeiss and other accessory labels such as Gitzo etc.

LEICA AG used to have a very powerful representation as regional distributor in
Schmidt Scientific Marketing ASIA, the Company has a long history which stretches back through decades in the photographic sectors in the Asia Pacific region, in particularly representing LEICA line of products. Even if Leica has slightly changed in regional marketing strategy today, although you can find direct representatives in many countries now, Schmidt Marketing is still actively conducting their usual business activities as well as servicing a LEICA distribution network covering China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and in my country, Malaysia. So, just a distributor, huh ? what the hell has these info got to do with LEICA camera ? Oh .. first of all, with decades of experience and an established pool of royal customer base here in this region, Schmidt group had in previously released a couple of LEICA special edition model in their own specified technical configuration. One of which and probably the first of their attempt into this new venture was the LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster Limited Edition rangefinder camera model which was released in 1993.

LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster rangefinder camera model, 1993 w/original wooden box with special engraving
Unlike many of the LEICA official releases, the LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster Limited Edition which consists of a reconfigured LEICA M6 Classic body chassis was supplied with a matching SUMMICRON 1:2 /50mm with special engraving as a kit set.

Presumably, the kit which carries a very strong Chinese culture and tradition was mainly introduced to satisfy localized demand for a LEICA camera with oriental flavor.

Probably it may be difficult for Westerners to understand the relation of "ROOSTER" in a camera so I will just use plain explanation to give viewer an introduction of what is the term. Unlike the classic 12 Greek Signs of the Zodiac (Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn); Chinese Zodiac has Rooster as one of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac which relates directly to the Chinese calendar. The Year of the Rooster is represented by the earthly branch character. The twelve Zodiac has an important influence that relates directly to Chinese astrology . The 12 zodiac are:- Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog & the Pig.

Each Chinese calendar year of the 12-years cycle is named after one of the original 12 animals. For thousand of years, the deeply rooted Chinese tradition and custom belief in thinking each animal has a different personality as well as an individual representing characteristic. Each of these Chinese zodiac also has a direct relations with the Five Elements/phases/movement (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) and they are on top of the cycle of animals. The 5 major elements somehow are also planetary related Venus-Metal; Jupiter-Wood; Mercury-Water; Mars -Fire & Saturn-Earth) are like "modifiers" and affects the characteristics of each of the 12 animal zodiac signs. The
Chinese Zodiac is believed to be having a direct influence in each person's entire life cycle that gives them their respective traits, character, success, and happiness in their lifetime. Except in their respective representation, I do know animals in Pig, Dog, cow, rat etc. may not be as sexy or romantic as those signs used in the western Zodiac cycles, but these beliefs were originated thousands of years ago with sheer intelligence of our ancestors, and they are still being practiced and followed by the Chinese community today.

Wilkipedia explained "...
People born in the Year of ROOSTER (or not-so-nice alternate term as a male "Chicken" (also referred a a cock and/or chanticleer) are believed to be having a very observant personality. They are also brave, resilient and tenacious but can also be quite self-absorbed, pretentious, and overly romantic. Most of the time, they are very accurate and precise with their observation..". 1993 was he Year of the Rooster. It was prescribed as a "water-Rooster" in a 60-years cycles of rotation and works with the 5-elements/phases/movement - and in Chinese custom and strong astrological belief, by which all natural phenomena can be explained.

LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster rangefinder camera model, 1993  with companion Summicron-M 1:2/50mm with special engraving and matching serial number
But why 1993 ?

There are two incidents probably that I can still recall which were occurred in 1993. A no-so-nice one as the nuclear accident occurs at Tomsk 7 in Russia but another which probably has some association with the Chinese was, Jiang Zemin becomes President of the People's Republic of China in this Year of the Rooster.
As far as I know there was not other significant issues that might relate to 1993. Whether if it was intended to use as an PR tool to establish a political linkage with a newly appointed Chinese premier or to wish farewell to one of the greatest leader in the history of modern China - the late ex-premier Teng Xiao Peng 1904~1997 (other pronunciation as Teng Hsiao-P'ing) who was the modern architect that had instrumental in introducing a new brand of socialist thinking, or an evolved term of socialist market economy which had resulted partially opening of a traditionally capsuled Economy practicing in P.R. of China to the global market. He was also widely credited with advancing China into becoming one of the fastest growing economies in the world and often affectionately referred by Chinese as the father of modern development of China. Coincidentally, the much respected Chinese premier was retiring from political scene in 1992 and surrendering his duty to ex-premier Jiang Zemin who had his turn of reign of China from 1993~2004 as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. It was an opened secret that some of the immediate family members of China's ex-premiers were also very active businessmen/women in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (H.K. SAR). And coincidentally, Schmidt group who has requested the Special Edition LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster, also has its headquarters located in Kong Kong. Anyway, IF ever such possibility or assumption exists, I guess none can be made official either.

Well, I don't intend to act as an unforgiving smart ass by creating speculative issue. But unless there are renewed or more acceptable form of a logical explanation to this special release that associated with an odd-theme of an unrelated Chinese zodiac calendar year, everything seemingly looks strange and unexplained in its original objective. By the way, using Chinese zodiac as an issued theme for camera model was also being replicated in other label, a typical example was the
Nikon FM2n Year of the Dog, a 300-units limited edition which was issued a year after debut of the LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster. I had my initial comment on such a theme which had others such as Stephan Gandy who had responded with some differing opinion (hehe ..) Another Nikon followed up attempt was the 2000-units Nikon FM2n Millennium Edition, Year of the Dragon* Special 2000 units/year 2000 Edition. Similarly Schmidt group H.K. had also released a LEICA M6TTL Dragon black Paint Edition Set to commemorate the millennium Year 2000 as it was also the Year of the Dragon in Chinese Zodiac Calendar. While the original intention of the LEICA M6 Year of the Rooster remains mystic, in comparison, the LEICA M6 dragon model seemingly has a more logical and well acceptable universal theme. (* NOTE: The M6 TTL Black Paint DRAGON 2000 was not rhe same with the Silver Chrome LEICA M6 Gold Dragon Edition releaed earlier in 1995).

Regardless, all these special releases with a strong oriental zodiac theme were mainly meant to serve demand and/or desire from Chinese/Korean/Japanese community. They may or may not be so appealing to those who are not so sentimental or sharing the same oriental tradition, custom and/or belief. Whatever - it is still an elegantly made quality LEICA camera within the external dressing and wehn combined with a very limited quantity, hence preserving its core value as a very much desirable collectible set for specific group of collectors.

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Nomenclature / Main Reference Map for Leica M6 Standard Model(s) applicable for this Leica M6 Rooster Edition rangefinder camera model
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Leica M6 Classic in PDF (3.8mb) also applicable for this Leica M6 Rooster Edition model by Niels H. S. Nielsen

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