Today, I have the privilege of introducing a new brand and watch from a man I’m proud to call a friend and fellow watch enthusiast; the Ming 17.01, from photographer extraordinaire Ming Thein. Simple, yet superbly engineered and with a painstaking attention to detail, this new watch reflects the attitude and ethos of its designer and namesake. Plus, the price point will really give you something to think about. Read on for all the details and to find out where you can get your hands on one.
Veteran watch enthusiasts will no doubt already be familiar with the name Ming Thein. An extremely talented photographer – among many other things – Ming was very active in the early days of the online horological scene. At the time, he was working as a full-time Senior Executive Director at McDonald’s and doing photography largely on the side. He created stunning images of numerous different watches, independents chief among them, and kindly allowed these images to be republished online – with credit of course – much to the delight of enthusiasts everywhere.
It wasn’t long before his incredible talents were recognised, however, and in 2012 he made the decision to go full time as a commercial photographer. His client list is a veritable who’s who, including Koenigsegg, Nissan, Maybank and the City of London. In the watch world, he’s worked with brands like Jaeger Le-Coultre, Van Cleef & Arpels, Maitres du Temps, Richemont and the Swatch Group. Suffice to say, when it comes to watches, Ming knows a thing or two, which brings us to the subject of today’s article: the newly launched Ming 17.01.
The Ming 17.01
On first impressions, the Ming 17.01 is a simple, time-only watch with a nice-looking dial. No cheap tricks or gimmicks to get your attention, just a clean, well-thought out design that you can wear just about anywhere. On his personal website, Ming describes it as: “…an honest watch that tells the time reliably and has the benefit of experience behind it – nothing more, nothing less.” Refreshing, isn’t it? No B.S., no flowery descriptions filled with hyperbole, just the plain old facts so that you can decide for yourself whether this watch is worth your hard-earned money (although it costs a lot less than you might think.)
The first thing to know is that Ming designed the 17.01 himself, from scratch. This is important for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he is a real stickler for details. He also has an incredible understanding of proportions and the interplay of light with different surfaces under different conditions. The result is a watch that is dramatically over-engineered for the price point it sits at and yet remains elegant and understated.
The solid grade 5 titanium case measures 38mm x 9.3mm thick, which I’m sure many would agree is just about the perfect size for an everyday wearer. The bezel and short lugs are both polished and contrast nicely against the finely-brushed caseband, giving the watch a slightly more formal look. Moving inwards, we discover a composite, multilayer, three-part sapphire dial in your choice of either a blue or anthracite colour. A central ring incorporates Arabic numerals for hours, although I must admit I’m still not sure how I feel about this design element. Visually it is quite unusual and eye-catching, but at the same time, some of the numbers meld right into the ring (the ‘2’ and the ‘7’) for example. Whatever your thoughts, it’s certainly a clever way of giving an otherwise very simple dial an extra twist.
Inside is the manually-wound, Swiss Made Sellita SW210-1, a reliable workhorse that consistently gets the job done without any fanfare. Beating at a standard 28,800vph it offers 42 hours of power reserve when fully-wound. According to Ming, a hand-wound movement was selected because it invites the owner to pause and interact with the watch daily, and I do see the merit in this too. On the flip-side however, the lack of a seconds hand makes it impossible to check that the movement is running. This is not a deal-breaker by any stretch, and I’m sure it was an aesthetic decision but it still would have been good to incorporate something simple that lets you know the watch is still juiced up.
Certified water resistant to 100m, each dial colour is limited to 150 pieces each and will not be reproduced. To suit your changing tastes/moods, each model also comes with a set of three calfskin straps in tan, dark blue and burgundy. Strap changes are easy and can be done without tools as each strap has curved quick release pins and is fitted with its own buckle (I told you Ming was a stickler for the details).
All watches are made in Switzerland and come with a 1-year warranty against defects. In stock and available to buy online, the Ming 17.01 retails for a more than reasonable US$900. Given what you get for the money plus the unique story behind these watches, not to mention Ming Thein’s reputation in the watch world, I imagine it will only be a matter of time before these sell out. If you miss out on this run, there are already two follow ups in the early prototyping stages, with another six to follow over the next three years. I for one am very curious to what the brand has planned. For more, please visit: https://ming.watch/
Technical Specifications: Ming 17.01
- Case: 38mm diameter x 9.3mm thick – solid grade 5 titanium case – polished bezel and lugs – sapphire crystal on front side – 100m water resistant.
- Movement: Sellita SW210-1 – manual wound – 42h power reserve – 28,800vph – time only – adjusted to five positions with a 250-hour test program
- Strap: Three calf leather straps (tan/dark blue/burgundy, curved case attachment, quick release pins, buckles fitted).
- Price: US$900 – limited to 150 pieces blue dial/150 pieces anthracite dial