Since the inception of the brand in 2017, with the inaugural 17.01 model, renowned photographer Ming Thein has turned out to be also quite an impressive designer and watch entrepreneur, creating a brand with a consistent style and development. 2020 marks a new step for Ming Watches, which is introducing its second-generation design language and, coincidentally, a new watch. Leaner, dressier and beautifully finished, Ming has undergone an earnest exercise in reduction and restraint. So here’s the slimmest and sleekest watch in his repertoire, the new Ming 27.01.
Tom Mulraney, a regular contributor at MONOCHROME, covered the debut of Malaysian watch brand Ming in 2017. As a friend of founder Ming Thein, Tom, like many other people in the watch industry, was familiar with Ming’s work as a watch photographer. Ming’s first watch, the 17.01, was a surprise but extremely well received. A contemporary yet elegant 38mm watch with superlative finishes, a Swiss hand-wound movement, a titanium 100m water-resistant case, easy to change straps and with a price under USD 900, Ming proved that a well-made and well-finished watch needn’t break the bank.
Going from strength to strength in an extremely short space of time, Ming has 15 models to date (including GMT, World Time and even a diving prototype that ended up commercialized in small series), countless design studies and a Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize (2019 GPHG Revelation Prize for Ming 17.06) under its belt. For 2020, Ming Thein thought it was time to revisit his debut watch, the 17.01, with a new model, the 27.01, that reflects the brand’s second-generation design language.
Two years since its launch, the brand and the founder have come a long way. Instead of designing his watches in 2D and Photoshop, Ming has now mastered 3D CAD and the 27.01 was designed from scratch in 3D. You can still see the pervading influence of the 17.01 but will notice how it has been reduced and refined. If the dial of the 17.01 was minimalist, the dial of the 27.01 is the essence of minimalism, reducing the features to their bare minimum.
The Arabic numerals have been replaced by markers cut out of the metal chapter ring and set against a white background, the hands have been skeletonised, the decoration in the central area has been abandoned in favour of a dark grey background and even the double ring framing the central motif has been ditched. Another element that has been removed from the watch is any trace of lume.
A result of distilling the core elements of the original watch, the new Ming 27.01 plays with surface finishes and layering to create different reflections and textures (a very real obsession among photographers). Crafted in stainless steel, the watch alternates polished, brushed and blasted surfaces and is fitted with new “flying blade” lugs. The variations in colour and texture can be seen on the lighter polished bezel which transitions to brushed grey on the chapter ring and dark grey in the centre of the dial.
The diameter of 38mm will fit most wrists and the ultra-thin height of just 6.9mm gives the watch a dressier presence. In the quest for reduction, excess material has been removed from the periphery of the case with hollows extending through the lugs making it even lighter.
The hand-wound movement powering the Ming 27.01 is based on an ETA Peseux 7001 and offers a power reserve of 42h. Intensively reworked to retain just the gear train and escapement, the bridges and plates were remade by Manufacture Schwarz-Etienne to a specific Ming design. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, a solid black chrome-plated baseplate, with opened upper bridges, reveals the moving components.
Straps, availability and price
Once again, Ming has partnered with Jean Rosseau Paris for the straps and the watch comes with a burgundy calfskin strap fitted with a new flying-blade steel buckle. With a width of 20mm, the curved bars feature a quick release system allowing you to change the strap of the watch with ease. The Ming 27.01 is presented in a leather pouch handmade by Studio Koji Sato and will be limited to 125 watches in 2020. It is available to order immediately and exclusively from www.ming.watch and is priced at CHF 3,950. Deliveries expected in September 2020.