The case back is engraved with the brand name, reference number, serial number, water resistance rating, and the words “Swiss” and “Gr. 5 Titanium.” It is interesting to see a brand opt not to have the “Swiss” or “Swiss Made” descriptor on the dial, but on the case back instead. My understanding is that they opted to use the best production partners they had access to, which were naturally Swiss based entities, but some components are from Asia and Switzerland, with movements sourced from and final assembly in Switzerland. While they will continue to use the Swiss Made descriptor where applicable, this is not being used as a crutch to sell watches and is more of a “right tool for the right job” approach. In fact, even their warranty card clearly states “Designed in Malaysia, Made in Switzerland.”

The watch is powered by a Sellita 210-1, an alternative to the ETA 2801-1. The use of Sellita over ETA comes as little surprise given the lack of availability of ETA movements to non-Swatch manufactures. The manual-wind movement choice is mostly sentimental but also practical – a Sellita 200-1 (ETA 2824) or 300-1 (ETA 2892) would have increased the thickness of the watch by a millimeter or two and compromised the slim look. Additionally, a hand-wound movement has the benefit of making the watch interactive. The Sellita 210-1 is a modern workhorse beating at 28,800bph and with 42 hours of power reserve. It is robust, reliable, and easy to service, all important considerations for people planning to support a new brand. In my opinion, this is the movement I would expect for a watch in this price bracket – any lower in price and we’d be looking at a Seiko or Miyota and any higher, I’d expect a Soprod or Peseux.

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Before I wrap up my thoughts on the MING 17.01, a few notes about the packaging and straps. The watch ships with three curved-end leather straps. Curved end straps tend to be uncommon in general, but this is the first time I’ve seen a curved end strap that is also quick release. As much as I enjoy the look that a curved end strap lends a watch, I’ve always found strap changes to be a nightmare, which is no longer the case with the quick release pins. Thankfully, each strap comes fitted with its own buckle so changing straps really is a quick process. The straps themselves are well made and have a lot of padding. They’re quite stiff out of the box but there is a little note included that warned me to roll the straps for a bit before putting it on and that helped a lot. While the rolling may be a bit tedious the first time, the padding means that these straps should last for more than a few months with continuous wear.

The tang buckle is a simple design, but one of the better ones as it doesn’t place undue stress on the strap and looks designed to minimize wear, which is a sore point with traditional tang buckles. A pleasant surprise was the warranty card which is basically a thick piece of credit card sized steel with the dial pattern laser etched on one side and the relevant information on the other. The card is not pictured or mentioned in their press packet or website but made enough of an impression that I had to bring it up. The watch itself is vacuum packed and ships in a travel pouch with the straps and card in a simple wooden box.

As impressive as my experience with the MING 17.01 has been, there are a few areas I’d like to see improved in future models. Firstly, the number 7 on the dial looks a bit off at first glance and can be a minor annoyance at times. While I understand why it’s designed that way, I hope they can find a better way to incorporate it. The other is lume. The press packet and website don’t mention lume anywhere so I wasn’t expecting any but there is some lume on the hands but it isn’t great and I really do think this watch would look fantastic at night with some Super-LumiNova X1 on it. The other area of issue I can think of for others is the lightness. I personally enjoy the lightness that the titanium affords me, especially after a few days of wear once the strap fits like a glove. But this may not be to everyone’s tastes. Given that the brand has future watches planned, perhaps they’ll make a similar offering in steel for people who prefer some heft to their timepieces.

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Speaking of future watches, I was told that the next one is well into prototyping at this stage and is an addition to the line. The 17.01 is a limited run model with 150 pieces each in the blue and anthracite dials (300 total), and while there will probably be successors in the future, these dial variants will not be repeated. I also have a blue dial on order but was not able to receive it in time to get pictures, so I’ve included an image (at the beginning of this article) supplied by the brand. Overall, I’m quite happy and impressed with this debut offering. The watch brings something unique in terms of design to the table but hasn’t compromised on the quality one would expect for this price. Highly recommended for someone looking for an affordable, elegant yet fun watch that’s well-built and easy to maintain. We are told the first 150 of the 300-piece run have sold out, with the remaining 150 set to ship in early September – but there is a waiting list. The MING 17.01 in grade 5 titanium is available online for $900, which is an incredible value proposition, and ships with three leather straps, pouch, and a presentation box.

Necessary Data
>Brand: MING
>Model: 17.01 Anthracite Grey Dial
>Price: $900
>Size: 38mm x 9.3mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Absolutely! Already do.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Watch collector looking for a unique, elegant and fun aesthetic with solid, dependable watchmaking to back it up.
>Best characteristic of watch: The lively dial and sublimely light titanium case.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Quality of the lume and the number 7 on the dial.

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