After the success of their 17.01 and 19.01 models that debuted in 2017, Kuala Lumpur-based Ming watches has just released the next watch in the 17 series, the Ming 17.03 GMT. Founded as a sort of horological collective lead by designer and commercial photographer Ming Thein, the eponymous Ming watch brand garnered a fair bit of attention thanks to the distinguishing design traits found in their first two watches, which were both released at vastly different price points. With a desire to retain the essential characteristics of the 17.01, Ming aimed to create a comfortable and practical travel companion that could also stand as a worthy successor to the original. As a result, several improvements have been made to the case, handset, and dial markings. However, what really makes this watch stand out is the independently adjustable 24-hour dial ring, grade 2 titanium case construction, and a convenient quick release mechanism for the matching grade 2 titanium bracelet.
Before even dissecting the specifics of the watch, we can already find that everything which made the original 17.01 a success is retained in the new Ming 17.03 GMT. The flared lugs, floating Arabic numerals, and the absence of a seconds hand have all been carried over to the new GMT model and it's nice to see that Ming was able to craft an aesthetic unique to the brand right out of the gate. That's no easy task, especially if you're brave enough to debut your brand with a product that isn't a vintage-inspired dive watch. But, while the watch certainly feels like another Ming product, it serves as a logical evolution for 17 series and offers potential buyers something a little more sporty and versatile thanks to some of the new features.
The Ming 17.03 GMT case has been kept at a very conservative 38mm in diameter with a thickness of 9.8mm and a lug-to-lug measurement of 43.9mm. The entire grade 2 titanium case is brushed for a clean, sporty look that carries on into the matching bracelet. Available in black and burgundy, the multi-layer, three-part sapphire dial provides a bit of visual flare and depth thanks to the vibrant coloring and textures available throughout the different configurations.
Since it would be a shame hinder legibility here, Ming has also fitted the watch with a sapphire crystal treated with five layers of anti-reflective coating on both sides. Water resistance is ample at 100m and Ming has opted to redesign the hands and dial markings with a thicker application of C1 Super-LumiNova – a sight to behold in low light environments.
Looking at the familiar Ming dial, we find a new layer housing a subtle, yet visible 24-hour ring that allows the wearer to track a second time zone. This is indicated by an independently adjustable rotating disc with a single luminous star that points to the second hour. While it could just be a matter of design balance, I can't help but wonder what the overall display would look like if the numerals on the 24-hour scale were also lumed – but I doubt this will be an issue for anyone choosing to pull the trigger on the Ming 17.03 GMT. These functions are all made possible by the top grade Sellita SW330-1 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve and a 28,800 bph operational frequency. It's also worth noting that the movements are tested for a total of 250 hours in five positions.
Since a travel watch wouldn't mean much if it wasn't comfortable, Ming makes sure that wearers have plenty of options when it comes to straps and the titanium bracelet. The lugs themselves have been elongated and re-profiled in this case to accommodate the new quick release mechanism for the titanium bracelet. It features screw-in links and a concealed double deployant stainless steel clasp for a sleek look and fit. Also included with the Ming 17.03 GMT is a set of quick release nubuck straps in anthracite and dark chocolate finishes with curved quick release pins for a snug and integrated fit with the case. And if you want even more variety, Ming has also launched a new collection of strap packs with options ranging from red and green calf leather variants to more subdued and neutral grey and brown distressed finishes.
Overall, I think most watch enthusiasts that have been following the Ming watch brand since the beginning will find the Ming 17.03 GMT to be a very successful, and above all, tempting release. Personally, while I found the original designs alluring, it was difficult for me to visualize myself voting with my dollar, but I have a very different feeling about this new GMT. Maybe it's the fluid design, added practicality, easier price point, or the convenience of the new quick release titanium bracelet. Whatever it is, anyone perched on the fence and considering the 17.03 should probably get a move on, because if it's anything like Ming's previous watches, stock probably won't last very long. Price for the new Ming 17.03 GMT is 1,650 CHF and deliveries are set to begin late February 2018. ming.watch