In August 2017, Ming Thein, a renowned commercial photographer and watch lover, finally took the plunge and introduced his own brand of watches. Simply called Ming, his first watch was the Ming 17.01 (reviewed here) which, thanks to its thoughtful design, Swiss movement, titanium case, and accessible price, was popular within the watch collecting crowd. The follow-up Ming 19.01 watch, however, may share some aesthetic qualities with the 17.01, but is suddenly a decidedly high-end product with an exclusive skeletonized Swiss movement, long power reserve, unique dial… and a price several times that of its predecessor.
Like the Ming 17.01, the new Ming 19.01 features a Grade 5 titanium case. However, the Ming 19.01 is slightly larger at 39mm wide and 10.9mm thick. The design of the case is largely similar to the Ming 17.01, with the distinctive flared lugs in particular standing out – but the case does have a more complex and refined “sculpted” look and appears to be finished to a much higher standard. It has a mix of mirror polished and brushed surfaces, and is water resistant to 50m.
One big change is on the dial. It has a sapphire dial, but it has been finished with blue lacquer in the center, to partially obscure the dial side of the movement and preserve legibility. The finishing appears quite nice as it starts out opaque in the center and gradually lightens to become fully transparent near the edges to partially display the movement underneath. It is an attractive look that teases owners about the inner workings of the watch. Etched into the sapphire crystal over the dial (as opposed to the dial itself) are white lines that mark out the positions of the even-numbered hours.
The Ming 19.01 is still a two-hander watch and has partially skeletonized hour and minute hands, the tips of which are coated with Super-LumiNova. Probably mostly cosmetic but possibly aiding legibility in the dark, there is a ring of lume around the dial. This creates a soft glow of light around the dial in the dark which, from the press photos, looks very futuristic and attractive.
The other big change is the movement. The earlier Ming 17.01 used a hand-wound Sellita movement, but the new Ming 19.01 uses a more exclusive movement in the form of a special version of the MSE100 made by Schwarz-Etienne, a movement maker based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. It is a hand-wound movement with two mainspring barrels and a power reserve of 100 hours. It is also partially skeletonized and has been given an anthracite finish to match the futuristic look of the dial. It also looks like it has been quite nicely decorated. But what I find most impressive is that it has been adjusted to five positions and it has to undergo a 250-hour testing program to ensure rate stability and accuracy.
Also worth mentioning are the straps. The Ming 19.01 will come with two calf leather straps (lug width is 20mm) made by Jean Rosseau in Paris. These are mounted on curved spring bars that have quick release mechanisms for easy strap swapping. No scratched lugs – yay!
So far so good, but one important point is that the Ming 19.01, as the brand notes, was “conceived without a target price.” While the Ming 17.01 was under $1,000, the new Ming 19.01 will cost a good several thousands more. Admittedly, the jump in price is substantial, but the Ming 19.01 is a significantly more complex watch. The dial is arguably more interesting and the movement is more exclusive. According to the brand, production of the Ming 19.01 will not be limited, but it will be produced in small batches. The Ming 19.01 will have a pre-order price of 6,900 CHF – thereafter it will be priced at 7,900 CHF. ming.watch