While plenty of young independent brands have captured the interest of enthusiasts in the past few years, very few have built the genuine gravitas of Ming. In the brand’s short run since 2017, Ming timepieces have been recognized twice by the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, including a 2019 win in the coveted Horological Revelation category. Despite this meteoric rise, the Malaysian marque has been slow to expand its offerings past its core series of dressy two-handers and GMT styles. The prototype 18.01 Abyss in 2019 showed the first major foray into dive watches for the brand, but as a concept design the Abyss was never intended for full production. For 2020, Ming returns to the diver field with its first genuine production dive offering, refining the Abyss concept into a streamlined and dynamic new series. This new Ming 18.01 H41 series translates the core Ming design language into a bold and capable diver with a variety of options on tap.
The 40mm titanium case of the Ming 18.01 H41 diver follows the brand’s emblematic case shape closely, adapting it for underwater use without losing much of its visual essence. Finished in a sharp blend of brushed and polished surfaces with an optional black DLC coating, the case is dominated by Ming’s signature flared lugs. The overall profile is remarkably streamlined for a diver with this much resistance, with flat polished case sides without crown guards and a 12.9mm overall thickness. The black DLC coated bezel is the greatest point of contention here, as Ming’s insistence on keeping the core brand look actively hinders the usefulness of this vital dive watch component. The smooth, rounded brushed form of the bezel flows perfectly into the case sides and crystal, which leaves basically no options for a secure grip to rotate. There is, however, a generous lume fill for the dive scale so the bezel is at least visible in low light. The rest of the case is remarkably rugged with a massive 1000 meter water resistance rating courtesy of a 3.5mm thick sapphire crystal and a triple gasketed screwdown crown.
Like the case, the dial of the Ming 18.01 H41 keeps the brand’s signature design concepts intact while making necessary concessions to dive watch functionality. This is the only Ming production model with a running seconds hand, and in order to maximize the effect of this vital diver element the 18.01 H41 opts for a sizeable lumed lollipop segment. The hours and minutes, on the other hand, are the same futuristic rounded dauphine hands that have come to define the brand’s look, albeit with a hefty lume fill. The illumination does not stop there, as Ming’s distinctive signature applied hours track is rendered here in HyCeram – an advanced mix of Super-LumiNova X1, ceramic, and sapphire for a three-dimensional glowing effect. The dial surface itself is characteristically minimal, with a two part black surface including a sunburst central section contrasted by a snailed outer ring.
The Ming 18.01 H41 is powered by a top grade ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, modified by the brand’s movement partner Manufacture Schwarz-Etienne. The 2824-2 is a venerable workhorse of a movement, and while it may not have the cache of an in-house powerplant it can still provide impressive performance in the right conditions. These particular 2824-2 movements are put through an intensive 250 hour testing program, with in house adjustment in five positions. Ming itself is quiet on the accuracy results of these adjustments but claims a 40 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate.
For the bare titanium version of the Ming 18.01 H41, the brand offers a choice between a supple black rubber strap with white contrast stitching and the brand’s recently introduced “universal bracelet” in titanium. This bracelet is an interesting option, with a rounded multilink design that stands as a midpoint between a jubilee and engineer style and a signed deployant clasp. The DLC black variant, on the other hand, can only be ordered on rubber.
Ming has built up an instantly recognizable brand aesthetic in only a few short years, and the 18.01 H41 helps to show how versatile that look can be as the marque begins its first regular production diver effort. The Ming 18.01 H41 is available for preorder now on Ming’s website, with the first deliveries expected in November 2020 at a starting MSRP of 2,950 CHF. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.