Ming Thein is a well-known Malaysian photographer, that I can remember as far back as the early 2000s, from his photography blog.
When I was first learning watch photography, and trying to figure out what equipment to use and how to light watch photos, I ended up on his site often, and we even spoke a few times, me usually asking him questions about photography. So, it comes as no surprise to me, that he’s currently the Chief of Strategy at Hasselblad and a commercial photographer, which you can read more about here.
What is somewhat surprising, is that in addition to this, Thein has also recently started a watch company called Ming watches. Considering he always had a passion for watches – it did make sense when I first starting hearing about his new watch company, which he and a number of partners founded.
Starting a watch company is no easy task as there are countless watch brands in existence at every price point right now, thousands in total, to the point that there are really just too many.
Many entrepreneurs see the potential to create their own watch line and the markup potential and jump in, but many also quickly realize that their selling proposition, whether it’s low price, minimalist design, unique materials, vintage styling, customizations, complications, and so forth – is just not enough. The competition is too high and the market is saturated with entrenched giants such as Rolex and Omega, alongside popular newcomers such as MVMT or Daniel Wellington.
If a new watch company launches it better have a unique selling proposition. And it appears clear to me, that Ming’s eponymously named company does.
Trained as a physicist, Thein graduated from Oxford at 16, so it’s not a such a stretch to see his company succeed, considering he has done so in many other areas his entire life.
First announced in November of 2017, the Ming 19.01 is the first model in the second Ming watch collection and quite an interesting one that I’ll discuss below. Unlike the first 17 series watches, which sold out quickly, the 19.01 is not limited in production.
With the 19.01 the company states “we continue to challenge the boundaries of transparency and skeletonization – but without necessarily seeing one’s wrist hair.” This may seem like a humorous statement but I think many of us can relate in not wanting a watch so transparent that your arm hair shows through.
The 19.01 continues to with the flared lugs and easy to wind crown from the 17.01 but this time, a sapphire crystal was used in the case construction and dial watch was designed by Ming Thein in Kuala Lumpur; serialized and assembled by Schwarz-Etienne in La Chaux-de-Fonds. According to Ming, “…the watch is essentially a sapphire capsule with a titanium band seal.”
The Ming 19.01 comes in a 39 mm x 10.9 mm, grade 5 titanium case with a box type sapphire crystal, 20 mm lug width, and a water-resistance rating of 50 meters. The titanium bezel and lugs are polished, and caseband is satin brushed.
This is effectively a skeletonized dial and accordingly the chapter ring, logo, and rear markings are laser-etched into the sapphire crystals. Hands and dial ring have been filled with Superluminova X1.
Underneath the sapphire and sapphire dial you can see a partial view of the Schwarz-Etienne for MING caliber MSE100.1. The movement is partially skeletonization with anthracite bead blasted bridges and anglage.
Technically speaking, the manual wind movement, which has twin parallel power barrels, is good for 100-hours of power reserve when fully wound. There is a hacking function that allows for precise time setting, allow considering there is no seconds hand, you cannot actually take advantage. Each movement has been adjusted in five positions during the course of a 250-hour test period.
Each watch comes with two calf leather straps by Jean Rosseau, Paris, including curved quick release bars, and signed stainless steel pin buckles. They will accommodate 160-210 mm wrist circumference. Additionally, each purchase comes with a handmade vegetable tanned natural leather travel pouch by Thirtyfour Bespoke, made in Kuala Lumpur.
Retail price is CHF 7,900. Deliveries began Summer 2018.
Learn more at Ming Watch.