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Let me preface this by saying that the Affordable Watches forum might not be the best fit for this thread, but considering these watches were $900 new, I think it qualifies!



I've reviewed close to 70 watches in the last 8 months. Most of these have been new brands; mostly micro-brands that are trying to somehow differentiate themselves from the rest, while also giving the customer what they want. Unfortunately, over 75% of these watches are highly derivative, lack any cohesive design identity and are pretty much cookie cutter dive watches with a few superficial modifications to a pre-existing factory template. Yes, I've reached a point of saturation where most micro-brand designs just don't stand out to me anymore. So for my own collection, I've been gravitating more towards watches that stand out, and tell one part of a larger cohesive design story. In my opinion, Ming is one such brand, and I was fortunate enough to find their first ever release, the Ming 17.01, pre-owned and at a price that wasn't insane. While I review this watch, I will take into consideration the original retail price (around $900 USD), the wide spectrum of secondary market prices ($1350 - $2500), as well as all the hype surrounding this brand. Let's check it out!


CASE


The case measures 38mm in diameter, an interesting 42mm from lug-to-lug and roughly 9.5mm tall. The case is made entirely of Grade 5 Titanium. I love Titanium as a watch case material because of how lightweight it is, and I also prefer the grayish color over 316L stainless steel. Grade 5 is a good option since it isn’t as prone to scratches as Grade 1 & 2. Grade 5 Titanium is a softer material than 316L stainless steel though, so I would’ve liked to see some kind of surface ‘hardening‘ – like the DLC and ceramic based coatings that a few brands are using these days.


These lugs have now become synonymous with Ming design, and are actually very well executed. They flare outward, but also curve down towards the wrist. The lug holes are located below the mid-case section, and the watch sits well balanced on the wrist even with it’s curved case-back.

The case has horizontally brushed mid-case sides, and a polished bezel and top lug surfaces. The quality of the case is excellent, and even though this watch is pre-owned, I can still appreciate the even brushing and mirror-like polishing.




A good watch design, to me, is one that is pleasing to look at, but also to physically interact with. And for me, this mostly comes down to the crown operating experience, specially on a manually wound watch. Here, there is a very well machined titanium crown at the 3 o’clock position that has deep ridges, and is made to resemble a mechanical gear. The grip is fantastic, and there is no crown or stem wobble. There is a triple crown gasket system that give you a nice tactile snap when you pull the crown out or push it back it, reassuring you by means of sound and touch. Brilliantly executed!


Flipping it over, you have a solid radially brushed case-back that is attached to the rest of the case by means of six screws. This watch is rated for up-to 100m of water resistance, which is more than I would’ve expected.

DIAL


Ming’s founder, Ming Thein, is a professional photographer, and has years of experience behind the lens. I believe this included watch photography as well. It should therefore come as no surprise that his watches are designed to photograph well. This dial manages to combine so many different and unique appearances; constantly changing based on lighting and perspective. This isn’t limited to photographs, and can be easily observed and appreciated in person too. But having looked at dozens of watches from behind the lens, I will say that some watches just photograph better than others. And this is one of the good ones.


This is the Anthracite Gray option, and has a combination of gray, black and white on the dial. The outer base has finely engraved concentric rings. This is almost invisible to the naked eye, and the result is a wonderful metallic gray glow. This is painstaking to achieve without blemishes and debris, and Ming seems to have nailed it.




You then have a floating ring of white hour indices above it. These aren’t floating, because Ming isn’t a magician. Instead, there is a thin sapphire crystal that rests above the concentric rings, onto which the numerals are printed, and lumed. The quality of printing is very good, and as you would expect from a $1000 watch.


Moving inward from the raised sapphire plate and indices, you have have a beautifully etched (?) center section that uses a combination of glossy black and etched gray elements to put on a magnificent light show. I don’t think I’ve correctly figured out how this is executed, and on what material, but I can correctly state that this looks incredible both in person, and under a lens.






The last element is the hand set. There is no seconds hand on this watch, and you have a pair of simple all-white hands that are painted and lumed. I think the dimensions are excellent, and the finishing isn’t bad either. I am glad that this handset design and finishing was abandoned on the 17.06, and I prefer the updated polished metal hands that were more generously and more evenly filled with lume. The hands on the 17.01 have a snow-like texture, with coarse white lume pigment applied on it. From far away this looks perfectly alright, but up-close, the finishing leaves some room for improvement. I’m not a huge fan of the open center stack cover either. But now I’m just being difficult, considering this watch did in fact retail for $900.

LUME




The lume on this watch is disappointing, and probably the only real aspect of this watch that I feel the need to criticize. And in going for this futuristic and minimal design aesthetic, it would be hard to not lume this watch. In their defense, they have drastically improved their lume game on subsequent models, with brighter numerals and an improved hand-set. But the reality is that the lume on this watch disappears faster than a Ming 18.01 on release day. I think this comes down to just an insufficient amount of lume being applied both on the hands and indices. And you can observe this in the grainy, uneven lume across both elements. Lume junkies will not be pleased, but who needs lume anyway… you have a Ming now.


Just to humor myself, I compared this watch against two watches in my collection – the dressier and Bauhaus inspired FineWatchesBerlin Teufelsberg #4. Even though the lume on the Teufselsberg isn’t the greatest, it seemed to outlast the Ming.


And the next, obviously unfair contender, is my 6 year old Tudor Black Bay Blue (ETA). The lume on these Tudors isn’t the greatest, but still very good. And the Ming couldn’t keep up, obviously.

MOVEMENT

This watch uses a Sellita SW210-1, and I believe it is the Premium or Top Grade, because Ming says it has been regulated in 5 positions and put through 250 hours of testing. The lack of a seconds hand made it difficult for me to log daily accuracy rates, and I don't own a time-grapher yet. But as mentioned earlier, this movement (and the crown) operates very nicely and I have absolutely no problems with it being a manual wind instead of an automatic.

ON THE WRIST (6.25")


I typically wear sports watches that have lug-to-lug widths of around 47-48mm, so I was expecting the 42mm lug-to-lug width to wear very small. But surprisingly, it doesn't feel small at all. I suspect the 38mm diameter has a lot to do with that, and it actually wears great on my 6.25" wrist.



The 9.5mm height sits very low on the wrist, almost like a dress watch. Everything comes together nicely, and I’m a fan. The Titanium case makes it wear light, coming in at around 50 g on the leather strap.

Thanks for reading/looking/watching!
 

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I sorely want one of these. Thanks for the review and thoughts!

Sent from my Phone 2 using Tapatalk
 

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Good review of the Ming. I love the brand and what they are doing. I was a late for their first edition they came out and every iteration after has gone on to sell out in minutes. Unfortunately I don't think Ming will be in my price range. They are getting into more and more complications on their watches with much higher pricing. Good for them! Shouldn't be long before we start seeing a good homage to the Ming. Maybe I can get on that wait list?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I sorely want one of these. Thanks for the review and thoughts!

Sent from my Phone 2 using Tapatalk
Thanks for reading. They're very nice watches, but I would say that the desire to own one is quick to surpass the watch that is being delivered. I've wanted one for the absolute longest time, and now that I have two, I would say that they're just like any other good watch and nothing more.

Good review of the Ming. I love the brand and what they are doing. I was a late for their first edition they came out and every iteration after has gone on to sell out in minutes. Unfortunately I don't think Ming will be in my price range. They are getting into more and more complications on their watches with much higher pricing. Good for them! Shouldn't be long before we start seeing a good homage to the Ming. Maybe I can get on that wait list?
I wouldn't be surprised if a few Ming homages show up soon. The James & Muriel Proteus is one that looks like it is attempting that design language.

Congrats!

I hope you enjoy it and thanks for sharing.
Thanks @boatswain!

Great review and shots, didnt know about the brand, but now im very interested
Thanks for looking!
 

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Great review! I have been reading about these and watching youtube reviews and came across yours this am and thought you did a great job. Out of curiosity, do you have any tips on how to find one of these pre-owned?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Great review! I have been reading about these and watching youtube reviews and came across yours this am and thought you did a great job. Out of curiosity, do you have any tips on how to find one of these pre-owned?
Thanks for watching! Unfortunately, I don't have any helpful advice there. I got lucky with this one, as I was offered it by someone that I previously purchased a few watches from.

The usual route is to set up an alert on Watch Recon, and actively monitor sales forums/Chrono24 etc. But there are folks out there asking ridiculous amounts of money for this watch.
 
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