Conceived by a band of collectors led by Malaysia-based photographer Ming Thein, the eponymous brand made its debut a year ago with the limited edition 17.01, a time-only watch that had a titanium case, a fascinating three-part sapphire dial and a hand-wound Sellita movement, all for just US$900. The meticulous design and affordability was a winning combination, and it swiftly sold out.
While the second model, named 19.01 and powered by a Schwarz-Etienne movement, cost several multiples of the first, Ming has returned to accessible pricing for its third model, the 17.03 GMT launched earlier this year. To mark the brand’s first anniversary, Ming has unveiled two limited edition versions of the GMT – the 17.03 Ultra Blue and 17.03 Blue.
Both watches share the same dimensions – a diameter of 38mm, 9.8mm in height and 43.9mm lug to lug. The case design is clean yet distinctive, featuring curved, flared lugs with a wide, rounded bezel. The cases are filled with nitrogen gas, which helps to keep out moisture and prolong the life of the movement, and made of grade 2 titanium alloy, which is easier to polish than the grade 5 typically used in watch cases.
The case was also designed to fit the movement precisely without an internal spacer ring. It also boasts a triple gasket system that allows the watch a respectable 100-meter depth rating without the use of a screw-down crown.
While the 17.03 Blue has a brushed titanium case that’s matte grey, the 17.03 Ultra Blue has a blued titanium case that’s heat-treated by Mr Ming himself. Hand-bluing is no easy feat, and the result is an uneven, cloudy blue with hints of purple, cyan and grey.
But the most intriguing feature in Ming’s watches are the multi-layered sector dials. The base layer is the concentrically etched outer ring, topped by a central sapphire ring that is painted with Super-Luminova and incorporates the numerals and baton markers. And the last component is the innermost 24-hour disc for the second time zone that’s finished with a radial brushing. The GMT disc is independently adjustable via the crown.
The 17.03 watches are powered by the self-winding, “top grade” Sellita SW330-1 movement, which offers a 48-hour power reserve. And typical of a “top grade” Sellita, it’s adjusted to five positions.
The 17.03 Ultra Blue comes with three straps – a dark blue alcantara by Jean Rousseau Paris, a dark brown and an anthracite nubuck strap, while the 17.03 Blue is offered with two options: a dark brown and an anthracite nubuck strap, or both straps plus a 5-link titanium bracelet.
Price and Availability
The 17.03 Ultra Blue is a limited edition of 25 pieces, priced at SFr2500, while the 17.03 Blue is limited to 125 pieces and is priced at SFr1525 with two straps, or SFr1825 including the bracelet. They are available direct from Ming.
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