The Ming 19.01 is the base model in the 19 Series, which is the brand’s upscale line of watches (as compared to the affordable 17 Series). So it shares the same styling as the 19.02 Worldtimer, but is a time-only watch.
Though the 19.01 a compact and lightweight watch, it looks and feels like a quality product that very well on the wrist.
The case is 39mm in diameter and 10.9mm high. It feels compact, smaller than it actually is, which is an ideal quality for a watch designed to be useful and unobtrusive. A good part of the height is due to the highly domed sapphire crystal, explaining why although the watch is relatively thick (height relative to diameter), it does not look the part.
In what is now the signature Ming dial, the sapphire dial is painted on the underside with a graduated black finish that dissipates towards the edges, leaving the hands floating in a black void. It’s a striking finish that works well with the busy dial of the 19.02 Worldtimer, but here it feels a bit naked at first glance. That, however, is alleviated by the segmented chapter ring engraved on the sapphire crystal.
Although the size is identical to the Worldtimer, the 19.01 is a lot more restrained on the wrist, because it has less visual contrast. While the Worldtimer has a rose gold-plated base plate visible on the edges of the dial, the movement in the 19.01 has a dark grey ruthenium finish. In short, I prefer the palette of the Worldtimer; the 19.01 feels a bit flat colour-wise.
In the dark, however, the 19.01 is extremely striking (and legible) thanks to a bezel filled with Super-Luminova. It’s a simple but clever use of “lume” as a decorative element.
Colours aside, the watch is attractive in its finishing, with the sharply twisted lugs finished in contrasting brushed and mirrored surfaces.
A four day power reserve
Like the 19.02 Worldtimer, the 19.01 is put together by Schwarz-Etienne, a Swiss watch brand that also makes its own movements. Consequently, the movement inside the 19.01 is a Schwarz-Etienne calibre customised for Ming.
It’s hand-wound, with twin barrels, and an impressive 100-hour power reserve, especially for a relatively compact watch. That’s largely due to the fact that the barrels are large, while the balance wheel is relatively small.
The long power reserve is a big plus – useful for a watch that is worn frequently, but not daily, which is usually the case if the owner is rotating amongst a small number of watches.
It’s a good looking movement, finished in the brand’s house style. That means open-worked bridges and barrel covers to reveal the key bits of the movement, namely the wheel train and mainsprings.
The finishing is also typical Ming, with frosted top surfaces on the bridges as well as noticeable bevelling, including on the countersinks. Although the finishing is done industrially, it is one of the most attractively decorated in its price class.
This watch pictured is a prototype, explaining the grimy movement, but the effort put into decoration is obvious.
The only unattractive bit of the movement is the Etachron regulator, which is perfectly functional but common and aesthetically unsophisticated, but more expensive watches also use the same so it’s hardly a shortcoming.
The 17 Series watches were easy to appreciate, being well executed and extremely affordable. The 19.02 Worldtimer is far pricier, but still excellent value for money; it’s a strong contender in a relatively narrow segment.
The 19.01, on the other hand, is up against much stronger competition, since there are a lot more options in its category. While it is still strong value, the value proposition is not as great as for the Worldtimer or 17 Series.
Like all Ming watches the 19.01 is smartly conceived and well finished, but it will appeal best to someone who appreciates its details, thoughtfulness, and the fact that it’s not a Grand Seiko or Nomos or any of the other usual contenders.
Material: 18k white gold
Water resistance: 50m
Movement: Schwarz-Etienne for MING Cal. MSE100.1
Power reserve: 100 hours
Strap: Calf leather
Price and availability
The Ming 19.01 is priced at 7900 Swiss francs, or about US$7390. It’s available direct from Ming, with the first batch having been sold out and subsequent deliveries slated for the first quarter of 2020.
Update April 23, 2019: Added image of the 19.01 in the dark.
Update May 1, 2019: Key facts added.