Introducing the Ming 18.01 Abyss Concept Diver

Ming style applied to the dive watch.
MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 1

Ming Watches has enjoyed a cult following since its debut in 2017, thanks to its affordable, smartly designed watches.

Conceived by a band of watch collectors in Malaysia and then manufactured in Switzerland, Ming made its debut with the affordable 17 Series before going upmarket with the 19 Series that includes a world time. Now the brand debuts its first dive watch – a 10-piece limited edition that boasts a depth rating of 1,250m.

The 18.01 Abyss Concept was born after Ming acquired a pressure testing machine and decided to create a dive watch in the brand’s distinctive design language. It is essentially an exercise in styling a larger Ming watch and also the response to a frequent request from clients wanting a sports watch.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 4

Concise design

Ming’s unique styling was borne of the collecting experience of its six founders share and their desire not to repeat common designs. That is probably more difficult on a dive watch, since the standard ingredients of a diver are well defined.

The same design elements that characterised the 17 and 19 Series watches – like symmetry and clean, geometric shapes – have been employed on the 18.01 Abyss Concept, albeit with tweaks for maximum functionality underwater.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 7

The most fundamental element of a dive watch, the unidirectional, 60-click bezel, has a ceramic insert marked with an unusual redesign of the conventional, elapsed time scale. Filled with white Super-Luminova, the markings on the bezel continue unbroken and are simply yet cleverly styled for maximum legibility.

Interestingly enough, the rim of the bezel is smooth and mirror polished, instead of having the usual notched or serrated edge. According to Ming, its own tests showed that a smooth surface was easiest to grip with wet fingers.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept dial

The dial of the watch is, as the brand puts it, a blend of both the 17- and the 19-Series. Derived  from the dial of the 19 series, the segmented chapter ring for the hours echoes the markings on the bezel.

And the dial construction is taken from the 17 series, being a three-part composite dial, with plenty of “lume” for underwater legibility. The hour and minute hands are similarly filled with Super-Luminova, as is the tip of the seconds hand. Notably, the Abyss Concept is the first Ming watch to have a seconds hand, banished from most Ming watches for design reasons but a necessity for dive watches to indicate the movement is running.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 3

Function complements form

The Abyss Concept case is stainless steel, a first for the brand since its preceding watches were all titanium, and a large 40mm in diameter, with a thickness of 13.8mm. Those dimensions make it the largest Ming watch to date, perhaps the largest ever.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 5

The diver is powered by the workhorse ETA 2824-2, chosen for the calibre’s robustness and serviceability. The movement has been modified to eliminate the second crown position for date adjustment; the same calibre is also found in the 17 Series watches.

Regulated in five positions, the movement is tested for 250 hours at La Division du Temps, the sister company of Schwarz Etienne, the watchmaker responsible for manufacturing the 19 Series watches.

Each 18.01 Abyss Concept watches will be delivered with a five-link, quick release bracelet in steel that’s similar in design to the titanium bracelets for the 17 series. And it will also be accompanied by five straps by Jean Rosseau, a Parisian strap maker, as well as a watch roll. All of that will be packaged inside, appropriately enough, a water-resistant Pelican case.

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept 8

Only 10 Abyss Concept divers will be made, and they might be the last – Ming states “it remains undecided if we will ever have a series production dive watch”.

Key facts

Width: 40mm
Height: 13.8mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 1,250m

Movement: Self-winding ETA 2824-2
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 38 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet and five leather straps

Pricing and availability

The Ming 18.01 Abyss Concept is limited to just 10 pieces and each is priced at 6,500 Swiss francs, which is about US$6,600 or 9,000 Singapore dollars. The watches are available now on www.ming.watch.


 

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Haven Watch Co. Introduces the Chilton Chronograph

Vintage-inspired with an uncommon hand-wound movement.
Haven Chilton Chronograph

Based in the American Midwest, Haven Watch Co. makes its debut with the Chilton, an eye-catching, hand-wound chronograph that’s a blend of retro design elements and affordably priced.

The watches takes inspiration from the 1970s, perhaps the golden age of sports watches, and specifically, the funky designs and bold colours of the era’s regatta timers. Despite the incongruent combination of design features, the watch is refreshing and captures the bold, experimental spirit of the 1970s.

Beyond the design, the Chilton is notable for being the first watch on the market powered by the new, hand-wound, “compax” chronograph movement from Sellita. While the movement is Swiss made, the external components like the case and dial are made in Asia, and the watches are put together in the United States.

The Chilton is available on either a blue or white dial with a “compax” layout, both of which feature the same regatta-style 30-minute register that is divided into 10-minute segments.

Haven Chilton Chronograph 4

It doesn’t have an actual countdown function, of course, but vintage aesthetics, and not utility, motivate the design. The chronograph counters are small and far apart, just as it was on vintage chronographs, albeit ones that came long before the 1970s.  And if the chunky hands look familiar, they are similar to those found on the Universal Geneva Compax “Nina Rindt”.

Haven Chilton Chronograph 3

The vintage styling also explains the decimal scale on the blue dial and pulsometer scale on the white. The decimal scale measures 1/100th of a minute, rather the more typical one second intervals, and is often used in scientific measurement, while the pulsometer was designed to measure heart rates.

Featuring twisted “lyre” lugs reminiscent of a Speedmaster, the case is made of 316L stainless steel, but paired with a titanium case back for its hypoallergenic properties; though 316L stainless steel (also known as “surgical steel”) is widely used for watch cases, it is unsuitable for people with nickel allergies.

The case measures 37.5mm wide and 13mm high, including the domed sapphire crystal, which offers a similar profile to the Plexiglas used in vintage watches.

Haven Chilton Chronograph 2

Haven Chilton Chronograph 7

Hand-wound Sellita chronograph

Most chronographs in this price bracket are often powered by the ubiquitous automatic Valjoux 7750, with its familiar “6-9-12” layout; the modular and automatic ETA 2894-2; or the cheapest option, the hand-wound, column wheel-controlled Seagull ST1901.

The Chilton chronograph, however, is equipped with the newly launched hand-wound SW510M from Sellita, making it the first watch to be equipped with the calibre in this form.

Vertex, maker of military watch reissues, recently rolled out a chronograph powered by the “bi-compax”, single-button variant of the SW510, albeit for more than double the price of the Chilton,

Haven Chilton Chronograph 11

The SW510M an integrated, cam-operated chronograph movement with a 58-hour power reserve and a frequency of 4Hz. The hand-wound movement is essentially an SW510 with the automatic winding mechanism removed; the SW510, in turn, is a clone of the Valjoux 7750.

Though hidden behind a solid case back, the movement is dressed up with blued screws, Geneva stripes and perlage. The case back is plain, save for a stamped outline of the Great Lakes, a nod to Haven’s home states of Indiana and Minnesota, both of which border the Great Lakes.

Haven Chilton Chronograph 5

Key facts

Diameter: 37.5mm
Height: 13mm including domed crystal
Material: Stainless steel with a titanium case back
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: Hand-wound SW510M
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 58 hours

Strap: Steel bracelet with quick-release clasp and leather strap

Price and availability

The Chilton Chronograph is priced at US$1,799 including a five-link bracelet and leather strap. It is available direct from havenwatches.com.


 

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Up Close: Rolex GMT-Master II Meteorite

Beautiful, functional bling.
rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-11

In the Rolex sports watch hall of fame, the GMT-Master II is arguably the most practical. It is a relatively affordable, dual time zone watch; and there are, after all, more people who travel than those who dive or race or sail.

At the same time, the GMT-Master has always been available in precious metal, in 18k Everose for instance, and also lavishly bejewelled like the popular sapphire and ruby “SARU”.

The new meteorite dial GMT-Master II, on the other hand, is bling meets functionality without the gemstones, making it an unusual and compelling watch. And it’s also the first time Rolex has used meteorite in a watch other than the Daytona or Day-Date.

In fact, the meteorite GMT-Master probably the most practical ultra-luxe travel watch out there. And it costs only about US$1600 over the standard white gold GMT-Master with a blue dial, making it a worthwhile upgrade.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-6

Maybe “Pan Am”

Rolex has not revealed what inspired the meteorite GMT-Master, but the GMT-Master “Pan Am” or “Albino” is obvious.

Reputedly made in small numbers for executives at Pan American Airways – the company credited for the creation of the GMT-Master – the GMT-Masters fitted with white dials are either the refs. 6542 or 1675.

A handful are known and have sold for well into six figures, but the white dial examples are controversial and often accompanied by unending questions as to whether they are legit.

A jewel of a watch

In contrast, the modern day equivalent of the “Pan Am” is unquestionably a beautifully made, hefty, and shiny object.

On the wrist it gleams; the white gold case has a slightly lighter, greyish tone than steel, and the meteorite dial sparkles when it catches the light just right. And because the dial is silver and the case is white metal, it catches the eye without being ostentatious.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-2

Notably, the gold case and bracelet appear to be 18k white gold in its natural state, without the rhodium plating that is often used to give it a bright, silvery finish.

Consequently the case and bracelet are grey with a very, very slight tinge of yellow; personally I prefer white gold cases without plating as they are easier to polish or refinish.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-5

The tangible function of the watch is identical to other Rolex sports watches – solid, precise and dependable. But the weight of the case, combined with its shine, give it an appealingly expensive feel.

But it doesn’t just look like good, it stands up to scrutiny up close. The remarkable quality of production is evident even in the smallest details of the case, like the notches on the bezel for instance.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-12

Though the watch is heavy, wearability is excellent, particularly since “micro” adjustment of the bracelet is possible with the EasyLink extension integrated into the clasp.

The only impractical aspect of the watch, and this common to several Rolex sports model, is the mirror polished finish on the centre links and clasp, making them prone to scratches and scuffs, especially on the raised middle of the buckle.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-1

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-13

Red, blue and silver

Although the meteorite GMT-Master lacks the stark, contrasting colours of most Rolex sports watches – the greyish-silver meteorite dial is essentially the same tone as the case and bracelet – the watch is striking on the wrist. In photos the lack of contrast seems obvious, but in the metal the way the meteorite dial catches the light gives it an expensive sheen.

That being said, the lack of contrast on the dial – the hands and hour markers sometimes blend into the meteorite – means that its readability is not as good as that on other Rolex sports watches, but it is an acceptable concession.

Up close the meteorite dial looks like most other meteorite dials. The streaky surface known as Widmanstätten patterns, which result from the nickel-iron crystals within the meteorite.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-8

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-3

Specifically, the dial is made of iron meteorite, which is space rock composed mostly of iron-nickel in a crystalline structure. The other, more common, type of meteorite is stony, which is mostly rock.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-9

The grain of the meteorite is obvious under the “cyclops” magnifier for the date

Though iron meteorites are rare compared to stony meteorites, they are common and widely collected enough that the material is easily accessible, so meteorite is widely used for watch dials.

To produce a dial, the material is sliced, etched with acid to bring out the Widmanstätten patterns, and then polished. After that comes the operations to actually turn it into a dial, like drilling holes for the hour indices and printing the markings.

On the topic of printing, because the surface of the meteorite is not perfectly smooth as it is on conventional lacquer dials, the markings on the dial are slightly – visible only upon magnification – fuzzy around the edges. It’s an inevitable consequence of the dial material, and only stands out because of how perfectly the rest of the watch is manufactured.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-4

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-14

“Superlative Chronometer”

As is expected for a Rolex watch, the tech inside is impeccable. The movement boasts 10 patents that improve various metrics of functionality, including a longer, 70-hour power reserve.

It’s powered by the cal. 3285, the same movement found in current GMT-Master models. The cal. 3285 is a latest generation movement that boasts all of the company’s recent innovations; the small coronet in between “Swiss” and “made” at six o’clock distinguishes it from watches with earlier generation movements.

As mass produced mechanical watches go, the latest generation Rolex movements are amongst the best in terms of performance. Rolex promises the watch will run within two seconds a day.

rolex gmt master meteorite 126719BLRO-10

Concluding thoughts

The meteorite GMT-Master looks a lot fancier than the standard model – it is discreet bling – but retains all the functionality. The only downside slightly diminished legibility with the lack of dial contrast, but it compensates by being a gorgeous timepiece.

As high-end travel watches go, this is reasonably affordable and not too much more than the standard GMT-Master II in gold.

Key facts

Diameter: 40mm
Material: 18 white gold
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: cal. 3285
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 70 hours

Strap: 18k white gold Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock clasp and Easylink extension

Price and availability

The GMT-Master II with a meteorite dial (ref. 126719BLRO-0002) is priced at US$38,400. And in other currencies, it is €35,150 or 51,620 Singapore dollars.

The watch is already available at Rolex retailers, but naturally expect a long wait for one.


 

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