Ming Introduces the Diver 18.01 H41

Plus a new bracelet for every watch to date.

Having already developed a dive watch last year – the small batch of prototypes were then sold – Ming refined the original design to create its first regular-production dive watch, the 18.01 H41. Rated to 1,000 m, or 3,280 ft, the 18.01 H41 retains the look of the prototype diver, and is in the typical Ming style, with clean lines and geometric shapes.

The diver is offered in two case styles: natural-finish or DLC-coated titanium. The former is available with either a rubber strap or metal bracelet, while the DLC-coated version is only available on a rubber strap. Notably, the titanium bracelet can be retrofitted to any Ming watch to date, and is available separately.

Initial thoughts

While the 18.01 is a typical dive watch in that it has a rotating bezel, its look diverges from the pool (no pun intended), thanks to Ming’s easily identifiable and consistent styling cues. It manages to preserve the brand’s aesthetics while doing what a dive watch should do, and then some.

At 40 mm wide, the 18.01 is the same size as the prototype and the largest Ming watch to date – the average is 38 mm -, no doubt partly in response to customer demand for a larger watch. That said, the brand managed to slim down the case to 12.9 mm, unusually svelte proportions for a watch with 1,000 m water resistance.

The 18.01 is priced at about US$3,000. Competition is strong in that segment of dive watches, especially since the 18.01 is more expensive than many ETA-powered dive watches, like the highly-regarded Sinn U1. In fact, it’s priced similarly to dive watches equipped with in-house movements, most notably from Tudor and Seiko.

Forgetting the price for a moment, there are a number of other factors in its favour. Ming is widely considered an independent watchmaker, with a small production that enjoys little economies of scale. And it also boasts strong, clean, and atypical designs, factors that in themselves make the 18.01 an interesting watch.

Ming design

Like the case, the dial is done in classic Ming style. It’s a multiple-part affair, made up of a sapphire disc and a luminous ceramic material (basically a composite of ceramic and Super-Luminova).

Compared with the prototype that had a pared-back dial, telling the time on the 18.01 appears easier, owing to the use of stick markers for each hour. In darkness, legibility remains strong as the hands, dial, and bezel are all luminous.

While the case is titanium, the bezel is brushed steel and coated with diamond-like carbon (DLC), while its markings are filled with Super-Luminova. And the bezel has been made disproportionately large relative to the case, so as to improve its grip as the bezel’s edge is smooth, with no knurling whatsoever.

With the case in titanium, the 18.01 is not a conventional dive watch that is heavy on the wrist. Both case options are available with a rubber strap, making the watch even more lightweight. While the bracelet does add weight, it is entirely titanium and should be as light as a bracelet can possibly be.

And like Ming’s other watches in this price range, the 18.01 is powered by an no-nonsense ETA movement, specifically an ETA 2824 that’s modified to remove the date display and intermediate position of the crown (to set the date).

The universal bracelet

Though the bracelet is being launched with the 18.01, it is a “universal” bracelet that can be used for any Ming watch. It has a five-link construction and a folding clasp, but no diver’s extension to fit over a wetsuit.

And like Ming’s leather straps, the curved end links of the bracelet accommodate a quick-release spring bar.


Key Facts and Price

Ming 18.01 H41

Diameter: 40 mm
Thickness: 12.9 mm
Material: Titanium
Water resistance: 1000 m

Movement: ETA 2824
Functions: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Rubber strap or titanium bracelet

Availability: 150 watches on August 7 at 1:00 pm GMT; 130 watches on August 22  at 2:00 am GMT
Price:
CHF2,950 (two tone on rubber strap)
CHF3,250 (two tone on titanium bracelet, or all-black on strap)

For more, visit Ming.watch.


 

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Piaget Introduces the Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue

An elegant infinity motif.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of its first extra-thin wristwatch that was launched in 1957, Piaget launched a series of anniversary watches in 2017, including the flagship Altiplano Tourbillon High Jewelry watch, powered by the cal. 670P caliber that’s a mere 4.6mm tall.

Piaget has since continued the series with additional variants featuring exotic dial materials, such as last year’s Altiplano Thin Meteorite. And now Piaget unveils the Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue, a trio of limited-edition, high jewellery tourbillon wristwatches decorated with the infinity symbol rendered in diamonds.

Initial Thoughts

The race to produce the thinnest wristwatch ever reached its zenith in the 1970s and 1980s, after which tastes shifted in the new century towards ever-larger watches, particularly with the rise of luxury-sports watches. But some watchmakers, notably Bulgari and Piaget, have continued to slim their watches. In that context, the Tourbillon Infinite Blue does not do anything revolutionary, but take takes a tried-and-true formula and elaborates on it with a high level of execution.

Baguette diamonds on the bezel and dial, brilliant-cut diamonds on the case band and lugs of the Ref. G0A45044

Like many other modern-day extra-thin watches, the largish diameter of 41 mm is necessitated by the movement’s architecture, which sees the components are spread out, instead of stacked up as in a conventional movement. The size and thinness of the bezel means that the watch will feel larger than it is, perhaps a shade too large for a formal dress watch.

Then again, with the extravagant diamond setting lavished on the new models, it is clear that these are watches are meant to be seen. Though the look is not for everyone – and they are prohibitively expensive for most – the new watches smartly utilise the off-centre dial layout of the Altiplano Tourbillon and elevate it into high art.

Diamonds galore

All three references have different diamond settings but share the same specs: a 41 mm case in 18k white gold that measures 7.05 mm high. The form is classic Altiplano, which means it has a high-polish finish, straight, sharply-faceted lugs, and a gently sloped bezel. And it has a display back that reveals the cal. 670P, a manual-winding movement with a power reserve of 48 hours.

The dial is a metallic navy blue with a sunburst finish that radiates out from the cannon pinion. And the flying tourbillon at two o’clock is done in the traditional Piaget style, with the cage incorporating the Piaget logo.

Ref. G0A45045 showing extensive gem-setting in a recurring infinity loop

Encircling the two elements is a white gold frame resembling a figure-of-eight that’s set with brilliant-or baguette-cut diamonds. To match the gem-set case and dial, the straps are fitted to an 18k white gold folding clasp that is also set with 24 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing 0.05 carats.

The first of the three (G0A45043) is a limited series of 18 and has a bezel set with 60 brilliant-cut diamonds. The infinity symbol on the dial itself comprises an additional 50 brilliant-cut diamonds, for a total gem weight of 2.28 carats, including the diamonds  in the crown and buckle.

The priciest of the trio, the second model (G0A45044) is limited to eight pieces, and the only one set with baguette-cut diamonds. Both the infinity motif on the dial and the bezel are decorated with 48 baguette diamonds, which have been affixed with invisible settings. Additionally, the caseback, case band, and lugs are decorated with 265 brilliant-cut diamonds for a total gem weight of 6.03 carats.

The final model (G0A45045) is limited to 18 pieces. In addition to having a brilliant-cut diamond-set bezel, the lugs are also diamond set. The dial takes the figure-of-eight motif and transforms it into a radiating wave composed of 179 diamonds. In total, the G0A45045 is set with 3.39 carats of diamonds.

Left to right: Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue refs. G0A45043, G0A45044, and G0A45045


Key Facts and Price

Piaget Altiplano Tourbillon Infinite Blue
Ref. G0A45043, limited edition of 38
Ref. G0A45044, limited edition of 8
Ref. G0A45045, limited edition of 18

Diameter: 41 mm
Height:  7.05 mm
Material: 18k white gold
Water-resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 670P
Functions: Hours, minutes, and flying tourbillon
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Alligator

Availability: Already at boutiques and retailers
Price:
€122,000, or 204,000 Singapore dollars (ref. G0A45043)
€197,000, or 330,000 Singapore dollars (ref. G0A45044)
€147,000, or 246,000 Singapore dollars (ref. G0A45045)

For more, visit Piaget.com.


 

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SIHH 2017 Personal Perspectives: Piaget - A Guide to the 60th Anniversary Altiplano Ultra-Thin

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