It’s always inspiring to see a young brand consistently banging out innovation in the watch world, which is exactly what acclaimed photographer Ming Thein is doing with his namesake label and the new MING 17.09 watch – an evolution of MING’s first watch, the MING 17.01.
The decidedly uncomplicated time-only original 17.01 was a simple, pared back statement of intent from MING when it was released in 2017. It presented an elegant, minimal piece that consciously refused hyperbole and focused purely on time and a stunningly simple build. The MING 17.XX series has since become a reference point for minimalism, distinction, and youth in horology – defined by an admirable focus on design, and tone.
In 2021, the MING 17.09 continues that design language and keeps the price attractive, reflecting Ming Thein’s description of the original as “… an honest watch that tells time reliably and has the benefit of experience behind it – nothing more, nothing less”.
Thein’s undeniable experience, as a man who instinctively knows the intimacy and interplay of light upon surface, shows. As with his other watches, Thein’s experience as a photographer is clear, placing utmost value on simple design, dramatic effect.
The new watch expresses Thein’s ethos by borrowing a few design elements that were introduced with the MING 18.01 and MING 27.01, blending the brand’s first and second generations to refresh direction.
What you’ve got now is laser-etched, lume-filled sapphire married with a two-piece dial that features a fine Clous-de-Paris pattern in the centre, and a circular brushed outer portion. The 3D-effect with the hands and the markers floating above the dial looks dynamic and impactful.
Light blue Super-LumiNova helps the watch keep that consistent aesthetic at night, looking incredible against either a dark blue or burgundy red dial.
While the dial manages a sense of theatre without being overly engineered, the other features of watch are just as impressively elegant. With a compact 38mm, stainless steel case, the MING 17.09 manages to redefine such a diameter with slightly redesigned lugs and a continuous twist that extends the brushing from the case flanks to the underside lugs, while still holding onto a twisted profile. Like the original, the caseback is still solid stainless steel and water resistant to 100 metres.
Having this strong commitment to minimalism works in Thien’s favour and would almost feel like a betrayal if MING had invested heavily in developing a manufacture movement.
Clearly everything needs to be in harmony here, so Thein has gone with the renowned Sellita SW-300 automatic movement, slightly tweaked by Schwarz-Etienne with an independent hour hand adjustment so owners can change time zone by the hour. A slight complication to take the redefine the 17.XX series, and one that’s exclusive to MING with the intermediate position of the crown now advancing the hour hand independently to the rest of the gear train. The third position of the crown adjusts the two hands together, while a hacking system stops the movement. This is, of course, both useful for daylight savings and frequent travellers.
The MING 17.09’s slick approach to minimalism is even aligned with the included travel pouch, coming with a steel pin buckle and straps by Jean Rousseau Paris that are either in textured calf (for the burgundy dial) or black alcantara (blue dial).
Everything about this daily-wearer is an impressive reflection of a young brand continuing to make their mark in the often overstuffed world of watchmaking. Importantly, it continues to bring MING a distinctive identity that’s impossible to ignore.
Orders for the MING 17.09 watch will open online from 15th April 2021, with a retail price of CHF 1,950 (~AU$2,774).