Being an independent watch brand is no easy feat. Taking on the Swiss juggernauts in a time when the market is saturated with different watches and having the odds stacked against you is something most would run away from. I mean, it is clear- just look at the number of independent brands over the years that have come and gone, who just couldn’t make it and either sold out to a bigger brand or just vanish completely.
That being said, if there was a shining light, a name that has defied the odds through truly original thinking and an unwavering desire for quality, it would have to be MING.
Established in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Ming Thein founded his eponymous brand with the intention to create a watch that satiated his obsessive desire for perfection while maintaining a price point that was fair and accessible. Being associated with the watch industry for many years through both his passion and his profession as a commercial photographer, he managed to build up a vast knowledge of watchmaking and design, culminating with the release of the 17.01 in 2017.
The example you see here today, is what followed in the ’17’ series- the 17.03. Released in 2018, the 17.03 features a useful GMT function that is adjustable through the first position of the crown. Easy and quick to use, it is exactly what a travel watch should be.
Sized in a 38mm Grade-2 Titanium case, this design has now become the signature look of MING. With flared lugs and a curved bar strap, the completely brushed case really combines with the black of the dial to create a beautifully stealthy and easy to wear watch. This example comes fitted on a MING titanium bracelet, which is perhaps one of my favorite bracelets in the market. With fitted end links that join with the case seamlessly, this bracelet is unbelievably ‘soft’ and comfortable on the wrist.
The dial is a three-part construction that includes the central sunburst pattern with its GMT indicator, an outer peripheral ring with concentric rings, and the now famous sapphire donut rings that are filled with luminoiva and display the numerals atop it all.
The beauty of MING is that somehow, they have managed to transcend a ‘pricing-based’ class system that has always been around in the watch industry. From an obscure, new brand on the block in 2017, today MING commands a huge legion of fans, from ultra-high-end collectors to your average guy who is just starting out. In fact, not only do MING watches sell for a premium in the used market (something that is pretty much unheard of with something like this), the last few releases have seen them sold out in record time, with the last 27.01 Ultra Slim selling out in under 10 minutes.
Furthermore, the 17.06 Copper managed to win the Horological Revelation Prize at the GPHG in 2019, a watch industry award that is akin to the Grammys. It was an amazing feat that truly solidified the MING brand as a true success and one that is here to last.