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 on watchmaking and design, culminating with the release of the 17.01 in 2017.
While the brand has gained more and more traction recently, with the most recent drops selling out within minutes, the brand has largely kept a huge secret from the public for a long time- the ‘Special Caves Project’. What is released to the public is already hugely impressive but little did we all know that Ming had another trick up his sleeve. Recently revealed to the world, the Special Caves Project is an invitation-only concept where unique pieces and special editions are produced, with the entire idea based upon relationship building and collaboration.
The Special Caves Project has been running for 2 years and it is great to see Ming really flex and to show the world just what they are capable of. From insanely high-end stuff such as the 20.09 Tourbillon and the 20.01 Mosaic Chronograph to more simple reworks such as what you see here today, it is an exciting concept that is original and refreshing for a watch world that is becoming more and more detached.
The 17.06 is perhaps one of the most popular Mings and in 2019 amidst the hype of the Copper and the Slate, a select few insiders were quietly offered the chance to acquire this special edition. Housed in a Monolith case and adding the depth of the slate dial, this 17.06 was produced in a series of 15 pieces and quickly sold out.
I must say, the combination of the two really works well and as the brand goes from strength to strength, it is extremely rare pieces like this that will shine.