The dust has barely settled on Ming’s GPHG win. In late 2019, the Malaysian watch microbrand bagged one of horology’s most prestigious prizes, putting it shoulder-to-shoulder with the Swiss giants that dominate the scene. As it turns out, it may have been a sort of graduation present. Ming has been around for nearly three years now and is shifting from upstart wonder into an established independent watch designer. With that comes expectations, anticipation—and, it seems, evolution. The Ming 27.01 is introduced as a herald for the brand’s next stage and refinement of design language. It is still Ming to the core—one glance at the case shape, flared lugs, curved spring bars, and the zero for a 12 o’clock marker will confirm that. But virtually nothing has been left untouched—it is now cleaner, even more minimalist than before, with every element seeming to have shed weight to become more geometrically ideal. Notably, the lugs have been hollowed out—a simple detail but a significant machining challenge to execute their 0.8mm surfaces. It is more precise and less playful; this combined with the monochromatic grey and darker grey makes it one Ming’s most formal presentations. Even the lume has been dropped.
The 38mm steel case is just 6.9mm thick, the slimmest from the brand thus far, and is finished in a variety of matte and polished surfaces. Interaction with light is a core theme of the brand, and that is in full force here. The crown itself is a self-complete example of Ming’s attention to detail. “It is 4mm in diameter but has three types of finishing; blasted in the grooves, polished elsewhere, and acid etched with our logo on the end. It also has 50-micron radii on the edges of the teeth: big enough not to feel sharp, but small enough to remain visually crisp,” says brand co-founder Ming Thein. Thein designs the watches himself; the 27.01 is the first release which utilises his newly acquired 3D CAD skills.
The most significant introduction, however, is the movement. In the past, Ming has only used stock movements, either from one of the well-known suppliers or from their Swiss partner Manufacture Schwarz-Etienne. The Ming 27.01, however, is equipped with the Ming 7001.M1. It is not quite a unique movement, but a modified ETA 7001—but the modifications are beyond significant. In fact, only the gear train and escapement remain of the stock calibre. A new baseplate, and bridges designed for as little coverage as possible, were created to fit the brand’s design ideals. “Tolerances remain paramount,” Thein elaborates. “We relied on Schwarz-Etienne’s experience to ensure the produced bridges have the correct tolerances. Extensive testing has been done both for dimensional stability (given how much material has been removed) and finishing stability.”
The Ming 27.01 draws comparison to Ming’s debut watch, the 17.01; like the 17.01, the 27.01 is a manually wound time-only two-hander and is also a debut of sorts, and has nearly identical dimensions. One of the biggest differences is price: at SFr3,950 (RM18,000) it is over four times the price of its predecessor. Of course, the 17.01 had an off-the-shelf Sellita movement and was nowhere near as ambitious. A lot has changed since.
The Ming 27.01 is available from today, exclusively at the brand’s website. Deliveries are slated to begin in September 2020, and the first run of this watch is limited to 125 pieces.