Hands-on review: Ming Watches – Ming 19.01

Ming 19.01

Ming Watches was released last year. The launch was a major success, the first series, the 17.01 sold almost instantly. The release of 19.01 model brings a further step in the development of Ming Watches. The 19.01 watches are powered by an exclusive Schwarz Etienne movement. This is a hands-on review of the Ming 19.01

I will be honest and recognise that the news about the new MING watches from 2017 didn’t impress me. I said to myself: “yet another microbrand, yet another insider trying it”. After seeing the first press release and the first reviews I was still biased. But I thought that, at last, someone understood well his years in the industry. So I was eager to find out if the Ming watches could be something that I would enjoy as a personal, daily piece. During the AuroChronos Festival, I met with Magnus Bosse and had a look at the entire Ming Collection. The 19.01 won the Grand Prix of the AuroChronos Festival. So my first review of Ming Watches will start with (yes, I can say it now) the magnificent Ming 19.01.

Remark: the Ming 19.01 presented is Magnus’ piece and not a new watch. The watch was heavily used and has some marks. perfect to make an idea how the watch “patina” will develop in time. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the means to clean it perfectly and I apologise for the “dirty” pictures.

Hands-on Ming 19.01

Before getting more intimate with the 19.01, let’s have a look at the hands-on video.

Ming 19.01: The look, the feel

The Ming 19.01 comes with a 39mm diameter titanium case and it has a thickness of 10.9mm. The watch is rather small for today’s standards. I am not a great fan of big watches and this size suits me well as position on the wrist, as a personal preference.

MING-19.01
The Ming 19.01 attracts the eyes of the viewer rapidly. An elegant shape that reminds me of the Pagodas from South-East Asia and a hypnotic dial.

The titanium case seems very simple at a first look. A better thoroughgoing study shows several features and finishes. The case body integrates harmoniously the lugs. The first thing I thought about the lugs was about the resemblance with the South-East Asian Pagodas. The second thought was to compare them to some kind of horn lugs. It is easy to withdraw the first conclusion due to Ming Watches’ founder – Ming Thein. For those who are not familiar with this name, I would like to point them to Ming Thein photographic blog. I know his work since 2012 due to a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso campaign.

MING-19.01 oblique view
The Ming 19.01 comes with a brushed case body continued on the sides of the lugs. The front of the lugs is highly polished. Note the hands’ reflection.

MING-19.01 oblique view with crown

The concave bezel is highly polished. It makes a pleasant passage from the brushed case to the box crystal. Also, the front view is harmonious due to the bezel and front lugs polish. The crown of the Ming 19.01 deserves its name – a crown. The shape is alluring and the combination of satin and polished surfaces – delightful. The deep “cuts” offer excellent handling. I have to admit that it is been a while since I was so impressed by a crown.

MING-19.01 side view with the crown
The face of the crown follows the theme of the case sides: a satin brushed face bearing the Ming “M” logo embossed.

The Ming 19.01 watch’s great look also comes from the double box sapphire crystal with a double anti-reflective coating. The watch “floats” on the wrist and gets a nice depth effect.

A dial like no other

The Ming 19.01 comes with a very interesting sapphire fumé dial. As a fan of blue dials, I consider the 19.01’s dial magnificent. A dark centre loses its strength as you go towards the periphery. The dégradé goes until the blue is completely lost, revealing the movement under it.

Ming 19.01 dial and hands
The 19.01 dial goes from a dark blue centre to a complete transparency at the edge. The effect is spectacular.

The dial is adorned with skeletonised math hands. The darkness of the dial’s centre acts as a mirror for the hands. The view is astonishing.

Another detail is the luminescent ring that surrounds the dial. The low light view is fantastic.

Ming 19.01 low light
The view in low light changes the view of the watch. Legibility is excellent.

A movement from the big league

The Ming Watches step up the game with a Schwarz-Etienne modified MSE100. The Ming Watches version wears a new name Cal. MSE100.1. The movement is skeletonised and personalised for Ming.

Ming 19.01 back side view
The back side of the Ming 19.01 reveals an exceptionally finished movement.

The Schwarz-Etienne MSE100 is built as a modular design. It can fit two barrels, a micro-rotor or even a tourbillon. This versatility viewed through the skeletonised translates for Ming MSE100.1 into an architectural depth. A view full of details split between several levels.

The Ming 19.01 movement MSE100.1
The Ming 19.01 movement with double barrel design has skeletonised bridges.
The Ming 19.01 movement MSE100.1
The original cocks were replaced with a skeletonised bridge to reveal the entire beauty of the movement MSE 100.1
The Ming 19.01 movement MSE100.1
All the front components are skeletonised to reveal the elements underneath them. The result is an architectural view with a nice depth.
The Ming 19.01 movement MSE100.1
The movement is exceptionally finished. Nothing to reproach from this point of view. The only negative withdrawal is the empty space left from transforming the movement’s cocks into a bridge. The mainplate has now some empty spaces. This comes from the MSE100 modularity. I observed this detail only by studying the pictures. Otherwise, during the hands-on time with the watch, I was amazed by the quality of the finishes.

The MSE100.1 is beautiful. The surfaces are well finished. I have been absorbed by every chamfered and polished edge of the frosted bridges. The polished jewel sinks are lovely – I spent a lot of time rotating the watch to observe the reflections.

The Cal 100.1 is an eye-catching example of an Haute Horlogerie movement. One can learn how a watch works only by studying this movement.

Small but important details

Another detail that has contributed to my good overall impression is the presentation. The watch comes with two calf leather straps manufactured by Jean Rosseau, Paris.

MING-19.01 strap and pin buckle
The Ming 19.01 is fitted with the best quality straps and a pin buckle. on the Website, the 19.01 is presented with a polished buckle, while the reviewed piece was fitted with a brushed buckle.

The 20mm wide strap comes with curved bars with a quick release system. The size can be considered large for a 39mm diameter watch, but the look was balanced and pleasant on the wrist.

Ming 19.01 complete view
The Ming 19.01 has a good overall presentation. Regardless of the angle, the watch has many lovely details to show.

A  final characterisation of the Ming 19.01

As I mentioned before, I was not “thrilled” to meet the Ming 19.01. I kept my reservations until I have spent some time with it. The watch is exceptionally built. I am not a fine connoisseur of the market to judge the price. But I consider it more than fair for what it offers: a lovely case, an original and lovely dial, an exceptionally finished movement from a brand I adore, a good selection of quality straps and a great look. Not to mention the independent origins.

I have changed the initial, not that positive, opinion. I was conquered by the finishes of the MSE100.1, even if I was expecting noteworthy work from the Schwarz Etienne team. The dégradé dial is a first for me. While is not the first sapphire dial I have encountered, that fumé blue is phenomenal. Love it! Congratulations to the Ming Watches team for this exceptional piece.

MING-19.01 on the wrist
I have enjoyed having the Ming 19.01 on my wrist.

Ming 19.01 Specifications and price

Ming 19.01 can be found online on the Ming Website at a price of CHF7,900.

  • Functions: time only, hours and minutes
  • Case, dial & hands:
    • 39mm diameter, 10.9mm thickness, grade 5 titanium
    • Double box sapphire crystal with a double anti-reflective coating
    • Sapphire dial, radial gradient from opaque deep blue to transparent
    • Chapter ring, logo and rear markings laser-etched into the sapphire crystals
    • Polished bezel and lugs; finely brushed caseband
    • Hands and dial ring with Superluminova X1 fill
    • Rigid case without spacer rings
    • 50m water resistance
    • 20mm lug width
  •  Movement:
    • Schwarz-Etienne for MING Cal. MSE100.1
    • Partial skeletonization with anthracite bead blasted bridges and anglage
    • Hacking function
    • >100 hour power reserve at full wind
    • Movement adjusted to five positions with a 250-hour test program
  • Straps:
    • 20mm width, curved bars with quick release
    • Includes 2x calf leather straps by Jean Rosseau, Paris
    • All straps come fitted with signed stainless steel buckles
    • Will fit 160-210mm wrist circumference
  • Travel pouch:
    • Handmade vegetable tanned natural leather by Thirtyfour Bespoke, Kuala Lumpur
  • 1-year warranty against defects
  • Made in Switzerland

For more information please visit the Ming Watches Website. Other reviews can be read on Quill&Pad, Monochrome, ABlogToWatch.

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