Ming 19.01 Schwarz-Etienne 100-Hour
It seems a little absurd to claim any high point for a manufacture that only endured a five-ish year history. Yet, I’m going to be either brave or foolish enough to claim the 19 series as a sort of apogee. Ming dove into the collector zeitgeist in 2017 with such a splash that they’ve become a mainstay of entry-level independent watchmaking. This 19.01 was their second-ever release, but a release which has become even more collected than the first for its high-end calibre, unique dial transparency gradient, and handsomely sculpted case.
Ming’s genius has thrust him to GPHG awards, controversy, and deserved praise. Some will say the brand is simply marketing itself better than any micro before. Others would claim Ming is the only man bringing independent-level watchmaking solutions to an accessible entry point. Whatever your view, I’m just here to talk about the watch. And the 19-series (.01 and .02) are some of the best work the marque has managed to date.
The 19.01 came hot on the heels of Ming’s first 17.01, not even a year later. The unique (unique-ish, Holthinrichs would say) 39mm case with flared lug design was thinner, marginally, at 10.9mm. This time though, it was hewn from grade 5 titanium for a light weight and robust daily wearability. Ming contracted out to Schwarz-Etienne for the most significant upgrade the brand would receive before or since: a manual MSE100-derived calibre capable of a 100-hour reserve with two barrels, skeletonized bridges, anthracite finish, and a very stable torque curve over its power reserve. Then there’s the look of the thing. The dial has a translucent gradient, revealing the edge of its mechanics from the face. The handset and tracks are uniquely Ming, a design aesthetic that always reminds me of Star Wars for reasons I cannot articulate (particularly under lume). The face hints at the mechanical complexity beneath, but subtly.
This example is in excellent condition. Even grade 5 titanium may scratch quite easily, but the surface wear on this example is slight. It comes with a full set on a Jean Rousseau strap and quick release from a well-regarded, smaller, London-based retailer.
Find this 19.01 here from Kibble Watches for 10950.