The new MING 27.01: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’

The new MING 27.01: Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Albert Einstein once said, “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.” I think that about sums up the new MING 27.01.

In a galaxy not far, far, away, has dawned upon us a new watch, that could very well be defined as the epitome of minimalistic cool.

new MING 27.01
New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

MING’s last watch was released back on 13th December last year. It was the 17.06 Slate, reviewed here. This colour variation of the GPHG winning 17.06 Copper was eagerly awaited, and swiftly sold out. MING over its short existence has established a solid following and their collectors have been waiting for a new announcement from the brand. 

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda tells an impatient Luke at the start of his training,“Patience you must have, my young Padawan.” 

That patience has been rewarded – presenting the new MING 27.01.

Yoda and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back.LUCASFILM LTD./EVERETT COLLECTION
Photo: Yoda and Luke Skywalker. LUCASFILM LTD./EVERETT COLLECTION

The Real Deal 

Launching today as we speak is the new MING 27.01, a minimalistic and futuristic — and kind of space-themed — offering from this new but coveted Malay-Swiss luxury watch brand. 

To understand and appreciate this watch better, we would be seeking the help of Yoda again and using another one of his gems of wisdom: “You must unlearn what you have learned.”

This watch is bare stripped of pretty much all decoration, quiet like H. Moser & Cie actually, but still retains the quintessential charm that MING watches have come to be known for. 

If you were to spot this in the wild — though given only 125 pieces are being sold chances of that are well, you can do that math — you will know instinctively it’s a MING watch. It follows the similar architectural design codes as has become emblematic with them, from the case look to the lug details. 

Similar, but not the same. Welcome to the second generation. 

The Second Generation

This is the most formal and dressy piece in MING’s collection, and the first one to be conceived and designed wholly in 3D CAD. All previous watches were designed in two dimensions and Photoshop.

The MING 27.01 is the direct descendant of their first watch, the 17.01, revoking the first piece’s emblematic two hands and manual winding movement. 

new MING 27.01
MING 17.06 – Another first generation design watch | New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

Debuting their second generation design language is an ultra-thin watch sitting at 6.9mm and is powered by the MING Cal. 7001.M1, a heavily reworked version of ETA Peseux 7001. The 27.01 strips of all superfluous embellishments and introduces an updated design language. 

It starts with a new monochromatic focus for 2020 and can best be defined as a study in radial symmetry and legibility. 

Starting from outside in, the flared flying blade lugs lead us to a mixed finished round case that beautifully frames the 0 marker at 12’o clock on a contrasting mix of matte and brushed surfaces in four different shades of silver.

Even though in its interaction with light, the 27.01 is still very much a MING, my only gripe with the design comes in the form of the absence of lume. But I am not talking from the perspective of legibility. 

No, instead it’s from the perspective of adding to the futuristic theme I am seeing in this watch. I reckon the slightly recessed peripheral grooves of the minute track, and the skeleton hands should have been in-filled with lume.

This way, on a stark dark dial background under night lighting, showing only the functions of hours and minutes, these lumed skeletons hands would have worked like lightsabers from Star Wars playing against each other in the march of time, mesmerisingly surrounded by a lume filled circle.

Photo: 20th Century Fox
Lightsabers from Star Wars | Photo: 20th Century Fox

Why is it called 27.01

We had the opportunity to interview Founder Ming Thein before this release last month and were able to understand why these watches are named the way they are. 

“We avoided names from the beginning due to cultural sensitivity, personal affiliations, trademark issues etc. It started with 2017, model 1 etc. but this quickly went out the window when we realized the realities of production,” he said. 

“Our naming system has since matured to represent first two digits = family; second two digits = model. The higher the number, the higher it sits in the lineup – until you get to the 2x.xx series, which will be second generation, 3x.xx as third generation,” Thein said.

In a nutshell, the brand is introducing the first watch, so ‘.01’ of its second generation design.

new MING 27.01
Founder Mr Ming Thein | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

The Context 

Brand Background

MING watches have been recognised thrice by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève: one as a finalist in the 2018 edition with the 19.01; two as the winner of the Horological Revelation prize in 2019 with the 17.06; and three with two of its founding members, Ming Thein and Dr. Magnus Bosse, being invited to the GPHG Academy in 2020. 

In less than three years of its existence MING has assuredly come a long way introducing some 15 models that have enthralled watch enthusiasts, budding aficionados and seasoned collectors alike.

First of Three to come

This new 27.01 is the first of the three to be released as part of this second generation series.

“The second generation is about consistency, maturity and refinement. The plan is for three watches – an ultra thin, a diver and a new flagship,” reveals Thein.

The new watch is also relatively more expensive than the award winning 17.06 and the original 17.01. But this price change has been warranted for some time now, as we found out in our interview. 

new MING 27.01
New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

“We might go up in price a bit so we can offer more; a 17.06’s price point leaves very little production budget to play with. By the end of year four – 2022 – if all goes well, we won’t have a single watch with a standard movement in it,” revealed Thein.

And if you look at the various finishings of not only the dial and case, but also of the display movement — we have detailed this below as we go on further with the article — you will see how these aptly reflect in the pricing of the new Ming 27.01. 

The new watch, however, is only being produced in limited numbers of 125. Very important to the Ming team is retaining and valuing the customer loyalty. “We won’t grow much bigger,” says Thein. 

“That defeats our original objectives of being able to engage with our collectors,” he adds.

The Big Black Mamba – The Movement

The heart used — MING 7001.M1 — is an ETA Peseux 7001 manual-winding movement modified with new bridges and baseplate and offering a ~42h power reserve at full wind.

The movement is encased inside a 38mm diameter and 6.9mm thick 316L stainless steel case without spacer rings that offers an increased 50m — we mostly see watches with ETA Peseux 7001 offering a 3 ATM — water-resistance. 

new MING 27.01
Modified movement of the new MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

Like all 15 previous MING watches, this new beauty boasts of a mix of surfaces. MING describes these the best themselves: At the front, the lighter polished steel bezel transitions to mid and then dark grey on the dial; on the sides, polished flying blades are offset against matte-blasted recesses and the rear echoes the front, with brushed steel transitioning to surrounds of dark-relief etched text, and finally a black movement’.

This combination of surfaces help alleviate the appeal of the watch especially when light will dance on these surfaces.

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It 

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” said Leonardo da Vinci.

I admire MING watches. Period. There’s no doubt about that. They have their own design language that speaks to collectors and watch enthusiasts alike. 

As a reviewer I see a number of watches every day. One of the reasons I like being in this industry is that watches come, like humans I suppose, in all shapes and sizes. Not one better than the other, they are all magnificent in their own rights and ultimately whichever makes the wearer happy, is the best watch for them. It is finding the beauty behind all of these, that’s the real joy. 

So even if the 27.01 wasn’t a MING watch, I would have loved it. But MING has managed to elevate a simple, basic two-handed design and transformed it into a futuristic looking wrist device.

Like I mentioned in the opening of the article, I think the main draw card for this is the simplicity of the dial. 

new MING 27.01
New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

“The simplest things are often the truest,” said the American writer Richard Bach. This stands very true for the 27.01.

The metallic circular brushed dial with multi-tone grey colours and an almost black inner circle is a spot on imitation of a watch that has foregone all pretence and is simply at your beck and call to tell time. Nothing more, nothing less. A masterclass in elegance distilled through simplicity, the dial of the 27.01 is a piece of art in its own right.  

Complementing the grey dial is a supple, smooth calf burgundy leather strap by long time MING collaborators Jean Rousseau Paris featuring curved bars and a (very welcome) quick release mechanism. These 70/120mm straps fit between the 20mm lug spacing and are fitted with the 2nd generation ‘flying blade’ stainless steel buckle.

new MING 27.01
New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

Besides the dial and the overall look, the modified movement is truly at the heart of the new MING 27.01. 

To put this movement into context, like we mentioned earlier it is based on the trusty 48 year old ETA 7001. 

This original is a 10 ½‴ or 10 ½ lignes (23.30mm diameter) x 2.50mm thick movement traditionally composed of 17 jewels, featuring the functions of hours, minutes and small seconds and beating at the frequency of 3Hz (21’8600 A/h) offering a typical power reserve of ~45 hours and a timing tolerance of +/- 12 seconds per day. 

Bell & Ross, Tissot, Christopher Ward, Junghans and others use this movement. Omega has a precedence in its reference 4620 featured in the DeVille 1994 International collection. So yes, it’s widely used for its accuracy and reliability.

Besides being adjusted to five positions, what truly sets the movement in the new MING 27.01 apart is the modification featuring new black chrome plated bridges and baseplate and the blacked aesthetics that are simply a stunner to look. 

Beautifully finished by Manufacture Schwarz-Etienne, the MING 7001.M1 retains only the gear train and escapement of the original ETA Peseux 7001. Changed here are the way the solid baseplate provides for a maximal opening of upper bridges to put the moving components on display.

new MING 27.01
New MING 27.01 | Courtesy © HOROLOGER MING 2020

Coming back to what I was saying about finding the beauty behind all of these, the new MING 27.01 is truly loaded with outstanding features and is bound to be a valuable addition to any watch collection. 

The collectors will have to jump in at the very second this goes live though — at the time of publication this would have gone live — to secure their piece of evolving MING history as this year’s production is restricted to 125 watches only.

I am going to end this review by slightly modifying the Oscar Wilde quote, “Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world” into ‘For horological enthusiasts, simple watches like these are what the present complex times need’.

The watch is priced at 3’950 CHF, available to order immediately and exclusively from their website, with the deliveries expected to commence September 2020. The watches will be presented inside handmade leather Studio Koji Sato designed travel pouches. To find out more about this and other MING watches, or to buy this watch, head to their website here.