The Fresh Prince Of Swiss-Air: Introducing The New Ming 17.09
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from this year and the Watches & Wonders 2021. And while this new release is not officially a part of W&W 2021, it sure is released at impeccable timing. Here’s our Gut Reaction Review (Grr…) of the new Ming 17.09. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Gut Reaction A
There is a quote that goes: “Before you ask which way to go, remember where you’ve been”.
The new 17.09 is Ming back to its roots. When I first encountered Ming watches, it was at the travelling GPHG exhibition here in Sydney back in 2019. Having never heard of the brand, I was amazed at the distinctive aesthetics and built of the timepiece. I appreciated how a brand I hadn’t heard of until then stood head to head with the other Swiss brands, some known even for centuries.
The Ming 17.06 shared the room with legends and didn’t look out of place. It was simply writing its own legend.
But the aspect that surprised and charmed me the most was the price point. Here was a watch under 2k CHF. This to me, was the key takeaway, the amazing product at an amazing price.
Then in 2020, we started our watch review website, and I got to know both the brand and the force behind it better. They also released a flurry of timepieces, all ultra-exclusive, all impressive. These were also considerably more expensive, and given I got the opportunity to study them better, I could see the justified rationale behind the increased pricing.
Yet, a part of me still wanted Ming to get back to its foundations, to build a watch that spoke volumes of their amazing craftsmanship and design, but also maintained the entry-level, under 2k CHF price tag.
And voila, here it is: the new MING 17.09. Retailing for 1,950 CHF (inclusive of shipping and a 2-year warranty). Bargains in the world of luxury are an oxymoron; but if there is one watch release this year that can be called a bargain, it is the new Ming 17.09. This new timepiece combines elements of their second-generation design language with first-generation prices.
So simply put, like the quote above, Ming may be evolving into a new generation design language, but the new Ming 17.09 reminds us where they have been.
Gut Reaction B
Talking about the actual watches — yes, Ming is releasing two coloured variants, blue and Burgundy — the above commentary on the welcome pricing was my first reaction.
My next reaction was how handsome the 17.09 looks. This both dressy and sporty beauty shines thanks to the presence of the composite, two-part dial in metallic burgundy or blue that is charmingly adorned with a fine Clous-de-Paris pattern in the centre and a circular brushed outer portion. Also, Ming brings laser-etched and lume-filled sapphire to their 17-series, with the indices now present on the underside of the top crystal. This seriously ups their lume game with hands coated with Super-LumiNova X1 and the night shots appear to die for.
Move beyond the dial and you find that wide range of wrist-friendly sized 38mm in diameter and only 10mm thick 316L steel case that retains the brand’s signature flared lugs that have been re-profiled with a continuous twist that extends the brushing continuously from the case flanks through to the underside of the lugs to ensure better wrist presence.
The hand-made by Jean Rousseau Paris straps in complementary colours to the dials — textured calf strap in taupe with brown alcantara lining for the Burgundy dial and black alcantara strap with blue rubber lining for the blue dial — complete the aesthetics. The attention to detail is as always superb, with the signed flying blade pin buckles complementing the design of the brand’s signature flared lugs.
Gut Reaction C
My third reaction was how impressed I was with the design of the new Ming 17.09, again. I say again because they don’t wander too far from their stereotypical design language. Present here are MING’s typical ‘0’ marker and flared lugs, the radial symmetry that’s impressive to the core, and the mix of polished, brushed and blasted surfaces with ‘flying blade’ lugs; all elements we have become endearingly accustomed to. But despite retaining their identifiable elements, Ming Thein has managed to design a timepiece that looks completely fresh.
Within an industry that can be repetitive and sometimes unwilling to step into the modern century, Ming’s watches are a breath of fresh air. The Ming 17.09 is the Fresh Prince Of Swiss-Air.
To put this release into context, here’s a brief timeline of Ming’s 17-series production.
- 2017 Ming 17.01 – Anthracite Grey dial
- 2017 Ming 17.01 – Blue dial
- 2018 17.03 GMT – Black, Burgundy, and blue dials, ‘BB’ Edition, and Ultra-blue LE
- 2019 17.06 – GPHG wining Copper edition
- 2019 17.06 – Monolith
- 2019 17.06 – Slate edition
- 2021 17.09 – The last chapter
A plethora of new releases came out in 2020 that we covered in detail here, but not a single 17-series release. And now, wooing us with this entry-level new MING 17.09, their final addition to the 17-series. The blue and Burgundy variants of the 17.09 according to the brand will be discontinued and not produced again.
The new Ming 17.09 will be presented in limited numbers (explained clearly in a bit) and features the Cal.330.M1 that is based on the Sellita SW330-2.
Compared to this, the previous Ming 17-series was equated with the top grade ETA 2824-2 modified for MING. It beat at the frequency of 4Hz, featured a hacking function and was adjusted to five positions with a 250-hour test program. It comprised of 25 jewels and had a 38-hour power reserve. The Ming 17.06 was also water-resistant to 100m.
The Cal.330.M1 is exclusively modified for Ming by Manufacture Schwarz-Etienne, and most prominently features an independent hours adjustment mechanism. The rest of the specs almost remain relatively unchanged: 4Hz frequency, hacking function, 25 jewels, and the movement regulated with a 250-hour test program. And impressively, Ming has the upped the power reserve to a decent 42-hours.
The movement is encased inside a 38 x 10mm 316L stainless steel rigid case without spacer rings and with a solid caseback and mixed brushed and polished finishes. The overall lug to lug is only 43.9mm and the watch is again 100m water-resistant thanks to the triple crown gasket.
The new Ming 17.09 is deeply embedded in what I would call the Ming-verse; a universe of its own that provides an immediately identifiable design language and challenges the decades-old brands with contemporary and stellar products.
A brand that listens, is the brand that wins
Ming is one of those runaway successes that thousands of brands on Kickstarter dream of. And besides their one distinctive design language, the ability to listen to customer demands and adhere to collectors’ needs has what helped Ming gain so much popularity in just 4 short years.
A perfect example of this is their addressal of the increased demand with a new ordering system that should allow more enthusiasts to become a part of the Ming-verse:
- To begin with, full details and images of the new Ming 17.09 are being released now — 11pm Sydney time — well before the order opening so that customers can take a proper gander at these beauties
- The first batch of watches will be made available to existing customers on 14th April of 75x each variant and deliveries will begin in July 2021
- Batch 2 will be open to everyone on 15th April at 11pm Sydney time and will include 150x of each variant. The delivery of these will begin in October 2021
- Batch 3 will be a time-limited batch with a 10-minute window, so between 11pm to 11.10pm Sydney time on 16th April. This will work on a 50% non-refundable deposit basis and deliveries will start even later in March 2022
Other than handling the demand, I also appreciate how the Ming 17.09 continues to include welcome features such as curved end straps, a universal 20mm interhorn lug spacing making it very easy to find after-market straps, a quick-release mechanism, and a lug+case design that fits 160 to 210mm (6.1”-8.3”) wrist circumferences. The watch also as usual comes in a nice leather travel pouch handmade by Studio Koji Sato. The Ming-verse thankfully caters to everyone.
I understand its absences given the price point, but a nicely decorated movement visible through a display case-back is sadly missed.
Ming may have released a new entry-level variant at affordable prices, but don’t get too comfortable and miss out on this opportunity.
Ming Thein in an exclusive interview with us earlier said: “We won’t grow much bigger. That defeats our original objectives of being able to engage with our collectors. 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”.
Given Ming’s future direction, these prices may not be repeated, and if you like these watches, grab them while you can, especially given how collectable these are becoming.
That’s All Folks!
Allow me to wrap this review up with another quote: “Strong roots produce beautiful leaves.”
The new Ming 17.09 is a perfect example of how a strong foundation that Ming laid back in 2017 with the 17.01 anthracite grey timepiece can spawn an entire family of distinctive watches.
If you look closely, you will realise that the new Ming 17.09 also combines various elements from their previous releases: the second generation design language of the 18.01 H41 (reviewed here) and the 27.01 (reviewed here); it also makes use of a bold new handset that is derived from the 20.01 Chronograph.
With each and every release Ming is slowly becoming unconquerable; and that is a true testament to their genuine creativity and unique design language.
To find out more about the new Ming 17.09 and other Ming watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © HOROLOGER MING 2021. Watches are only available at www.ming.watch on a first-come, first-serve basis. Make sure to check out our reviews of other new watches from this year including Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.