Having metaphorically dipped its toe in the water in 2019 with the experimental Abyss Concept prototype, MING returns with a fully practical and beautifully engineered diver’s watch, with a dash of contemporary styling in the superb new 18.01 H41 Diver.
A relatively new brand which made its debut in 2017, MING has quickly become something of a collector’s favourite due to the combination of accessible pricing, cool, minimalist styling and high all-round quality. In short, while neither a fully fledged indie nor a microbrand per se, with a MING you get a lot of watch for the money, and the new diver ticks all of those boxes - emphatically.
Drawing from first hand diving experience from within its own design team, a number of whom are avid divers themselves, the 18.01 H41 is a watch which has been refined and tweaked obsessively from concept to this final realisation, and in its 40mm case of Grade 5 titanium which stands just 12.9mm tall it is light and according to MING, one of, if not the slimmest dive watches available, which considering that the sapphire crystal is 3.5mm thick is quite some achievement.
As a product created to do a job in a potentially dangerous environment where there is no margin for error, it is superbly designed, detailed and engineered throughout. Its full rating is not yet known, but having been tested to over 1,250 metres without any sign of stress at such pressure, the declared 1 km/3,280 ft which is inscribed onto the caseback is comfortably within its capabilities.
The titanium case is both light on the wrist and pretty much scratch resistant, even on its polished sections, such as the waist of the case and on out along the sides of the flared lugs. On the underside the centre of the caseback has a grippy, high-friction surface finish, to prevent the watch rotating on the wrist while under water, while multiple gaskets defend against any water ingress via the back, bezel or crown, which itself has a little red warning collar which stands out if it has not been fully screwed in.
Central to any dive watch is the instant at-a-glance legibility of its primary functions, from the constant motion of the second hand which confirms that the watch is actually running, to the length of the dive using the minute hand against the segmented scale around the bezel. To maximise optimal visibility in any low light environment, MING has incorporated three different methods of applying the powerful Super-LumiNova X1 lume to achieve this. On the dial, the chapter ring is manufactured in a novel sapphire/ceramic composite called HyCeram, which is charged with a fusion of the luminous material, and the three hands are ergonomic, functional and each readily identifiable, with prominent luminous inserts on the hour and minute hands and a dot near the tip of the second hand.
The bezel is made of stainless steel, and again considerable thought has gone into how it has been designed and engineered. Although it does not look like it as there are no serrated angular grips around its edge, it rotates as would be expected on a diver’s watch, and has sixty solid clicks to ensure that it is easily set, but difficult to move accidentally. The scale around it is neatly divided into four fifteen minute segments, with the first defined in minutes followed by three parts which incrementally decrease in width before terminating with the brand name. Because it is not unknown for a dive watch to get damaged due to being exposed to impact and wear, the luminous material on the bezel is doubly protected. Firstly, it is applied as a liquid epoxy to fill the stencilled channels around the bezel, so it is embedded within the bezel as opposed to applied on top of it, and then the finished part is coated with practically indestructible DLC, ensuring that regardless of whatever nature or its owner might throw at it, the MING 18.01 H41 will emerge unscathed.
This purposeful light show is primarily developed to be beneficial in those underwater adventures, but of course not all adventures happen underwater, and as a stylish statement of a sporty lifestyle and the individuality of understated exotica, which is part of the MING ownership experience, it is eminently effective out of the water as well.
Inside, a Top Grade ETA 2824-2 self winding movement has been modified by the renowned Schwarz Etienne manufacture, a company which has previously been a technical partner to MING, and in whose Swiss workshops the watch has been assembled, emphasising once again an underlying commitment to quality in terms of design, materials and resources.
All in all, a remarkably well conceived and uncompromisingly thoroughly executed piece from a young brand which truly can claim to use the word ‘disruptive’, the MING 18.01 H41 comes with a titanium link bracelet with folding deployant clasp, and a bespoke rubber strap with pin buckle, which are easily interchangeable. At this time a limited edition of 130 watches has been announced, but fresh off the back of an almost instant sell-out of its 19.02 World Timer just over a month ago, blink and you’ll miss it.