Introducing: The Ming LW.01 Special Projects Cave
Today, we’re excited to bring you news of the new Ming LW.01, a watch from the brand’s Special Projects Cave. Buyers will have a choice of movements in this watch, but the result will be one of the lightest timepieces on record. This is an exciting release after my own heart because it’s rich with materials and design innovation.
I’m always excited to cover the latest release from Ming. I own several pieces, and while they all boast different levels of innovation, they primarily hail from the brand’s more affordable lines. The company does delve into pricier realms, though, and today’s Ming LW.01 is a prime example. However, once I do my best to explain it, the cost of entry should seem somewhat reasonable. This watch is full of design prowess and, frankly, I want one.
The Ming LW.01 — construction
The Ming LW.01 is the result of several years of work and testing to create what the brand feels are among the lightest mechanical watches in existence. Typical methods of case construction are eschewed here for a setup that, frankly, seems more like an F1 car. However, Ming wanted to ensure that the watch was still wearable (it has a 25m water resistance rating) and not toy-like. Therefore, the LW.01 feels like a traditional watch in terms of its tactile experience.
Let’s start with the construction and use the photo above to aid the explanation. The lower right component houses the movement within its open circular space. This sits upon the case back, which is the structural piece on the lower left. This creates a seal and protects the movement from the bottom. Finally, topping the assembly is the bezel ring at the top of the photo and, of course, a crystal. The watch does not have a dial per se because the crystal has a printed gradient on its underside. Special attention has been given to weight. This is why we see not only hollowed-out portions but also ridged sections to add strength.
The materials used in the Ming LW.01 read like a secret government project. The brand chose the AZ31 magnesium-aluminium-zinc-manganese alloy from Smiths High Performance as the case material. This alloy is actually lighter than carbon and feels like traditional metal on the skin. The case surface then receives a plasma electrolytic oxidation treatment from the folks at Keronite (whom I recall meeting years ago at the SAE show in Detroit!). This adds corrosion resistance. Finally, Ming moved away from normal sapphire to achieve less weight. Instead, the brand chose Corning Gorilla Glass 6 via Knight Optical with additional hardening treatment to achieve high levels of impact resistance and hardness. Other weight-saving details are PEEK case screws and an anodized aluminum crown. Ming opted for fixed strap bars to aid rigidity as well.
A small set of movements
Buyers will have the option of either an automatic or manual-winding movement within the Ming LW.01. Both are based on the ETA 2000 (19.4mm in diameter) and are finished by Schwarz-Etienne. The movement is visible via the gradient crystal, and wearers can expect a 36-hour power reserve. Finally, the hands and central pulse seconds disc are meant to evoke the 2016 Ochs und Junior Simpleton that Ming Thein designed.
The results are impressive on the scale
The Ming LW.01 will come on a new single-layer Alcantara “Record” strap from Jean Rousseau with an AZ31 buckle. Two additional straps will ship with the watches, including a rubber and a double-layer Alcantara version. So, after all of this discussion about space-age materials, what are the results? The hand-wound LW.01 weighs in at a staggeringly low 8.8 grams! The automatic version is only 10.8 grams. The Record strap and buckle only add 1.8 grams in total. This is an incredibly lightweight watch no matter which movement is inside. As far as dimensions, the LW.01 rings in at 38mm in diameter by 6.5mm in thickness. So, yes, this is a normal-sized watch.
I want one
The Ming LW.01 will see a production run of 200 pieces, and buyers will need to specify their choice of movement at the time of ordering. Pricing is set at CHF 19,500 with a 50% deposit due upfront. Watches will begin shipping in the fourth quarter of 2024. Is this expensive? For certain, yes. Is the movement a bit tame? Perhaps. Do I still want one? You bet, and it’s because of the entire package. The LW.01 looks like a Ming watch, has a beautiful design, and contains some amazing materials. Plus, with this level of lightness, it must feel like absolutely nothing on the wrist. Furthermore, while I wouldn’t subject the watch to high-impact activities, it seems like Ming has paid a high level of attention to making it robust as well. Is this a watch for everyone? Absolutely not, but it’s damn cool. Yes, I want one.
The new Ming LW.01 will be available for ordering on October 27th at 1:00 PM GMT via the official Ming website.