Before we commence our review of the MING 17.06 Slate, here’s the link to the brand’s site for ordering.  As I’ll mention shortly, MING watches sell quickly – so if you like what you see, hit the link.  Now for the review…

MING 18.01 Abyss Concept

Regrets, I have a few…

When it comes to watch collectors, they always have regrets – also known as “the ones that got away”.  I’m rather fortunate because my list of “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve” pieces is relatively short.  Way back in 2011, I found (more precisely, my Dad alerted me) a lovely Rolex Red Submariner in Canada.  That was a win, but they also happened to have a late 60’s GMT-Master 1675 for something like 5,500 Loonies and both my Dad and I decided not to purchase it.  Mistake.  Then there was an oddball Ricoh diver that I just plain forgot to bid on that sold for $400.  Aside from both of those watches starting with an “R”, they had little in common.  Those were also quite awhile back, but there was a more recent regrettable moment for me and it’s one that does enter into my mind with relative frequency and that was the MING 18.01 Abyss Concept.  To refresh your memory, MING decided to dip its toe in the water of the tool watch pool with a very limited run of 10 watches that looked like no other diver I’d ever seen (you can see all 10 above).  I had the chance to buy one, but a certain Speedmaster made of the precious stuff kind of got in my way.  The Speedy wasn’t a mistake, but curses to bad timing!  Well, founder Ming Thein publicly announced on our Facebook page that I might have a chance at redemption at some point, so let’s hope.  But tool watches aren’t the brand’s bread and butter and when they contacted me about taking an early look at a brand new watch – the MING 17.06 Slate – this was an offer I simply could not refuse.

The MING 17.06 Slate is…wow

The MING 17.06 Slate is a new piece from the small independent brand that was made created as a bit of a celebration of the brand’s GPHG 2019 Horological Revelation-winning 17.06 Copper (as seen above).  The initial run of the Copper piece sold out almost instantly (300 will be made each year), but you now have the chance to buy one of 200 annual pieces of a “Slate” color variant starting today.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 5

Unboxing the MING 17.06 Slate marked the first time I’d ever gone face to face with one of the company’s watches and my initial reaction was none other than, “holy sh*t!”  A lot of watches come across my desk and a lot of them are really nice, but this looked and felt next level from the beginning.  I’ll do my best to explain why I think that is.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 15

The Detail Work Could Easily Play at 3-4X the Price

From the moment I spied the embossed and textured slip case style box, I knew I was dealing with something of a different quality level.  Opening the case revealed a supple black leather travel case from Studio Koji Sato that wouldn’t look out of place when paired with a watch from one of the “holy trinity” brands.  Opening that up brought the aforementioned expletive-filled moment.  From the polished bezel to the incredibly different dial, the MING 17.06 Slate just feels special.  Honestly, if Grand Seiko was the world’s biggest bargain (they’re still amazing, but they’ve definitely crept in price), MING just might qualify as the new way to secure fine watchmaking at a bargain price.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 7

Unboxing the MING 17.06 Slate marked the first time I’d ever gone face to face with one of the company’s watches and my initial reaction was none other than, “holy sh*t!”

The MING 17.06 Slate has a mesmerizing dial.  The outer ring just happens to be made of sapphire and it takes on a glassy, floating look when viewed at various angles.  You can see above how it takes on the look of liquid glass (that’s actually real liquid in the form of rain sitting on the flat sapphire crystal) and it’s beautifully done.  Super-LumiNova C1 is printed on the sapphire ring in a style that’s reminiscent of most of MING’s watches.  It’s clear, rather modern and helps subdivide the dial in a non-fussy manner.  I can say the same about those simply, but artfully sculpted hands.  Look closely at the center pinion; it’s such a finely crafted detail.  But where the money is made, in my view, pertains to the patterned center portion of the dial.  This part begins as a simple piece of brass that goes through an etching process to deliver that spiraling checkerboard effect.  It’s then anodized to give it the dark, inky color you see before you.  Yes, the smoothness of the outer ring plays wonderfully against the busier inner section to create a look that more than reminds one of very, very expensive independent watches.  But thus far, I’ve yammered on about the magical dial and what’s a dial without a case?

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 6

More than just a pretty face…MING 17.06 Slate

At 38mm and a very wearable 43.9mm lug to lug, the specs looked good on paper for the MING 17.06 Slate, but there was one concern I had and that related to the outward flowing lugs.  In pictures, they almost look exaggerated.  Well, in person I can tell you that they’re in proportion and really present a unique style compared to most watches.  And, like the dial printing, these lugs along with the smooth polished bezel have helped form a highly recognizable design language for the brand.

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Ditto that sentiment on the finely ridged and signed crown.  It has an onion shape and adds a touch of steampunk to the overall design.  The push/pull crown is highly tactile and feels nice between the thumb and pointer finger.  But back to that case.  It’s finely brushed on its flanks and polished to a perfect shine on top.  The transitions are sharp and the overall quality is of something that could easily find its way to your local high-end jeweler.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 9

I’m even a fan of the well-crafted case back on the MING 17.06 Slate.  In this case, the hatch is battened down by six flat-head screws.  These fasteners complement an engraved case back with all the particulars such as the serial number, model, material make up, 100 meters of water resistance and some movement info.  I like the fact that the case back takes on a bowl shape; it’s just one more lovely form.

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This MING uses an ETA 2824-2

The MING 17.06 Slate uses an automatic ETA 2824-2 in its top form.  The piece has been modified, so there’s no date stop on the crown.  But more impressively, the movement has been adjusted to five positions.  Some will look down on the use of such a pedestrian movement, but when we get to the pricing of this watch, I think you’ll agree that a top drawer version of a highly serviceable movement that’s been modified is a more than fair choice.

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On the Wrist

It should come as no surprise that the MING 17.06 Slate works wonderfully on the wrist.  It’s a scant 10mm thick and that makes things highly wearable.  Furthermore, the watch comes on an extremely high quality black alcantara strap with blue stitching.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 10

That 20mm strap comes courtesy of strap maker Jean Rousseau (side note: I coincidentally walked by Rousseau’s shop in London near Jermyn Street this past weekend…nice stuff!) and tapers down to an 18mm signed pin buckle.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 8

It also contains quick-release spring bars for easy strap changes.  The strap was comfortable and works for wrists from 6.1″ – 8.3″; it fit my small wrists without issue.

MING 17.06 Storm Blue-Grey 12

Final Thoughts and Pricing

The MING 17.06 Slate comes in at 1,250 CHF and considering the level of finishing and attention to detail, I find that to be extremely reasonable.  In fact, for this money, there’s little else in the oft-boring dress(ier) watch department that can compete.  I mean, honestly, would you rather have this or one of any number of big brand entry level luxury Swiss watches that are priced in this range?  I thought so.  But here’s the problem and why I posted the link to MING’s official site at the very beginning: MING watches sell out always.  Only 200 of these pieces will be made and will begin shipping in March 2020.  Another 200 will be made each year and that’s nice, but you’ll need to act quickly if waiting isn’t your game.  This newest 17.06 is a damn nice watch and if you think you want one, do it and do it soon.  Otherwise, you’ll have to carry around regrets like I do.


Watch specifications

17.06 Slate
Composite, multi-layer, three-part sapphire dial in metallic slate with Super-LumiNova C1. Inner section is brass, photolithographically etched and anodized.
Case Material
316L Stainless Steel
Case Dimensions
38mm Diameter, 10mm Thickness, 43.9mm Lug to Lug, 20mm Lug Width
Sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on both sides
Case Back
ETA 2824-2 automatic, Adjusted 5 positions, hacking, 28,800 bph, 38-hour power reserve.
Water Resistance
100 Meters
Black alcantara with dark blue stitching, handmade by Jean Rousseau Paris. Pin buckle.
Time (HH:MM)
1,250 CHF
2 Years
Special Note(s)
Deliveries begin in March 2020. Production limited to 200 pieces per year.