Introducing the Ming 17.03 GMT

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There are a lot of travel watches on the market. You can find one to fit almost any mood, price bracket, and level of complication. If you’ve got the GDP of a small country to spend, you can spring for a Patek Philippe 5130. Fancy, functional, and robust? A G-Shock will tell you the time happily wherever you are and whichever way up you happen to be. If you prefer a bit more “form-follows-function.” then you can buckle on a Nomos Weltzeit with your black rollneck. It’s a tough segment to dent with a new watch, but that’s just what Ming Watches are trying to do with their new 17.03.

The watch follows on from the 17.01 (there’s a appealing, neat logic to Ming’s model numbering) and shares the case material (albeit a different grade of titanium) and design feel. Despite this, Ming points out that things are different with the ‘03, “Though the 17.03 appears to be a very close relative of the 17.01, we have in fact completely re-examined and re-engineered every single element of the watch and upgraded all components.”Our own Sean Lorentzen has already given the low-down on Ming Thein, the driving force behind the eponymous watch range, in his coverage of the earlier 17.01. But Ming makes his view about travel watches clear. “We challenged ourselves to define the essentials we sought in a travel companion, and narrowed it down to an easily adjustable second timezone.”

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It makes sense, this idea of stripping a GMT back to its basics. And it works with the 03. It’s simple, clear, and easy to read both the principal time and the second timezone. Where most travel watches will make a bit of a fuss about their second timezone, the 17.03 does it rather more subtly with just a small, triangular device on the dial inner-plate.Unlike a lot of other dual-time watches, the ‘03 doesn’t use a conventional third hand to indicate its second timezone. Instead, the entire center of the dial moves independently of the main hands. A small, luminous triangle indicates time as it moves against a fixed inner chapter ring. Every even hour gets a number and the odds a hollow dot.

The dial center is, like its brother the ‘01, textured to differentiate it from the outer dial. From the images we’ve seen, it looks as though the burgundy dial has a striated pattern and the black carries radiating, circular lines. It’ll be good to check this out on the production models.The principal dial numerals are carried on a raised track that floats above the dial with 0 (for 12), 3, 6, and 9 marked. What? No 12?! Ming explains, “0 looks more balanced than 12. Then there’s the representation of cyclicality of time. After 23.59, you have 00.00. And lastly—there’s the recursion of design elements between the 0 and all of the other rings on the dial (of which there are many).”

You won’t have issues seeing the time on your ‘03, even with the window blinds down in your international flight’s business class cabin. The hands and dial markings get a thicker fill of Super-LumiNova C1 than previous models and the sapphire crystal gets a whole five-layers of anti-reflective coating (handy when the blinds go up again).

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The 38mm round case is, again like the ‘01, titanium and waterproof to 100mm—although this time it’s grade 2 rather than grade 5. In practical terms, there’s little to choose between them, but titanium wears warmer and lighter than steel. The case is nitrogen-filled to slow down lubricant deterioration. And, at 38mm with short lugs, the ‘03 is likely to be so comfortable as to be barely noticeable. Unlike the ‘01, the new watch comes with a segmented matching Ti bracelet (the profile of the lugs has been adapted to allow it to fit) as well as two leather straps. If that’s not enough, you can order a total of six other straps ranging from a dark brown nubuck to a green textured calf.

Inside, you get a 25-jewel automatic Sellita SW330-1 top grade movement with a 42-hour power reserve and a  beat rate of 28,800 bph. It’s a hacking movement, although with no second hand there’s little need for the sort of precision setting hacking gets you. Mind you, it’s adjusted to five positions, so there should be few problems on the accuracy front.Your ‘03 will turn up with its titanium bracelet, two nubuck straps (one dark chocolate, the other anthracite), in a travel pouch by Thirtyfour Bespoke from Kuala Lumpur (Ming’s home city) as well as a screwdriver to adjust the bracelet.  It’ll set you back CHF 1,650 (around $1,750) plus shipping. And you’ll be able to order from February 11th with Ming beginning deliveries later this month. Ming

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Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
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  • Chris James

    100mm is a deeply unimpressive water resistance rating

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