Following the launch of their (somewhat) wallet friendly 37.07 last month, Ming is back with a new release that plays at the other end of the pricing spectrum. This strategy is a big part of what makes Ming decidedly different from other “micro” brands that deal in value oriented watches with largely outsourced materials and components. It’s fascinating to see the brand evolve along parallel tracks: a lower priced tier of accessible watches, and a haute horlogerie line with considerably fancier movements and novel manufacturing processes. The new 37.04 Monopusher is a special chronograph with a unique movement that will appeal to fans of some of the most renowned names in the watch industry.
Like the 37.07 before it, the 37.04 Monopusher has been released to celebrate Ming’s 5th anniversary, and like other more exotic Ming releases, this one has its roots in the brand’s “Special Projects Cave,” a kind of skunk-works operation that allows the team to experiment with new designs and concepts that might not be ready for a wide release.
The core of the 37.04 is the movement, a hand wound monopusher chronograph designed by F.P. Journe, Vianney Halter, and Denis Flageollet in the 90s, before Journe and Halter went on to enormous success with their eponymous brands, and Flageollet founded the still rising De Bethune. The watch that this movement (the 045MC) found itself in was the now legendary Cartier Tortue Monopoussoir Chronograph, an early piece in their Collection Privée Cartier Paris line. (For a detailed breakdown of that watch, you won’t find a better examination than this one by Mike Razak for the European Watch Company blog, published earlier this year). The Tortue was something of a sleeper for years, but values have been climbing with a growing interest in Cartier and the unmatchable pedigree of the movement.
Ming was able to acquire a number of these movements, and they’ve been reworked and updated by La Joux Perrett for this release. In addition to a thorough service to ensure the calibers are in good working condition, they’ve been given skeletonized bridges with rose gold coatings and feature hand polished bevels in the style of previous high end offerings from Ming.
While the movement is (nearly) vintage, the dial and case are totally contemporary, which is exactly what you’d expect from Ming. The dial has been produced by Comblemine (Kari Voutilainen’s dial making outfit) and contains what is now a Ming trademark: multiple layers of sapphire with intricate application of lume to provide an even greater sense of depth. The black guilloche interior section is framed by what is technically a triple scale chronograph providing elapsed minutes, a pulsometer reading, and a tachymetric scale on separate levels. It’s certainly a very different aesthetic from the purely classical Cartier that this movement first appeared in.
The case is grade 5 titanium and based on Ming’s 37 series design language with flared and twisted lugs, but has been reengineered to accommodate the monopusher design (the pusher sits within the large crown at the 3:00 position). It measures 38mm in diameter and is 11.9mm thick.
According to Ming, they have enough movements and “spares” to make 100 watches. The retail price is CHF 29,500, and as is custom for Ming, they’ll be asking for a 50% down payment at the time of ordering, with the balance due at the time of delivery. For the 37.04, Ming expects to begin getting watches on wrists in March of next year, with deliveries continuing through the second quarter. Ordering priority will be given to existing customers on the Special Projects Cave Interest List. Ming