Introducing: The Ming x Massena Lab 17.09 Limited Edition
Ming's first collaboration with another brand
Perhaps no independent upstart has inspired as much passion and as many fans over the past few years as Ming Watches.
Founded by a collective of enthusiasts led by photographer and designer Ming Thien, the brand’s design language is totally distinctive and unlike anything else around.
Now, Ming has introduced its first collaboration with another brand, collaborating with William Massena and Massena Lab to deliver the 17.09 Ming x Massena Lab Limited Edition. The limited-edition effort is distinguished by its two honeycomb dials in black and, of course, honey.
Massena and Ming say the hexagonal pattern is inspired by the Rolex honeycomb dials from the mid 20th century. If you read my recent article on Rolex and the return of sports elegance, you’ll know that I’m a particular fan of this often-overlooked era of the brand (indeed, a honeycomb dial is even featured in that piece). Ming and Massena’s honeycomb dial is a beautiful way to pay homage to these vintage watches in a way that’s still totally modern and true to their own design language. The outer portion of the dial is circular brushed to complement the honeycomb pattern in the center.
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Some of the other design queues of the limited edition 17.09 are pure Ming, with a twist offered by Massena’s experience designing limited edition collaboration timepieces. To borrow from the press release:
Next are the watch’s numerals, which appear to be floating above the dial, giving it a three-dimensional effect. This is done by laser etching the underside of the crystal, thus raising them off the dial and into space. They are filled with Super-LumiNova for superior visibility in low light situations and the new configuration allows for the numerals to glow with a new intensity.
The polished and brushed 316L stainless steel case recalls the “padellone” (little frying pan in Italian) cases that were found on Rolex 8171 while still maintaining the trademark flared lugs of the 17.09. And with its 38mm case, the MING x Massena LAB Limited Edition sits comfortably on a variety of wrist sizes. Flipping the case over, the same honeycomb pattern found on the dial is mimicked on the back.
This last paragraph is exactly what I love about this collaboration: it maintains Ming’s distinct design, from dial and crystal to the flared lugs, but Massena is clearly able to draw inspiration from the vintage timepieces he’s spent his life around, bringing the piece to another level.
This is collaborations at their best: when each collaborator pulls something out of the other that they didn’t even know they had. Here, it’s Massena adding a bit of vintage and classic inspiration to Ming, a brand that’s often thought of as thoroughly modern, but in reality is as rooted in horological history as many brands much older than it. At the same time, Ming takes these vintage inspirations and adapts them in a totally modern way.
Listen, I (obviously) haven’t handled the watch, and I don’t often post press release articles like this, but I love what both Ming and Massena are doing, so wanted to share the specs of the watch and some photos.
Movement: 300.M1 (Selitta SW330-2, modified by Schwarz-Etienne to include an independent hour-hand adjustment, exclusive to Ming)
Dimensions: 38mm diameter x 10mm thickness x 44mm lug-to-lug
Water resistance: 100m
Price: $2,795 (honey dial); $2,595 (black dial)
Limited: 50 (honey dial); 150 (black dial)
Available: May 20 at 10:30am ET via massenalab.com
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I don’t know what it is about this brand but the designs to me feel like they have been designed by the fashionista segment of Hodinkee’s editorial staff. I find them tremendously bland looking. To me they look like watches that should cost no more than at most $1500 but preferably under 1K. Knowing they have a fairly bland movement as well adds to this feeling! I know my feelings are not what the majority feel though but I’m used to that!