Independent watchmakers


“We’re bursting with ideas for new Ming models”

Q&A

March 2024


“We're bursting with ideas for new Ming models”

With its highly original design language, Ming, a watch brand based in both Malaysia and Switzerland, is one of the new independent names that have seen strong demand in recent years. We put three questions to its co-founder and chief creative officer Ming Thein.

W

e met Ming Thein at Dubai Watch Week, where his brand was taking part in its first ever watch show. The beautifully subtle designs of Ming, founded in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur by a group of collectors, have won over a global audience. Models range in price from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of francs.

Today, Ming works in collaboration with recognised players such as Schwarz-Etienne and Agenhor to develop its watch models, which are assembled, adjusted and tested in Switzerland, with final quality control carried out “personally in Malaysia”. The ultra-creative brand was awarded the Prix de la Révélation Horlogère at the GPHG in 2019 for its 17.06 Copper model.

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Europa Star: What is the essence of the Ming approach to watchmaking?

Ming Thein: First of all, we don’t claim to be a “heritage” brand! Like many others have done, we could have resurrected a pretty old name to appeal to Gen Z. That’s not our approach, and we’re not afraid to make different, uncompromising choices. Above all, we make the watches that we ourselves would want to buy. My fellow co-founders are all collectors, and we each bring our own persective. For instance, I’m a photographer by trade, and there’s also a financier, a physicist... We make our watches in Switzerland, and we have plans to open our own workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

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What is your distribution model?

It’s 100% e-commerce. This strategy was particularly beneficial to us during the pandemic. Our main markets are the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore. Today, our challenge is to increase our production capacity to improve frustrating waiting times. That’s why we’re opening our own workshops and improving our planning. It’s par for the course in our segment, which includes more accessible models. The less expensive a watch is, the less patience customers have for waiting lists! Fortunately, delivery time has been reduced to less than a month.

Are you also going to use physical outlets?

I’m not sure. Many retailers have approached us, but, being a digital-first brand, we can’t offer them the traditional margins they expect. We’re still investing in brand building, logistics and distribution, to ensure all our customers have the same experience wherever they are in the world. One solution could be to design limited-edition watches in collaboration with retailers. In any case, we’re bursting with ideas: we have at least 160 ideas for new watch models ready for production!

“We're bursting with ideas for new Ming models”

“We're bursting with ideas for new Ming models”

“We're bursting with ideas for new Ming models”

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