In a way, it is all A. Lange & Söhne’s fault. A theoretical physicist by academic training, Ming Thein was all set for a career in consulting, with a bit of photography on the side to satiate his creative spirit, but the German watchmaker’s utterly timeless and impeccably crafted 1815 timepiece — a graduation present from his parents — inadvertently set the course for his future. It would be about watches.
Ming Thein is the creative force behind Ming, a Malaysian watch company set up by six enthusiasts with a very specific goal in mind — filling the gap between entry-level timepieces and haute horlogerie, targeting connoisseurs who have high watchmaking inclinations but do not have the resources to spend on it. All 300 pieces of Ming’s first release, the 17.01, sold out within hours — the watchmaking world had no choice but to sit up and take notice of this new kid on the block that really seemed to know what it was doing.
And, truly, it did. Ming Thein’s love for mechanical timepieces saw him through his early career at KPMG and The Boston Consulting Group, during which time the generosity of online collector communities allowed him access to their events and watches. In 2012, Ming permanently traded corporate life for photography, by which point he had been appointed a brand ambassador for Leica and was regularly photographing for some of the biggest names in watchmaking, including Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 2016, he was appointed a global brand ambassador for Hasselblad and, in 2017, was promoted to chief of strategy for the Swedish camera company.
The seeds for Ming were planted at a watch fair in 2014 when Ming Thein and some close friends decided that the timing was right and the impetus to create accessible-yet-well-made Swiss timepieces adequately compelling. “When I started collecting entry-level Lange’s, you could find them for US$5,000 — that is unthinkable today,” he says. “The market has moved on a lot from that point … I remember discussion boards from my days in London, when we used to think that anyone would be crazy to pay US$30,000 for a [Philippe] Dufour. And yet, one of those things hammered last year for US$750,000 — little did we know things would end up where they have.”
The idea that Ming Thein had in mind was a watch brand that creates pieces “you don’t need a second mortgage to afford” and, fortunately, his ideals were mirrored by his friends and co-founders. He serves as creative and strategic head while Dr Magnus Bosse is based in Europe and heads production. Praneeth Rajsingh focuses on optimising operations and the timing and sequence of product development. Yeng Fook Check, Jacky Lim and Chan Kin-Meng serve in various support roles, with each partner in charge of specific tasks.
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