Introducing the Special Projects Cave

Today it’s my great pleasure to finally announce something we’ve been working on for a very long time: the Special Projects Cave. It might only have acquired a name in the last year, but it’s been in the works since before day one.

As the name suggests, it started off as our experimental arm: the part of the company where we do the really crazy left-field stuff that perhaps only we would like. As it turns out, there was a small audience beyond the founders. We started off with seemingly small projects, such as customizing dial colors - it turns out that achieving specific colors with sapphire is not easy at all and this soon became a much more serious project. We also learned that making one-offs are more expensive than purely the additional R&D as the final watch needs to be production standard, but in prototype quantity. These pieces are honestly of marginal profitability (and often not at all), but we make them because we want to and it is our pleasure to share them with similarly minded collectors who’ve supported us all this while. 

Often, entirely new processes are developed and refined for our use with SPC watches – we initially focused on colouration and partial metalization of sapphire with the 19.03 Burgundy and 19.03 Ghost; testing of case finishes and different DLC processes with the 19.01 Monolith and 19.02 DLC. Sometimes they’re interesting small-run combinations of existing watches, such as the 17.06 Special Edition or the 27.02 Special Edition.

Sometimes we go beyond that and create something entirely new: 27.02 started off as a SPC project for the 2020 Concept set, introducing gradient guilloche. The 20 series case began as something to accommodate the large AgenGraphe movement in our 2nd generation design language, and spawned the 20.01 S1 Concept and the 20.01 Mosaic Chronograph.

The Mosaic process is very much a SPC product, which goes something like this: we visit a prospective partner to see what they can do, get shown something unrelated and then develop ideas on how that technology might be applied in an unconventional manner; there is a moment of suspended disbelief and then the R&D process begins, fueled by a common dream. Often even our partners don’t know how long it’ll take or how much it’ll cost or what new technology must be developed to circumvent unexpected technical challenges. This is obviously not viable for a production run, but the SPC allows us to cover the costs of R&D and offer something really unique in the process; participants in SPC projects do so because they want to be involved in our next big development.

For this reason, SPC projects are never launched with prototypes and photographs; often we aren’t 100% sure how the final result will look as improvements and changes are made as we go through the process. We start with a simple four-view drawing derived from the CAD model and rendered to our best guess – the complex layering in our watches isn’t easy to render under representative lighting as it’s deliberately dynamic, and there may be no such conditions. It is a long process: 18-36 months from the time we start, to the time we deliver. As such, there are often multiple projects running in parallel.

This year, we want to try and bring the SPC concept to a wider audience. Recognizing that we have passionate customers beyond those we know personally, who might want something a bit unusual. It means that there will be a new category of MING pieces that are open to existing customers for a limited window; with production determined either by the close of the window or component supply; sold on the basis of a concept drawing; with subscription payments and an extended delivery time. We recognize it is not for everybody, but for the patient – it’s a chance to be a part of the future of MING and see what we can really do with no restrictions. Making SPC public allows us to better gauge demand for these pieces before we commit to production in order to make sure we don’t leave anybody out.

The SPC Archive contains a catalog of the projects we’ve produced to date; there are currently a couple of chronographs and a flying tourbillon in various stages of development or production. These are fully subscribed at present, but if all goes well we should see the launch of the ultralight and an alarm for 2021, and that is just the beginning. If you are an existing MING owner and would like to register interest, please email us at hello@ming.watch.

As always, a huge thank you for your passion and support: without you, we wouldn’t be able to keep pushing the envelope.

- MT

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