Why watches? How did it all start?

One of the most frequently asked questions I've received is 'how/why did you decide to start a watch brand?' - and one that is perhaps the most difficult to answer. I have always liked intricate mechanical things; eventually that turned into extensive research into what first 'serious' watch to buy. Back then, there were only a small handful of forums online; collectors were an active, friendly bunch, and whilst I quickly discovered there was no way I'd ever be able to afford a minute repeater - and still can't - there were some very nice people who would let me see theirs, and better yet, photograph them. I took up photography to be able to 'own' one of those things, if only transiently. And then I started seeing things that I thought I could do better or change or imagine. I read, researched and drew a lot; these were the days when I still worked off a drawing board, with tracing paper to layout movements. 

These got more and more and more complicated, and explored what could be done if a movement was designed from an engineering and physics standpoint rather than a traditional watchmaking one. I'm sure many ideas don't work, but I'm also sure many do - some of you who were on The Purists in the mid 2000s may remember discourse into harnessing magnetism and fluids. In the meantime, I was still buying normal watches - the ones I could afford, at any rate - and feeling that the value equation was making things increasingly unaffordable. I stopped buying.

That horological hiatus was followed by a career switch to professional photography, during which I started working for the watch brands and independents; I got to know a lot of these men quite well and dreamed of my own commissions. Movements were out of the question, but what about aesthetics and new ways to experience time? A small company out of Lucerne by the name of Ochs und Junior came to the rescue. Beat, Ludwig and the team were willing to try some of my crazier ideas; three watches followed in close succession, and in those - their ethos of rigorous simplicity rubbed off. I have skipped a lot of watches (I count some 60 in total, excluding those designed for other brands) in between the few ideas presented here, but there's enough to give you an idea of the design lineage of MING: the 17.01 was not really our first watch, nor will it be the last. 

In the course of exploring these ideas, we've found several distinct elements that we believe make up the DNA of MING: the use of sapphire beyond protecting the face; simple but robust cases; the prioritisation of reliability and chronometry over complication; readability; flared lugs; the symmetric use of the circular motif and zero. All of these elements will be present in our future watches, which will be clearly part of the same family, yet distinct from each other and other brands. My job is to tempt you enough to accompany us on that journey. MT

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