Why 'Limited' is Limited

We often get messages asking us if we can expand our limited editions – another batch, a single watch, even at whatever we want to charge. We are greatly appreciative of the support and demand for our watches, but as much as this is the case, the answer always has to be ‘sorry, no’. We aren’t doing this because we don’t want to sell you a watch – to the contrary – it’s because of many factors, which I’ll try to explain in today’s post.

Production (at MING at least) is always in batches of components. There are minimum order quantities, often in the hundreds (or more); however, the size of the edition isn’t dictated by this, but timing is (and it also means producing ‘just one more’ isn’t economically feasible even if we wanted to – that would mean discarding the remainder of the production). In an ideal world, we’d like to produce just enough watches to match demand; that way, everybody who wants a watch can have one. However, there’s absolutely no way to gauge what this demand might be; if we do a pre-order, we run the risk of actual demand at time of delivery being different since lead times are also 9-12 months.

Next up, there are some restrictions on certain components: heat blued cases, for instance, have a very high rejection rate due to color consistency between parts (crown, bezel, back, caseband) and dimensional warping (too minor to see with the naked eye, but uneven heat can cause the cases simply not to seal properly on reassembly, compromising water resistance). And any entirely handmade components such as enamel dials or engraved crowns are limited by manpower. 

On top of this and most importantly, we feel that a limited edition is a commitment of integrity: when we say we are going to produce X cases, we must stick to that else the edition has no value to the collector. This applies regardless of the watch, the price, or who’s asking: 25 is 25 or 150 is 150, and there aren’t any additional ones. We don’t want to be one of those brands who makes small variations on a successful design, either. There are so many more watches we want to produce that it makes little sense to repeat something we committed to a limited run and annoy the buyers of the original run. As collectors ourselves it gives us a bad taste in the mouth – and the possibility of another run (thus delimiting things and removing exclusivity) makes a piece a lot less attractive, not to mention decimating retained value.

Another popular question is around numbering: Yes, all cases and backs are numbered but they’re not sequential. This is because we get far too many requests for specific numbers which becomes impossible to administer – not to mention cultural sensitivity around certain numbers. Instead, we stick to our sequential-across-all-watches unique serial numbers so we can track inventory and maintain records for warranty and maintenance etc.

Finally, the reality is that MING will always be a small and exclusive brand. Our production will never be in the thousands, let alone tens or hundreds of thousands – it has never been our aim to design watches for everybody but rather a focused and coherent series that’s a little different. And this means that even if you missed out on the last edition, there will always be something in the works – and regardless of which of our pieces you own, they’ll always be fairly uncommon. MT

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