As seen in several threads here so far, there have been at least five fortunate Purists, who managed to bag their specimen of the first anniversary limited edition (25 pieces) Ming 17.03 Ultra Blue (here: www.watchprosite.com
and here: www.watchprosite.com
Based on the regular Ming 17.03, you get a 38mm Grade 2 titanium case, a Sellita SW330-1 movement with a GMT complication like with the regular production model. At the same time, there is the blueness, that makes it unique.
In a nomen est omen sense, everything about the watch is blue - the heat blued titanium case and pin buckle (the party piece here), the dial, the strap, the hand engraved crown...
Heat blued titanium is relatively rare in watchmaking, with DeBethune being one of the few other players regularly offering it. With the 17.03 here each case has been individually heat blued by Ming Thein, so while there are 25 pieces in the series, each is unique. Depending on the light you will find hints of cyan, purple and dark blue in it, too.
The dial is very much like what has been available in the 17.03 series so far in terms of style and functionality but adds a new colour to the palette (so far only burgundy and black were offered). You still have a sapphire sandwich construction as known from the Ming 17.01 (here: www.watchprosite.com
for a review), with the inner disc taking on the function of a GMT complication in addition.
Dial side it is not only the colour that is different - the watch also sports new hands. They are satin bead blasted and coated with an ample layer of superluminova and I find these to be the nicest one yet in the 17.xx family.
One of the main criticisms of the initial Ming 17.01 has been the quality of the supplied straps. While there was nothing tragic about them - the fact that the package came with three, all with their own clasps and a quick change mechanism was a definitive bonus - Ming has improved quite a bit in that area during the first year. Several strap packs have been launched since and they are really nice. The 17.03 Ultra Blue comes with a Jean Rousseau supplied blue strap fitted as default, as well as two additional straps for when you start looking for some colour diversity.
And like the case, the buckle is also made from Grade 2 titanium in blue.
In addition to the hands (as mentioned), the hour ring and GMT disc all sport superluminova and the watch thereby has excellent legibility day or night. The lumed hands also offer a nice colour contrast to the blue.
The verdict? I feel that Ming Watches made fantastic progress in its first year, launching three distinct product families, as well as the two anniversary limited editions (there is a 125 piece 17.03 Blue, which is similar to this but without the heat blued case). The quality keeps getting raised and the demand is commensurate - especially since the watches remain fantastic value, even at the slightly higher prices in comparison to the 17.01.
The heat blued titanium makes this model really stand out, and while it may primarily be a dress down type of watch, one can pull it off in an office context, too - as shown above.
While getting one now may require lots of perseverance, I feel the effort may well be worth it. But even if it’s not to be, I am sure that there is more heat blued titanium to come from the brand going forward, seeing the positive reaction the first time around.