Young, independent Malaysian watch brand, Ming, has created the world’s lightest mechanical wristwatch.
In an industry where the average weight of a modern mechanical timepiece tends to be around 100 grams, the new LW.01M (manual wind) and LW.01A (automatic), weigh a mere 8.8 grams and 10.8 grams, respectively (watch head only). Or 10.6 grams and 12.6 grams with the included Alcantara strap and buckle.
Even starting from a relatively small case size of 38 mm x 6.5 mm, this is a rather remarkable achievement. And from an independent brand no-less. Perhaps there’s not a huge market for the world’s lightest watch, but if an independent, that does under $10 million in revenue per year can create something like this, it makes you wonder. How did Ming create such a featherlight watch?
First, the MING LW.01 has a combined “dial” ring and movement holder shaped like a hat, just 0.5 mm thick in places but ribbed for strength. To prevent injury to the dial or disruption of the movement, this assembly is supported from the rear by a cage with 3D struts. It also caps and seals the entire assembly to the bezel, which despite being very narrow, is internally hollowed to save further weight.
Second, there is no actual dial per se: the outer ring/background is the movement holder, and the central movement portion is occluded by a gradient print, as well as indices, on the outer crystal.
Third, Ming explored a wide range of ultralight materials including carbon fiber derivatives and hollow-core 3D printing, and determined that AZ31 Magnesium-Aluminium-Zinc- Manganese alloy from Smiths High Performance was both lighter than carbon (1.77g/cc, vs ~2g/cc density), more consistent to produce than hollow 3D printing, and more importantly retained the feel of metal.
Fourth, the surfaces have been treated by plasmaelectrolytic oxidation by Keronite for corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, with a further composite protective layer.
Finally, even the crystal is not made from the typical synthetic sapphire, but instead Corning Gorilla Glass 6 via Knight Optical with a hardening treatment. At 2.40g/cc, it’s significantly lighter than the 3.98g/cc of traditional sapphire whilst retaining 670 Vickers hardness and high impact resistance.
Every component, down to the screws (in PEEK composite), hollowing of the bezel, and beveling of case buttressing – was optimized to hit the absolute balance of durability and weight. The crown is in anodized aluminum for durability of threading reasons. Finite element simulation was used to test the overall torsional rigidity of the watch case. Fixed integral bars machined from the same billet as the case both contribute to the rigidity and are lighter than steel spring bars.
To create this record-breaking timepiece, Ming, which is not a manufacture, utilized the production expertise of Smiths High Performance (raw AZ31 magnesium manufacturing), Keronite (plasmaelectrolytic oxidation), Jean-Rousseau (makes the straps), and Schwarz-Etienne (used ETA2000 as base and completed the final assembly and testing).
The LW.01 is what Ming refers to as a “Special Projects Cave” release and is limited to 200 watches, at a retail price of approximately $21,600 and deliveries are not expected to start until Q1 2024.
Photos by Ming.