Billed as the world’s lightest mechanical watch, the MING LW.01 boasts an impressive weight of just 8.8 grams (0.31 ounces) for the manual variant and 10 grams (0.35 ounces) for the automatic variant. For reference, that’s lighter than one AirTag… or about as much as two AirPods WITHOUT the case.
The LW.01 takes the idea of minimalism a little bit further by going beyond just the visual sense of the word. “We wanted to push the envelope further than we – or any other brand – has ever done,” the folks at MING said. This includes some brilliant design hacks, the use of novel materials, and basically removing everything non-essential. In short, the folks at MING Marie Kondo-ed the hell out of this watch… and the result definitely sparks joy.
The watch itself is a work of art, featuring a dial that’s as minimal to look at as its bill of materials. In fact, there isn’t a dial at all. The LW.01’s minute hand sits on a disc that obscures the movement, while the central portion comes with a gradient print that hides the skeletal view of the watch, while also having the watch’s minimal markings on its periphery. Every part of the watch is art and engineering combined to its nth degree, creating something that really stands at the intersection of great design and immaculate engineering.
“We set ourselves some ‘conventional’ constraints, though: the watch had to be a wearable size, and retain certain tactile qualities such as the texture and thermal transfer of metal,” MING’s team mentioned. “More importantly, it would have to be practically wearable and not technically compromised purely for the sake of lightness. As it turns out, it would take us a couple of years longer than expected and an exhaustive amount of metallurgy and testing.”
Those constraints, however, don’t in any way diminish the end product. The watch has a spectacular body that’s crafted from a special metal alloy that’s lighter than carbon but has the premium feel of metal. The lugs are turned into bars that allow the strap to through without any additional elements (which would add to its weight), and the face isn’t layered with sapphire crystal. Instead, it opts for equally resistant Corning Gorilla Glass – similar to the slim glass sheet found in smartphones, but with a separate hardening treatment done by UK-based Knight Optical.
“We explored a wide range of ultralight materials including carbon fiber derivatives and hollow-core 3D printing, but ultimately found 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,” MING mentioned. “It is further surface treated by plasmaelectrolytic oxidation by Keronite for corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, with a further composite protective layer.”
Every element of the watch, including the screws made of PEEK composite, the hollowed bezel, and the angled case buttressing, was meticulously optimized to achieve the perfect balance between durability and weight. The crown, crafted from anodized aluminum, ensures durability and smooth threading. To ensure overall torsional rigidity, finite element simulation was employed to assess the watch case. The fixed integral bars, machined from the same billet as the case, not only enhance rigidity but also weigh less than traditional steel spring bars.
As a result, the watch boasts an impressively lightweight head, weighing just 8.8 grams with manual winding, 10.8 grams with automatic winding, along with an additional 0.6 grams for the matching AZ31 buckle and 1.2 grams for the ‘record’ spec Alcantara strap. This translates to a total weight of 10.6 grams or 12.6 grams for a fully assembled, ready-to-wear timepiece… but don’t expect all that innovation to come cheap. The “World’s Lightest Watch” may be lighter than an AirTag, but it’s half the cost of a Tesla Model Y. With a brain-imploding asking price of 19500 Swiss Francs ($21,623 USD), you’re kind of better off buying a Patek Philippe instead.