Over the past weekend, we released an article highlighting extraordinary microbrand watchmakers. These watch manufacturers specialize in crafting timepieces with unique designs, whether it be a display of exceptional horological craftsmanship or vibrant, youthful designs. Among the companies featured in our article, we shone a spotlight on Malaysian-based Ming, a microbrand watchmaker founded by Ming Thein. Notably, Ming has risen to prominence in the realm of microbrand watches and is equally captivating in the broader world of luxury timepieces. Coinciding with our article’s publication, Ming unveiled two new watches: the LW.01 ULTRALIGHT series. These timepieces come in two variations – one equipped with an automatic movement and the other with a manual winding mechanism. As the name implies, these watches are astonishingly lightweight. Just how light are they? The manual winding model weighs a mere 8.8 grams, while the automatic version tips the scales at just 10.8 grams. We eagerly accepted the challenge to acquaint ourselves with these new Ming watches, embarking on a journey to explore the world’s lightest watches along the way.
Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra
When we think about lightweight watches, we usually jump straight to ultra-thin timepieces. It’s a simple idea: if it’s thin, it’s probably light. And you’d be correct! Ultra-thin watches are typically very, very light. Now, when we talk about thin watches, one of the first names that comes to mind is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra Watch, which happens to be one of the thinnest watches in the world.
Bulgari, the Italian luxury brand renowned for its high-end jewelry, accessories, and fragrances, has also made a name for itself in the world of watches. This company was founded back in 1884 by Sotirios Voulgaris, a skilled Greek silversmith. Over the years, Bulgari has become famous for its unique and fashionable designs, often incorporating vibrant and eye-catching gemstones.
When it comes to watchmaking, Bulgari has earned a stellar reputation, especially in the realm of ultra-thin watches, thanks to its Octo Finissimo series. And at the pinnacle of this series is the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra Watch.
Introduced in March 2022, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra was the thinnest mechanical watch in the world back then, with a thickness of 1.8mm only. The Octo Finissimo Ultra comes in a 40mm diameter octagonal case in sandblasted titanium with a tungsten carbide plate with anthracite DLC treatment. To keep the watch so thin, Bulgari placed the crown on the back of the case.
The watch comes with an openwork structure dial, and inside it we find the BVL Calibre 180. The BVL Calibre 180 represents a remarkable feat in watchmaking, jointly developed by Bulgari and Concepto. This ultra-thin hand-wound movement, measuring just 1.50mm in height, boasts 21 jewels for enhanced longevity and precision. Stainless steel winding and time-setting wheels ensure reliability, while a unique QR code engraved on the ratchet wheel connects to an exclusive NFT artwork, blending traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. Its variable inertia balance, featuring gold weights and beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, contributes to precise timekeeping, and the movement offers a substantial 50-hour power reserve. With hours, minutes, and a small seconds display, the BVL Calibre 180 exemplifies innovation and precision in the world of horology.
The watch comes with an ultra-thin sandblasted titanium bracelet with integrated folding clasp, and its total weight is 42 grams.
Richard Mille UP-01 Ferrari
When Bulgari unveiled the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra, it was impossible to predict that the company would retain the title of the world’s thinnest watch for only a few months. Just four months after the Octo Finissimo Ultra’s launch, Richard Mille introduced the UP-01 Ferrari, claiming the title of the (new) world’s thinnest watch.
The Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari is a remarkable addition to the world of ultra-thin mechanical watches. This watch has managed to secure the title of the world’s thinnest mechanical watch, surpassing the previously held record by Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Ultra.
Measuring just 1.75mm in thickness, the RM UP-01 Ferrari is an engineering marvel. What sets it apart from other ultra-thin watches is its unconventional construction. Unlike its competitors, which use the caseback as a baseplate, Richard Mille has assembled the 1.18mm manual-winding movement INSIDE the case. This innovation was driven by the need for shock-resistance and the desire to create a watch suitable for everyday wear and tear.
The movement’s architecture is extraordinary, with a horizontal distribution of components rather than the traditional superimposed arrangement. It features a balance wheel in titanium and meets tolerances of a single micron. The power reserve is approximately 45 hours, thanks to the inclusion of a fast-rotating barrel.
The watch is designed for durability and functionality. It features a monobloc case constructed from grade 5 titanium, known for its corrosion resistance and rigidity. This ensures the perfect functioning of the gear train and allows the watch to withstand accelerations of over 5,000 G’s.
In terms of design, the Richard Mille RM UP-01 Ferrari adopts a rounded rectangular shape, measuring 51mm x 39mm x 1.75mm. It is secured with 13 titanium spline screws on the case and bridges. The case is made from grade 5 titanium and combines satin-brushed surfaces with polished bevels for an elegant finish.
Time indications are unconventional due to the ultra-thin nature of the watch. Instead of a regular winding crown, there are two hollowed-out ‘crowns’ on the left side of the dial/bezel. One is used for selecting winding or hand-setting functions, while the other is for setting the time or winding the barrel. Both crowns are framed by black ceramic inserts for protection and offer 10 meters of water resistance.
The time display is centered on the dial/bezel with red hour and minute hands and is protected by a sapphire crystal. Below the time and balance functions, you’ll find an engraved depiction of Ferrari’s Prancing Horse logo.
This exclusive timepiece is limited to just 150 pieces and comes with a substantial price tag of CHF 1,700,000 (excl. tax). It represents a collaboration between Richard Mille and Ferrari, two brands known for their commitment to precision, reliability, and innovation. The RM UP-01 Ferrari is not just a marvel of watchmaking; it’s a testament to the pursuit of extreme thinness without sacrificing performance and durability.
Oh, and speaking of the watch’s weight, thank you for bringing that up! With the strap included, this timepiece comes in at a mere 30 grams.
Richard Mille RM 27-01 Tourbillon
30 Grams sounds impressive weight for a watch? how about 19 grams? Introducing Richard Mille RM 27-01 Tourbillon.
The Richard Mille RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal watch is a true marvel in the world of horological engineering. While it may not hold the title of the absolute lightest watch, it unquestionably stands as a testament to the art of crafting timepieces with an unprecedented emphasis on weight reduction. Weighing in at just 19 grams, including the Velcro® strap, this watch achieves an incredible level of lightness, making it a remarkable piece of wearable luxury.
The watch’s incredible weightlessness is primarily attributed to the use of cutting-edge materials. The case, constructed predominantly from carbon with a high concentration of carbon nanotubes, ensures not only minimal weight but also exceptional resistance to shocks and scratches. The monobloc back of the case adds to its robustness, making it a perfect choice for the rigors of professional tennis, as evidenced by Rafael Nadal sporting this timepiece during his tournaments.
At its core, the RM 27-01 features the caliber RM27-01, a masterpiece of engineering that weighs a mere 3.5 grams. The use of grade 5 titanium for the baseplate and tourbillon carriage, along with aluminum-lithium for the barrel bridges and gear-trains, strikes a delicate balance between strength and weight. This intricate construction ensures the watch’s reliability and precision, even under extreme conditions.
In summary, the Richard Mille RM 27-01 Rafael Nadal watch represents a pinnacle of lightweight luxury in the world of horology. Its marriage of technological innovation, lightweight construction, and exceptional durability showcases the dedication to craftsmanship that has become synonymous with the Richard Mille brand. This timepiece is not just a watch; it’s a masterpiece that challenges the conventional notions of what a luxury watch can be, making it a true icon in the world of extreme lightness.
Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is a timepiece that stands as a testament to the artistry, precision, and innovation of the renowned Swiss watchmaker. Introduced a mere eight months ago, this limited edition masterpiece has captured the imagination of watch enthusiasts worldwide, setting new standards in both design and technical achievement.
At its core, the Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin is a triumph of engineering and design. With a 41mm titanium case and a matching titanium bracelet, it strikes the perfect balance between strength and sophistication. The meticulous finishing, a hallmark of Audemars Piguet, is evident in the case’s alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces, reflecting the brand’s unwavering commitment to excellence.
However, what truly sets this timepiece apart is its captivating sunburst “smoky-blue” dial, adorned with three black snailed counters. This unique dial design adds a touch of contemporary elegance and sets it apart from its predecessors. The white gold hour markers and luminescent-coated Royal Oak hands ensure not only precision but also legibility, a testament to the watchmaker’s dedication to both form and function.
Yet, the real marvel of the Royal Oak QP Ultra-Thin lies beneath the surface. Its ultra-thin movement, the calibre AP 5133, measures an astonishing 2.89mm in thickness. This engineering feat is achieved through a horizontal distribution of components and a clever redesign of the perpetual calendar module. The result is a timepiece that defies the limits of traditional watchmaking, combining technical prowess with aesthetic finesse. The moon phase crescent aperture over the Audemars Piguet logo adds a touch of poetry, elevating this watch from a mere instrument of timekeeping to a work of art.
The case and bracelet are crafted from grade 5 titanium, a material known for its durability and lightweight properties. The alternating polished and satin-brushed finishes not only enhance the watch’s aesthetic appeal but also serve as a signature feature of Audemars Piguet’s design philosophy. The sapphire crystal caseback offers a mesmerizing view of the inner workings of the calibre AP 5133, showcasing the intricate craftsmanship and precision that go into creating a timepiece of this caliber.
In the realm of haute horlogerie, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin stands as a testament to the brand’s enduring commitment to pushing the boundaries of watchmaking. While it was introduced a mere eight months ago, its impact on the world of luxury watches has been profound. It represents the perfect fusion of innovation, design, and craftsmanship, setting a new standard for what is possible in the world of watchmaking.
If you’re wondering about the weight of this watch, let us inform you that it comes in at 75 grams!
Citizen Eco-Drive One
Although many of the watches featured in this article hail from some of the world’s most prestigious and luxurious watch brands, you may be taken aback to discover a Citizen watch included in this list.
The CITIZEN Eco-Drive One collection, featuring their Super Titanium™ technology, represents a remarkable achievement in watch design and engineering. This collection showcases a watch that is exceptionally thin, incredibly lightweight, remarkably durable, and entirely powered by solar energy.
The case of the Eco-Drive One is constructed using CITIZEN’s proprietary Super Titanium™ material, created by treating solid titanium with Duratect α. This unique material is not only 40% lighter than stainless steel but also boasts a surface that is over five times harder. The watch’s durability is further enhanced by a sapphire crystal that provides protection against rust, scratches, and water, all while maintaining hypoallergenic properties. The case measures 36.5 mm in diameter with a thickness of just 3.53 mm, making it exceptionally slim. A limited edition variant is available in Altic and Carbide with slightly different dimensions, measuring 37 mm wide and 2.98 mm thick.
At the heart of the Eco-Drive One’s remarkable thinness is its 1.00mm thick movement, setting a world record for the thinnest light-powered watch. The sapphire crystal dial, with a thickness of just 150 microns, contributes to this impressive achievement by allowing light to pass through to the solar receptors. CITIZEN’s master craftsmen meticulously hand-assemble the watch, utilizing a unique assembly technique and specially designed tools and machinery to achieve its record-setting slim profile.
The Eco-Drive One is powered by the Cal.8826 movement, more commonly known as Eco-Drive, a technology pioneered by CITIZEN in 1976. Light passing through the dial is converted into electrical energy by a solar cell, which then charges the power cell and drives the watch’s hands. This innovative technology now allows the watch to charge even in dim light, eliminating the need for battery replacements. A single full charge provides a running time of over six months.
The collection offers various dial combinations and variants, including models with crocodile bands that add a touch of elegance to the design.
In this collection, Citizen provides several models, with the majority of them weighing between 45 and 50 grams.
Ming Thein’s eponymous brand has unveiled the Ming LW.01 series, claiming to be the world’s lightest mechanical wristwatches. The manually-wound version weighs a mere 8.8 grams, while the automatic variant comes in at 10.8 grams. These extraordinary weights position the Ming LW.01 series as a remarkable achievement in the world of ultra-lightweight timepieces.
Powering both the LW.01M and LW.01A models is a modified ETA 2000.M1 movement by Schwarz-Etienne, chosen to create an exceptionally thin watch for Ming’s fourth-anniversary celebration. The journey toward creating the world’s lightest mechanical wristwatch involved extensive testing and metallurgical experimentation, resulting in an unparalleled timepiece.
The design of the Ming LW.01 retains the signature “Ming” case shape and lugs while introducing innovative elements. Notably, there is no traditional dial on this watch. In a bid to reduce weight, Ming has eliminated the dial and opted for a gradient print on the crystal’s surface to conceal the movement. This printing features an “interference pattern” with a positive pattern on the top of a disc and a negative pattern on the bottom of the crystal. This design creates a central display that pulsates, indicating the watch’s functioning, reassuring the wearer that it is indeed operational.
The case construction plays a pivotal role in achieving the watch’s remarkable lightness. Measuring 38mm in diameter and 6.5mm in thickness, it is impressively thin. Instead of the conventional construction where a dial is attached to the movement, which is then placed in the caseband, Ming has adopted an unconventional approach. The LW.01 boasts a combined “dial” ring and a hat-shaped movement holder, measuring a mere 0.5mm thick in certain areas but reinforced with bracing and ridges to maintain strength. This assembly is further supported from the rear by a cage with 3D struts for added strength and rigidity. The construction material used is AZ31 Magnesium-Aluminium-Zinc-Manganese alloy, known for being lighter than carbon and offering consistent production quality while retaining a metallic feel. Instead of sapphire crystal, Ming opted for Corning Gorilla Glass 6 via Knight Optical, treated for additional hardening, ensuring a lighter yet durable choice.
The Ming LW.01 series is available in limited quantities, with 200 pieces offered in either manually-wound or automatic options. The watch can be paired with various strap choices, including a remarkably lightweight 1.2-gram single-layer Alcantara strap by Jean Rousseau Paris, equipped with a signed AZ31 Magnesium buckle. The pricing for this remarkable timepiece is CHF 19,500, with a 50% deposit required for reservation. Availability begins on www.ming.watch from 1 PM GMT on Friday, October 27, with deliveries expected in the fourth quarter of 2024.
To Sum It Up
In this article, we’ve explored some of the world’s lightweight watches. It’s truly invigorating to find names like Citizen sharing the spotlight with renowned brands such as Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille, and Bulgari. What’s even more thrilling is witnessing a micro brand like Ming achieving the world record for the lightest watch. We eagerly anticipate the rise of more micro brands making their mark in the horology world, and if they can follow in Ming’s footsteps, we will take great pride in their success.